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Mariposa

Mariposa: Still hitting a wall 3 years drug free, reaching out, please help

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Mariposa

 

Hi all, 

 

Been benefiting tremendously from all your posts, advice, support, strategies and resources since 2015 through my withdrawal. Really in awe of this whole site, the collective brain power, care and dedication of underground (and on the ground) warriors. Thank you. 

 

I now know I didn't make it easy on myself with the taper.  Not having enough support, knowledge, patience. It pretty much turned my whole world upside down and inside out and provoked a deep spiritual transformation.  It will sound familiar that after almost 15 straight years on psych drugs, at 35 (now 39) I started a complete deconstruction of the life I built not just to survive withdrawal but to understand the house of cards that my life had been built on, without having had access to my emotions and without having dealt with my emotional pain during my crucial 20s and early 30s.  So my story is the familiar white-knuckling the symptoms, braving the strange new world of emotions and making the necessary changes to life to be healthier and more authentic.

 

Which brings me to today, three years after stopping all drugs. Despite all these gains, I still can't consider my story a success (yet). One big reason is the continued emotional instability, which linked to what I think is iatrogenic hormonal disruption, and possibly chronic unresolving depression. The big problem is continued suicidal ideation, which is present but manageable outside my menstrual cycle (given my history, I understand it has had its place in my coping resources, and I'm addressing that), but then becomes a nearly insurmountable problem for about 2 weeks straight leading up to it (I hate to give the DSM any legitimacy by using the term "PMDD" but I suppose that best describes it.)

 

During this time, it physically feels like my brain is inflamed, my brain is insistently and convincingly suicidal, I lose all motivation, clarity of mind, am profoundly fatigued, chronically tearful, fearful, worried and stuck in my bed for days at a time. Then, like a switch flips as soon as I get my period my brain is much clearer, for two weeks. I don't remember anything like this before the drugs, although I suppose there's a chance this is why I was diagnosed 'bipolar' as a teen. Chicken and egg...

 

I feel pretty desperate about the situation because it feels like despite all the work I've done to heal the wounds of psychiatry on my life, I can't get my life on track.  Falling into a pit and out of life for 2 weeks every month makes it impossible for me to set goals, make steps forward in life, hold down a job...which then is a cycle that sets me up for more despair and distress (you get the picture). I know that the grief and tears I have held back for so many years need time to come out, but this has become a real quality of life issue since I can't see any resolution to it. At times I'm pretty hard on myself, thinking about what I'm doing wrong or not able to see in order to help myself out of this situation.

 

It's taken me this long to single out the hormones because while I was dealing with other life issues- repressed emotions from the withdrawal, job loss, identity loss, trauma, homelessness- it was impossible to separate the hormonal cycles from emotional flashbacks and other cptsd symptoms.  I know that hormones need time to repair (mine were completely out of whack as soon as I reduced the Lamitrogine.  I remember being covered in painful back acne for the first year of my withdrawal and my periods were irregular, inconsistent and painful) but I've really reached a point where I simply don't know how to help myself through this anymore. I'm currently only taking magnesium and vitamin D as supplements. Other than that I'm managing my symptoms with pretty basic self-care- a varied, vegan diet, lots of mindfulness, relaxation, therapy, friends and staying social and active as much as I can, when I can, but as you can imagine, find myself in a pretty disconnected, unstable and isolated situation and feeling like this is not even a 'good enough' quality of life.

 

Any naturopaths, GPs, gynes or others that I've gone to are still recommending SSRIs, birth control pills or very controversial surgeries (hysterectomy) to deal with this. When I told one specialist about the continued depression and dangerous ideation, she crinkled her nose sympathetically and said, 'So sorry, wish I could do something', suggested I see an herbalist and ended the session. She was the final doctor I went to about this.

 

I have a pure stubborn streak in me to which I credit a lot of my survival, but not being able to problem solve this one is causing me nearly to panic, and at the least to be in shock that despite all my efforts I can't see a future beyond living like this, and each episode seeing suicide as a more and more rational decision. I want so much to consider my story a withdrawal success and am so angry that I seem to have come up against this wall.

