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Bluejay

Bluejay: I survived, you can too

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Bluejay
Posted (edited)

 

Above is my original posting and when I first discovered this amazing forum.  For me, I did not use this site to post my daily symptoms, I realized immediately in my personal journey that doing a daily post only heightened and prolonged my anxiety.  So I'm sorry if some people may be offended, but I used this site to read /re-read all of the success stories which gave me hope and I never thought I'd be able to write my own, but I have recovered and after much consideration think that if my situation helps just one person, then it is worth writing.  I apologize if I submit this in the wrong way, my intentions are good and pure, so be kind if I did something wrong, lol!

 

(You can read the long version in my original post above) I was on Celexa daily between 10-20 mg over 8 years, from 2009, I tapered myself for 1.5 years and was totally off by May 2018, when I was 37.  I was also on Klonopin .5 mg for 6 years on a take as needed basis.  You can see my own self made taper strategy I used (don’t use it, I did not know about this website until after I took my last dose of meds) I believe I came off too quick in the end, but honestly looking back it may not have mattered and I realize that this horrible painful journey may be the most challenging and benefiting experience of my life so far, so I actually don’t regret this because I feel way more enlightened in my life and path now than I ever did before and I know it is because I came off of a mind numbing drug and struggled through it.  

 

Wow, there really is so much to write.  First off, in my tapering, I would notice for about a week that I lowered my taper but then I’d feel fine.  It was not until I actually got off all meds that about a few weeks after I crashed.  After that for almost 6 months straight I had the feeling of not being able to breath, of crying uncontrollably several times throughout the day, being fearful greatly of the idea of death, not being able to watch tv or movies, it made me sick, feeling claustrophobic wearing sunglasses or driving with the windows up.  I had to physically be near someone all of the time, I was afraid to be alone.  Saying all this now makes me laugh in a sense because while I was going through it, it was so intense, suffocating and no one could relate other than this website’s members.  Yet, I made it through, and if I can, you can, too.  Each day was a true struggle for 6 months.  It got better a little after January and it continues to get better.  So the QUESTION is what did I do that helped me?  BTW, I’m not trying to be preachy just what I hope one would need to hear like I did when I was in need of hope.

 

#1. Don’t force it, be patient, time will heal you itself

 

#2. Keep busy, doesn’t matter what it is

 

#3. Be gentle on yourself

 

#4. Read positive Quotes, visit funny websites, watch funny videos on youtube

 

#5. Learn CBT

 

#6. Have hope

 

#7. Become the best version of yourself

 

#8. Eat healthy

 

#9. Take vitamins

 

#10. Exercise

 

#11. Get hobbies

 

#12. Let the people you love know you love them

 

#13. Volunteer, Focus on people other than yourself

 

#14. Know that you are strong

 

#15. Read self help stuff only if it helps

 

#16. Understand that sadness and anxiety is a part of life and will always be, you just need to learn how you cope w/ it (pills don’t do it)

 

Okay, my more in depth advice on the following if you have time to read

 

#1. Don’t force it, be patient, time will heal you itself

After I got off Celexa and Klonopin in May 2018, I was hit with immense withdrawal symptoms, and I was trying so hard during my struggle to get out of this feeling, to make it go away as fast as it could, but looking back, it is your body’s way of in a sense rebooting your brain and the idea of neuroplasticity isn’t going to happen overnight.  All of these symptoms are legit and you are not crazy but in my opinion what a human body naturally does when it is exposed to harsh psycho chemicals and then readjusting to life w/out them.  It’s best not to put a timetable on how your own body will work through this process. If you read these success stories, some have had success in as little as 6 months, others, years, my journey has been about 2 years and  I still get moments where I get hard of breathing or anxiety, but I will talk about that later, because hey, that’s just life in a hectic modern world.  I’d rather feel that than be numb like I was for almost a decade.  So be patient, it will happen and slowly almost as though you don’t know it is.  It’s not wrong to count the days and minutes of your symptoms and if they are lessening, etc, because honestly that is going to happen since this is so painful and excruciating, it’s hard not to do that.  But know that by trying to redirect your focus to the positive moments or something else other than your symptoms, it can IME (in my experience) make it go by quicker.  

