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Rhiannon

☼ Rhiannon's intro (by Rhi)

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Rhiannon

Rhi's success story

 

I know I need to introduce myself and tell you my story. But I am so sick of my story. It was so long and so painful to live through, and it's long and painful to tell, and probably tedious to read. Too bad I can't draw, I could do it as a graphic novel. That might be more fun.

 

So, shooting for nutshell version: In 1992 I was put on Prozac and then Xanax and flurazepam for PTSD after an assault. The Prozac introduced me to the fun world of akathisia and eventually chronic episodal suicidal depressions.

 

A few years after that I began to have intrusive memories of horrific childhood abuse and I started into therapy and into a long, excruciating journey of dealing with those recovered memories and aftermath, but I won't go into that further now.

 

During the ensuing years I was switched around on various meds but most of the time was taking Wellbutrin, Buspar, Xanax (at bedtime only, bad mistake), and Elavil. I also used marijuana a lot, almost daily, for an unremitting anxiety and edginess that I now realize was probably the combination of akathisia and agitation from the ADs and daily interdose withdrawal from the Xanax that I was only taking once a day. (Xanax is short acting and produces roller coaster blood levels with resultant withdrawal symptoms if you wait too long between doses.)

 

I won't go into all the details of my life during those next 15 years or so; suffice it to say I was barely able to function, I couldn't work a regular job, I struggled to raise my children through the miasma of pain and fog, and after another relationship and a breakup and another change in meds combined with perimenopause I became delusional and very unstable and did a lot of crazy stuff that I will forever regret, leading to me losing my house, my life savings, almost all my possessions, and what few friendships had survived my years of social dysfunction and agoraphobia on the drugs.

 

In 2007 I swallowed a handful of Elavil and woke up in the hospital. They finally let me out after filling me so full of strong ADs that I went into a classic manic episode (interesting, and horrible) followed by (since I ct'd all the meds while I was Superwoman) the worst suicidal depression yet. Which got me diagnosed bipolar and started on Lamictal and Neurontin.

 

fast forward slightly...I did get a job, which I was almost fired from for not being able to remember anything for more than about five minutes, and I needed the job desperately so I CT'd the Morontin; crashed into a horrible, suicidal depression; was put on Paxil and Xanax; decided after 3 weeks of 10 mg Paxil that I didn't want to take Paxil and quit it CT on my own; and went into another horrible suicidal spell.

 

But this was interesting: For the first time, for whatever reason, I actually saw that the problem was the drug. It wasn't me. I had always thought it was me, just my "disease," my "underlying disorder" causing all the weird emotional stuff I went through. But this time it was so clearly the drug.

 

And I realized for the first time: these drugs are not like aspirin. Not like herbs or vitamins. These drugs are extremely precise and incredibly potent in their action, and they do something very specific to the brain, specific and strong and not good.

 

So in February of 2010 I started tapering, and that's what I'm still doing now. I started on 5 mg of Ambien, 300 of Neurontin, 200 of Lamictal, about 0.7 of Xanax, and 10 of Celexa. Today I'm off Ambien, down to 78 of Neurontin, 141 of Lamictal, 0.41 of Xanax, and 5.25 of Celexa. I'm also taking 2 mg of Valium, from an attempted crossover from Xanax; I'm not tapering the Valium yet.

 

The rest of my taper is going to go more slowly than the first year, I think. I've discovered that I like being functional and having a life. Now, tapering, dealing with withdrawal, I actually feel better most of the time and am more functional than I ever was during all those years when I was actually taking psych meds at "therapeutic" doses. I cut small amounts, slowly, and take intermittent holds whenever my symptoms start to ramp up, and hold until I feel better (I usually get to about 80% improvement before I cut again).

 

I'm more stable than I can remember being in a very long time (I think that's due a lot to the fact that I'm dosing the Xanax properly now). I'm definitely doing well. But that's me today--I'm just coming out of a long hold and just found out I'm moving so I'm continuing to hold, because there's no way I can deal with moving while in active withdrawal. And I get to feeling pretty good during my holds. You'll be hearing a whole different story in a month or so when I start cutting again, no doubt.

 

I do plan to keep the taper slow, though. The more I learn, and the more I experience what's happening in my own CNS, the more convinced I am that slow, slow, slow is what my body/brain wants and needs in order to repair and recover and maybe, if I'm really lucky, minimize the damages wrought in the past 20 years.

 

I don't know yet if I'll be able to get off all meds. It may be too late, given how long I was on meds and how many. But I plan to get on the lowest possible dose of the fewest possible meds, and have the best life I can manage with the years I have left. And that's it for now.

