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Freedom4Ever: intro story


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I will start by writing about what I believe started me down this road of torment and pain that all of you know far too well.  I started off using Adderall in college (2002) and eventually developed into a severe problem where I was just taking it to get high.   By this point, I would somehow manage to function and get through my courses even though it felt like I could barely breathe and my heart was beating out of my chest.  Eventually, this led to me experiencing my first full-blown panic attack while at home in the middle of summer.  I can remember feeling this incredibly intense pain in my chest and convinced that I was dying and desperately pleading with God not to take me yet.  I had no idea that what I was experiencing was a panic attack and from that point on it kicked me into a severe anxiety disorder.  This all happened in 2008 at the end of my college days.

       From that day forward, I lived in a constant state of fear and anxiety.  I would have panic attacks occasionally and unrelenting symptoms of heightened anxiety such as: shortness of breath, tight chest, chest pains, hot and cold flashes, dizziness, feeling off balance, worry about passing out or falling over, burning tongue sensation, intrusive thoughts, wired but tired, heart palpitations, numbness in extremities, trouble concentrating, tension throughout my entire body, constantly in fear of dying or having something terrible happen to me and startling very easily.  There might be more, but those are the ones I remember and symptoms were pretty much present from the time I woke up until the time I went to bed.  Somehow, I managed to finish up my courses and graduate from college with my bachelor's degree and get a job while this was happening.  As others here know, I find it difficult to describe just how terrible this felt and do it justice without letting someone experience it for themselves.

       Anyways, I continue to hold down a job and work for another two years at a job that is absolute insanity.  This place is a nightmare for people with a healthy nervous system let alone someone going through what I was.  Everyday, I would wake up and resume this nightmare sure that this was my last day on earth and convinced that I was going to die in my sleep.  It was beyond exhausting to feel this way and I told nobody about it because I didn't know that this was NOT normal.  I even managed to go to the gym and lift heavy weights which probably only exacerbated my problem, but I didn't know any better.  So, I finally decided that I had had enough of feeling this way and confided in my supervisor at the time that I needed help because something wasn't right.  So, I went on medical leave for a couple of weeks in 2010.

       First, I went to see my GP who gave me Citalopram and this triggered a panic attack that might have been worse than my first one and immediately refused to continue treatment on it.  Next, I saw a therapist that really did nothing to help or provide any sort of information that might have been helpful.  So, I decided to seek the help of a psychiatrist and managed to drive myself to his office in my perpetual state of anxious misery and pour out all my troubles to him.  This led to me being given a prescription for Cymbalta and I would be lying if I didn't say that the changes were nothing short of magical at first.  Pretty much all of my symptoms had abated over the course of a night or two and I no longer had that profound feeling of existential dread all of the time.  Now, because of my history he never gave me any benzos and thanks to informing myself I am honestly scared of how addictive they can potentially be so I chose not to mess with them.  Of all the things I remember from this psychiatrist, the one thing he said that will forever piss me off is that I will probably have to be on these drugs the rest of my life in order to function.  What?  Well, I guess that's OK if it means no more of what I went through.

           So, I am back at work and I'm basically the poster child for successful treatment with an antidepressant.  I feel so confident and capable and I feel happy again and I look forward to each day like I used to.  Also, I noticed that when I felt a panic attack about to come on it just completely fizzled out and died.  Pretty awesome, right?  My life felt like it was returning and I was accomplishing things and started to go out into social situations again.  This window of freedom probably lasted for a couple of years before I felt the poop out.  

     Over time, I noticed a slow return of my original symptoms and eventually a return of my panic attacks that led me into my first bout of depression and the development of anhedonia and anxiety.  At this point, life began to feel quite pointless and again I eventually hit a point where I had to take a break from work and get myself sorted out again.  