 

#2. Keep busy, doesn’t matter what it is

For me, I realized immediately I had to keep busy, weird, but I spent years being a numb couch potato and when I quit the meds, I had this instant nervous energy but energy that would not let me sleep in, rest or do my previous activities of laziness, so I found hobbies like chess online.  Please know while I was doing all of this, I was desperately hoping one of these hobbies/activities would make me instantly fixed and happy and normal again, but honestly I never found one thing, instead for me during this time, I realized I needed a ton of stuff to make me feel a bit better, such as going and buying something online, reading funny jokes on the internet, watching cute animal videos, reading positive quotes, gardening, going to a restaurant to eat...Like I said though, internally, I was a wreck during this and it did not seem like any of it was helping at first, but I do think that doing this stuff and keeping busy was the best medicine.  I still would cry in public in restaurants, etc, so know that while I was doing all of this, it was still uncomfortable.  It began to get easier and I found later that if I didn’t pack my days even w/ mindless activities, I’d feel more on edge.

 

#3. Be gentle on yourself

Don’t be cruel to yourself or punish yourself.  Remember that you are doing one of the most challenging things ever, fighting biology and reprogramming your brain and it’s functioning.  You have to know that your journey will be your own one and you can take advice from others, but you are the one on this path, so just be kind to yourself.  You are your greatest possession.  One day you'll look back and this will all be a fuzzy memory as it is beginning to be for me.  It will happen because you’ve already taken that step to get here.  

 

#4. Read positive Quotes, visit funny websites, watch funny videos

For me this was the thing I did daily and multiple times in the day.  I specifically found this site called www.dumpaday.com where funny memes, funny pics and inspirational quotes were posted several times a day.  I was a nut about going to this site daily.  I was trying to boost any feelings of happiness and I think over time this was really good for me.  I did so much research on how to feel better, etc, and it will hurt your head researching too many self help things, so take a break and try to find things that are humorous to read/watch.  I know that for a while I was pretty numb, even looking at cute puppies playing could not make me smile, but know that eventually your brain will come out of it’s haze.  I kinda think it’s like you are retraining your brain on how to be, so again, it will take time, recondition it with all of the best positive stuff you can and just be patient.  You are re-inventing yourself and I believe you’ll be an even better person after this experience, because I feel so.

 

#5. Learn CBT

Okay, this really should be #1, but nevertheless, I took six months of therapy with a real certified CBT counselor...some therapists are not truly CBT certified, doesn’t mean they can’t help but look them up on https://www.nacbt.org/certified-members/.  The original therapist I was going to use said she was certified and then after a few sessions it was not helping and I found out she did not have the training so I found the 1 out 2 people in my large city who was.  If you can’t get this type of therapy, then please read the following two books and do the homework: (When Panic Attacks: The New, Drug-Free Anxiety Therapy That Can Change Your Life by David D. Burns M.D. ) and (The Feeling Good Handbook by David D. Burns)  Go easy on these at first, I tried to do too much too fast and it was overload and increased my anxiety...it will truly redirect your thinking patterns, no joke. I am a perfectionist so my therapist told me he had no doubt I’d get better because I took it super serious, but I have had major improvements because I took it seriously and had faith in it.  For example, leading up to right before I went on these meds ten years ago, I would state in my head over and over, “I hate myself, I feel depressed, I hate my life.”  that stuck w/ me and even intensified after getting off the meds, just uncontrollable thoughts of negativity that would pop in my head the moment I woke up and be w/ me every sec.  I have OCD!  Anyways, w/ CBT, I was able to realize and notice when I would have these thoughts or really any negative type of thinking and then I would be able to work through it in my mind . “Well, am I really depressed?  No, I am just tired, ok, I’m just tired.”  It has been the best thing in my life for trying to think better.  I still use and you will for your entire life if you read these books and do the practices because in order to be successful at it you need to know how to properly identify your thoughts.  Now I forget which ones are which such as ‘all or nothing thinking’, etc, but I am able to recognize that I am having cognitive distortions.  One major cognitive distortion is” I will never get better from my withdrawal, I will always have to be on meds, I am weak.”  Anyways, those were my initial thoughts going into my first therapy sessions and it has truly turned my life around, please look into it, you can retrain your thoughts!

