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BlankGeneration: irritatedly apathetic

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BlankGeneration

36year old man. Married, no kids. I've been on SSRIs for 15 years now. I've been tapering off them for 5 years.  Effexor was what I took for depression, anxiety. From 2004-2014 I gradually took more and more until I got to a point where I couldn't be prescribed a higher dose (can't remember specific, will ask doctor). The plan was to get onto a different ssri, but I had to taper down to a lower dose before I could bridge with prozac.  The withdrawal was awful and the more I learned about psychotropic drugs the more I wanted off completely. I have strong feelings of worthlessness and shame. I'm embarrassed to look anyone in the eye. I've exercised, meditated, changed my diet, take supplements, see a therapist, i've established a support network, cbt, affirmations, rigid self care program. Still hate myself. Still get suicidal thoughts. I want to try life with no antidepressants. Maybe that's it. I think it's actually the drugs that are keeping my depression from lifting. I hope.

 

I've been aware of the forum for years and finally decided to post. I feel alone in this withdrawal from time to time. I haven't been to a support group in months. My phone never rings and I like it that way. I want to hide from everyone. I don't know anyone else quitting their meds. Feels like I'm losing my identity and I just don't care enough to build it back.

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apace41

Welcome to SA (or welcome to posting), Blank Generation.  

 

It's not my style as a moderator to innundate you with a ton of links to read and, especially in your case where you've been here for years just not posting, I suspect you've read the ones you care to read and have a strong foundation of information.  

 

I'm curious to know how long you suffered with anxiety and depression before you started meds in 2004.  Did you try anything else back then?  A little more of "how you got here" (not so much the "trying to get off" aspect, but more the entire depression/anxiety history, would be useful).

 

It seems from your short intro that you are doing and have tried "all the right things".  It could well be that the meds are something you are reacting to -- did you ever feel "really good" on the meds? -- or it could be that the process of your brain rewiring from having adapted to the meds is taking longer than one would like.  Unfortunately, the neuroplastic process is one that is really hard to predict and can take a very long time for there to be concrete positive change.  It is my belief that as you come off there is healing taking place, even if it is not apparent to you based on "how you feel."  Time and patience, while in short supply as you go through this process, are the only ways through.  

 

If you haven't read this -- it is worth the read:

 

If you provide a little more history perhaps we can help put this in context.  

 

In short, however, you appear to be doing the right things, understand the process, and are just in the middle of the horrible suffering that these drugs cause when some of us try to get off.

 

I wish there were some silver bullet I could suggest.

 

Spending time alone when that helps you get through is not necessarily a bad thing.  We all deal in our own ways.

 

Best,

 

Andy

 

 

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BlankGeneration

Thanks very much Andy it is truly appreciated. The link was excellent, it really illustrates how slow this process is. I need to accept that this will take a long time. Have to have realistic expectations about this. 

 

As for my history, I have many extended family members with mental health and addiction issues. Starting as a child, I was shy, threw head banging tantrums. Tried to kill myself with a skipping rope at six. I have a vivid memory of self hate where I’m  disgusted and angered by my reflection in the mirror of my child size dresser. I was angry enough to make my parents threaten to put me in anger management, but not angry enough for them to actually do it. No physical abuse besides a few smacks here and there, but in general we didn’t get hit. I can’t identify anything traumatic. Both parents were distant, bitter and critical. And devoutly catholic. Emotions were not discussed. I just tried to stay out of the way and take up as little space as possible. 

 

Started drinking at 14, smoking weed a few years later. That was my new crutch. Developed a binge drinking habit, which was/is normal to my friends and family. At 21 I moved across Canada, away from everyone I knew and I had a terrible job. I began having panic attacks, flying into rages, couldn’t control my anger. My doctor recommended exercise and proper diet. I did neither. So I took the Paxil he eventually prescribed. My gf at the time told him about my suicidal thoughts, so I was switched to Effexor. I used twelve step groups to quit drinking and smoking pot shortly after. And that leads up to the beginning of my previous post. 

 

So in summary I have always anxious and depressed as far back as I can remember. 

 

Thanks for listening

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Altostrata

Welcome, BG.

 

How was your last decrease of Prozac?

 

In 2015, did you find it was a good substitute for Effexor? How did you do the switch, do you recall?

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BlankGeneration

My last decrease was June 10/19. I went from 21.26mg of prozac to 19.13.  I'm using liquid to get exact dosages. I find it usually takes around two weeks for me to really feel the step down. Usually irritability, irrational fear, suicidal thoughts, overwhelming negativity, muscle tension. The last few decreases have been easier. I think it may be the summer weather or maybe the EMDR therapy is finally doing something. I can't be sure. This is especially encouraging since I have not been exercising in months, not much meditating and almost zero journaling.

