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AbelRiver: hello second attempt at tapering


AbelRiver

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Hi all. New here, obviously. Been sifting through the forum and already feel kinship with many of you. Some of the most brilliant and creative souls I’ve come across have been told they have an “imbalance” and have taken SSRIs. Maybe there’s something to be said in that. 

 

About me: I was 20 years old when I moved to a massive metropolitan city in 2012. And within six months I deteriorated… I was living with a very toxic and bizarre roommate, I was in school and working and trying to find my way when I started having daily panic attacks. I remember thinking I couldn’t swallow because I had a huge lump in my throat. 

 

So I stopped eating. Stopped going to class. Stopped taking public transport. I lost so much weight all the bones in my chest were visible. I cried every day, without fail for three months straight. I felt so alone and so scared. I went to a free clinic in the city where I met with a social worker. It didn’t help. So she referred me to a psychiatrist who gave me prozac 20mg (and Klonopin, which after 11 days I threw in the trash because I Intuitively suspected it was a drug that could kill me). Within a few months I became functional again. No one ever taught me coping skills in the clinic or dove into anything under the surface. 

 

Fast forward two years, I was feeling better and living back in my home state and with my parents, and enrolled in university. So I got off the meds cold turkey. Wow. Everything came back — not as bad, but still strong. 

 

But I started seeing a therapist at the university and doing mindfulness based group cognitive therapy at the school for free and those things changed my life. I started journaling. I found Tara Brach and Pema Chodron and Alan Watts. I started doing yoga every week without fail and had a community in that. The yoga teacher (a middle aged Eastern man) was a mentor and a guide.

 

Two years after that I was 24, a recent college grad, and moved to a foreign country to teach (which I did for two years). It was an awesome experience. But within the first six months of living there a lot of those wirey feelings came back. Sleeplessness. Crying. OCD thoughts, circling and circling. Thoughts about harm, despite not wanting to harm. No appetite. Constant feeling of fear. 

 

I remember feeling pissed off at this. Like why is this happening? Why can’t I just feel good on this unique and incredible adventure? Why did this “come back” after all my hard work for two and a half years? Why? At the time, I chalked it up to the ole “chemical imbalance in my brain” theory. 

 

Even today I still want to better understand what got me so off track but more importantly why I didn’t cope through it with all the other non medication tools I’d learnt. And a part of me believes it’s simply because moving (or ANY major life changes) are HARD. Really really hard. For anyone. And maybe some people just feel it stronger? And get thrown off by the feelings? That’s my guess. Would love to know if any of you have experienced that years after being stable (and thriving) post SSRI use. 

 

So I marched right over to the local hospital, sat in the chair and asked for an SSRI. Prozac, 20 mg On the spot. The psych gave it to me. That was Dec 2016. Then in April 2017 I asked to switch to lexapro 10mg. Been on it ever since. 

 

I’ve gained 50 pounds in five years. It’s so uncomfortable and I don’t recognize myself in the mirror. And I hate to say it but that’s what made go down the rabbit hole of “what the actual **** is this drug doing to me?” 

 

Now my eyes are open. I can’t unsee it, all the studies and stories of people fighting for their life to get off these medications. It blew me away. Just a year ago i believed medication changed my life for the better. I’m not so sure now.  

 

So October 25, 2021 I cut the pills in half. 5mg. Took a week to stabilize. Dec 6 2021 cut them in half again. 2.5 mg. Took a week to stabilize. 

 

But then,  December 24, I contracted covid. And it brought up so much anxiety. I was shocked. Buzzy wirey no appetite crying all day kind of anxiety. And I knew it wasn’t because of the covid. So 12/28/21 I brought it back to 5 mg and that’s what I’m doing now. 

 

All this to say, I’m overwhelmed. 

 

Overwhelmed by the truth of it all — ssri’s are dangerous. My psychiatrists (all 4 of them) didn’t help me and never gave me informed consent. I never did the research. ME. I took all the info at face value. I’m overweight and it sucks and I know in my deepest gut (pun intended) it’s the SSRIs. I feel afraid. Afraid to face it all, and the road ahead. Afraid of “when I’m full weaned off and feeling good again what if the strong anxiety comes back years later — how will I cope???” 