Also on a side note, something that one of the therapists told me that actually made sense was that anxiety is looking towards the future while depression is looking at the past.  So if I feel like either of those emotions, I then try to think what am I doing, trying to control what has not happened yet which is producing anxiety or trying to understand the past which is making me depressed?  Anyways, it made these two emotions/feelings seem like they had less control over me once I looked at them from that angle.  Also the therapist said that anxiety is just like being excited, and if you look at it that way, it is survivable.   Look up Eckhart Tolle, on living in the now, it’s hard to, but I think essential. 

 

#6. Have hope

It is so hard to have hope when your entire world and feeling turns topsy turvy, but remember to have faith and hope that things will get better.  I was in my sisters backyard one day during the initial withdrawal symptoms and I remember looking up at the trees and the sky thinking my life was over.  A few months ago I was back at her house looking at those same trees and the sky thinking how amazing life is and I realized that not just a few years earlier, I thought my life was ruined and I’d never get better, so please know, it will if you work at it. And it will be even better because you worked at it.  I think I am proud of myself because I stuck it out.  It was so much easier to get back on the meds, my doctors are still surprised I’m not on them and I love that and they even ask how I did it, because they see too many people they prescribe these to rather than prescribing healthy living like exercise and stress reduction.  Know you will be better off of these horrible drugs and free.  The best things in life are the hardest things to work towards, but the most rewarding.  

 

#7. Become the best version of yourself

This happened slowly during my struggle with withdrawal, but in a way I started trying to work on myself and reinvent myself because the me on antidepressants was a sad person, a person I love so dearly and wish I could hug and tell that hey it’s going to be okay, but nevertheless, a person who wanted to change but did not know how.  So I worked on becoming the best version I could manage, this meant doing things I was scared of and doing things I neglected in the past.  I began working out, mostly because of my back injury, but I kept up w/ it, started cooking healthy meals myself and getting good at it, but I remember I’d have the worst anxiety cooking and be so scared in the kitchen, now w/ COVID lock down, I’ve made every meal  since March 13th and no issues.  So working on areas to improve yourself will benefit you and it will also enhance your relationships w/ others.  While I was working on improving myself, and instead of trying to control my relationship w/ my partner, an amazing thing actually, happened, we became closer than ever before and I know it was because I worked on me and tried to make myself happy first rather than rely on another to make me better and happy.  

 

#8. Eat healthy

This can’ be overstated, bad food just makes you feel bad.  Feed your brain and body good stuff, veggies, fruits, whole grains, fish, poultry, healthy fats, dark chocolate, green teas, bone broth...you get it.

 

#9. Take vitamins

I take a multi, plus a fish oil pill and a magnesium/calcium/vitamin d combo and a probiotic.  I can definitely tell when I don’t have my probiotic.  These vitamins give me energy. 

 

#10. Exercise

I could tell once COVID hit and I slacked from going to the gym that I felt more stir crazy, I think it definitely helps lower stress and anxiety.  I began swimming at the beginning of this journey and I think the cool water was helpful.  At first I would just walk around my block because I would be so amped up and jittery and unable to calm down and be clear headed.  Now, I am super clear headed, I am working on my art more, very detailed, time consuming realistic portraits, things not too doable during withdrawal but point is, you’ll get back to normal , so even easy walks are healthy for the brain to redirect and for your nerves.  I walked so much, lol!

 

#11. Get hobbies

Try to find things that are positive to devote your time to, I paint, draw, make jewelry, write poetry, play chess, watch tv, podcasts, go for walks, garden, read, listen to music...spotify...make your own playlists, it’s awesome!!!  There really isn’t one thing I found that I love totally and that gives me intense joy, but doing a variety of these things is fun and positive.