 

Okay, so, it was a large nut. what can I say. --Rhiannon

 

Edited by ChessieCat
added link to success story

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compsports

Hi Rhi,

 

In case you didn't know, I am Palm from PP. Anyway, I am sorry I didn't respond sooner to your post.

 

I really admire you for being able to overcome so much in your past life and reduce your meds. You are a great success story.

 

I greatly related to this point you made:

 

""But this was interesting: For the first time, for whatever reason, I actually saw that the problem was the drug. It wasn't me. I had always thought it was me, just my "disease," my "underlying disorder" causing all the weird emotional stuff I went through. But this time it was so clearly the drug.""

 

I am not sure when I had that "aha" moment but I know I had definitely started tapering my meds. I know I was very angry at all the information that inferred I was the problem and not my drugs.

 

Anyway, a belated welcome aboard.

 

CS

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Neuroplastic

What a story, Rhi. I know how difficult it must have been for you to go back in time and write about it all. Thank you so much for it. You're doing great. Take it easy. I have no doubt you will make it. And, indeed, the most crucial of things is our realizing it's the *drug* that is the problem. That's 90% of the success. Keep us updated!

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Punarbhava

Welcome Rhi!

 

 

 

Glad to see you made it here!

 

 

I know how difficult it is to write one's story so I appreciate the effort you put forth to share with us. It's apparent that you are one incredibly strong and determined person!

 

 

I still can't relay mine without feeling traumatized.(lol) So, at present, I focus on my healing path rather than where I've been.

 

 

I am deeply sorry for all you have been through! You are so wise, intelligent and have offered so much to many people on the forums. Your posts are always top notch!

 

 

With all that said, you WILL make this journey one way or another. Continue to take things slow so you can have as much quality of life in the process of getting off these horrid drugs.

 

 

One day, you will be COMPLETELY FREE! In the meantime, you are freeing yourself bit by bit. You're doing a fine job, aided by much awareness.

 

 

 

Punarbhava

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stan

hi Rhiannon,

 

with my bad english i took time to all understand, the road is long, we have no choice, good luck to you !

Welcome !

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Rhiannon

hi Rhiannon,

 

with my bad english i took time to all understand, the road is long, we have no choice, good luck to you !

Welcome !

 

actuellement j'adore votre anglais...sexy French accent...

 

probablement que vous parlez anglais parfaitement mais vous savez comment les femmes adorent l'accent, non? (okay I know that should be subjunctive case but I can't remember how it goes, que vous parliez? or what?)

 

pardon my francais, trop oublie, je n'ai pas parle depuis vingt ans, not to mention no accent keys on my keyboard...

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Brandy

not to mention no accent keys on my keyboard...

 

Rhi, this is a cool site: TypeIt

 

But I have to admit I'm so lazy I rarely use it!

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Altostrata

Rhi, that was brave, thank you for telling us about it.

 

And please let us know how your recovery goes. I know it seems like it may never happen, but even people with complex histories do see improvement.

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Healing

But this was interesting: For the first time, for whatever reason, I actually saw that the problem was the drug. It wasn't me. I had always thought it was me, just my "disease," my "underlying disorder" causing all the weird emotional stuff I went through. But this time it was so clearly the drug. And I realized for the first time: these drugs are not like aspirin. Not like herbs or vitamins. These drugs are extremely precise and incredibly potent in their action, and they do something very specific to the brain, specific and strong and not good.

 

As everyone said above -- This is Wow!

 

I'm sorry for the hardships you've had to bear. I really admire your gumption. This is beautifully and poignantly written -- and humorously (Morontin :) ). As PB says, you have already achieved and contributed so much. I have no doubt we will see even more insightful, uniquely Rhiannon-type creativity that will really help us all, as you emerge from your descent experience!

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summer

What everyone here has so eloquently said. :)

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Brandy

What everyone here has so eloquently said. :)

 

I'll add my "Like they said" here.

 

Rhi, since we've communicated privately I lost track of the fact that I didn't post a public welcome here. With all I know about w/d, I still learn from your posts and admire you so much and know that you will help so many people here.

 

I wish you the very best in recovering, and am so very glad you joined this group.

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Rhiannon

Thank you all for your lovely and supportive and caring comments. I'm on the second night of two graveyard shifts and my brain has gone from mushy to mushier. Next I'll probably start hallucinating. Which should be fun really. But anyway I don't feel competent to say anything profound or intelligent.

 

Just thank you for making me feel so welcome and for creating such a lovely forum. I'm really glad to be part of it.