 

If anyone has ANY insight, perspective, information, hope to offer, I'd deeply appreciate it.

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Gridley

Welcome to SA, Mariposa.

 

I know from your post that you're a problem-solver and that not being able to problem-solve withdrawal is vexing, but generally withdrawal is not susceptible to problem-solving.  The only thing that seems to work is time.  Three years out is a long time but three years, and longer, is not uncommon in protracted withdrawal.

Protracted Withdrawal or PAWS (post-acute withdrawal ...

I see you're using coping skills.  Take a look at the links in the following and see if you think any might be helpful in your situation.

 

Non-drug techniques to cope

 

I'm not sure the articles on hormones in the following link are germane to your situation, but I include them in case they might be of some help.

Hochberg, 2003 Endocrine withdrawal syndromes. - From ...

Have you tried Omegas?

 

Omega-3 fatty acids (fish oil) 

 

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

 

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Mariposa

Hi Gridley, thanks so much for your reply and for the welcome. The links helped me wrap my head around important themes for me and that was helpful too. I don't know if this is the best way to reply or do the introduction, I feel sort of all over the place here.  If you have tips, please tell me!

 

I'm not sure if this is actually a PAWS situation or not? My actual 'withdrawal' symptoms clearly ended about 18-24 months after finally stopping my taper- the anxiety, terror, cortisol spikes etc. Then I was in the lion's mouth trying to understand and manage emotions that came back online and understand my childhood which took more than another year. What remains is only the hormonal issues and the suicidality. Both of these may have existed prior to getting on drugs in the first place when I was a teen, but I can't be sure. I do know I was miserably 'depressed' since a very young age.

 

I also don't know if the ongoing depression is PAWS either?  Anyone else who feels like withdrawal took the lid off an endless well of otherworldly grief? Even three years out I still cry nearly every day, and definitely every day while the hormones are in charge. Sometimes I feel like I'm crying for a long line of ancestral repressed energy, it feels so endless and deep. It's not traditional 'depression'. I just feel deep hurt, deep emotional pain. Those drugs did a hell of a job pushing issues down and away for me. But my god, there's got to be an end to it?!??!

 

One complication is that I know early trauma, in particular sexual trauma, wreaks havoc on our hormones. If anyone has more info or experience on this, especially for those on SA who were put on drugs because of symptoms of trauma, particularly childhood sexual abuse or incest? I can't tell you how FURIOUS it makes me to think of all the kids getting put on drugs for these issues, never mind how difficult it is to be seen for these issues even as an adult who knows how to advocate for herself, but that's a topic for another post probably. So I'm wondering whether healing that is the key to resolving the fluctuations?

 

The suicidality started in 2015 once I was about halfway into my taper and has been relentless since. I've been dealing with suicidal thoughts daily for three years now. Would love to hear from others who had a similar experience.

 

Gridley, I don't really know what to make of your advice, that withdrawal can't be problem solved, just give it more time. Can you say more what you mean?  I definitely understand that time is the best healer.  But I've also been actively involved in my healing every step since 2015 and it's served me well up until now and I've been able to see and address a lot of my underlying issues. I can't imagine anyone with this persistence of suicidality simply hanging on with time on their side. It's too all consuming, basically you exist to keep yourself alive, which I know sounds like a ridiculous paradox. I know many others have lost their lives in this fight and I don't want to be one of them. To be honest, I'm quite frightened and despairing, not being able to see how it is humanly possible to keep on. Being unemployed and without a reliable address adds to the complication here. But with the hormonal rollercoaster, pinning those two things down has been impossible. 

 

As far as coping skills, yes thank you for the list. I have relied on SA for so many resources and skills over the years, I'm forever grateful and keep a written list of my go-tos close by and they serve me well everyday. I have a lot of gratitude for having the opportunity to experience this life, despite not seeing a future for myself. Sometimes I sense maybe what I need is a major paradigm shift for my whole life, because right now 'surviving' feels a whole lot like a living death and I'm having trouble rationalizing it.

