Popular Post siderale Posted March 13, 2022 Popular Post Share Posted March 13, 2022 (edited) Hello everyone! Here is my introduction topic. Today marks one year I stopped antidepressants (Escitalopram). I have been completely symptom-free for 2 months as of March 2022, but the biggest improvement in symptoms came past month 6-7 into withdrawal, I would say last October (2021). I am aware that this is quite fast and that I was lucky, but nonetheless I wish to document my journey to give hope to everyone that's struggling, be it 2 weeks or 2 years in. Because despite my WD being short, I 100% honestly started to believe I would never ever feel "normal", let alone feel like myself again. My history with Escitalopram I wanna preface this by stating that Escitalopram helped me immensely with my initial issues in the first place. I have always been anxious and I will always be anxious. In August of 2017 however, I was put on Escitalopram 10mg when it spiraled out of control (I developed severe OCD and hypochondria (health anxiety)). Within 3 weeks, the medication allowed me to live a normal life again. As it was a success, in 2018 I stopped the medication (10mg to 5mg in june and then stopped completely). I had no withdrawal syndrome at all and spent a wonderful summer. I relapsed in October 2017 (it was OCD and not withdrawal, 100% sure), and was put back on Escitalopram 10mg in November 2018, following therapy along too. I therefore followed therapy and stayed on Escitalopram 10mg for another 2 years and 2 months from Nov 2018, up until January 2021 when my psychiatrist and I both agreed to try and stop antidepressants again as I felt much more stable and able to live without its help. From 10mg, the taper was: 5mg through Jan-Feb 2021, and then 5mg one day out of two through Feb-March, until I stopped mid-March 2021. Through the taper, I did not notice any symptom save from fatigue, but to this day I'm unsure if it was the taper or just the season (I suffer greatly from seasonal lack of sunlight!!). My withdrawal journey and symptoms A few days after my last Escitalopram dose, around March 18th 2021, my anxiety ramped up for no reason. On days 7-10 I got GI symptoms, and thought I had a stomach flu (still unsure if it was the start of WD or stomach flu!). Then a couple days later, I awoke brutally a few hours after falling asleep to full-body tremors that scared me a lot, I never had this before. This moment, for me, marked the start of my WD journey, for when I woke up later again in the morning, I felt a dread I never felt before. March-May of 2021 were atrocious. I believe it was the "acute" part of WD. I was feeling such a wide array of very physical and mental symptoms that I never had to deal with before, not even before medication when my mental issues were debilitating. I woke up every single day drenched in anxiety, filled with INSANE dread the whole day. I had huge crying bouts and intrusive thoughts, feelings of very very intense despair and helplessness. Anxiety would usually alleviate in the evenings but I was exhausted due to how my body was in flight or fight mode the whole day. My "windows" lasted a few hours, or half a day at max. My appetite was gone and I had nausea every single day on and off (else I would just not have any appetite) for a rough 4-6 months, which was one of the hardest things for me to deal with. I'm still undoing the damage of this extreme weight loss as I type this. It is in June-July of 2021 that the physical symptoms were the hardest. I had full-body exhaustion, maybe due to the severe weight loss, I remember doing my things on auto-pilot. However, this is what helped me move forwards: even at my lowest, I was able to pull through and my body helped me move forwards despite feeling so crippled. In WD it became SO important to hold on such "reminders" and remember that I could trust myself and my body. I also developed photophobia in June-July, which lasted for 1 month and a half. It was very very weird, I had unilateral sharp eye pain upon looking at anything bright. I cannot stress enough that I never had such symptoms before ever, never had migraines etc, and it remained something isolated as I didn't have photophobia since!! In Sept-December of 2021 , I mentally felt at a much better place and much more confident in my ability to heal despite symptoms still being part of my everyday life: mostly because my appetite slowly, FINALLY came back. On a daily basis, I had to deal with headaches still, pin and needles, derealisation, tough time focusing and dizzy spells that were quite scary. I was feeling off and/or derealisation, or