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SSRWhy: introduction


SSRWhy

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Hi and thanks for reading.  I am 39 years old male from Pennsylvania, USA.  I was prescribed Prozac and then Effexor in 2003 while I was a senior in college.  I had a developed depression, GAD, and panic disorder a few months prior due to a health issue that affected my balance.  I was always anxious as far back as I can remember so I think the tinder was ready to light due to some trigger eventually.


Prozac made me feel like I was going psychotic within a few days.  I was then prescribed a “new” medication called Effexor.  The Effexor had some side effects but they were tolerable.  The sexual side effects were the most pronounced but I was still functional in that department.  A few years later I tried to get off of the Effexor and had a near immediate breakdown and all of the typical acute withdrawal issues like bran zaps, crying episodes, ect.  I decided to just keep taking the medication and did so for over a decade. 


I do not know if it ever had a positive affect but I had some good years between 2005 and 2016.  There were many depressive episodes and my panic disorder never fully went away but it was manageable.   I definitely had an overall increase in anger but I was able to deal with it and luckily never physically assaulted anyone, though I got close several times.  I had laser eye surgery during that time frame that didn't go well and left me with some complications.  Adding that to the inner ear issues I have just makes me feel like I'm looking at a fun house mirror most of the time.   It added another daily stressor but I handled things well enough I suppose. 


I can’t place exactly the time period but between 2015 and 2017 I started to develop more intense depression.  Not the always sad type but the zombie no feelings flavor.  I started to get more intense sexual side effects.  Everything was so gray I didn’t think I could take the feeling of not being alive anymore.  I believe some low level derealization started at this time too.  I found myself increasingly doing risky things (sexually, gambling) and I think it was related to the empty feelings.  I decide to look into other ways of dealing with the depression. 


First step was TMS in 2017, transcranial magnetic stimulation.  Did the full coarse and can’t say it did anything positive.  During this time I saw a psychiatrist at the TMS facility.  He tried to get me to take Ritalin, pushed benzo.  I didn’t go along with starting any new meds.  He suggested that I try to get off of the Effexor if it wasn't helping me after over a decade of use.  I started a very slow taper and at first did not have, or perhaps recognize, any withdrawal symptoms.


After the TMS I decided the try medical cannabis.  I had some legitimate and documented chronic migraine / headache issues that qualified me for a medical card.  I had tried CBD and it seemed to help with the pain.  My thought was that cannabis might also help my worsening depression.  After a few months I started taking small doses.  At first it did seem to help my mood.  Unfortunately, I over did it a few times.  The last time resulted in a severe DP/DR incident.  Eventually a friend in a psychiatric related field took me to a in patient mental institution, with my consent.  Once I got to the facility I decided it would rather go crazy outside than locked inside and since I had not threatened any harm I was not forced to stay.  

 

Things worsened and I decided it was best to stay with my mother off and on for weeks at a time over the next few months during particularly bad episodes. I saw two psychiatrists (one was absolutely horrible and wanted to put me on anti psychotics after hearing about the DP/DR).  I saw numerous medical doctors to rule out physical issues (nothing was found).  The reaction from everyone was that I was suffering from extreme anxiety.  I was very concerned I was schizophrenic (a friend of mine had been diagnosed with it a few months prior and this really got into my head) or otherwise had something majorly wrong. 


I was slowly reducing the Effexor all this time.  I informed the psychiatrist.  They essentially told me I was reducing the dose so slowly that it couldn’t be a part of the issue.


In September of 2018 I started obessing about the idea that I would end things for myself.  I decided to try ketamine infusions.  They seemed to help a bit but the 5th session got very very psychedelic and with the DP/DR issues I decided it was not a good idea to continue.  After a severe Thanksgiving day DR/DP episode thing went downhill once again.  I spent the holidays near catatonic barely able to move.  I saw a new and highly recommended psychiatrist.  He put me on lamictal at my request.  The lamictal did not seem to do much but eventually I was able to get out of my mothers home and back to work around mid January.


In the spring and summer of 2019 I I experience some stabilization and perhaps small improvements through spring.  I started working out again and lost a lot of weight.  Move forward to summer and the occasionally numb hands and very bad presyncope when standing up got worse.  I ordered my own bloodwork nothing of significance was found.  Due to the light headedness the GP thought it might be POTS / dysautonomia (I performed the “at home” version of the test for this and I definitely had POTS).  I saw a cardiologist who performed a many tests to confirm my heart was fine.  He dismissed the POTS, I think he thought it was a made up disease.  I also had my thyroid blood levels tested and talked my way into an ultra sound.  Again nothing was found to be wrong. 