 

Thanks for the reminder about Omegas. Since going meat, fish and dairy free, I do get some fattys from chia and flax but I know it's not the same as fish. I'll look into substitutes that might be better.

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Gridley
9 hours ago, Mariposa said:

Gridley, I don't really know what to make of your advice, that withdrawal can't be problem solved, just give it more time. Can you say more what you mean?

I just mean that withdrawal and healing from these drugs is something that is physiological and largely beyond our understanding.  I certainly don't mean to say that problem-solving isn't something you can't continue to apply to underlying issues.  But as far as understanding the withdrawal process and what's happening during the healing process, we just don't know what's going on in our brain and central nervous system during these processes.  The following illustrate what I mean.

 

 

   On 8/30/2011 at 2:28 PM,  Rhiannon said: 
When we stop taking the drug, we have a brain that has designed itself so that it works in the presence of the drug; now it can't work properly without the drug because it's designed itself so that the drug is part of its chemistry and structure. It's like a plant that has grown on a trellis; you can't just yank out the trellis and expect the plant to be okay. When the drug is removed, the remodeling process has to take place in reverse. SO--it's not a matter of just getting the drug out of your system and moving on. If it were that simple, none of us would be here. It's a matter of, as I describe it, having to grow a new brain. I believe this growing-a-new-brain happens throughout the taper process if the taper is slow enough. (If it's too fast, then there's not a lot of time for actually rebalancing things, and basically the brain is just pedaling fast trying to keep us alive.) It also continues to happen, probably for longer than the symptoms actually last, throughout the time of recovery after we are completely off the drug, which is why recovery takes so long.

 

AND

 

   On 12/3/2015 at 10:41 AM,  apace41 said: 
Basically- you have a building where the MAJOR steel structures are trying to be rebuilt at different times - ALL while people are coming and going in the building and attempting to work.

It would be like if the World Trade Center Towers hadn't completely fallen - but had crumbled inside in different places.. Imagine if you were trying to rebuild the tower - WHILE people were coming and going and trying to work in the building!  You'd have to set up a temporary elevator - but when you needed to fix part of that area, you'd have to tear down that elevator and set up a temporary elevator somewhere else. And so on. You'd have to build, work around, then tear down, then build again, then work around, then build... ALL while people are coming and going, ALL while the furniture is being replaced, ALL while the walls are getting repainted... ALL while life is going on INSIDE the building. No doubt it would be chaotic. That is EXACTLY what is happening with windows and waves.  The windows are where the body has "got it right" for a day or so - but then the building shifts and the brain works on something else - and it's chaos again while another temporary pathway is set up to reroute function until repairs are made.  

 

 

 

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Mariposa

Yeah I guessed that’s what you meant.  I’m familiar with the quotes you sent and the waves/window and trellis imagery. I experienced these patterns but as I said those ended about 2 years in. 
 

So, how do we know what’s PAWS  and what’s actually just recovery (natural but painful inner healing that was disrupted by the drugs)? I’m not sure that ‘PAWS’ is my situation, but I understand there’s no way to really know.  
 

Getting the feeling the message is there’s not an answer to this, simply nothing to be done, just exist with this suicidality. I guess I knew that would be the answer but had a bit more hope in me there’d be some wisdom on SA I had overlooked. I did see some other posts of folks trying to endure the same. Thanks so much for taking the time Gridley. 

My heart goes out to all that may be in the same place as me, without the support or structures needed to persevere. My best to all in the continued struggle. 

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Rhiannon

Mariposa, I think the other thing Gridley is saying is that even though one set of obvious withdrawal symptoms did resolve for you 18-24 months in, it is quite possible that this suicidality you are experiencing is also part of the PAWS. We just don't know enough about what 15 years on brain-chemical-altering drugs does to the brain and what the process of UNdoing that is like and how long it takes. I think we all wish we knew what was happening and could explain it with some clarity.

