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Hi everybody. I just signed up. I know enough about depression to fill a book. I think I'm finally putting everything together after dealing with this monster for over half of my life (I'm 51). It took a whole lot of research and my dad getting diagnosed with cancer to push me into into enough pain that I figured out I needed to talk to my depression to beat it. Once I got that ball rolling, things started making sense. Then, I discovered tardive dysphoria, or oppositional tolerance - which is basically your brain on psych drugs = a pathological syndrome. So, here I am.


I felt like a zombie. I couldn't think straight. My memory was shot. My emotions were numb. Now I'm down 75 mg on my mood stabilizer. I feel better. I feel like a slowly waking zombie. I feel more stable than I did before I started tapering down. My moods were totally erratic. I couldn't predict a darn thing. I was blowing up a customers for no dang reason!


So, I think I became depressed because I am a perfectionist. It is a family thing. Well, it is kind of a human thing. Problem is, if you have an idea or a plan and it doesn't work out, you get bummed. If you are a "highly sensitive person" you get really, really bummed. I was a really sensitive kid. I cried about everything. My feelings got hurt easily. I was introverted, shy, got bullied, the whole tortured soul thing. I was a really sweet kid who would do anything to make anyone happy. Problem was, I let people take advantage of me. Eventually that catches up with you.


I was wondering if anyone had a similar background, who knows how to just..... let go of being perfect? Especially how to get something else, like Mom, to let go? I adore my mom...... but we're having a rough go of it right now. We are both still grieving the loss of my dad. I'm withdrawing, she knows that, and we are having a horrible time communicating. I asked her to go to counseling. On her own, or with me. My brother is actually a psychologist. Nope. She won't go. I'm going, of course. I've been in an out of therapy for the last 25 years. Mostly in therapy. So as usual, I get to figure this out. 


It took me a really long time to figure my crap out but I'm hoping maybe I finally did.  

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  • Moderator

Welcome to SA, Elle77.  We are a site for going off psychiatric drugs and helping members deal with withdrawal from these drugs.


We recommend tapering by no more than 10% of current dose every four weeks.  If you could let us know what mood stabilizer you are tapering, your original dosage and the rate at which you are tapering it, we can give you assistance in your taper.


That's great that you're feeling better on your lower dose.  Are you having any withdrawal symptoms?


What is withdrawal syndrome.


Daily Checklist of Antidepressant Withdrawal Symptoms (PDF)


We don't recommend a lot of supplements on SA, as many members report being sensitive to them due to our over-reactive nervous systems, but two supplements that we do recommend are magnesium and omega 3 (fish oil). Many people find these to be calming to the nervous system. 


Magnesium, nature's calcium channel blocker 


Omega-3 fatty acids (fish oil) 


Add in one at a time and at a low dose in case you do experience problems.


Here is a link on oppositional tolerance that I hope you'll find helpful.


Andrews, 2011 Blue again: Perturbational effects of ...


This is your Introduction topic, where you can ask questions and connect with other members.  We're glad you found your way here.

Edited by Gridley

Gridley Introduction


Lexapro 20 mg since 2004.  Begin Brassmonkey Slide Taper Jan. 2017.   

End 2017 year 1 of taper at 9.25mg 

End 2018 year 2 of taper at 4.1mg

End 2019 year 3 of taper at 1.0mg  

Oct. 30, 2020  Jump to zero from 0.025mg.  Current dose: 0.000mg

3 year, 10 month taper is 100% complete.


Ativan 1 mg to 1.875mg 1986-2020, two CT's and reinstatements

Nov. 2020, 7-week Ativan-Valium crossover to 18.75mg Valium

Feb. 2021, begin 10%/4 week taper of 18.75mg Valium  

End 2021  year 1 of taper at 6mg

End 2022 year 2 of taper at 2.75mg 

Current dose as of Feb. 25, 2023 2mg

Taper is 89% complete.


