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TheOptimizer 15 years on SSRIs and Benzos. Help?


TheOptimizer

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Going to try and keep this as short and concise as possible. Currently age 30, have been on some form of SSRI/SNRI since age 15, same thing with benzos and a mood-stablizer combo. I also take Suboxone once daily for a heroin addiction I kicked 6 years ago. Oh yes, can't forget... recently diagnosed with adult ADD and am being treated with Vyvanse 40mg daily. (down from 70mg which is good. I am already experiencing cardiac arrythmias and chest pain, good thing I quit smoking when I quit the junk!) I have tried to dis-continue SSRI therapy multiple times. So many times that I've lost track. I've also taken so many different drugs that I could probably write a small book containing all their names. They called me a walking DSM in HS. haha. I remember one specific time withdrawing from effexor approx 2 years after starting in HS, and needed to re-continue "therapy"just because I had gotten so sick. My first "scare" that this stuff really is the devil. I have kicked heroin, cocaine, and even cigarettes. Effexor? I wouldn't wish that hell on my worst enemy. At this point, I am scared beyond belief for the hell that awaits me when I finally get off of these things. (IF i do.) I'm not sure there's much data around on withdrawing people that have been on these tings for 15 years+. Anyway, I've typed enough for now, and am realizing that I am bumming myself out even acknowledging this horrible mess. As far as Big Pharma, all I have to say is What goes around, comes around. So they better watch out for a little bit of karmic whiplash. Thank you guys for making such an informative and supportive forum! I look forward to future correspendence.

-M

SSRI REGIMEN:50mg Pristiq, began SSRI "therapy" @ age 15, currently 30 years of age.

BENZODIAZEPINES: Diazepam 10mg 3x/day.

MOOD STABILIZERS: 100mg Lamictal 1x/day

OPIOID MAINTENANCE THERAPY: 8mg Suboxone film 1x/day.

CYP2D6 ENZYME THERAPY: Cerefolin-NAC 1x/day (CYP2D6 Null)

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Hello Optimizer,

 

I'm really sad to hear your story. It is not too dissimilar to my own. It sounds like you have some uncertainty about whethr or not you can be okay if you are not taking all these medications. I know exactly that fear so you must be in a desperate place to even consider making a change. I was in this place as well -- started psych drugs @ 18 yrs, multiple diagnoses, more meds, side effects, alcohol abuse, drug abuse, rehab, suicide attempt ... and so on.

 

I feel that a lot of time was taken from me. I am not doing that well at the moment either -- I have significant health problems independent of psychiatric medication, namely I am being treated for a non-invasive mold infection and co-infections -- however I am doing 1000000000 TIMES better than I was doing just 4 yrs ago when I took antidepressants, benzos, antipsychotic medication and so on.

 

I suspect that you are like me. If you put forth the effort to try to untangle the puzzle and take a long-term approach, you will be able to look bacck in five years and not even recognize yourself...

 

Welcome.

 

Alex

"Well my ship's been split to splinters and it's sinking fast
I'm drowning in the poison, got no future, got no past
But my heart is not weary, it's light and it's free
I've got nothing but affection for all those who sailed with me.

Everybody's moving, if they ain't already there
Everybody's got to move somewhere
Stick with me baby, stick with me anyhow
Things should start to get interesting right about now."

- Zimmerman

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  • Moderator Emeritus

Hi!

 

I was on psych meds for almost 20 years. Although I didn't start at as young an age as you did (which in my experience means you need to be extra slow and cautious with tapers) I otherwise have a similar history. As does Gia K of the Beyond Meds blog.

 

I think you have every reason to hope that you can get off psych meds, or at least reduce your dosages and the risks of their damaging effects considerably. However, it's going to take you much longer than you'd like. But think about it: would you rather spend the next 5-10 years coming off or reducing your meds safely, or fail again due to going too fast and wind up stuck on them the rest of your life?

 

I'm three years into what it appears will be about a six-year tapering process off all meds. Going this slow, I'm doing quite well, holding down a full-time job (something I was never able to do when I was actually ON meds as prescribed) and starting to have hobbies and a social life and even a sex life. I'm down to low enough dosages that I'm able to enjoy life and am getting my natural personality back. So even if you don't get all the way off, if my experience is anything to go by, even just getting down to much lower doses can bring about much improvement in how you feel and think as well as reduce toxic and metabolic damage due to the drugs.

 

Since you aren't in crisis right now it sounds like, you have time to learn about your options. I'd recommend taking a gander at Gia's story on Beyond Meds and also reading Will Hall's "Harm Reduction Guide to Coming Off Psychiatric Medications." http://willhall.net/comingoffmeds/

 

And read over the tapering advice on this website.

