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AlasLlama

☼ AlasLlama and Her Discontents

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AlasLlama

Here is my history in brief...

 

I started on Zoloft about 1996. Off and on with that, low doses. Then, new psychiatrist, Buspar, Serzone, Wellbutrin, Effexor. Up to 2004. Another new psychiatrist. More Effexor. But for the first time my doctor warned me that the medications were not intended to be taken for long periods of time, I should look for an alternative. But I had been told they were safe so many times that I did not really listen. Not at first.

 

By 2006, I was in trouble. Increasingly intense nightmares. Depression that did not respond at all to increasingly large doses of medication. Eventually, total collapse. I was intensely suicidal, crying uncontrollably, anorexic, sleeping at night maybe three or four hours at most. What kept me alive was my four year old son. What would happen to him without me? I stayed alive for him.

 

My doctor was baffled, my therapist was baffled. They started talking about having me institutionalized and given Halcyon. It seemed that their Plan A was not working, but what they wanted to do was more Plan A, and they had no Plan B. No thank you. I realized that I needed to take control of the situation and find a treatment that worked, or I was going down. All these years, I had trusted the answers I was given ("no, antidepressants are not habit-forming." "No, there are no effective alternatives to medication"). What if what I had been told was wrong? I started frantically researching everything, looking for similar case histories.

 

I finally found a way out. EMDR therapy got me started. My EMDR therapist was fantastic, getting me through the worst of my crisis and ultimately off medication, and under her care my severe depression and my anxiety were in remission sooner than one would have thought possible. My GP helped when my psychiatrist (another new one) flatly refused to taper me off Effexor. Exercise helped. A sound and light neurotherapy system proved to be an effective way for me to sleep without pills. And then I found neurofeedback therapy, which is AWESOME(though expensive)! I supplement choline, Omega threes (using a vegan supplement, not fish oil), Vitamin D, B12. I exercise, preferably early in the morning in natural light.

 

A new hobby: I read research on antidepressants and alteratives. Very illuminating. Wish my doctors had read it. One of the worst side effects of the Effexor, my last medication, was memory loss. Bad memory loss. Very bad. Had to quit my job because I could not remember what was on page one of a document when I was on page two. Neurofeedback has helped a lot with that. (I know that memory loss is also sometimes a side effect of depression itself. But Effexor memory loss is different... and harder to recover from). I am thinking that I might be able to go back to work again.

 

I am still left with the lingering effects of tardive disphoria. It is nearly impossible for me to feel satisfied or contented or at peace. Hobbies that I remember being deeply satisfying to me as a child or young adult can now partially absorb my attention, but... something is off. I am not myself.

 

I try to view all this as a gift. My son is super-sensitive, a worrier, and on the hyper side. My journey has taught me that many of the people who want to "help" him with pills do not really know as much as they think they do. And there are alternatives. So he is doing great.

 

But as for me, well, I do hope that some day I can be myself again.


Advice in this post is based on personal experience and reading; this is not medical advice and I am not a doctor. 

 

History: Started Zoloft 1996. On and off meds (including Serzone, Buspar, Wellbutrin) until pregnancy in 2003. Started Zoloft again in 2004. Zoloft lost effectiveness. Started Effexor low dose. In 2006, began crash and burn. Nightmares. Memory loss. Very severe depression. Loss of appetite. Insomnia. Sleeping pills did not work. In 2007, hit bottom. Very high doses of medication did not work. In 2008, sought alternatives. Entered EMDR therapy. EMDR gave relief from severe depression and anxiety after a few sessions. In 2009, I tapered off Effexor grain by grain. EMDR helped. Exercise helped. Better nutrition helped. Left with severe memory loss, probably due to Effexor. Neurofeedback therapy helped me recover memory and got rid of last remnants of depression. As of 2014, memory is much better. I have slowly regained my capacity to feel contentment and joy. I continue with exercise, nutrition, and a meditation practice.

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Jemima

Welcome to the forum, AlasLlama.

 

Are you currently taking any medication? If not, how long has it been since you took an antidepressant? When you have a chance, please put a summary of your drug history in the signature area of your profile, like so:

 

http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/893-please-put-your-withdrawal-history-in-your-signature/

 

I'm at the tail end of a too fast taper off of Lexapro, and although I haven't had a dose since December 14, 2011, I'm still suffering from some emotional numbness. It's gotten better, but I'm not all the way back to being myself. It seems that happiness and creativity are the last human traits to return after using antidepressants. They do return, though.