 

Was prozac a good substitute for effexor? Hard to say since my effexor was maxed out, ineffective, psychological torture. Getting onto the prozac was relief from the withdrawal. So it seemed better. But then again, getting hit by a truck would have been better than effexor withdrawal. Prozac was presented to me by 'professionals' as safer and much easier to discontinue. I had to taper down from the high dose of effexor before I could introduce the prozac. Not sure why, that's just what the psychiatrist told me to do. So it was a few months of homebound hell and suicide watch before I could even get a small dose of prozac in. Started with a small dose as my effexor dose was getting smaller and smaller. Probably 20mg assuming thats the smallest denomination of prozac capsule available. Eventually tapered the effexor to zero, but I had got up to 80mg of prozac. I stayed on that dose a while cuz I needed a rest. I was disappointed to find that the prozac didn't seem any easier to kick and a lot of the side effects were the same. Gotta say the relief from irrational fear and nonsense was welcome though.

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Altostrata

It sounds like you might have had adverse reactions to Effexor and, as so many doctors do, yours misdiagnosed this as a psychiatric problem that called for higher doses.

 

When you started Prozac, which symptoms did it relieve? Did you ever feel okay on Prozac?

 

You may be familiar with these -- but just in case you're not:

 

A lot of people find fish oil and magnesium supplements helpful, see
https://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/36-king-of-supplements-omega-3-fatty-acids-fish-oil/
https://survivingantidepressants.org/topic/15483-magnesium-natures-calcium-channel-blocker/

 

Try a little bit of one at a time to see how it affects you.

 

Neuro-emotions

 

Non-drug techniques to cope with emotional symptoms

 

Easing your way into meditation for a stressed-out nervous system

 

Music for self-care: calms hyperalertness, anxiety, aids relaxation and sleep

 

Shame, guilt, regret, and self-criticism

 

Ways to cope with daily anxiety

 

Dealing With Emotional Spirals

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BlankGeneration

WOW I was not aware of neuro-emotions. That reframes EVERYTHING. All this rumination and grudge holding and beating myself up... I thought it was just the way I am. To think there might be a point in time I don't berate myself for every minuscule misstep. Holy..smokes. Mind blown. THANK YOU for these links. The shame guilt and self criticism thread- I'm finding I relate to most posts. Some of them may as well have been written by me.

 

When I started the prozac, to answer your question, what symptoms it relieved. I suppose that depends what you mean by relief. It lessened the intensity of most symptoms, but they were still present. Things that went away completely were the very irrational fears. I mean I stopped being afraid of animate objects that posed no threat like vehicles, trees, lights. I still have irrational fears, such as being fired, arrested, robbed, financially ruined. The trembling stopped altogether. I was able to return to my job which is centred around steady hands. I'd say that panic was reduced to anxiety. Suicidal urges reduced to hopelessness. I stopped getting random chemical rushes (adrenaline or that sinking feeling) in my guts. I was still in bad shape, just not as bad.

 

Did I ever feel OK on prozac? Again OK is a relative term. I am functioning. I can maintain my marriage, I make money and get relief from my bullying brain when I'm immersed in my work. I guess I feel OK on prozac whenever my mind is occupied. Like someone else posted, they dread the pauses between netflix shows. That's when everything I was trying to drown out comes roaring back. I'm not sure I had a period in my life where I felt ok, free from self loathing and suicidal ideation. That was always there.

 

I am going to try the magnesium, right now I'm experimenting with lions mane mushrooms. Already on the fish pills. I should probably list my supplements on my signature huh?

 

THANK YOU

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Altostrata

How are you doing, Blank?

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BlankGeneration

I'm still moving forward with my withdrawal. I'm down to 6.67mg of prozac. I've been regularly dropping 10% of my dosage once a month. Up until this month. I've had three months off work due to the covid-19 pandemic. Two of those months I felt fantastic. Almost every day. All that work pressure gone (got Canadian emergency response benefit to cover rent and food). Focusing on my self care completely, exercising and meditating regularly. But it's time to get back to and the anxiety is palpable. I also exposed myself to the news early during the US unrest. I regret that. I decided it would be foolish to try to step down when I'm feeling so upset. Which contributes to the upset. 

 

During the time off I've had even more time than usual to reflect (ruminate). I've reached out and friends and family have reached out to me. I realize I'm very much not alone in my insecurities and emotional instability. I've written out my strengths, values, affirmations, things I'm grateful for. Over the last few days I've been writing about my positive attributes and achievements instead of watching the news. I feel more capable and today's the first in a while that heavy weight above my head is gone.