Imipramine 75 mg daily since 1986.  Jan-Sept 2016 tapered to 14.4mg  

March 22, 2022: Begin 10%/4 week taper

Aug. 5, 2022: hold at 9.5mg and shift to Valium taper

Taper is 87% complete.  


Supplements: omega-3, vitamins C, E and D3, magnesium glycinate, probiotic, zinc, melatonin .3mg

I am not a medical professional and this is not medical advice but simply information based on my own experience, as well as other members who have survived these drugs.

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  • Mentor

Hi Elle


Oh yeah, I was big time buried in being a perfectionist when I was dealing with WD and anxiety.  Whoever coined the phrase that we're our own worse critics must have been thinking about me.  I was (okay, still am) a control freak who wanted everything to work out the way I wanted.  I'd beat myself up over the slightest mistakes, especially at work, even really minor ones.  Working with my therapist, I learned few things:


1. This is a form of reverse narcissism, where you magnify the importance of everything you say or do and think everybody thinks you're an awful person.  It took me a while to realize I just wasn't that central to everybody else's life. 


2.  I learned the practice of compassionate self-talk.  What would I tell my best friend if he was in the same situation?  Would judge him and point out his failings or would I help him find perspective and tell him its not as big a deal as it seems?


3.  I can't be responsible for others' actions.  I still get riled up when I see injustice or unfairness, but I have to accept I can't change some people or situations.


In the end, I found that time was the best medicine.  I made the occasional mistake at work and I didn't get fired.  Most situations that I saw as unjust ultimately worked themselves out.   I still have to talk myself down sometimes but at least I can recognize when my perfection demon is trying to control my inner narrative, and I can shut it down.


But I still rearrange the lights on my Christmas tree until they're "just right"! 😁

Edited by mstimc

Tim C

Started Paxil for GAD in 1999

Unsuccessful taper attempt in 2006

Paxilprogress helped with a successful taper completed in 2009

Using therapy and CBT to manage my anxiety

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Than you. Calling it reverse narcissism makes sense to me. My background is political science and psychology, which is kind of funny, since you see a lot of narcissists in politics. We also have one (an ex) in our family, but she is still attached through children. I've seen how destructive narcissism can be. Looking at perfection through that lense makes perfect sense to me. Pun intended.


I think a lot of it was about having control. Really, no one has any control. We make decisions, we take actions, we do our best. The outcome is whatever it is. We deal with it. Life is..... whatever it is. We cannot control the outcome. My need for control was complicated by learned helplessness, which caused depression. You have to let go of learned helplessness and become empowered to overcome depression. You also have to get off the meds, since they cause chronic depression. 


I have been empowered by learning more about why I became depressed and that it is o.k. to not be perfect. As I let go of my need to be perfect, and I am a kinder, gentler person, the people around me will start letting go, too.  

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Hello Gridley. Thank you for the info, I appreciate it. I will check it out.


I was on 425 Topamax, 80 mg Strattera, 3 mg Lunesta, and 225 mg Effexor. I read a lot of information about withdrawing before I discussed it with my psychiatrist, so I knew that 10% was the max recommended taper. I started with the Topamax, since I suspected that it was giving me the most problematic symptoms.


Topamax is well known in the psych community for causing cognitive decline. In fact, it has a nickname: "dopamax." As far as I know, using Topamax (topriamate) for mood disorders and/or bi-polar (which I was diagnosed with, and I highly question) is still off label usage. It causes memory loss, problems with word retrieval, you forget how to spell, words look wrong. You feel like a zombie. 


Since Topamax comes in 100 mg tablets, I've been tapering at 25 mg a month. 50 mg would have been too much, so I cut my pills in quarters. I've slowly been coming out of my stupor. The cognitive fog I was in is lifting and I feel better. It's funny, my ex-bf thinks I'm thinks mental wizard, and I feel like an idiot compared to how my mind used to work. I mean before I got on these meds. I'm down 75 mg so far.