 

I'd also recommend reading Robert Whitaker's book Anatomy of an Epidemic, not for tapering advice, but just to understand what's going on with our insane and out-of-control psychiatric-pharmaceutical-industrial-medical complex that has gotten us to this point where so many people like you and I and Alex and so many others are having our minds, hearts, lives and health hijacked for the sake of profit.

 

Glad you found your way here. This is the best place I've found for the kind of support and information you'll be needing if you choose to make this journey.

Started on Prozac and Xanax in 1992 for PTSD after an assault. One drug led to more, the usual story. Got sicker and sicker, but believed I needed the drugs for my "underlying disease". Long story...lost everything. Life savings, home, physical and mental health, relationships, friendships, ability to work, everything. Amitryptiline, Prozac, bupropion, buspirone, flurazepam, diazepam, alprazolam, Paxil, citalopram, lamotrigine, gabapentin...probably more I've forgotten. 

Started multidrug taper in Feb 2010.  Doing a very slow microtaper, down to low doses now and feeling SO much better, getting my old personality and my brain back! Able to work full time, have a full social life, and cope with stress better than ever. Not perfect, but much better. After 23 lost years. Big Pharma has a lot to answer for. And "medicine for profit" is just not a great idea.

 

Feb 15 2010:  300 mg Neurontin  200 Lamictal   10 Celexa      0.65 Xanax   and 5 mg Ambien 

Feb 10 2014:   62 Lamictal    1.1 Celexa         0.135 Xanax    1.8 Valium

Feb 10 2015:   50 Lamictal      0.875 Celexa    0.11 Xanax      1.5 Valium

Feb 15 2016:   47.5 Lamictal   0.75 Celexa      0.0875 Xanax    1.42 Valium    

2/12/20             12                       0.045               0.007                   1 

May 2021            7                       0.01                  0.0037                1

Feb 2022            6                      0!!!                     0.00167               0.98                2.5 mg Ambien

Oct 2022       4.5 mg Lamictal    (off Celexa, off Xanax)   0.95 Valium    Ambien, 1/4 to 1/2 of a 5 mg tablet 

 

I'm not a doctor. Any advice I give is just my civilian opinion.

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Believe me, I am very aware of the epidemic that you mention. I have been aware of it for probably 10+ years. I try not to go on too much about this "conspiracy", bc most people get the wrong idea when you mention that word. (This dude is wayyyy out there etc)

 

I am the type of person who likes to read about anything I'm going to possibly put in my body, therefore I've studied psychopharmacology for many years, and psychology in general. Both of my doctors tell me that I could prescribe better than 50% of the doctors they know. lol. Perhaps I have a future there who knows.

 

I am also a musician. Began playing piano at a very young age and was reading Bass and Treble clef when I was 10 years of age. At 12 I picked up the guitar which has become my main instrument. At this point in time, I've been robbed of any inspiration or motivation that I've had in the past to play my instrument, or even be happy that I have the talent and ability to do so. The quote "while my guitar gently weeps" has become much more meaningful to me bc of this.

 

Many people ask me why I am not in bands, and my heart sinks when I have to answer them with something to the tune of: I don't practice anymore, have no motivation to practice, no motivation to write music, barely enough motivation to get out of bed every day. Also I will explain to them how I have a case of "hermitism"if you will. I guess you could say there are hints of agoraphobia there, but basically it just comes down to the fact that my physical/mental health has gone completely down the tubes.

 

The psychiatric community sickens me with all of these "labels"they have come up with to describe certain stages of development of our lives. The "cure-all" SSRI attitude fills my veins with hate and anger. The thought that they are giving this crap to younger and younger children is very disturbing to me. I am the type of person who puts others well-being before my own, and perhaps have sabotaged myself because of that, but I feel my mission here on this planet, and in this lifetime is to be a guide or a "helper" if you will. At this point in time, the anger and hatred is usually my source for motivation, as it seems to be the only emotion that really "shines through" at this time.

 

I am lucky enough to have adapted enough to this crap to actually be able to keep sexual relationships alive, but with my last two relationships, sex had become a chore rather than being the beautiful and divine act that it is. I'm lucky my libido is still there, albeit severely blunted. At times I go through stages which would be psychologically described as eroto-mania. I can explain this by saying that I find myself preferring masturbation bc it cancels out the need for a partner. I do not like to disappoint, and being so disappointed with myself has left me hopeless when it comes to sexual relationships.

 

Update concerning relationships: The universe is smiling upon me, and has blessed me with a girl that is just amazing. I havn't felt like this since my first love when I was 13 years of age, and it is re-assuring to me. I thought I had lost the ability to feel like this, and had actually almost given up on relationships altogether. Now I am just concerned about being able to have a satisfactory sex-life. The saga goes on.