 

I come back to the forum from time to time when I'm feeling really low and I need reassurance about this antidepressant problem. I must admit I've not been honest about my use of cannabis to cope with the withdrawal. I'm not proud of having to rely on it. I've been apprehensive to post about it. Most likely I just don't want to hear that I need to quit. I'm very interested in entheogens, in fact the purpose of my withdrawal is to be able to treat my addictions with some form of psychedelic therapy.

 

Thank you Altostrata for checking in, and for all you do to keep this forum going. I admire that you've found a way to help suffering people find relief. I want to be like that too.

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Onmyway

Hi Blank,

I popped in the intro forums and your thread grabbed my attention. One thing that jumped at me was the idea that you've always been "like this" - depressed/anxious and self loathing and while you don't identify any explicit trauma it made me think of the extreme emotional neglect that you have suffered through. Trying to disappear and not take space and living in a toxic environment as a kid. It makes sense that you are feeling this way now. When we are little we form our self worth by the way we are reflected in the eyes of those closest to us. If we see anger/disgust reflected, we start feeling those emotions about ourselves, if we see love and delight, that's how we see ourselves in the world. It seems you saw anger and disappointment which had nothing to do with you, I'm sure, and a lot to do with the lives of the grown ups with substance abuse/trauma in their past. I lived for a bit in a family like that. It took a lot to rebuild a sense of self worth and I still struggle with the emotions you identify. But I can see progress even if those emotions are so automatic and ingrained. Seems like you have made progress too. 

 

 Seems like you have tried to fill the emptiness of neglect with ADs, alcohol and anger. No wonder the drugs didn't help, there is nothing wrong with you, they were just numbing you as you were just trying to make sense of a hostile world that was cruel for no reason. If everything's critical/bitter, then nothing is really safe. What an laudable thing you've done surviving through that and the assault of the meds and finally taking care of yourself.

 

Have you ever read the work of Pete Walker? He has two books - I like the CPTSD better. His web site has many of the portions of the books. 

http://www.pete-walker.com/

 

He talks about emotional flashbacks. That really resonated with me. I often return to a feeling of shame/self-loathing which belongs to the past really but it's a very automatic feeling like a flashback.

 

Please take care of yourself.

OMW

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BlankGeneration

That book @Onmyway suggested was a god send. CPTSD by Pete Walker. It really helped me understand what has/ is happening to me and why I react the way I do. The author talked about the cycles of reactivity, illustrating the layers of our reaction. At the base layer is our abandonment depression, the raw childhood wound. Then we react to that with fear and shame, since we are taught we are unacceptable and unworthy when acting depressed. That fear and shame triggers our inner critic, who is always scanning and searching for flaws then devastating our own selves with unfair critical self talk. After retraumatizing ourselves with unfair criticism we dive into the final layer, the fight/flight/freeze/fawn response. It all happens so quick we dont notice the fear &shame, or the inner critic. We just react with our preferred dysfunctional coping mechanisms.

 

All my life I've felt all all these layers and could not see any pattern or structure. This layered description acts as a roadmap to recovery. Working from the top to the bottom. First through our coping mechanisms, then the critic, then the fear and shame, then finally the original abandonment depression.

 

As excited as I am about putting this newfound knowledge to work, I've been feeling very poorly lately. I've stepped down 10% off my prozac for 13 of the last 15 months. I was so proud of my consistency. Covid has led to disruptions at work which caused me to hold at this low dose. On the plus side I'm beginning to feel all my emotions again, but on the downside, they are REALLY intense. I've been on various antidepressants since 2004 and I'm finding these unimpaired emotion overwhelming. I wake every morning in a state of fear. And I can't pinpoint what it is that I'm scared of.

 

I've known about transference for a few years. Redirection of the feelings a person has about their parents onto someone else. In my case it has always been my bosses. I can't recall the term for it, but I keep finding bosses that are similar to my father. Scary looking, larger than me, anger issues, blames others. This pandemic shutdown made me realize how happy I am with no boss. Even though my current boss is the nicest I've had so far, I cannot stop demonizing him and overreacting to every decision he makes. He actually started making plans so we could work as equals, as participants in a co-op. It felt like there was light at the end of the tunnel. But he changed his mind. He's now pressuring employees to come back to work full time despite our inability to socially distance. So now I'm in a situation where I KNOW how my personal rights alleviate my responsibilities to him, but my irrational need to keep him happy is FAR more overpowering than any logical self protection. I've scheduled myself a gradual return to work, but am now seeing that that was not in my best interest, it was in the boss'. 

 

I have to assume this is what is causing my morning terror because my life is otherwise wonderful. On paper my positive attributes and accomplishments are impressive but in my head I am worthless and lazy. Which lends itself to more frustration.

