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Rilke on 'what is difficult'


Narcissus

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I had a flare-up so bad yesterday that eventually I broke down and started sobbing. After a few minutes, I reached over instinctively to a nearby copy of Rainer Maria Rilke's "Letters to a Young Poet" and opened it. There on the open page was a passage I'd underlined a few days earlier. It read,

 

"...we must trust in what is difficult, everything alive trusts in it, everything in Nature grows and defends itself any way it can and is spontaneously itself, tries to be itself at all costs and against all opposition. We know little, but that we must trust in what is difficult is a certainty that will never abandon us."

 

I like the idea, though it may be a bit fanciful, that the pain we experience in withdrawal is Nature (or our brain) trying "to be itself at all costs and against all opposition." This would place withdrawal squarely in the realm of meaningful experience, since it creates the opposition that makes life assert and enrich itself. It's not a very substantial silver lining, but hey, it's something.

 

At any rate, the words were a source of almost immediate comfort for me. I think I'll return to them when things get bad again.

3 Years 150 mgs Effexor

2 month taper down to zero

3 terrible weeks at zero

Back up to 75 mgs

2 months at 75

6 or so months back to regular dose of 150 - was able to restabilize fine.

3 month taper back to zero

1 HORRENDOUS week at zero

2 days back up to 37.5

3 days back up to 75

One week at 150 - unable to stabilize.

Back down to 75 mgs

At 75 mgs (half original dose) and suffering withdrawal symptoms since October 2012.

 

"It is a radical cure for all pessimism to become ill, to remain ill for a good while, and then grow well for a still longer period." - Nietzsche

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having been at this for many years now I have been able to find meaning in the experience in numerous ways...so I'm in agreement with you and don't find it fanciful at all.

 

that doesn't mean there is anything pleasant about most of what we go through.

 

thanks for the Rilke quote.

Everything Matters: Beyond Meds 

https://beyondmeds.com/

withdrawn from a cocktail of 6 psychiatric drugs that included every class of psych drug.
 

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I've often thought that an unwillingness to tolerate the difficult is why many of us start on antidepressants. Our culture, particularly the mass media, has led us to believe that we're entitled to happiness at all times and at all costs and so when difficulties come, we reach for a pill or a drink or food to numb us out instead of learning how to cope.

 

One of my favorite authors, M. Scott Peck, M.D., began the original edition of his book, The Road Less Traveled, with the statement that "Life is difficult". He goes on to say that once we accept that life is difficult, it becomes less so.

 

How I wish I could always keep this in mind!

Psychotropic drug history: Pristiq 50 mg. (mid-September 2010 through February 2011), Remeron (mid-September 2010 through January 2011), Lexapro 10 mg. (mid-February 2011 through mid-December 2011), Lorazepam (Ativan) 1 mg. as needed mid-September 2010 through early March 2012

"Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity." -Hanlon's Razor


Introduction: http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/1588-introducing-jemima/

 

Success Story: http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/6263-success-jemima-survives-lexapro-and-dr-dickhead-too/

Please note that I am not a medical professional and my advice is based on personal experience, reading, and anecdotal information posted by other sufferers.

 

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The first noble truth in Buddhism is "Life is suffering."

 

and in Buddhism too, as people learn to embrace suffering they are also released from it...it's universal knowledge and the mystical traditions of all religions know it...we all have it in the depth of our being and can tap into it anytime...but becoming unconditioned is required...that is exactly what the illness has helped me with...

Everything Matters: Beyond Meds 

https://beyondmeds.com/

withdrawn from a cocktail of 6 psychiatric drugs that included every class of psych drug.
 

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  • 3 months later...

I think that, at least in the formulation, it is very unealthy and repelling. There is suffering in life, yes, and acceptance of it, is a good thing, for it make it less painful, yes. But that's all. What conception and love of Life can you have with such a belief in your mind? Something so unpleasant you must be detached from so as to suffer the less possible? "Hey man, welcome to the earth, a place of ordeal and misery. To make your stay the most unpleasant possible, we advise you to aenesthetize yourself  by indifference and to lost all pretention to pleasure and happiness. Be wary and smother them, for it could make you love life and vulnerable to its ebbs and flows." There is junk thinking as well as junk food, and the latter must not be the more harmful.