 

But I know I’m strong enough. I know I can do it again. 

 

Thank you for reading. 

 

Love,

Abel

 

Edited by ChessieCat
Resized font

Oct 2012 — Prozac 20 mg 

July 2014 — CT Prozac 

Dec 2016 — reinstated Prozac 20 mg due to extreme OCD thoughts, panic, weeping (was in a new challenging life situation)

April 2017 — switched to lexapro 10 mg 

Oct 25 2021 — down to 5 mg lexapro 

Dec 6 2021 — down to 2.5 mg lexapro 

Dec 28 2021 — back to 5 mg lexapro due to weeping, panicky feelings 

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  • ChessieCat changed the title to AbelRiver: hello second attempt at tapering
  • Moderator
Posted (edited)

Welcome @AbelRiver

I can identify with a lot of your post and I'm relieved you have found us at this stage of your taper. Thank you for creating your drug signature. What symptoms have you experienced when reducing the dose?

 

I would advise to hold at 5mg for a while. Minimum 4 weeks, but I suggest a longer hold, since your taper has been fast. Then you can taper further following these guidelines:

Tips for tapering off escitalopram (Lexapro)

Why taper by 10% of my dosage?

NEVER SKIP DOSES TO TAPER

 

As there are common misconceptions about how these drugs work I found this post helpful to understand what is going on and why a slow taper is important:

How Psychiatric Drugs Remodel Your Brain 

 

Coming off these drugs can cause many different withdrawal symptoms, often leading to doctors thinking the original condition is returning or that another mental illness has emerged.

What is withdrawal syndrome?

Dr. Joseph Glenmullen's withdrawal symptom checklist

 

When we recover, there are times of feeling OK mixed in with times of feeling bad.  This is called windows and waves.

The Windows and Waves Pattern of Stabilization  

 

Aside from a high quality fish oil and magnesium, be careful with supplements. Your central nervous system (CNS) has become sensitized from psychiatric drug use and can react unpredictably. Alcohol, caffeine, nicotine and other mind altering substances can make the condition worse.

Important topics about tests, supplements, treatments, diet

 

Here is our symptoms and self care section, you may find some useful ideas to help manage symptoms as you recover. 

Symptoms and self care topics 

 

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

Edited by Kiasofia

These are my opinions based on my own experience and what I have learned, not medical advice.

 

If you would like to get a response from me directly please type @Kiasofia some place in your message so I get notified of your post. I am not able to follow all of the threads all the time.

 

Drug history

2002-2019 Citalopram/Escitalopram, Lamictal
2019 April Escitalopram, quit at 10mg (withdrawal), Oct Escitalopram 10mg reinstated, quit after a few days (adverse reaction)

2019 Oct Lamictal cut from 200mg to 100mg
2019 Dec Lithium 83x2 mg

2020 Aug-Nov Lamictal tapered to 50 mg

2020 Nov 24 Lithium taper started, 30 Jan off Lithium

2021 15. March-31. May Lamictal tapered to 32.5 mg (holding)

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hi @Kiasofiathank you for your reply. 
 

From October 25–December 6 I was taking 5 mg. So that is 6 full weeks. I was feeling fine after the initial first week of aggression/crying. 
 

 Then I cut to 2.5 mg. But three weeks later I brought it back up to 5 mg due to experiencing extremely panicky feelings, weeping daily. 
 

so now I have been alternating daily 5 mg with 2.5 mg for the last week and a half. Is that ok?? I’m alternating the doses because I figured it might help my system slowly acclimate to the lower dose. 
 

Also curious about PAWS… did I get that in 2016 after two years post CT Prozac?? (I CT Prozac in mid-2014). I knew nothing about tapering, how it messes with the brain or anything. I just got right back on the meds after two years off of them. It’s upsetting and sad to look back on.  I want more knowledge on this so I never do this again. 
 

