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BeachGal: The hamster wheel - I'm on it, again...


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BeachGal

When I was a kid I had a hamster, not for long, but that's another topic. For exercise, the hamster had a wheel he would run on for what seemed like forever.  I would watch him as he would try desperately to keep up with this journey to nowhere, then it was time to get off. It appeared he was never too sure about this part; the wheel was moving so fast and his little feet just couldn't stop the spinning. Sometimes, the attempts to leave this endless cycle would end in a dramatic dismount of flipping and flailing. This - is my experience with meds and my mental health. And, somehow, I am finding myself here once again. Anxious, hopeless and flailing through the days just waiting for the moment when it's an acceptable time to go to bed. My family is gradually becoming intolerant of my behaviors and I feel my sanity slipping by the day. 

 

I have lived 25+ years on and off meds for the treatment of depression, anxiety and ADD; none of which were overseen and evaluated early on by a psychiatrist or mental health professional. Therefore, prior to taking any meds, I had no formal diagnosis, just the opinion of my parent's GP.  I learned through taking Adderall that I have a tendency for addiction to amphetamines and severely overused this drug for about 5 years, now experiencing what I have learned is "adrenal fatigue". In 2012, I had this idea that I wanted to know myself as an adult without the influence of meds and to address my addiction. I abruptly stopped taking all medications after I ran out of my last Adderall. It was a VERY uncomfortable experience but somehow I made it through and started feeling like a human again several months later. For the next almost 8 years, I maintained some sense of wellness with balanced nutrition and a new love for running. But nothing good seems to last forever.

 

At the beginning of 2020, like a lot of other people, I was noticing increased anxiety, depression that was exacerbated by this then unknown threat of a pandemic. These feelings are very familiar as I have battled with them throughout my life, but it was growing increasingly unbearable and dangerous since I work from home and find myself alone for much of the day. I decided after an almost 8 year stint of no meds that it was time for an evaluation by a professional. I have been under the care of a licensed psychiatrist and therapist ever since. I am currently prescribed the max dose (450mg) of Wellbutrin for ADD and Effexor XR 75mg for depression and anxiety. I get mild energy from the Wellbutrin but nothing negative to report and I'm not convinced it does anything for my ADD. The Effexor on the other hand was a bit of a nightmare from the beginning. I stuck through the weeks of numerous side effects as I adjusted. When I finally started to normalize, I felt pretty good but emotionally numb, which is very much opposite of who I am. Then began the very noticeable memory loss and moments of just "blanking out". I was finding it very difficult to concentrate on anything and my motivation to do anything, including my running that I love, was dwindling. A month ago, during a moment of desperation (or just foolishness) I stopped the Effexor XR cold turkey. Within a few days, I felt spacey and the "brain zaps" began. Like when you slowly open and close your eyes and notice the brief moment of dark and then reopen to see what's before you, except it was my brain going through these clips of light and darkness. Such a disturbingly creepy experience that cannot possibly be ok long-term. I'm told they're harmless but they sure felt alarming. I should mention that during this time, my MIL was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer and I jumped into a caretaker role in hopes that in her last days she would know our immense love and appreciation for her. It was a very rough 6 weeks and she passed peacefully at home on February 12th. By then, the initial disturbing side effects where dwindling and I started feeling "good" again. I could cry and I did....A LOT. Now, a little over a month from my last dose of Effexor and the depression is back with a vengeance. It starts from the moment I realize I am awake to the time I finally fall asleep. There's a boiling of frustration, very jumbled thoughts (I can barely speak a whole sentence), crying, angry, achy, hungry but nothing that takes away this awful gnawing feeling in the pit of my stomach. 