I've been on SSRIs since 1994. Effexor is an SNRI, but it's still in the same class of drugs, it's a reuptake inhibitor. I had one manic in 2010 when I quit taking my meds. I stopped taking them because I wasn't feeling anything. Specifically I wasn't feeling anything good. I guess I would say I was anhedonic. That was caused by the SSRIs, sure, but totally different than what I have now, which is the dysphoria. It was a horrible feeling. I was hospitalized and diagnosed with bi-polar. I was told I would "need to be on medication for the rest of my life" to remain stable. I disagree with the diagnosis based on my review of the literature regarding how bi-polar is supposed to be diagnosed. I also disagree with the idea of having to be dependent on ANY drugs for the rest of my life. This is MY choice. I choose to be free of drugs which alter my mind.


In 2003 I was diagnosed with ADHD. I've had significant problems with focusing and getting my work done, executive functions, etc. I was inattentive when I was a child, had major problems learning math. However, I wonder if the SSRIs contributed to the worsening of my symptoms, since they didn't become an issue until well into my career as an insurance defense adjuster handling high value/highly complex litigation cases. I went on an off meds several times. I went back on them in the summer of 2018 because of problems with focusing, irritability, and anger. I also went on the Lunesta at the same time due to chronic sleep problems. 


As for withdrawal symptoms, they are tolerable. The first few days I feel emotionally funky, but that's nothing compared to what I've already been through. I am so much more stable than I've been, I can deal. This is a walk in the part. The vertigo is bad the first day or so, but eh, I can deal with that, too. The weirdest thing is at night I get what feels like an electrical vibe going through me. I read about some people having it, or I would have freaked out.


The hardest thing is what I still have. I would call it the tardive dysphoria, which I had read about. I've had it for so long I hadn't even noticed it. I would call it "yeah, whatever, don't care." I think it's actually from the chronic depression (25 years), losing my dad, and quitting my job. The first anniversary of my dad's death was this January 12th. I quit my job in November because of a lost year long fight over not getting a reasonable accommodation (to work day shift, lol). It's just a lot. The thing is, I would normally be balling my eyes out and I would be ruminating about how sucky my life is right now. I'm NOT because I am getting better!! 


I am getting better.

I am getting better.

I am getting better.


Damn. Now this is something to cry about!! Yee haw!!!!!! Woo hoo!!!

I've done enough crying. I'm gonna get weird and goofy!!!!







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  • manymoretodays changed the title to Elle77: Perfectionism
  • 2 years later...

Hello @Elle77

How are you doing these days? 

Thank you for your posts. I find them helpful. 

I'm thinking of you and wishing you peace and healing,


1996-2018 - misc. polypharmacy, incl. SSRIs, SNRIs, neuroleptics, lithium, benzos, stimulants, antihistamines, etc. (approx. 30+ drugs)

2012-2018 - 10mg lexapro/escitalopram (20mg?)    Jan. 2018 - 10mg -> 5mg, then from 5mg -> 2.5mg, then 0mg  -->  July 2018 - 0mg

2017(?)-2020 - vyvanse/lisdexamfetamine 60-70mg    2020-2021 - 70mg down to 0mg  -->  July 2021 - 0mg

March-April 2021 - vortioxetine 5-10mg (approx. 7 weeks total; CT)  -->  April 28th, 2021 - 0mg

supplements: magnesium powder (dissolved in water) as needed throughout the day; 1 tsp fish oil w/ morning meal; 2mg melatonin 

August 1, 2022 - 1 mg melatonin


Courage is fear that has said its prayers.  - Karle Wilson Baker

love and justice are not two. without inner change, there can be no outer change; without collective change, no change matters.  - Rev. angel Kyodo williams

Holding multiple truths. Knowing that everyone has their own accurate view of the way things are.  - text on homemade banner at Afiya house


I am not a medical professional; this is not medical advice. 

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