 

Many people on this forum have suffered with emotional numbness. Here's a discussion on the topic that may interest you:

 

Anhedonia, apathy, demotivation

 

I've re-read this one many times myself for the reassurance that positive feelings do come back.

 

Again, welcome. You'll find lots of good, solid information on this forum and gentle, friendly support from others who've been there. I'm glad that you've found us.


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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Altostrata

Welcome, AlasLlama.

 

As you can see, you've found a community of people who have had similar experiences with psychiatric drugs.

 

You have a lot to tell about overcoming symptoms. Please add to the Symptoms and Self-care forum.

 

I'd be very interested in seeing your contributions to topics on EMDR, neurofeedback, and the supplements you've found helpful.


This is not medical advice. Discuss any decisions about your medical care with a knowledgeable medical practitioner.

"It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has surpassed our humanity." -- Albert Einstein

All postings © copyrighted.

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AlasLlama

Dear Everyone, Here is an update of my long history... unlike many, it has a comparatively happy ending! 

 

Beginning: In 1996, I started on Zoloft. At first it was great. Over time, I needed larger doses to get the same effect. Eventually, I tapered myself off of it. However, my depression and anxiety came back, so I started again. Zoloft became less effective, and I was started on Serzone, Buspar, and Wellbutrin. When these diminished in effectiveness, I was started on a low dose of Effexor. I was in conventional talk therapy throughout this period, but it did not seem to be doing much.

 

Middle: In 2003, when I became pregnant, I tapered myself off of the medication. I was told that the medications were safe to take while pregnant (a theory that I would now question) but I was taking no chances. In 2004, a few weeks before my son was born, I was concerned about the return of my depression, and I started again on Zoloft. (It was around this time that my new psychiatrist mentioned to me that the long term effects of these medications were not well understood, and that I should try to get off them. Because I has been assured that they were safe so often, I did not then listen to her). Between 2004 and 2006, I took Zoloft, but it no longer seemed effective. I was switched to Effexor. A couple other things were going on: I was not sleeping well at all, and I was under a lot of stress due to family and job problems. I was still in talk therapy; again, it did not seem helpful.

 

During 2006, my depression took a turn for the worse. Nightmares started... at first, these could be dismissed with "oh, just a bad dream" but over time they became so vivid and intense that the effect of them began to spill over into daytime. In early 2007, I crashed and burned. I could not sleep more than two or three hours a night. I cried often. I was intensely suicidal. I became anorexic; I lost 20 pounds in one month. I had to force myself to eat. I was so sad that I felt as if I were in physical pain. My dosages of Effexor were increased again and again, but it no longer helped. After this had gone on for several month, my psychiatrist mentioned that she was considering having me admitted to a psychiatric hospital and/or adding antipsychotics to my medication. She thought that sleep deprivation was driving my depression, but sleeping pills did not work for me. 

 

End: At this point, I realized that conventional psychiatry had failed me. I was far, far sicker than I had ever been before I placed myself in the care of psychiatrists. It was time for me to get off this bus. I began to research alternatives...looking desperately for similar case histories. I finally found alternatives, first, a book called the Grief Recovery Handbook. Then, something called EMDR, a technology-aided scripted talk therapy that gave me rapid relief of the worst of my symptoms. After a year of EMDR, my depression was in remission, and my social anxiety went away and has never come back. A neurotherapy machine called a "sound and light" system helped me to sleep. Exercise and some nutritional supplements (Vitamin D, Omega 3s, and so on) also helped. 

 

The problem was, I was still taking Effexor. My EMDR therapist told me that to successfully complete the EMDR therapy, the word on the street at the EMDR research conferences was that patients needed to be off medications. When I told my psychiatrist this (a different one), he fussed. So I never saw him again. I went to my regular doctor and told him that I might need his help tapering off the medication. I began to reduce my dosage of Effexor slowly. The last few months, I took apart the pills so that I could reduce the dosage grain by grain.

 

Aftermath: Finally I stopped the Effexor completely in 2009. Ugh. It was awful. But I did it. The problem was, I was left with SERIOUS memory problems. I could not remember my own phone number, my mom's number, my own social security number. I could not remember what was on page one of a document when I was reading page two, and I had to quit my job. I had no idea what caused this; finally, I ran across the research linking memory loss to Effexor. Something like 40% of patients get memory loss, and when Effexor is used to treat severe depression, the effect is enhanced. Great. 