anxious with some intrusive thoughts. Mid-January of 2022, I realised I had no symptoms at all for a week and that my last wave was probably a few weeks ago already. Maybe a couple dizzy spells through the beginning of January, but they wore off. Another week passed. And another... and a month... and here I am now, 2 months after what I consider to be my last symptoms, and one year after my last Escitalopram dose. This forum, along with the resilience I built through the past years, allowed me to brunt the force of what is to this day the hardest thing I've gone through. I kept going on because I said to myself everyday that this will pass, that healing will happen. And it did. It was slow at first. I was counting the good days, and at one point I stopped paying daily attention to how I was feeling, rather noticing the days where I felt off: they were getting rarer. I kept track of all my symptoms in a journal, and looking back I cannot believe I experienced this whole list (I haven't listed everything here else this post would be even longer lol), it sounds absolutely mental, yet here I am, at the top of a mountain I wasn't expecting to have to climb. And what a hike it was. What helped me with some of the symptoms? To deal with nausea, I paid great attention to eat more often but in small amounts and drink a lot. My GP prescribed me proteinated fruit juice as well. I would eat "bland" foods such as unseasoned rice or pasta as it gives you energy and sustenance still. The days (or hours) where the nausea gave me a break, I tried to eat varied foods. I kept a very balanced diet, and didn't cut anything save from caffeine for 2 months (without changing from what I usually ate, as I feared this would destabilise me further). When anhedonia hit me I just let the day pass, because sometimes "existing" is enough of an effort and it's okay; and I tried to not mull over the fact that even my hobbies didn't bring me joy. I tried to focus on the absolute smallest things that felt nice: the breeze from my ajar window, the feeling of fresh water as I washed my hands, the odd birds outside in the distance... It's a great habit to take, actually, to become a bit "contemplative". A shame I had to discover this when everything else felt bad, but better late than never. A warm shower would usually help my anxiety and/or crying bouts. It is the simplest yet most efficient thing honestly now that I remember it. Restorative yoga was also helpful sometimes (I never tried yoga before WD and it is one good habit I took during my journey!) Repeating to myself that things come and go, including the hardships. Radical acceptance was a great read (I ought to find the link to the specific post again, I'll edit this later). And now... I can now drink coffee/alcohol just like before (I never abused it!). I can focus on and write my thesis, read complicated theoretical books, hold a conversation without feeling alien, hell I'm even less shy than before, I eat in great amounts and I have almost put back all the weight I lost. I just feel... profoundly normal. Back in my shoes. I think my outlook on life changed a bit. It became more optimistic, more appreciative mostly because I coped with the atrocious feelings of withdrawal by focusing on the small things (when you've got nothing else...); and/or repeating to myself what people said on this forum and what I came to learn as I progressed, which is that healing eventually happens and that good days and bad days will always alternate, even if sometimes one part overpowers the others. Eventually, it evens out, and it's worth it when you look back at what you've been through. Thanks everyone on SurvivingAntidepressants for making this possible - with your support, your advice, your journeys. We'll all get there and I hope from the bottom of my heart that all of you feel the relief that I got the chance to feel very soon. If you're struggling and reading this: you're insanely strong for having soldiered on every single difficult day in your life. I'm just an internet stranger, but I'm proud of you, and I want to promise you that better days are ahead. Edited March 19, 2022 by Erell Title change 20 Better days are ahead. If you read this and are still struggling - hang in there. It'll be worth it. My success story: I recovered from Escitalopram withdrawal. Aug 2017 - May 2018 -> Escitalopram 10 mg. Nov 2018 - Jan 2021 -> Escitalopram 10 mg. Feb 2021 - 5 mg. Feb-March 2021 - 5 mg, one day out of two. Since March 13th, 2021 -> Escitalopram 0 mg. Withdrawal appeared 1 week after last dose. 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