 

#12. Let the people you love know you love them

I found that connecting to people was really helpful, talking w/ them and learning from their struggles and how they learned to cope w/ life to give me perspective.  W/ my withdrawal and back injury I feel like it gave me an experience which gave me a new perspective to realize that life is fleeting and can be gone in a minute.  To me, nothing matters more than the people I love and that are close to me.  Showing them I cared for them helped me feel more peace.

 

#13. Volunteer, Focus on people other than yourself

For a while I volunteered at the zoo because I was trying so hard to find ways to feel better.  In the end I realize it was a really cool experience I’d never had tried before but it wasn’t me, however, I think helping others is essential.  Instead, I help kids now and I’m inspired by their young spunky energy and it’s easy to forget your own woes when you are with young people because they are so fun and carefree.

 

#14. Know that you are strong

Remember that you took the first step to get here.  Keep reminding yourself that you are strong and can do this.  I would tell myself negative thoughts like I was scared that I’d be weak and get back on the meds.  Be kind to yourself if you have these thoughts, it’s going to happen.  Also, I realized in a way that myself as I was on the antidepressants was in the mindset that I was a victim.  I realized that a lot of my thinking made me believe I was one and after I realized this mindset, I hated having this idea that I am a victim.  It made me seem weak.  I actually forgot about that until writing this, but in the beginning when I was coming to terms w/ my negative thinking, one major issue was I must have along the way in a sick sense liked being a victim, or woe is me kinda person.  I tried hard to redirect that and shed that.  So even if you were weak and got on meds, you can become strong and change.  You can change, you are not that same person.

 

#15. Read self help stuff only if it helps

I read tons of self help books (the two I mentioned about CBT are the best) but after a while, it was exhausting and sometimes gave me more anxiety, so learn to pace yourself on this info.  You don’t have to know everything all at once.  

 

#16. Understand that sadness and anxiety is a part of life and will always be, you just need to learn how you cope w/ it (pills don’t do it)

And remember, even when you are healed, you will have stressful days where you have anxiety or you may have a memory and get depressed.  You can’t be unhuman. Being unhuman is what I did for ten years on a pill, where things were bland and still horrible.  Now, I have total range of my feelings and my mind and it is not inhibited or altered by a drug.  Thinking you are never going to ever feel sad, anxiety or depression again is not realistic, you will, because that is part of our human makeup, but I’d much rather feel a few days of sadness or anxiety vs the person I was on these meds.  These pills are unreasonable, they try to eliminate some of the very core things that make us who we are, our emotions and reactions to them.  I regretted going on these meds, but I cannot take that back, however, I do not regret the pain I suffered while getting off of them, because it made me WAKE up, it made me feel again, think again and realize that I am in control of my life, not a pill.  That is priceless and worth the time and suffering of going through all that withdrawal is about.  I rambled enough, but please know you can and will get better, just have hope and be patient. 

 

YOU WILL GET BETTER...

 

Edited by ChessieCat
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Altostrata

Thanks for this excellent success story, Bluejay.

 

Looking back, after you got off citalopram and Klonopin in May 2018, what was the pattern of your recovery? Were there phases of symptoms? How did they change?

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Sheera

Thank you for sharing. Congrats on your improvements!  ❤️❤️  Cheers to a full life!  
 

Sheera

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Bluejay
Posted (edited)

Thank you for the well wishes!  "Looking back, after you got off citalopram and Klonopin in May 2018, what was the pattern of your recovery? Were there phases of symptoms? How did they change?"

 

I wrote daily journal entries for a while on my symptoms and unless I look back at those now, I feel like I can’t remember the entire process or really wish not to remember it all because it was painful.

 

Yes, there were significant phases.  Overall, it seemed like I was taking baby steps and relearning how to function independently if that makes any sense.  It's as though my thoughts had become so intensely clear once I was free of the meds, and almost after about a month, I become incredibly self aware.  I think almost hyper aware of myself in terms of actions and thought patterns.  I never remember feeling so intense prior to how I thought while on these drugs, I was numb so this change felt too intense. With the clarity though I felt very jumbled, I don’t think this makes much sense, maybe.  I analyzed every facet of my past and who I was..I literally took out the mirror and asked who was his person I had become?  It was a seriously painful thing to do but I think it had to happen.  Now, overtime, that has subsided. I accept how I got to be that person because if I had not, been there, I wouldn’t be here doing better.  