 

I listened to a talk once by a survivor of traumatic brain injury, a process that took many years, and she said that she thought the suicidality that she experienced during that time was maybe something our brains do because they need us to slow down, to hunker down and minimize stimulation so that they can do the work of healing. I don't know if it's true but it has helped me be more patient with all of my own shortcomings, both suicidality and also the tremendous anxiety and agoraphobia that make it so hard for me to get out there and participate in life and take on new challenges. 

 

I guess, short version, what I'm saying is, although nobody has an answer of how to make this problem go away, it's definitely possible that it will improve or resolve itself in the future, there is no reason to assume that your healing from withdrawal is somehow all over and this is a final state for you. Take as good care of yourself as you can and be as patient as you can with your healing. I know that's not much help to hear when you're suffering like you are. Suicidality is awful. I've been there and still revisit from time to time. I'm so sorry.

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Mariposa

Rhiannon thanks so much.  I'm glad I finally got on these boards, helps things feel more real and not all in my head (or my control).

 

Thanks for adding that about what Gridley said. I did do a lot more reflecting on PAWS and what that might mean for my situation. I don't know where I might have decided that I was fully healed and 'only' dealing now with my normal emotional stuff...it's soooo hard to tease apart what are life issues and what are stubborn chemical effects. 😕 

 

When I think about it, it takes a lot of pressure off of me for continuing to feel miserable and demotivated and not able to piece my life together yet.  I've been beating myself up about that lately. But if its true, like your friend says, that the suicidality is intentionally slowing me down, the only helpful reaction is acceptance I suppose. But I do need some base level of functionality, which I don't have during the two pms weeks.

 

 I noticed in your signature you lost everything...I'll have to go back and reread your story because I'm in a similar boat and would love to hear how you worked through that. One big problem right now that if I solved it would help a lot I think is not having a stable place to live.  Being constantly anxious and stressed about employment and housing is making it hard to override the suicidal thoughts. 

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Happy2Heal
18 hours ago, Mariposa said:

Anyone else who feels like withdrawal took the lid off an endless well of otherworldly grief? Even three years out I still cry nearly every day, and definitely every day while the hormones are in charge. Sometimes I feel like I'm crying for a long line of ancestral repressed energy, it feels so endless and deep. It's not traditional 'depression'. I just feel deep hurt, deep emotional pain. Those drugs did a hell of a job pushing issues down and away for me. But my god, there's got to be an end to it?!??!

yes!!! yes yes yes and yes! 

I know that I am not depressed but I feel a great well of sadness in me and I can cry and cry.

I hate the psychiatric labels but I have, I guess, what they are now calling complex PTSD, from traumas that started basically at birth and that had a profound impact on your personality, supposedly (I have no idea if that's true, I only know that I endured ongoing traumatic abuse from birth)

so I've been working with the theory that my sadness is grief, and I welcome it. I honor it.

But sometimes it does seem to be endless and I know my therapist is losing patience with me because I can not easily connect it to any one event. I can't connect it in my mind to very specific things, either, it's more of an overall sense of loss. Great loss.

 

I also look back and see that I've "lost" my entire adult life to these drugs, having been forced to take first generation anti psychotics at age 18 and having never had more brief periods when I was not on at least one, and usually 3 or 4, psych drugs.

43 yrs of my life, DRUGGED.

 

for most of that time, I didn't feel like I was truly in touch with any real emotions. Sure I felt some sadness, and some joy and everything in between but it was somehow divorced from me in a way that is almost impossible to explain. Like it was more of a thought than a feeling, and this distance between my self and my emotions got bigger and bigger as time went on.

at the same time, my world became super small, I was a virtual shut in for almost 2 decades and when I finally decided that it must be the damn drugs that had caused this sorry state of affairs, I was literally only leaving my house maybe once or twice a month, to buy food and/or to get meds (and see a dr twice a year)

 

I am now 2 years and 4 mos "post zero"

Although I feel like I am totally healed and WD is over, I can't say that for sure.
I have no idea if this tremendous sadness is WD related or "just" a back log of grief that needs to be processed.

I don't know if there is any way to determine that.