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Punarbhava

Thank you all for your lovely and supportive and caring comments. I'm on the second night of two graveyard shifts and my brain has gone from mushy to mushier. Next I'll probably start hallucinating. Which should be fun really. But anyway I don't feel competent to say anything profound or intelligent.

 

Just thank you for making me feel so welcome and for creating such a lovely forum. I'm really glad to be part of it.

 

 

It was our pleasure Phi and we're so glad you are a part of all this as well.

 

 

Now, you go get some quality sleep so you can prevent any "H" events from occurring. (lol)

 

 

 

Punarbhava

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alexjuice

I know I need to introduce myself and tell you my story. But I am so sick of my story. It was so long and so painful to live through, and it's long and painful to tell, and probably tedious to read.

...

 

--Rhiannon

 

I'm glad to hear your story. Goodness, my heart goes out to you for everything that you've suffered.

 

Like you, I've come to a realization about who I am and who I am on Drugs. I have decided that I am not going to waste my remaining energy looking back, but I still have a lot of feelings that will probably take years to go away. I did crazy things and used drugs and behaved inappropriately. There were consequences for this. These were things that I did as a result of compulsions that I never experienced before Drugs and that I no longer experience off of ADs/atypicals. (I am still on benzodiazepines, of course.)

 

I was sent to rehab several times, mainly for alcohol abuse. Once I got off the antidepressant/antipsychotics, I discovered that I +could+ drink normally. I noticed that alcohol didnt affect me in the same way. It was crazy. I know what it's like to be an alcoholic, to crave euphoria from alcohol because I was an alcoholic. Thus if I drank one drink, I would drink to drunk.

 

Once I got off ADs, I did drink. And it was like I was 17 again. There was no euphoria. I drank about 20 times having less than two drinks on each occasion, with one exception. At first, I was just trying my old alcoholic coping mechanism for dealing with the w/d. Only the alcohol didn't work anymore. I didn't get euphoric, in fact, I didn't even like it. So then I drank for a few months just to see if the effect was real. And it was. I no longer had a compulsion to get drunk. In fact, I had trouble finishing drinks as I didn't care for the effects.

 

After a while I had proved my point to my satisfaction so I stopped drinking alcohol. Once I started to become educated about the truth, I realized that alcohol could do nothing to help. I decided that even if I could have a drink, it does me no good to do so. It has now been almost a year since my last drink (and two years since my last drug).

 

The wreckage that I caused went beyond the consequences of substance abuse. My mind betrayed me. I had horrible thoughts and compulsions. I experienced so much guilt about things that I thought or images that popped into my mind. My life was a trauma...

 

But, it took me a long time to realize what you've realized, it WAS NOT ME. Today, all of the recklessness doesn't happen. All of the BS that defined my life for so long... It's gone. And it makes sense, because I'm today so much more like I was as a 17/18 yr old. I am so much more the person I was before I started taking these medications.

 

But my finances, relationships, reputation, health have been destroyed. And it wasn't even me. It was this person in my body, but with a different brain.

 

You are exactly right to see this. You are who you are. You're not crap you did when you were on Drugs that completely alter your brain function.

 

You can get back to you!

 

Alex.I

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Rhiannon

I'm down to 5 mg of Celexa! WOO HOO!

 

Started my taper in February of 2010 at 10 mg, so I know that's really slow, but I'm tapering three other meds at the same time and having to stay well enough to keep up with a sometimes-stressful life and a full time job.

 

Anyway, as unimpressive as it may sound, I am THRILLED to finally be down to half my original dose! Just makes it real that eventually I will be off it completely and never, ever, ever take another antidepressant drug. My body is SO ready for that.

 

Of course it will probably take a couple more years to get all the way off. But I'm moving in the right direction and all my other meds are going down too.

 

Anyway, just had to share my success with people who would appreciate it...

 

--Rhi

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alexjuice

Congrats! That's a real accomplishment. How are you feeling? You sound really excited!

 

I know from your story that you've been through the mill, so I am v. happy that you have a measure of stability in your life today and are able to make consistent progress toward your goal.

 

And for the humor... Here's how my doc would react to your news:

 

"Great! At just 5mg you'll easily finish your taper by the second week in June." :D

 

Alex.i

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Altostrata

Excellent, Rhi. And sounds like you're feeling pretty good, too!

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Claudius

Way to go Rhi! And celebrate each mg dose reduction that brings you closer to freedom! I take a nap on your health :)

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Healing

Righteous, Rhi! B)

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summer

Hey Rhi... so happy for you! You sound like you're feeling good also... that's great! Can't wait until I can say I'm at 5mg!