 

Within the first few months I experienced all of the physical symptoms of withdrawal explained in my original posts.  I knew things would be intense but for me I had also just suffered two different back injuries so getting off the meds and that happened simultaneously and I think that only heightened my physical pain and mental confusion.  I won’t go into too much detail but I had insomnia, difficulty breathing, dizziness, blurry vision, heightened anxiety, etc.  I also was freaked out by being left alone and I dreaded coming home from work and being at home.  Instead of before I could not wait to get off work and come home, I would make up ways to stay late at work because the unstructured time at home I was bored and my thoughts plagued me and I did not like being alone with them.  One thing that was prolonged for months was jittery feeling as though I could not keep still, in mind and physically.  I had to constantly keep busy. I felt like my mind was racing all the time, I hated it, which is why I went for walks a lot to try and get calm.  Overall, nothing major solved my situation, maybe the CBT exercises were the most helpful but it was really just time and the hope that I was on the right path.  I didn’t mention this in my above post, but I was all about the idea of neuroplasticity and thought if I could speed things up, so I was crazy about writing w/ my non dominant hand, and things like that, trying to challenge my brain on other levels like doing Sudoku, chess intensely.  I thought being alert and attentive in those analytical ways would help in some other way, I have no idea if it helped but I was all about it.  

 

One great thing for me that happened when I stopped celexa was that I was not angry anymore, but was super chill.  I was a really kind person but when I went on the meds it fueled my temper and I became very angry and hateful.  I became the opposite when I stopped the meds and I am rarely angry.  I also want to state that for a few months after stopping celexa I did take klonopin a few times to ease off the symptoms but I noticed that every time I talked myself into taking it, I felt like a few days later I was even worse feeling like then I had to take more, like it made my mind feel more jumbled.  So in the end, for me, it was not worth taking because I felt like it set me back each time rather than actually help me get through.  It was the idea that it would help me that was the hardest to break because for so long I had those pills in my purse for an emergency.  I still to this day keep two w/ me and they’ve been there since october 2018...I know they expired but in a way it’s like an idea that okay, if it gets really bad I got them but honestly, I can do this w/ out them.  I think the combo of klonopin and celexa increased my anger.  

 

It did seem like I would have a great week and then fall back into having bad days.  Eventually the good days would happen more and eventually I guess I had many good days that I eventually stopped counting how many I had and lost count and then it just got better and I didn’t ask myself or family if I was getting better because I was better.  It just happened.  I’d say the 6 month and year markers were where I noticed the most progress. I’d say if you are on this journey, go with it.  I had no idea that when I was stoked about my one day of feeling normal out of a sea of gray days that eventually those would keep coming, but while in the midst, it seems like it is a tease that one good day, like a reminder of what you’ll never get again, but it will happen and naturally.  

 

After about six months, I felt mentally more stable and like my thoughts were not as jittery or going a mile a minute.  I began noticing I did not have to ask my family everyday if they thought I was getting better.  I could go days maybe a week or more and realize I did not have major crying spells and need pep talks from my family.  (when this first began I needed reassurance daily if I was getting better.)  I’d say about a year in I was almost healed but I still had a lingering feeling of not being better I honestly think it is because I read way too much stuff about withdrawal and how long it takes to heal and I think it psyched me out which is why I waited so long to post this and honestly I realize I’m proud of my journey and recovery but I don’t like talking about it because it was a dark place for me and that helpless feeling really was overwhelming.  I wrote a lot during that time, about how I needed to think better and not focus on my issues or that I didn’t really have issues but just ruminate in self doubt.  I don’t feel that lost or confused now and I think that it is because my brain feels more calm and I think that only comes w/ time.