 

I am also having issues with anger and frustration, I have a low tolerance for frustration and when I get angry, I find it hard to cool down. I don't know if that's because I didn't learn to deal with these feelings because I was too drugged to actually *feel* them, or if this is a WD thing, 

if this is my brain still trying to stabilize.

 

I don't feel suicidal but I am 64 now but sometimes my mind skips ahead and thinks, nothing really matters and I'm gonna be dead so, like- kind there's kind of a pointlessness to life, that could possibly be considered a kind of depression, I don't know.
Those thoughts are pretty fleeting, luckily, but it shocks me how quickly my mind can go there.

I don't know what any of this means.

I can't believe that the way your worded it is so much the way that I would have done, if my brain was in better shape and I could find the words (*that*, my trouble finding words, is something I think the drugs did to me, OR, it could be age related, another thing I'll probably never know, but for now,  I prefer to think it was the drugs because I can heal from that. But I don't have a choice about aging LOL just gotta keep doing that because the alternative doesn't attract me at all LOL)

 

wow, I'm so glad you posted.

 

I was wondering if my crying spells were related to my diet, since I had been eating more fat and sugar over the holidays and sugar is very bad for my mood.

Always was, I just never realized it til I changed my diet

 

to fit in with friends and to not be a "party pooper" and well, frankly because I have a terrible sweet tooth LOL I overindulged over the holidays and am now trying to get the wt off and get back to the much better diet I was doing so well on.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~ Just read your most recent post, oh my I am so sorry you are struggling with your living circumstances, housing and employment, those are two biggies for sure. My heart goes out to you.

heck yeh those are not small things, 

 and if I was going thru that, I think I might have more than fleeting thoughts about jumping ship, so to speak.

 

I wish there was a way I could wave a magic wand and make those stresses go away! 

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Mariposa

Ohhh wow Happy2Heal thanks for writing to me. Yes, I remember the moment early in withdrawal when I was crying so hard and so deep and some distant inner wisdom offered up the word 'grief' and from that moment on I realized it had always been grief, never 'depression'. That helped me allow the tears to flow and flow and flow as they needed without feeling like I had to get my sh-- together and strategize my way out of a so-called 'depressive' hole. 

 

It also helped me realize that maybe I needed to look at things that I had been ignoring, and see if the stories I had been telling myself about my life were actually true...which is how I realized that early trauma impacts us in ways that we often don't let rise to our consciousness.  That's when I started doing these 'what if' meditations, as in, yeah, ok Mariposa I know that you SAY that doesn't bother you and doesn't impact your life, but just pretend for a minute it DID, how would your body react? And the tears and tremors that were released was my journey to the mind-body connection and the nauseating realization of what impact psychiatry had had on my life. 

 

Then I got really interested in the whole idea of grief and why it is that parts of our society aren't honoring this basic human process. And then I have grief over not having the chance to grieve due to my years with psychiatry :P  I'm still on that journey and would love to hear from others who have looked into this too. I think that grief is one of the most beautiful, magical expressions of us as human beings, how deep we love, and how deep we feel loss.

 

I can't say what will happen for you, but I had that feeling too of just general 'loss'. I absolutely could not untangle where it was coming from and sometimes I just threw my hands to the sky and told the universe, enough, I cannot hold grief that doesn't belong to me so please help me see what's mine (I had a sense of a matriarchal line of inheritance of grief). It was only through serendipitous connections and situations that I started untangling the mess; then I just had to follow the breadcrumbs as they revealed themselves to me. Who knows if I have a handle on it all, but I'm ok with a residual feeling of 'loss' that doesn't resolve...I sort of think it's part of the human condition to have a bit of that constantly.

 

It's amazing what you've done to honor yourself and recover yourself...43 years...there's just not words for it.  I'm so deeply grateful to know you and people in this community who are truly here on earth with an otherworldly strength to seek the truth. I am so so glad for you that the suicidal feelings aren't plaguing you any more. When did that shift and how did it happen?