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angie007

Congrats Rhi,

 

Slow and steady is the key, remember you cant go too slowly lol,

 

My theory is;-

" A snails pace wins the race"

 

Remember also from 5mg you may have to go even slower, listen to your

body it will tell you what to do and when.

Well done, and all the very best to you.

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Neuroplastic

Great stuff, Rhi!

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Healing

Rhi -- How are you doing?

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strawberry17

Well done! I know that feeling of achievement with the tapering!

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Rhiannon

Thanks everybody!

 

I'm doing pretty well. A little stressed out right now because of an abusive coworker, but that situation is being addressed by management, it looks like. We'll see. If my supervisor can't stop him, I'll take it to HR.

 

He only acts out his rage late in the evening when there's nobody around in a position of authority, and he only does it to women, so I think there's a strong case for harassment and hostile work environment, and our HR is pretty no-tolerance to that kind of thing. They don't want lawsuits. Plus there's a history of prior complaints by other people and he's been called up to HR once already.

 

On the down side, we've just lost two techs so there is absolutely no way in he** that he's going to get fired, and he knows it.

 

It's challenging because I was abused as a kid and later as a wife, and it's still terrifying to set boundaries with someone who is going to react with hostility and manipulative behavior. I work swing shift with him so late in the evening we are alone together for several hours, which is really triggering for me. But that's how he's gotten this far--he can tell that I'm vulnerable because I have such bad PTSD from previous abuse, and my kneejerk limbic reaction to his boundary violations is to cringe and be submissive in order to mollify him. Which unfortunately just reinforces his behavior and encourages him to push further and see how much more he can get away with.

 

So I'm looking at this as a painful, challenging, but potentially liberating and empowering learning opportunity. To practice crunching right over the eggshells instead of trying to tiptoe on them, at least once in a while. To get myself away from him when I feel like he's about to attack. To continue to report his behavior to the appropriate authorities. To see if I can get a little more frontal lobe control over my behavior when my PTSD is triggered (not an easy task).

 

Anyway he kind of blew it Friday night, I think. Our supervisor is pretty pissed. She apologized to me for his behavior and said she's going to put a stop to it once and for all. We'll see. She usually doesn't really do much.

 

But it's good for me to learn/hear that this kind of behavior is not acceptable and I don't have to put up with it. I didn't get that message growing up. Au contraire, unfortunately.

 

I've decided to hold my taper for a few weeks until things at work settle down. I just made some cuts and it's time for a hold anyway. I'm down to 4.65 of Celexa now, plus 135 of Lamictal, 75 of Neurontin, and 0.375 of Xanax. That's been a pretty fast drop in Celexa for me, although I'm thrilled, but I know it has a lag time and comes back to bite your butt weeks or months later, so I think I'd better hold. Please feel free to remind me I said that.

 

Anyway, so. Also have some kind of annoying ouch virus thing going on.

 

So I think I'm going to leave this cute coffeehouse now and go back home to my Internet-less Neolithic existence and crawl under the furs and get some rest.

 

I miss you guys!

 

--Rhi

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Altostrata

We miss you, Rhi! Get better and come back soon!

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Brandy

I'll never catch up on things, so just catching up a bit here...

 

So glad you're doing so well on the tapering. That's great news! And yes, certainly hold for as long as you need to given that you've had the move and now a virus. And now I read the ******* issue also...

 

On the down side, we've just lost two techs so there is absolutely no way in he** that he's going to get fired, and he knows it.

--Rhi

 

I think that means they also can't afford to lose you!

 

A dilemma for them, but if good techs are in short supply, if things don't improve soon, maybe when things in your life get more stable (all settled in in new home, etc. - and of course virus healed), it might spur things on or at least be a relief to you to look into other job openings.

 

Hopefully won't be necessary but it sounds like they need you at your place of employment at least as much as they need him. ("At least as much"because you don't harass employees they don't want to lose! ^_^)

 

Please take care and I hope things get better soon!

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summer

I've decided to hold my taper for a few weeks until things at work settle down. I just made some cuts and it's time for a hold anyway. I'm down to 4.65 of Celexa now, plus 135 of Lamictal, 75 of Neurontin, and 0.375 of Xanax. That's been a pretty fast drop in Celexa for me, although I'm thrilled, but I know it has a lag time and comes back to bite your butt weeks or months later, so I think I'd better hold. Please feel free to remind me I said that.