Finally… any one else experience INSANE weight gain on SSRI’s? Is 50 pounds in 5 years heard of?? It’s so frustrating. I feel like a swollen fat ball. Will I ever be able to lose it??

 

finally, I’m going to ask my doctor/pharmacist for liquid lexapro so I can do a more accurate taper. 
 

is there a loose timeline I can kind of follow? A goal I can hope and aim for to be FULLY off this drug? 
 

Please advise. 
 

cheers,

abel. 

Oct 2012 — Prozac 20 mg 

July 2014 — CT Prozac 

Dec 2016 — reinstated Prozac 20 mg due to extreme OCD thoughts, panic, weeping (was in a new challenging life situation)

April 2017 — switched to lexapro 10 mg 

Oct 25 2021 — down to 5 mg lexapro 

Dec 6 2021 — down to 2.5 mg lexapro 

Dec 28 2021 — back to 5 mg lexapro due to weeping, panicky feelings 

Link to comment
  • Moderator

Stop taking different doses different days. It is very important to take the same dose every day. The brain craves stability and taking different doses different days triggers withdrawal symptoms and makes tapering less likely to succeed. You can consider stabilizing on 4mg for a few weeks or go back to 5mg.

 

Very good that you are getting the liquid. We recommend testing with 10% reduction of current dose and hold for 4 weeks. Some can taper faster and some must go slower. It is important to listen to the body and not focus on an end date for tapering, but rather how to remain functional throughout the taper and be drug free and withdrawal free, when finally off.

Why taper by 10% of my dosage?

 

Weight gain is very common and gets better once one is off the drug.

These are my opinions based on my own experience and what I have learned, not medical advice.

 

If you would like to get a response from me directly please type @Kiasofia some place in your message so I get notified of your post. I am not able to follow all of the threads all the time.

 

Drug history

2002-2019 Citalopram/Escitalopram, Lamictal
2019 April Escitalopram, quit at 10mg (withdrawal), Oct Escitalopram 10mg reinstated, quit after a few days (adverse reaction)

2019 Oct Lamictal cut from 200mg to 100mg
2019 Dec Lithium 83x2 mg

2020 Aug-Nov Lamictal tapered to 50 mg

2020 Nov 24 Lithium taper started, 30 Jan off Lithium

2021 15. March-31. May Lamictal tapered to 32.5 mg (holding)

Link to comment
10 hours ago, AbelRiver said:

is there a loose timeline I can kind of follow? A goal I can hope and aim for to be FULLY off this drug? 
 

Well, if you're going to follow a10% taper plan then it l every six months you'll be at half the dose. Have a look on the tapering section of the forum🙂

 

Definitely stop skipping days at once. I got very ill doing this and it took 4 months to be able to return to very part time work and a year to stabilise emotionally. Only now, 2 years later and 6 months into a taper am I starting to feel remotely like myself.

Important petition calling for tapering strips in the UK  - please sign
Mirtazepine 15mg Nov 2018 -April 2019

April - Sept 2019 Mirtazepine 7.5

October 2019 - about 4 Nov 6mg Mirtazepine 

4-13 Nov anxiety & sleep problems caused by change of brand & jumping around with doses

13 Nov 2019 to 7 Dec 2019 10mg Mirtazepine 

8-10 Dec 2019 15mg Mirtazepine 

11 Dec 2019 to date 12.5mg Mirtazepine 

15 December 2019 to 13 June 2021 15mg Mirtazepine 

14 June 2021 started brass monkey Slide.  
2021: 23 August 12.3mg, 28 October 11.1mg, 6 Dec 10mg

 

Link to comment

@Kiasofiaokay thank you! I will keep that in mind and not alternate doses. 

Oct 2012 — Prozac 20 mg 

July 2014 — CT Prozac 

Dec 2016 — reinstated Prozac 20 mg due to extreme OCD thoughts, panic, weeping (was in a new challenging life situation)

April 2017 — switched to lexapro 10 mg 

Oct 25 2021 — down to 5 mg lexapro 

Dec 6 2021 — down to 2.5 mg lexapro 

Dec 28 2021 — back to 5 mg lexapro due to weeping, panicky feelings 

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