 

Suffering is a part of life, it as its utility, for it can make you grow, therefore making it more enjoyable, and that's what make it tolerable. But I think this is just that, something tolerable, not acceptable (I am on the conceptual level, of course, when it comes to experiencing, acceptance is the wisest way to go, for it is the smoothest). "There is no reason to respect unhappiness, absolutely no reasons." Romain Gary. I think the same thing for suffering. Life is joy, love and pleasure. It is also growth. But isn't the purpose of growth more joy, love, and pleasure? Even if it would not be the truth, this woul be still the thing to spread, since it is the healthiest. 

Think of it, of the meaning of the words: "Life is suffering". The present of general truth depicts an abominable face of life, all the more ugly since, as there is no other component mentioned, it becomes ridiculously exclusive. Suffering and nothing else. "Life is a sadistic b****, you are like a performing slave, if you manage to writhe with style, if your resignation is magnificent, or your laments innovative, you may have the privilege to become one of her favourites. It is all about a contest of grimace.  Do you want to play the game?"  Plus, there is no meaning displayed. An absurd b**** is better. SERIOUSLY?

 A more correct formulation would be: "there is suffering in life". More constructive: "Life is growth". Healthier: "Life is a wonderful thing, It is pleasure, joy, and love. Sometimes, it can be painful, but this is because Life love you, and with your agreement, it takes you to give you even more."

 

Saying "Life is suffering" is demeaning for Life, and unhealthy for Man, which is what religion is very good at. There is nothing "noble" in it.

First AD -sertraline- in 2007at the age of 13 because of child abuse

2009-2013: intricate story of multiple wds, meds and cts, gradually became a living mess

Feb 2013: last CT from a cocktail of four drugs, symptoms are relenting but witness a constant sharpening of the brain

 

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I was reading a book about Buddhism a few months ago, I believe it was What The Buddha Taught, but perhaps it was something else.  Anyway, during the author's discussion of the first noble truth he mentions that many Buddhist scholars are dissatisfied with the translation "Life is suffering".  He said that the original (Hindi?  Sanskrit?) word is less dire sounding and much broader in terms of the kind of experience that it refers to.  You're right in that the word suffering has very negative connotations for us, the phrase "Life is suffering" has always sounded to me a bit like "Life is sh*t". And this is why some people are unhappy with the translation, because it makes Buddhism sound much more cynical than it really is.  As I understand it, one could substitute the phrases "Life is desire" or "Life is separateness" for "Life as suffering", for these things all imply each-other in the Buddhist sense.  I don't think the phrase is meant to suggest that life is only suffering or separateness or desire, just that these are the basic conditions which make life possible.  Also possible (and presumably part of life) is this curious human ability to get beyond desire, beyond the self.

 

As for whether Buddhism is a kind withdrawal from the "ebb and flow of life" as you put it, that's a very interesting question.  I suppose the answer would depend on whether you believe there's more to life than desire or not.

 

 

 

 Life is joy, love and pleasure. It is also growth. But isn't the purpose of growth more joy, love, and pleasure? Even if it would not be the truth, this woul be still the thing to spread, since it is the healthiest. 

 

A Buddhist would distinguish between joy and pleasure.  From what I understand, joy and truth are synonymous in Buddhism, and both involve overcoming desire (and suffering and separateness).  So in terms of joy being an absolute good, I think Buddhists would agree heartily.

 

 

 

"There is no reason to respect unhappiness, absolutely no reasons."


Buddhists would agree with this too.  
 

 

 

 "Life is a sadistic *****, you are like a performing slave, if you manage to writhe with style, if your resignation is magnificent, or your laments innovative, you may have the privilege to become one of her favourites. It is all about a contest of grimace.  Do you want to play the game?"

 

I don't really know what you mean here, but I don't think it has much to do with Buddhism.