       First off, I talk with a therapist and tell her I don't see the point of living anymore and tells me that I should seek treatment from a mental care facility as either IOP or full hospitalization.  Obviously, I am scared when I hear this, but I figure I need to do something because I am seriously in need of help right now and decide to go to an intensive outpatient program to hash things out.  There, I am switched from Cymbalta to Lexapro and work on skill sets based off ACT to handle my life.  Everyday, we come in and do our little drum circle with our psychologists and tell our stories and other stuff I can't remember.  Essentially, this place just pushed pills on everyone and then gave therapy that I believe was quite useless because everything was dampened by the drugs so who knows whether any of this works or not.  Also, it really pissed me off to see people that had been through there multiple times and the amount of damage these people had had inflicted on them by people they trusted with their health and well-being.  Seriously, I don't think I would ever go back there again.  For me, it wasn't very helpful and it was very costly even with insurance.

         So, after finishing things up there I return to work and I now operate in zombie mode.  I feel so fuzzy and dead inside from the Lexapro that I feel like I can hardly stay awake at work and eventually I start to develop suicidal thoughts that won't go away.  This is something I've never had before and it honestly scared the hell out of me.  I don't think I initially realized that it could be my drug that was doing this, but thank God I ended up switching because that was beyond horrible to be on that drug for me.

          OK, I finally get in to see my new psychiatrist after IOP and we decide to switch to Effexor and let me say that it was not a walk in the park.  I felt so stimulated on this stuff at first and in hindsight, I probably should have discontinued the drug considering how agitated it made me feel, but I was stubborn and chose to soldier on.  I don't know that my mood necessarily got way better, but I didn't feel suicidal anymore and I was able to do my work so it was tolerable for me.  The biggest problems I have right now is my stool is usually very dehydrated and in pebbles, I have lost the pleasure I used to get from orgasms and I have issues with anhedonia that is usually my emotional normal now and occasional flare ups with depression.  I don't know about the rest of you, but I feel like I really don't know who I am anymore and after reading this website I'm afraid to consider using any more psychiatric drugs.  If possible, please offer me your help and guidance so that I might eventually get off this medication because it doesn't seem to really solve anything, it just covers up the problems.  Thanks for listening to my story and I look forward to talking to as many of you as I can.  





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  • manymoretodays changed the title to Freedom4Ever: intro story
  • Moderator Emeritus

Dear @Freedom4Ever

I am sorry you've gone through this. Thank you for joining and adding your voice to the community.

To give members the best information, we ask them to summarize their medication history in a signature -- drugs, doses, dates, and discontinuations & reinstatements, in the last 12-24 months particularly.  Just drugs, dates and dosages in a list format.


Account Settings – Create or Edit a signature.



On 8/20/2021 at 7:17 AM, Freedom4Ever said:

The biggest problems I have right now is my stool is usually very dehydrated and in pebbles, I have lost the pleasure I used to get from orgasms and I have issues with anhedonia that is usually my emotional normal now and occasional flare ups with depression. 


Here are some links that you may find helpful:

Digestive problems: nausea, diarrhoea, bloating, GERD

PSSD Post-SSRI sexual dysfunction - Symptoms and self-care

For constipation, some people find that adding an oil, like olive oil, can help soften the stool.


I recommend browsing the  symptoms and self care section of the forum where you'll find a wealth of suggestions from others on the site in dealing with anhedonia and other emotional issues related to AD's.


On 8/20/2021 at 7:17 AM, Freedom4Ever said:

If possible, please offer me your help and guidance so that I might eventually get off this medication

Normally we recommend tapering by around 10% per month, which helps to mitigate withdrawal symptoms. For some good reasons to taper slowly, check out this link: 

why taper by 10%


This is your Introduction site where you can ask questions and connect with other members.

Welcome to the site,



Zoloft: 1995 - 2015

Prozac: 2015 - 2018 (tapered from 40mg x day on July 31 to 30mg on August 31 to 20mg on September 31 to 10mg October 31 to 0mg on  December 15, 2018

Gabapentin: 2016 to 2019  (tapered from 300mg x day to 150mg on August 31, 2019 to 75mg on September 15 to 50mg on September 31 to 25ishmg on October 15 to 0mg on December 1, 2019

Enalapril: 2010 - 2019

Lipitor: 2017 -2017

Metformin: 2000 - 2020

Liothyronine: 2007 - 2019

Levothyroxine: 2000 - 2022

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