 

I think when I started focusing on making my relationship w/ my partner better, I lost track about my own healing and this was the true turning point for me.  I’m not saying focus on other people to heal yourself but for me, it was my focus of happiness and when I decided to be a better person for both of us it just made everything else come together.  I’m a true romantic and In my experience, for me, love was the answer to healing.  Take that away from me and I’ll probably be right back where I started, so…being a better person for myself had a beautiful effect for both of us.  I didn’t find the same feeling of accomplishment w/ anything else on my journey like making art, reading, gardening than I did when I worked towards bettering our time together. So in a way, making sure I was staying rational, not explosive or feeding my negativity or emotional outbursts was a priority once I realized how that affected us.  Of course, this did not happen until a year into recovery and really 1.5 years, because I was in no way able to do this or even maybe be aware of this when I first got off the meds.

I would say I am 95% healed because life is what it is and I am not invincible to pain, loss or sadness, but I’d say I am wiser and stronger and more in control of my feelings and actions than I was even prior to beginning the meds, so I think that is a goal to keep working towards.

 

One last thing that developed from this experience and I think was influential from CBT therapy is that I am in control to an extent of my thoughts and actions and I think that at the beginning I was only learning and telling myself that, but as things progress, I actual had moments of (in a cheesy way I’d say enlightenment) where I realized I was the one who decided if I am to be happy this day, etc, I could wake up and choose how I was going to feel that day and it was crazy powerful, something I felt I never knew how to control, etc.  I really don’t know how to put it in words.  I feel like this experience came 1.5 years into recovery and at this point, my daily routine has changed a lot w/ COVID so that intensity hasn’t happened in a while but it was there for several months, so I guess my point is that healing continues and it’s an interesting path and I am continuing to learn so much about myself.

Edited by Altostrata
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Altostrata

Thanks, Bluejay, your story will help a lot of people.

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Bluejay

Thank you, I really hope so.

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Cocopuffz17

Amazing story! I am pumped that you are doing well! All the best in your future! :) 

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Bluejay

Cocopuffz17, Thank you so much, it means a lot.  I wish you the best recovery on your journey, too.  You deserve it.  🤗

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Cocopuffz17
3 minutes ago, Bluejay said:

Cocopuffz17, Thank you so much, it means a lot.  I wish you the best recovery on your journey, too.  You deserve it.  🤗

A lot of the things you stated really resonated with me but one with the rage/mad was bang on. I had so much hate and anger while being on the medication and it took me coming off to realize that. 
 

Thanks, I appreciate your kind words! 

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Bluejay
1 minute ago, Cocopuffz17 said:

A lot of the things you stated really resonated with me but one with the rage/mad was bang on. I had so much hate and anger while being on the medication and it took me coming off to realize that. 
 

Thanks, I appreciate your kind words! 

Yes, I kinda forgot about that until I was prompted by Altostrata to discuss my phases of my journey.  It was a big thing I noticed when I got off but I guess so much change has happened in the last year that I don't even really remember that part of me until I was thinking about it in detail now.  It's so ironic that a drug that is prescribed as an antidepressant would actually have that effect of making one angry...more of a testament that these drugs are so dangerous and not a one size fits all.  I'm so glad some things I wrote resonated w/ you.  

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FindRest

Thank you for sharing your journey and going into the deeper details,  It really is very helpful. Congratulations on persevering and getting to 95%!!! That is amazing!

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Bluejay
15 hours ago, FindRest said:

Thank you for sharing your journey and going into the deeper details,  It really is very helpful. Congratulations on persevering and getting to 95%!!! That is amazing!

You are welcome, thank you, I hope it can be of some help. 

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Melissa5000

Thank you for sharing your story!

It helps! :)

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Frogie

Thank you so much for sharing your story.

 

You are truly an inspiration.

 

Take care,

 Frogie xx

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Bluejay
19 hours ago, Melissa5000 said:

Thank you for sharing your story!

It helps! :)

You are so welcome!  Thank you!

4 hours ago, Frogie said:

Thank you so much for sharing your story.

 

You are truly an inspiration.

 

Take care,

 Frogie xx

Wow, thank you so much, I appreciate it.  

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