Anyway, I enjoyed reading your tangent and I understand your frustration with ideas that seem to degrade life, I'm just not sure if Buddhism is one of those ideas.  The religion with the lowest estimate of human life (or life in general) is probably Christianity with its notions of original sin and total depravity and what not.  But even these things are complicated by all of the accompanying ideas about salvation and grace, as well as all the varieties of interpretations of Christian ideas, some of which are tender and beautiful and some of which are horrifying.  I think it's too easy to say that religion degrades life, period.  Things are really much more complex than that. To me, the mechanistic view of life (the same one that is used in modern neuroscience, for instance) is highly degrading toward life, and it's perfectly secular.  Unless you believe that science is a religion (as I sometimes do).  

3 Years 150 mgs Effexor

2 month taper down to zero

3 terrible weeks at zero

Back up to 75 mgs

2 months at 75

6 or so months back to regular dose of 150 - was able to restabilize fine.

3 month taper back to zero

1 HORRENDOUS week at zero

2 days back up to 37.5

3 days back up to 75

One week at 150 - unable to stabilize.

Back down to 75 mgs

At 75 mgs (half original dose) and suffering withdrawal symptoms since October 2012.

 

"It is a radical cure for all pessimism to become ill, to remain ill for a good while, and then grow well for a still longer period." - Nietzsche

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I can't believe I had the energy to write all that!  I must be getting better!

3 Years 150 mgs Effexor

2 month taper down to zero

3 terrible weeks at zero

Back up to 75 mgs

2 months at 75

6 or so months back to regular dose of 150 - was able to restabilize fine.

3 month taper back to zero

1 HORRENDOUS week at zero

2 days back up to 37.5

3 days back up to 75

One week at 150 - unable to stabilize.

Back down to 75 mgs

At 75 mgs (half original dose) and suffering withdrawal symptoms since October 2012.

 

"It is a radical cure for all pessimism to become ill, to remain ill for a good while, and then grow well for a still longer period." - Nietzsche

Link to post

I didn't intend to tackle Buddhism, just the quoted sentence, even if I may have overspilt. Nor did I say that religion degrades life, period. I just said they were very good at it, which is not saying they are only capable of that. Religions do great good on numerous people, althoug I deem it is a relative and improvable good. I agree with you saying things are more complex than that. I think that there is Truth in every religion, but that this Truth is intertwined with unhealthy bullsh*t that needs to be dirted off, and the scattered Truth unified. I agree with you saying Christianity is probably the most man-demeaning religion (not the worst, there is no worst nor better, and there is great things in it again, like in other religions). So do I agree with you saying science can be a religion, for it is reassuring system onto one's can cling. People are dependent on systems because they are prefabricated constructions that enable to dismiss Truth seeking by quick illusionary and incomplete fixes. Besides, they also use systems to exist. A lot of people base their identity on exterior things, not themselves. Beliefs are a classic in that. Science can be use as well as religion in that very unealthy thing, mother of many noxious things, like weakness, dependence, intolerance etc... I am not "frustrated" at all. I have all I need. I am just revolted by the stupidity that there is in religion (along with the good there is also in it) and the harm it makes. I am sorry to say that, I wish I could say it otherwise, for my words must attack important things for people. I don't like that at all. But I can't shut up. So I maintain: even if there is great good in religions, there is also intolerable unealthy things. I thank you for having explained me what the actual idea was behind the sentence I previously tackled. I find it very interesting. I agree with buddhism saying separation is life. Life is experience, enabled by changement AND separation (but if if you think of it, changement is nothing but temporal separation). You can only experience things that are delimited, because this is by contrast that you notice and identify the different states and experiences. Plus, you must be separated from it to make the same thing. Life is Life that separated itself to experienced itself. I agree with that. But I disagree with what Buddhism prescribes about it. Yes, being aware of the non separation of things make the experience more pleasant and constructive, and enable you to be far more tolerant and do far less harm to you and other people, this is good. But I don't think detachment is a good thing. Detachment is the withdrawal from experience, thus withdrawal from Life. It is the equivalent of avoidment in psychology. What is bad is not the suffering that attachment causes upon you by the non-invulnerability it implies. No, there is suffering in life, one's need to have the courage to accept it, to suffer from things and people, and experience it when it presents itself. What is bad is the dependence it creates between you and things/people, and the suffering entailed on you and these things/people by this dependence. 