 

I found this site while attempting to validate and research through others' experiences. I have come across some useful information and it is quite clear to me as I read through the forums, I am not alone. This in itself I have found helpful.  I have read that several others have attempted to reintroduce the meds at a significantly lower dose after an abrupt stop in order to attempt a proper weaning and reduce withdrawal. I'm afraid to speak with my doctor about my decision for fear that she won't feel comfortable seeing me any longer. This very unstable condition I have found myself in again is clearly having an effect on my decision making. Feeling very lost and afraid to make a next move.  Questioning if I should be doing something or nothing...

- Prozac and other SSRI's taken for 25+ yrs

- Adderall, Wellbutrin, Lorazepam 2007-2012, abrupt discontinuation

- 2012 thru 2019, no meds. Maintained "wellness" w/ nutrition and running

- 2020, overwhelming anxiety and depression, absolute hopelessness.

   Saw Psychiatrist and received counseling. Began taking Wellbutrin XL and Effexor XR. 

- 2020 to beginning 2021, Wellbutrin 450mg (300mg A.M. & 150mg at noon) and Effexor 75mg

- Feb 1, 2021 abruptly discontinued Effexor XR, concerns over blank thoughts and memory loss

- Current; continuing to take Wellbutrin XL 450mg 

 

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  • getofflex changed the title to BeachGal: The hamster wheel - I'm on it, again...
  • Moderator
getofflex
Posted (edited)

Hello BeachGal, and welcome to our forum.  We are all survivors of psych meds, just like you.  We are here to help each other.   I'm so sorry you are feeling this way. I get it, because I, too, felt similarly when I was in early withdrawal.  

 

Before we can go further, can you please edit your drug signature with the date in February that you went off the Effexor? If you don't remember the date, can you remember approximately? 

 

You may possibly be a candidate for a partial reinstatement.  This could help reduce your symptoms, and make it easier for you. You would need to get the immediate release tablets.  Here is some more information on Effexor: 

 

Tips for Tapering off Effexor

 

And here is information on reinstatement: 

 

About Reinstating and Stabilizing to Reduce Withdrawal Symptoms

 

Stopping these drugs is more than a matter of just quitting and waiting until the drug is out of your system.  These drugs make changes to our central nervous systems, and when we stop, the brain must readjust back to it's predrug state.  This takes time, and happens gradually, since the brain is a complex system.  Here is some information about that. 

 

How Psychiatric Drugs Remodel Your Brain

 

Here is more information about withdrawal: 

 

What is Withdrawal Syndrome?

 

Recovery involves ups and downs, where times of feeling bad are mixed in with times of feeling good.  We call this windows and waves.  

 

Windows and Waves Pattern of Stabilization

 

Here are some non drug techniques for coping with symptoms. 

 

Non Drug Techniques for Coping with Symptoms

 

I've given you quite a bit of information to read and think about.  There is hope!  Many people have tapered off these drugs, and have found healing.  The trick is, it takes time, and these drugs are best tapered off gradually.  We suggest tapering off by reducing the dose 10% (the 10% calculated on the last dosage) per month.  Here is information about that:  

 

Why Taper by 10 Percent of my Dosage?

 

You sound like a very reflective, insightful, and caring person.  It shows in your writing.  I don't blame you for being reluctant to talk to your doctor about this. Most doctors only know how to treat people by giving them drugs, or surgery.  When you need some hope, try reading the success stories in this forum.  They have given me lots of hope.  I believe you can and will recover.  Take care.  

Edited by getofflex
soften wording

***Please note this is not medical advice.  Discuss any decisions about your medical care with a doctor who understands psych meds and how to withdraw from them, if you can find one.