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Erell
20 hours ago, BlankGeneration said:

As excited as I am about putting this newfound knowledge to work, I've been feeling very poorly lately. I've stepped down 10% off my prozac for 13 of the last 15 months. I was so proud of my consistency. Covid has led to disruptions at work which caused me to hold at this low dose. On the plus side I'm beginning to feel all my emotions again, but on the downside, they are REALLY intense. I've been on various antidepressants since 2004 and I'm finding these unimpaired emotion overwhelming. I wake every morning in a state of fear. And I can't pinpoint what it is that I'm scared of.

 

Hello Blank, 

 

have you taken a look to this thread  :

https://www.survivingantidepressants.org/topic/17471-early-morning-waking-managing-the-morning-cortisol-spike/

 

Rather than emotions coming back, it could be that you're suffering from cortisol spikes in the morning, which are very common WD symptom.

A lot of folks here wake up in terror.

 

Good news is, as everything else, it does fade and disappear with time :)

 

I read that you struggle with a 10% taper : have you considered to make smaller drops (5%, 3%, ..) or maybe a BM slide ?

 

https://www.survivingantidepressants.org/topic/17671-the-brassmonkey-slide-method-of-micro-tapering/

 

Take care.

 

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Onmyway

Hi Blank

Glad you liked the Pete Walker book. It's like a firehouse in the beginning but as the things settle in your mind and you recognize your responses you start very gradually reacting from a place of now rather than flashbacks. It will take time. But like withdrawal, it gets better albeit at a glacial speed.

 

I also wanted to say that you are not alone with feeling uneasy about the pressure to return to work physically and lots of us are struggling with the desire to keep our health while balancing often unreasonable demands in an uncertain economy. It's the shared tragedy of our present and I don't know how I will deal come October when we are planning to return. Don't go blaming yourself for this - you are not necessarily exhibiting what PW  would call 'fawning' by agreeing to return. You are stuck in a difficult place like many of us and agreeing may be the rational decision given the threat of losing a job or disease, neither of which are easy choices. 

 

I'm saying this because when we live through trauma and have been labelled as difficult or mentally ill we tend to seek defects in ourselves or our reactions when those are completely normal and natural. It's important to learn to place the blame where it's due which is now outside of ourselves. 

 

Regarding the morning fears, wanted to echo what Errell said that this is a very common symptom that is not reflective of underlying emotional issues but is physical, arising from the withdrawal. Things that help are blackout curtains/eye mask. I personally have put foil on my window because I get intense morning light starting 5 am and no blackout curtains helped enough. I also use earplugs for better sleep.

 

I'd also encourage trying a slower taper. There's evidence that the drugs are more potent at lower doses (if you are scientifically inclined, check out the article by Mark Horowitz and David Taylor in the Lancet 2019).

 

This will get better, hang in there. 

Hugs,

OMW

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BlankGeneration

It's been a week since I stepped back up to 7.41mg of prozac (from 6.67mg). I'm definitely in a better mood than last week. My wife and I finally got to go out to a secluded spot on a remote lake in the sunshine this week. I normally try to spend as much of the nice summer weather outdoors as I can, but with covid, parks and campgrounds have limited access. I forgot how reinvigorating being in nature can be (when the weather is just right of course).  I've also been feeling less pressure from the boss about work, and had a lot of time off this week.

 

@Erell Thanks for the link to the morning cortisol thread. I read a lot of it (jeez thats a long thread). That would explain the anxiety in the morning. My therapist told me about misattribution, where someone feels anxious then mistakenly assign a cause. Such as taking transit or getting ready for work. I wonder if the apprehension about work was just cortisol spikes this entire time? I got a sleep mask and ear plugs yesterday, so hopefully I'll be able to sleep past sunrise. I'll look more into the supplements as a next step. The therapist also said something about people waking up to fear because they've been dreaming stressful dreams and not able to process it in a conscious way.

 

Also I think you're right about the 10%/month decrease being too fast. I remember reading that the 10% was a safe number to start out at and feeling ashamed I could barely handle this first step. The Brassmonkey slide method looks great, especially the part where it feels like a person is taking tangible action because it requires more attention. I'll definitely be trying that when I decide to begin stepping down again.

 

@Onmyway Thanks once again for the reassuring words. Working during a pandemic is stressful for everyone, regardless of their mental health. You're completely correct saying we seek defects in our reactions and selves even when they/we are normal. Well at least I identify with that. It is comforting to know that I'm not the only one experiencing this. I get frustrated and confused about the causes of my fear. I thought it was only the drugs, but now I think it's my sh*tty childhood. Then it's cortisol. I switch back and forth, never realizing how nuanced this all is. It's my black and white thinking.  I'm trying to get a simple explanation that doesn't exist.

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