I think the thing to do is being able to benefit the most from things/people, that is to say receiving the most possible and giving the most possible WITHOUT dependence. But there is a necessary attachment. I firmly reckon that Life is in experience and a HEALTHY attachment. To me, detachment is a morbid protective and unealthy behaviour.  

First AD -sertraline- in 2007at the age of 13 because of child abuse

2009-2013: intricate story of multiple wds, meds and cts, gradually became a living mess

Feb 2013: last CT from a cocktail of four drugs, symptoms are relenting but witness a constant sharpening of the brain

 

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What an interesting discussion this has become!I have a few responses, but since I'm feeling a little burnt out today I think I'll type them up later.  

3 Years 150 mgs Effexor

2 month taper down to zero

3 terrible weeks at zero

Back up to 75 mgs

2 months at 75

6 or so months back to regular dose of 150 - was able to restabilize fine.

3 month taper back to zero

1 HORRENDOUS week at zero

2 days back up to 37.5

3 days back up to 75

One week at 150 - unable to stabilize.

Back down to 75 mgs

At 75 mgs (half original dose) and suffering withdrawal symptoms since October 2012.

 

"It is a radical cure for all pessimism to become ill, to remain ill for a good while, and then grow well for a still longer period." - Nietzsche

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  • Moderator Emeritus

I'd just like to chime in here about the true interpretation of the phrase 'life is suffering'.

 

Narc, you're correct that this is not a true interpretation and it often gives the Buddhist philosophy a bit of a bad rap. Because the Buddhist teachings are translated from the Pali language( I think it's Pali), many times there aren't English phrases that can come close to matching the true meanings.

 

The true meaning behind the first noble truth points to the basic 'unsatisfactory' nature of existence due to impermanence. So what it really means is that 'pain is inevitable - but suffering is optional (easier said than done!!).

 

According to Buddhist philosophy, the reason we experience unhappiness in life is because we want to hold onto the situations and things that are pleasant and push away those that are unpleasant. This inherently causes suffering because of the changing nature of phenomena.

 

Therefore, we suffer when we want things to be different than they way they are.

July 2001 prescribed 20mg citalopram for depression;
On and off meds from 2003-2006.
February 2006 back on 20mg citalopram and stayed on it until my last attempt at tapering in September 2011.
By far the worst withdrawal symptoms ever. Reinstated to 20mg citalopram
October 2012 - found this forum!
Nov 2012 to Feb 2013 did 10% taper, got doen to 11mg - was going great until stressful situation. Cortisol levels hit the roof, hideous insomnia forced me to updose to 20mg.
March 2016 - close to 100% back to normal!



****** I am not a medical practitioner, any advice I give comes from my own experience or reading and is only my perspective ******

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^Simply and elegantly stated basildev, thank you.

3 Years 150 mgs Effexor

2 month taper down to zero

3 terrible weeks at zero

Back up to 75 mgs

2 months at 75

6 or so months back to regular dose of 150 - was able to restabilize fine.

3 month taper back to zero

1 HORRENDOUS week at zero

2 days back up to 37.5

3 days back up to 75

One week at 150 - unable to stabilize.

Back down to 75 mgs

At 75 mgs (half original dose) and suffering withdrawal symptoms since October 2012.

 

"It is a radical cure for all pessimism to become ill, to remain ill for a good while, and then grow well for a still longer period." - Nietzsche

Link to post
  • Moderator Emeritus
But I don't think detachment is a good thing. Detachment is the withdrawal from experience

 

A Buddhist teacher would describe detachment as the near enemy of equanimity. 'Near enemy' is a quality that can masquerade as the original, but is not the original.

 

Equanimity is one of the four bramaviharas (or Divine abodes).