 

 

Per your request, just thought I'd remind you... and remind myself -- the slower the better! I'm holding as well... don't want no butt bites! :D

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serotonin

Congratulations and u are doing it the safe way!

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Rhiannon

Thanks everybody! Thanks for all the support. I'm finally better, AND I finally have Internet at home!

 

And as of today down to 4.6 mg of Celexa, uh huh, doing the "happy" strut... Going to stay here for a couple of weeks before going to 4.55, see how it goes.

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Rhiannon

Down to 4.5 today! and 60 of Neurontin!

 

I'm thinking of holding the other three while I taper the Neurontin down a little faster. We'll see. I'll only do it if it works. Not sure how my CNS will respond to tapering one drug and holding the others.

 

This multi-drug taper thing has been interesting. Everyone says not to do it this way, but it's actually not been bad at all. More successful so far than my attempts to make homemade kefir, anyway, and nobody says THAT's impossible.

 

And since nobody has actually studied psych drug tapering in any sort of systematic way, near as I can tell the only reason they say not to do more than one at a time is because they say not to do more than one at a time.

 

Seems to me, since even ONE drug affects multiple (probably hundreds) of other systems, and nobody knows exactly which ones and in what ways--if you're on a mixture of drugs, reducing the whole mixture, with all its combined synergistic effects, might if anything be safer than pulling one med out of the mixture and thereby continually altering the synergistic effect that your brain is used to. At least, I can't see why it would be less safe.

 

I think the key with any psychiatric drug tapering is taking it slow enough to allow time to, as much as possible, gradually reverse the adaptive changes caused by the meds, slow enough to allow the brain to achieve homeostasis at the new drug levels as you go down, rather than overwhelming it with traumatic changes. So far in the very small nonscientific experiment of my taper, that seems to be the key.

 

Sadly (but not, to me, surprisingly) that turns out to be MUCH slower than drug companies and doctors want to admit. Clearly they are not talking to the neuroscientists. (But I've been screaming about that for a while. Come on, you guys. You have those pricey educations and we're paying you a gazillion dollars to be smart. Why can't you read a little neuroscience? It's only our friggin LIVES at stake, after all! Oh, but never mind, ignore the science, believe what the pharmaceutical companies tell you, that makes $O much more $ense.)

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Altostrata

Hey, didn't know you were on Neurontin, too.

 

Could you put a summary of your situation in your signature?

 

The reason we say taper one drug at a time is minimize stress on nervous system and permit it to adjust after each drop. For example, tapering antidepressants and benzos at the same time is very destabilizing because when you take the cap off both of them simultaneously, you're going to get increased activation that feeds on itself.

 

If you are listening closely to your body -- and, Rhi, I know you are -- you may be able to control more complex withdrawal schedules.

 

How small a drop did you make in both the Celexa and Neurontin?

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Rhiannon

Down to 50 mg of Neurontin! Woo hoo!

 

There's something about those round numbers. I know it's no different really from 51 or 49, but it feels like a milestone anyway.

 

Also at 0.34 of Xanax, 4.3 of Celexa, 128 of Lamictal, and now, newly started for my tapering delectation, I have begun tapering the Valium that I added in as part of a failed attempt to "cross over" from Xanax, and I'm down to a not very exciting 1.9 (from 2.0) of that.

 

Those have been some big and quick cuts for me in the past couple of weeks, all put together, and I feel like crap, of course. I'll be holding for a bit if I can make myself. It's odd, one of my symptoms when I"m cutting too fast is that I want to keep cutting even faster. I think that may have to do with my frontal lobes being out to lunch temporarily. Plus some kind of obsessiveness that I get. Anyway, basically, sooner or later it hurts enough or gets scary enough that I manage to force myself to hold. I think I'm just about at that point. Ouch.

 

The worst thing is the agoraphobia, though. It's so hard to get out of the house even though staying home just makes things worse and I'm trying to develop some kind of sense of connection with other people.

 

So on that note I'm going to end this post and drag myself out the door (literally, it's so hard) and drag my reluctant self to the nearest Unitarian church (arriving about halfway through the service, at this point).

 

OR

 

maybe go crawl back into bed and escape into a detective novel.

 

No, I"m already dressed, I"m going, I'm going to imagine all of you here handing me my purse and helping (shoving, that is) me out the door.

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Claudius

Way to go! Countdown to zero... :D

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brighteningup

Rhi,

 

That's great news.

 

Hope you managed to drag yourself out ok. I usually find being around other people helps, strangeley perhaps, this is especially when I've had a few days of not wanting to see anyone.

 

Hope you start feeling less crappy soon.

 

Hugs,

 

Bright

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