 

Sorry for the rant, I'm usually not the person who pours out his guts on forums like this, but, last night when I noticed how dedicated this place is to helping people who are in the same position with discontinuation problems, I had to jump on it. I will certainly read the material you guys have mentioned in your posts, and I would like to thank you for the support! Oh yeah I just realized I need to add vyvanse to my signature. Until later, peace, love, unity and respect.

-M

Edited by Altostrata
added line breaks for readibility

SSRI REGIMEN:50mg Pristiq, began SSRI "therapy" @ age 15, currently 30 years of age.

BENZODIAZEPINES: Diazepam 10mg 3x/day.

MOOD STABILIZERS: 100mg Lamictal 1x/day

OPIOID MAINTENANCE THERAPY: 8mg Suboxone film 1x/day.

CYP2D6 ENZYME THERAPY: Cerefolin-NAC 1x/day (CYP2D6 Null)

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  • Administrator

Welcome, TO.

 

I believe with careful tapering, you can get off as many of the drugs as you care to.

 

I don't blame you for feeling angry about the way you've been treated. You've been through the mill. Please consider this a place where you can help yourself and help others, too.

 

PS Please add paragraph spaces to your posts for readability.

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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It's great that you're reading through the forum. If I were you I'd keep reading and try to remain patient. Get an idea of a plan, favoring cautiousness over expediency, and then you'll be better off than the vast majority of people who are in your shoes.

 

best,

Alex

"Well my ship's been split to splinters and it's sinking fast
I'm drowning in the poison, got no future, got no past
But my heart is not weary, it's light and it's free
I've got nothing but affection for all those who sailed with me.

Everybody's moving, if they ain't already there
Everybody's got to move somewhere
Stick with me baby, stick with me anyhow
Things should start to get interesting right about now."

- Zimmerman

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Thank you for the suggestion about the paragraph spacing. ;) My writing skills are definitely rusty. Also as I've stated above, this is really the first time I have divulged this much personal info on a forum such as this. My mind races in different directions so many times, that my sentences become run on's, and I stray from my initial point a lot.

I am overflowing with information that I need to get out in words. I've been meaning to keep a personal journal regularly for a while. Let's add that to the list of things I've not completed bc of my "condition". Or maybe just lack of motivation and regularity.

 

Also, I am thankful that I have grown up in front of a computer screen. It has allowed me access to a wealth of information that would've been quite impossible to have a look at if it were a decade earlier when I was introduced to the 'net. At least I could get some pertinent and relevant information about what I was taking, what I was doing etc. The computer experience has also allowed me to be able to receive an A+ Certification in IT technology. I am very grateful for this, as I have many friends in similar situations that have not even gotten their GED, let alone any college.

 

I wanted to say thank you to all that have responded to my post! It's good to know that I am not the only person out there who has had the experience of being on these things for more than a decade. You guys have given me new hope. =)

 

-M

SSRI REGIMEN:50mg Pristiq, began SSRI "therapy" @ age 15, currently 30 years of age.

BENZODIAZEPINES: Diazepam 10mg 3x/day.

MOOD STABILIZERS: 100mg Lamictal 1x/day

OPIOID MAINTENANCE THERAPY: 8mg Suboxone film 1x/day.

CYP2D6 ENZYME THERAPY: Cerefolin-NAC 1x/day (CYP2D6 Null)

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  • Moderator Emeritus

Get an idea of a plan, favoring cautiousness over expediency, and then you'll be better off than the vast majority of people who are in your shoes.

 

best,

Alex

 

 

GREAT advice. Double thumbs up. :)

 

Welcome O. You have come to the right place!

 

RU

Fall 1995 xanax, zoloft. switched to Serzone

1996- spring 2003serzone/ xanax/ lightbox.

b]Fall 2003- Fall 2004? Lexapro 10 mg. Light box /4 mg. xanax.[/b]

2004 - Fall of 2009 10 mg Lex, 150 mg Wellbutrin XL % 4 mg xanax

November 2009- Sept. 2011 10 mg lex., 300 Well. XL, 4 mg Xanax [/b

Sept.2012- July 2012 20 mg Lex 300 Well. XL, 4 mg Xanax

My mantra " go slow & with the flow "

3/2/13.. Began equal dosing 5 Xs /day xanax, while simultaneously incorporating a 2.5 % drop ( from 3.5 mg/day to 3.4 mg/day)

4/6/13 dropped from 300 mg. Wellbutrin XL to 150 mg. Difficult but DONE! Down to 3.3 mg xanax/ day / 6/10/13 3 mg xanax/day; 7/15/2013 2.88mg xanax/day.

10/ 1/2013...... 2.5 mg xanax… ( switched to tablets again) WOO HOO!!!!!! Holding here… cont. with Lexapro.