 

Simply put, equanimity refers to 'non-clinging'. That is to say; its absolutely fine and expected that we should enjoy pleasant experiences in life and experience joy and contentment; but when we cling to the situations and circumstances that bring us joy and pleasure, we suffer. Similarly, when bad things happen to us, this is described as 'the first arrow'  - it hurts, to be sure. But when we add aversion to the mix (pushing away, fighting against), we add a 'second arrow' (our judgment of the situation as 'bad' and subsequent striving to get rid of it), and we suffer even more than is necessary.

July 2001 prescribed 20mg citalopram for depression;
On and off meds from 2003-2006.
February 2006 back on 20mg citalopram and stayed on it until my last attempt at tapering in September 2011.
By far the worst withdrawal symptoms ever. Reinstated to 20mg citalopram
October 2012 - found this forum!
Nov 2012 to Feb 2013 did 10% taper, got doen to 11mg - was going great until stressful situation. Cortisol levels hit the roof, hideous insomnia forced me to updose to 20mg.
March 2016 - close to 100% back to normal!



****** I am not a medical practitioner, any advice I give comes from my own experience or reading and is only my perspective ******

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You know your stuff!  I wish I knew as much about Buddhism as you seem to.  I have been reading Krishnamurti recently, and while I don't think he had any particular religious affiliations Wikipedia tells me that his ideas are essentially Buddhist, and so far as I can tell they seem to be.  Reading him has had a very profound influence on me so far.  Really, I feel as if my whole mode of perceiving things is being altered.  There's a kind of warmth and radiance to things even though I'm still very much in withdrawal.  I had this same feeling several months ago after having a religion experience of sorts (also triggered by reading a book of what I think were essentially Buddhist ideas), but then withdrawal came back and ripped me out of it.  But now it appears to be coming back!  But talking about it is making me feel afraid that it'll disappear again, so I'm going to stop.  Check out Krishnamurti if you haven't already!  Any suggestions for Buddhism reading?  That book "What The Buddha Taught" was really quite good but I lost it before I got very far in it.  D.T. Suzuki seems to be a big name, maybe I should try running with him?

3 Years 150 mgs Effexor

2 month taper down to zero

3 terrible weeks at zero

Back up to 75 mgs

2 months at 75

6 or so months back to regular dose of 150 - was able to restabilize fine.

3 month taper back to zero

1 HORRENDOUS week at zero

2 days back up to 37.5

3 days back up to 75

One week at 150 - unable to stabilize.

Back down to 75 mgs

At 75 mgs (half original dose) and suffering withdrawal symptoms since October 2012.

 

"It is a radical cure for all pessimism to become ill, to remain ill for a good while, and then grow well for a still longer period." - Nietzsche

Link to post

I can see that I had only a very superficial hint of what buddhism is. It was unfair from me to talk about it. I thank you for having enlighten me about this very sensible concept.I originally didn't want to talk about it, but I somewhat flared up about all this history of suffering.Piece of Truth shouldn't be distorted and concealed by deceiving bad translation. I know there is the same thing in Christianity, and probably in other religions. For example, sin originally meant imperfection, separation from the state of divinity, not a shameful infamy. I find it is such a shame that great things are contorted in this way. Why? 

First AD -sertraline- in 2007at the age of 13 because of child abuse

2009-2013: intricate story of multiple wds, meds and cts, gradually became a living mess

Feb 2013: last CT from a cocktail of four drugs, symptoms are relenting but witness a constant sharpening of the brain

 

Link to post
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Hey Roads,

 

I totally understand. In fact when my husband first introduced me to Buddhism with the phrase 'life is suffering', I had EXACTLY the same reaction as you!

 

I think many religions have great things to offer. For me, I take what works for me and leave the rest:)

July 2001 prescribed 20mg citalopram for depression;
On and off meds from 2003-2006.
February 2006 back on 20mg citalopram and stayed on it until my last attempt at tapering in September 2011.
By far the worst withdrawal symptoms ever. Reinstated to 20mg citalopram
October 2012 - found this forum!
Nov 2012 to Feb 2013 did 10% taper, got doen to 11mg - was going great until stressful situation. Cortisol levels hit the roof, hideous insomnia forced me to updose to 20mg.
March 2016 - close to 100% back to normal!