 

The answer was neurofeedback training, another type of technology-aided biofeedback therapy that helps one enter a deep meditative state. With neurofeedback, I began to recover my memory. Today I am able to work again! My memory is not back where it was, and I've lost the ability I once had to write poetry... but it is much, much better. And I can again feel joy and contentment--this was slower to come back and has returned only in the last few months. This recovery has taken YEARS, and a great deal of money, time, and attention. But it can be done

 

Best of luck to all on this forum. 

 

Sincerely, 

AlasLlama

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Advice in this post is based on personal experience and reading; this is not medical advice and I am not a doctor. 

 

History: Started Zoloft 1996. On and off meds (including Serzone, Buspar, Wellbutrin) until pregnancy in 2003. Started Zoloft again in 2004. Zoloft lost effectiveness. Started Effexor low dose. In 2006, began crash and burn. Nightmares. Memory loss. Very severe depression. Loss of appetite. Insomnia. Sleeping pills did not work. In 2007, hit bottom. Very high doses of medication did not work. In 2008, sought alternatives. Entered EMDR therapy. EMDR gave relief from severe depression and anxiety after a few sessions. In 2009, I tapered off Effexor grain by grain. EMDR helped. Exercise helped. Better nutrition helped. Left with severe memory loss, probably due to Effexor. Neurofeedback therapy helped me recover memory and got rid of last remnants of depression. As of 2014, memory is much better. I have slowly regained my capacity to feel contentment and joy. I continue with exercise, nutrition, and a meditation practice.

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WinningThrough

Yay! A success story! I'm so sorry for the nightmare you have had to endure but so glad you are better. One for the success stories section?


The only way out is through.

 

Aug 2013 - Augmentin leading to akathisia

Sept-Nov 2013 - Citalopram 20mg, severe reaction, off at 5mg. Valium 4mg, prn

Oct 2013 - 5 zopiclone tablets, 7.5mg

End Nov 2013-end Feb 2014, Seroquel, top dose 150mg, off at 25mg

End Nov 2013-early march 2014, Zoloft 100mg top dose, off at 25mg

End Dec-2013-early April 2014, lorazepam 1mg prn

April 3rd 2014 zoloft 5mg for a few days. 18/4/14 - zoloft, 1mg. Came off at 0.35 mg,14th June 2014

29 June 2014 - 1mg lorazepam, last ever

29 June 2014 - med free

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mammaP

Hi A.L. I have merged your topic with your original introduction thread, for continuation, it is 

1 thread per person here in the intro forum. 

 

It is really good to read that you are doing so well, thank you for coming back to update us

on your progress  :)


**I am not a medical professional, if in doubt please consult a doctor with withdrawal knowledge.

 

 

Different drugs occasionally (mostly benzos) 1976 - 1981 (no problem)

1993 - 2002 in and out of hospital. every type of drug + ECT. Staring with seroxat

2002  effexor. 

Tapered  March 2012 to March 2013, ending with 5 beads.

Withdrawal April 2013 . Reinstated 5 beads reduced to 4 beads May 2013

Restarted taper  Nov 2013  

OFF EFFEXOR Feb 2015    :D 

Tapered atenolol and omeprazole Dec 2013 - May 2014

 

Tapering tramadol, Feb 2015 100mg , March 2015 50mg  

 July 2017 30mg.  May 15 2018 25mg

Taking fish oil, magnesium, B12, folic acid, bilberry eyebright for eye pressure. 

 

My story http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/4199-hello-mammap-checking-in/page-33

 

Lesson learned, slow down taper at lower doses. Taper no more than 10% of CURRENT dose if possible

 

 

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Altostrata

AlasLlama, thank you for letting us know you're doing so much better. I added our cheerful "here comes the sun" symbol



to the title of your Intro topic, to show you're recovering.

In keeping with our tradition, I'm locking this topic. Please see AlasLlama's Success Story here http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/10609-alasllamas-recovery-with-the-help-of-neurofeedback/


This is not medical advice. Discuss any decisions about your medical care with a knowledgeable medical practitioner.

"It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has surpassed our humanity." -- Albert Einstein

All postings © copyrighted.

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