1/ 2/2014.. tapered to 18mg ( by weight) of a 26 mg ( by weight) pill of 20 mg tab. lexapro. goal is 13mg (by weight OR 10 mg by ingredient content) and STOPPED. Feeling very down with unbalanced, unpredictable WD symptoms.

1/2/2014- ??? Taking a brain-healing break from tapering anything after actively tapering something for 1.5 years. So… daily doses as of 2/2/2014: 18 mg by weight Lex, 150 mg Well. XL, 2.5 mg xanax, down from 26 mg by weight Lex., 300 mg well. XL, 4 mg xanax in August, 2012. I'll take it. :) 5/8/14 started equivalent dose liquid./ tabs. 5/13/14 1.5 % cut.

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  • Moderator Emeritus

Op, just want to say about the hermit thing: psych drugs changed me from someone whom you could really not keep at home to someone who was indifferent about getting out and doing things. I found it hard to connect with people, wasn't really comfortable in social situations, and just basically didn't want to do much.

 

About two and a half years into my taper--about the time I finally jumped off the Neurontin and got to about 2 mg of Celexa--that went away. I started wanting to get out and do things again. Since then (almost a year) that has just grown and grown. Now I have too many projects and interests, but I don't mind, because it just feels so damn good to WANT to do things! I get out and about on all my days off. I have friends, I have a social life--I'm starting to have more friends than I have time to keep up with, but again, that's okay with me, because it just feels so good to be able to actually connect with people--both to WANT to connect with people, and to (more important) have regained my ability to just--I don't know how to describe it, but it's something the drugs took away--to just, be with, connect with, feel "with" with--other people.

 

As you can see from my sig line, this has not been a fast process for me. I've gone very slowly, because I had to, because in the past I've had such terrible experiences trying to quit meds. I was to the point where I had lost everything. I had no money, no savings, and had no way to survive if things fell apart again. So I knew I had to keep withdrawal symptoms under control.

 

I go very,very slowly, and pay close attention to my symptoms, and pause as soon as they start to ramp up. And I'm absolutely thrilled with the results. I do get withdrawal symptoms, that's a constant cycle for me (cut, get symptoms, hold and wait for them to clear up, cut again...with occasional longer holds for a break and just for safety, to allow my brain's healing to catch up). And they're not fun. But it's worth it.

 

I never would have thought that I could feel this good, that I could come off the drugs and feel so well. And I'm not done; it's possible I still may not get all the way off all of them. But I am SO GLAD I started the journey. If it gets no better than it is right now, it's SO much better than it was at any time during those 20 years that the drugs stole from me.

 

TL;DR: Yes. There is hope. Especially if you're careful.

 

(Oh, and PS: The "epidemic" that Whitaker is referring to is the epidemic of mental illness in this country since psych drugs have been in use. Disability rates due to mental illness have skyrocketed since psychiatry has become pharmaceutical-ized. You'd think that they'd get a clue from that; if a treatment is working, the disease usually gets better, not worse.)

Started on Prozac and Xanax in 1992 for PTSD after an assault. One drug led to more, the usual story. Got sicker and sicker, but believed I needed the drugs for my "underlying disease". Long story...lost everything. Life savings, home, physical and mental health, relationships, friendships, ability to work, everything. Amitryptiline, Prozac, bupropion, buspirone, flurazepam, diazepam, alprazolam, Paxil, citalopram, lamotrigine, gabapentin...probably more I've forgotten. 

Started multidrug taper in Feb 2010.  Doing a very slow microtaper, down to low doses now and feeling SO much better, getting my old personality and my brain back! Able to work full time, have a full social life, and cope with stress better than ever. Not perfect, but much better. After 23 lost years. Big Pharma has a lot to answer for. And "medicine for profit" is just not a great idea.

 

Feb 15 2010:  300 mg Neurontin  200 Lamictal   10 Celexa      0.65 Xanax   and 5 mg Ambien 

Feb 10 2014:   62 Lamictal    1.1 Celexa         0.135 Xanax    1.8 Valium

Feb 10 2015:   50 Lamictal      0.875 Celexa    0.11 Xanax      1.5 Valium

Feb 15 2016:   47.5 Lamictal   0.75 Celexa      0.0875 Xanax    1.42 Valium    

2/12/20             12                       0.045               0.007                   1 

May 2021            7                       0.01                  0.0037                1

Feb 2022            6                      0!!!                     0.00167               0.98                2.5 mg Ambien

Oct 2022       4.5 mg Lamictal    (off Celexa, off Xanax)   0.95 Valium    Ambien, 1/4 to 1/2 of a 5 mg tablet 

 

I'm not a doctor. Any advice I give is just my civilian opinion.

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