 

I had a similar experience with the drugs...my world and mind became smaller and smaller and more rigid and isolated until I was living this bizarre, minimalist, friendless, disconnected and robotic life- totally 'functional' of course! One of the things that prompted me to get off the drugs after 15 years was the realization that I was alone but not lonely. I remember going in to my provider and saying, "I know, as a rational human being, based on the details of my life, that I SHOULD feel lonely, but I don't, is that odd?" but obviously she wasn't concerned. I also started to realize the cognitive impact of the drugs...my career wasn't moving forward, I had no hobbies anymore and I physically felt like I had a ceiling that was closing in from above me, that I couldn't see over.  I've read Breggin's work on cognitive impairment from the drugs and it resonates a lot with me.

 

As far as the anger...YES.  One of the keys to healing the damage of repressing emotions has been finding a way to express them. I have to admit, my way of doing this has not been pretty or graceful or thoughtful, but I have made massive improvements just through repetitive and relentless mindfulness and meditation practice. It does feel good to join this mess of life again, and have permission to be imperfect and contradictory and conflicted (things I couldn't access while drugged and repressed).

 

And as for the sugar, I agree that's something to watch. I did stop eating most processed sugar, which seemed like it was never going to happen, but became easier when I went dairy-free and meat free just because I think my palate changed?  So keep at it like you are, it definitely isn't something that can easily happen just by willpower.

 

I'm realizing I'm doubly grateful for these boards because it'll help me document my moods, which I've never been good at doing even though I know it would help...at the high point of my moontime cycle right now, so I have a lot to say and more optimism and ability to self-reflect and see a future, at least for the next week or 10 days...

 

Thanks again for writing me.

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Mariposa

Hi all, 

 

Last I posted was before all this pandemic insanity and I've been reluctant to post anything, since most everyone's life is upside down at this point but with my mental state the way it is, I might as well try to reach out I think. The depression I'm experiencing is severe and the suicidal thoughts pretty much a constant.  Now facing this dystopian, avoidant and fearful future, it's that much harder to keep up the rationality of continuing to suffer with this. 

 

I started a separate post about taking b12 which did appear to help me quite a bit, energy, pain, mental clarity all somewhat better.  But it didn't end up being the answer to the depression and SI as I hoped.

 

I'm still relying heavily on distraction, nature, mindful awareness of my thoughts and emotions and a certain amount of detachment from my brain, if that makes any sense....I just try not to trust my thoughts or make meaning out of the depressive symptoms like tiredness and crying. I get up everyday, shower, eat well, have a routine, avoid negativity...all the good stuff. 

 

But...Now three years drug free, more and more the feelings I'm having I'm realizing are the ones I had when I was a teenager, majorly depressed, antisocial, withdrawn, etc, just before the mental health system became my 'answer'.  I know these feelings....isolated, unloved, deeply brokenhearted, suicidal...stuff from childhood that obviously affected my development and emotional wellness.  Ie, the reasons I went on the drugs originally since I basically spent my teenage years in bed sleepimg, crying or drowning my thoughts in sad music. 

 

I would love to hear from others who were put on drugs for severe depression in the first place, especially as a child.  How are you coming now that you're reducing or off the drugs?

 

When I reflect on my life, I realize the only time I've been not dealing with depression since the age of maybe 10 (when i competley stopped smiling) was when I was medicated into being disconnected from my pain. I tend to think the drugs robbed me of the ability to sort this all out in my 20s and 30s, so now here I am, a teenager in an adult body, completely ill prepared to manage the fallout. While on drugs I managed to make a career i was proud of and get my life together to some degree.  Now, I've lost that all in recovery and while there's a part of me holding on to the idea I can rebuild, this depression is simply brutal. Not sure honestly how to live with this, literally. 

 

This realization that the same depression is back is profoundly discouraging and doesn't bode well for the recovery I am trying to hold out for. I'm exhausted from just letting the original depression re-unfold before my very eyes. Even though the mods mentioned im probably in PAWS, this all feels way too familiar to just be drug damage. 

 

If anyone can PLEASE speak to or point me to other threads where people talk about managing childhood depression post drug damage, that would be awesome. I need some help to get some perpective here. Trying my best to keep riding out this nightmare, but not sure I'm doing that well. 

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