 

Around August 2019 I started having more and more numbness in my arms and legs.  I was able to get an MRI.  Once again, no tumor, no lesions, nothing wrong.  On labor day weekend of 2019 I was down to a tiny portion of my original Effexor dosage.  3 little balls from the capsule.  It was about 2.5% of the max dose and I decided to end the I ordered more bloodwork and my vitamin b12 was on the lower level of good and my homocysteine was a bit high.  I though I had found the missing link and started taking a b12 supplement.  I completely freaked out.  Worse than before.  I have anecdotally found many people on the internet who report severe reactions to methyl form of b12. 


I had the worst few days of my life during that September.  Completely uncontrolled crying, whole body tremors, catatonic episodes where I could hardly get my body to move, sever anxiety lasting days.  It was awful.  Again I stayed with my mother until I stabilized.  By October my mood was a bit better but I started having crazy itching sensations all over my body.  The itch felt like it was under the skin.  I tried anti histamines, various medicated creams, nothing worked.  I had strange sensations like the floor was moving or tilting at time.  My limbs were more numb and became hard to control and would spasm.  I started having more problems with dizziness.  Things were very dark.  I discovered this site around that time and I started to figure out that this might actually be SSRI withdrawal.


Once November 2019 hit things slowly started to get better.  Both physically and mentally.  The problems never went away but lessened in severity.  When we got to late January 2020 I thought I had turned a real corner.  I almost started an account here to write my success story.  Of course as you have probably figured out that was just a "window".  


I have experienced many windows and waves  of varying degrees for almost a year.  I think I have been progressing but sometimes it just doesn't feel like it.  It's been weird in many ways because my 2017 to 2019 were so bad that all the awful things that happened in 2020 didn't feel all that unusual. 

 

The weird dysautonomic and / or neurological issues have been bad at times.  Sometimes I have to consciously move my muscles when I walk so as to not fall over.  I have other weird neurological issues that come and go without and reason or warning (pain, shocks, weird sensations, vertigo, feelings like my legs and feet are wet, burning, itching.  I am still worried that this stress from withdrawal triggered MS.  I keep telling myself that things will get better.  I do have hope now which I didn't have at points in this journey. 

 

At this point I feel like I am rambling so I'll close by saying thank you.  Thank you to those that post their success stories (and not quite yet stories).  When things get really bad I go to the success stories page and try to get some perspective and motivation.  It really helps.  Good luck to all.

 

 

Effexor free since September 2019.  Tapered over 18 months from 150 mg.

 

One year into a lamictal taper.  Current dose is about 25 mg a day.

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  • ChessieCat changed the title to SSRWhy: introduction
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Welcome to SA, SSRWhy.  It's very good that you're having some windows, which is a definite sign of healing.  

 

Withdrawal is certainly a possibility.  As you might know, we recommend tapering by no more than than 10% of your current dose every four weeks, and your Effexor taper was a good bit faster than that.  At what rate are you tapering the Lamictal?

 

Why taper by 10% of my dosage?

 

The following link is specifically about tapering Lamictal.

 

Tips for tapering off lamotrigine (Lamictal)

 

Here is some helpful information about withdrawal and the healing process.

 

 

 

 

When we take psychiatric medications, the CNS (central nervous system) responds by making changes over the months and years we take the drug(s). When the medication is discontinued, the CNS has to undo all the changes it made. Rebuilding the neurotransmitter production and reactivating the receptor and transporter cells takes time -- during that rebuilding process symptoms occur.  

 

These explain the healing process really well.

 

 

 

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. 

 

 

 

Add in one at a time and at a low dose in case you do experience problems. Get supplements that are single ingredient (not mixed with other types of supplements).

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 1986-1991 CT, soon reinstated.  CT 2000. RI 1 mg 2011-2016.  Sept. 2016  0.625mg X 3

Nov.27, 2020, 7-week Ativan-Valium crossover + change to one 18.75mg dose, w/1 month hold.

Feb. 9, 2021, begin 10% every 4 weeks taper.  Current dose as of April 10: 13mgai.  Taper is 31% complete.

 

Imipramine 75 mg daily since 1986.  Jan. 2016 began every 3-weeks 10% taper, down to 16mgai (44mgpw).  Aug 2016, discovered SA, holding at 16mg.  Taper is 78% complete.  

  

Supplements: omega, 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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