****** I am not a medical practitioner, any advice I give comes from my own experience or reading and is only my perspective ******

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  • Moderator Emeritus

Hey Narc,

 

Do I have some suggestions for YOU!!

 

Firstly, some of my favourite Buddhist teachers are:

 

Pema Chodron

Joseph Goldstein

Tara Brach

James Baraz

Jack Kornfield

 

I haven't read anything by David Suzuki but other teachers reference him quite a bit.

 

Any books by these guys are great, especially Pema Chodron. I haven't bought any of Jospeh Goldstein's books but he offers a lot of free talks.

 

Personally I like to listen to talks. I also read but sometimes when I'm in withdrawal (insomnia), not being able to sleep makes reading very difficult.

 

PS: Don't ever stop talking about these things Narc. The truth is, the great feelings and experiences WILL go away - that's the nature of impermanence. But you'll get them again and again.

 

Anyway here's a website that offers literally thousands of free talks on virtually every subject:

 

http://dharmaseed.org/talks/

 

This is my favourite website and these talks have gotten me through many horrible withdrawal moments.

July 2001 prescribed 20mg citalopram for depression;
On and off meds from 2003-2006.
February 2006 back on 20mg citalopram and stayed on it until my last attempt at tapering in September 2011.
By far the worst withdrawal symptoms ever. Reinstated to 20mg citalopram
October 2012 - found this forum!
Nov 2012 to Feb 2013 did 10% taper, got doen to 11mg - was going great until stressful situation. Cortisol levels hit the roof, hideous insomnia forced me to updose to 20mg.
March 2016 - close to 100% back to normal!



****** I am not a medical practitioner, any advice I give comes from my own experience or reading and is only my perspective ******

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  • Moderator Emeritus

 

 

PS: Don't ever stop talking about these things Narc. The truth is, the great feelings and experiences WILL go away - that's the nature of impermanence. But you'll get them again and again.

 

This is very comforting Basildev, thank you.

 

And thanks for the recommendations!  I will look into them immediately.

 

Krishnamurti gives talks too, they're easy to find on youtube.  In fact, the book that I have are just transcriptions of various talks he did over the course of his life.  I think talks are probably the best fit for Buddhist ideas, since what Buddhism seems to teach above all is a form of experience, and listening to a speaker is really much more of a living experience than reading abstract text.  

 

A deeply ingrained tendency toward excessive abstraction seems to be our intellectual inheritance as Westerners.  The good news is that we seem to be able to unlearn it if we wish.

3 Years 150 mgs Effexor

2 month taper down to zero

3 terrible weeks at zero

Back up to 75 mgs

2 months at 75

6 or so months back to regular dose of 150 - was able to restabilize fine.

3 month taper back to zero

1 HORRENDOUS week at zero

2 days back up to 37.5

3 days back up to 75

One week at 150 - unable to stabilize.

Back down to 75 mgs

At 75 mgs (half original dose) and suffering withdrawal symptoms since October 2012.

 

"It is a radical cure for all pessimism to become ill, to remain ill for a good while, and then grow well for a still longer period." - Nietzsche

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  • Moderator Emeritus

I agree.

 

There's something very soothing about listening to a teacher. I find the experience far more beneficial than reading a book. I wish I lived closer to where the teachers live - I'd go to see them. We don't have many Buddhist communities in Australia.

 

I'll have a look at Krishnamurti

 

Let me know how you do.

July 2001 prescribed 20mg citalopram for depression;
On and off meds from 2003-2006.
February 2006 back on 20mg citalopram and stayed on it until my last attempt at tapering in September 2011.
By far the worst withdrawal symptoms ever. Reinstated to 20mg citalopram
October 2012 - found this forum!
Nov 2012 to Feb 2013 did 10% taper, got doen to 11mg - was going great until stressful situation. Cortisol levels hit the roof, hideous insomnia forced me to updose to 20mg.
March 2016 - close to 100% back to normal!



****** I am not a medical practitioner, any advice I give comes from my own experience or reading and is only my perspective ******

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