Lexapro   Started Apr 15 02 - 10 mg;  Apr 2 20  0.18 mg; Jul 16  0.17 mg, Aug 23  0.16 mg, Oct 7  0.15 mg, Nov 8 - 0.14, Jan 16 '21 - 0.13, Feb 7 - 0.12, Feb 22 - 0.11, Mar 26 - 0.10 

Trazodone.  used 50 mg once every 4-7 days for sleep, stopped

Xanax. used 0.5 mg once every 4-7 days for sleep, stopped

Benadryl 50 mg, Ibuprofen 800 mg, or Tylenol 1000 mg

other meds: Levothyroxine 75 mg

suppl AM: fish oil, flax oil, multivitamin, vit C, vit E, calcium

suppl PM: magnesium 350 mg, GABA 750 mg, Estroven, melatonin 3 mg, calcium

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BeachGal

Thank you getofflexYour quick reply was so good to receive and I really appreciate you taking the time to present the specific information I need right now. Very helpful 💞

 

I am interested to see if a reinstatement and proper taper will work and I'll use some of what you shared to apply it appropriately. All I have available is the Effexor XR 75mg gel cap with the beads. If I understand the methods of others, I could remove 1/10 of the beads from the daily dose for a week and evaluate the effectiveness. Then, it sounds like I can either taper or some decided it is better to stay at that reduced dose for a few weeks before the next reduction. Sound about right?

 

I know it's all up to the individual and I'm not expecting things to be perfect, but I feel hopeful knowing that I am doing something to try and right what I clearly did wrong. Lol. 

 

I will read through some of the testaments of success for encouragement. I hope to be able to post my own at some point, but for now - it's one day at a time.

 

Ciao and thanks again!

- Prozac and other SSRI's taken for 25+ yrs

- Adderall, Wellbutrin, Lorazepam 2007-2012, abrupt discontinuation

- 2012 thru 2019, no meds. Maintained "wellness" w/ nutrition and running

- 2020, overwhelming anxiety and depression, absolute hopelessness.

   Saw Psychiatrist and received counseling. Began taking Wellbutrin XL and Effexor XR. 

- 2020 to beginning 2021, Wellbutrin 450mg (300mg A.M. & 150mg at noon) and Effexor 75mg

- Feb 1, 2021 abruptly discontinued Effexor XR, concerns over blank thoughts and memory loss

- Current; continuing to take Wellbutrin XL 450mg 

 

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  • Moderator
getofflex
Posted (edited)

@BeachGalI'm glad I was able to be of help. It's good that the XL is in bead form, so you can count the beads.  Since you cold turkeyed (Ct'ed) a month ago, it is recommended to reinstate at half the dose you were on before.  This is because your nervous system has probably already made some adjustments, and going back on the full dose would probably destabilize you further.  So you will want to try 37.5 mg.  To do this, carefully count all the beads in a full 75 mg dose, and then divide this in half.  Take this many beads each day at the same time.  I'm assuming you took this once daily? 

 

It is vital to stay at this dose for at least a month, as stated in the link above "why taper by 10%".  Please give it some time.  Let us know how this goes.  It would be a good idea to keep track of your daily symptoms, so you can better see your symptom pattern.  Here is a symptom checklist to help you.  

 

Withdrawal Symptom Checklist

 

You have a great attitude.  Good luck, and keep us posted!  

Edited by getofflex

***Please note this is not medical advice.  Discuss any decisions about your medical care with a doctor who understands psych meds and how to withdraw from them, if you can find one.

Lexapro   Started Apr 15 02 - 10 mg;  Apr 2 20  0.18 mg; Jul 16  0.17 mg, Aug 23  0.16 mg, Oct 7  0.15 mg, Nov 8 - 0.14, Jan 16 '21 - 0.13, Feb 7 - 0.12, Feb 22 - 0.11, Mar 26 - 0.10 

Trazodone.  used 50 mg once every 4-7 days for sleep, stopped

Xanax. used 0.5 mg once every 4-7 days for sleep, stopped

Benadryl 50 mg, Ibuprofen 800 mg, or Tylenol 1000 mg

other meds: Levothyroxine 75 mg

suppl AM: fish oil, flax oil, multivitamin, vit C, vit E, calcium

suppl PM: magnesium 350 mg, GABA 750 mg, Estroven, melatonin 3 mg, calcium

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