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WhoAmI

WhoAmI? I hope to find out.

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WhoAmI

Hi all! My name is Anna.

I've been taking antidepressants since roughly 1997. I've taken Wellbutrin, Paxil, some I can't remember, Effexor XR and, currently, Cymbalta. I live in eastern NC. My hobbies include gardening and reading suspense novels. I love being outside when it isn't too hot. I have 2 dogs, 3 cats and a handful of chickens and fish. I stumbled on this site while googling ways to taper off Cymbalta.

 

Many, many, many times I have asked my well-meaning doctor to help me taper off the drug, but he convinces me it helped me when I needed it and it is still helping me so, why stop? Well, my main reason for wanting to stop is that I am not sure who I am any longer. I know who the antidepressant-taking person is that I am now, but who I really am is inside and she wants out. Also, I've seem to be progressively getting more "scatter-brained". I've never been the most put-together person, but I've begun to notice it seems to be getting worse. For example, if I'm cooking dinner I am just standing there thinking that I need to chop the vegetables. Well, I know HOW to do that, but I can't make my body DO IT. Or, I am following a recipe and read the next step, but I have to really think about doing it. It feels like I'm going crazy.

 

Maybe going off Cymbalta won't help any of this, but I intend to find out and I'll be doing it on my own. I know that no one really knows the long term side effects of these meds. I've tried to talk to my doctor about this fact, but it is dismissed. I know he means well and he's doing the best he can, but I have to find out if I can live without meds and I have to find out who I am again.

 

Any help or suggestions are apprecitated!

:unsure: 

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Jemima

You've come to the right place.  Here's our topic on how to taper off Cymbalta:  http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/283-tips-for-tapering-off-cymbalta-duloxetine/?hl=Cymbalta

 

I think you're very wise to get off these drugs.  We do know in general some of the long-term risks and side effects of antidepressants, which aren't very pretty, and I expect there's more bad news to come.  The drug companies and doctors both are in denial about the problems.

 

When you have a moment, please add your drug history to your signature, like so:  http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/281-bts-please-remind-posters-about-signatures/

 

Welcome to the forum, WhoAmI.  You'll find lots of solid information and friendly support here.

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Nikki

Hi....love your name.  I too have taken ad's since 1997 or around there.  I have been a member of a number of WD websites and lots of people ask the same question as you have.  Who am I without drugs.

 

I didn't go thru the emtional blunting alot of people experience.  My emotions have always beenright beneath the surface.  WhenI too Paxil years ago it did help with the anxiety and depression I was experiencing and was a relief for me at the time.

 

Unfortunately, the medical community did not know about Paxil WD, and problems really began when trying to get off of it. 

 

I guess we are the same in terms of human frailities in addition to the WD from these drugs.

 

Basically.....what I am saying is that you are not alone and most people wonder,  'what is it going to be like off drugs'....

 

I am reducing Celexa because I want to know and because I am sick of the drugs.

 

Nikki

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basildev

Hi WhoAmI,

 

Welcome to the forum!

 

Take your time in reading all the information here.

 

We look forward to supporting you during your taper.

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areyouthere

Welcome. :)

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WhoAmI

Thanks guys! My first day was pretty good. I'm excited and hopeful, but also wary that every day is not always going to be good. I am continuing to read and learn as much as I can.

 

I ordered some enteric coated omega 3 capsules, too.  I have been taking omega 3, but not the enteric coated. I guess I should also share, if not to solely document my journey here, that I also take vitamin E, vitamin D, calcium supplements & estradiol (hormone). I have also been taking Lyrica 75mg, but I am undecided about whether to stop taking that at this point. Since my main focus is the Cymbalta I really just forgot to even mention anything else.

 

It's strange how my mind works because I started typing this reply and had a clear vision about what I wanted to convey. Now, as I'm typing I have to stop and think about what it was I wanted to say. Later, while I'm in the shower, or somewhere totally weird like that, I'll remember exactly what it is I wanted to say. Grrrr...I hate that, it makes me feel so crazy!

:blink:

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Jemima

I had those memory lapses when I was on Lexapro and especially during withdrawal.  My memory is back to normal now.

 

I wouldn't go nearly so fast with that taper.  The idea is to decrease by 10% of the current dose or less and to allow at least a month between decreases.  Here's the topic on the how and why of using this tapering method:

 

http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/1024-why-taper-by-10-of-my-dosage/

 

Please remember this isn't a race. These nasty drugs make actual, physical changes in the central nervous system, especially the brain, and those changes remain even after the drug is out of the body.  The idea of a slow taper is to support the CNS while it changes itself back to normal so as to experience as few withdrawal symptoms as possible. Rapid decreases of the drug are like yanking a crutch away from someone with a broken leg.  BOOM!  OUCH! 

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WhoAmI

Thanks for the advice, Jemima. I may rethink the taper & stretch it out longer between decreases. It is difficult to keep it at a slower pace since I really want to "get there". I guess in the grand scheme of things a few more weeks really isn't a big deal!

 

Today was spent battling a headache and feeling anxious...probably because I forgot to take my Cymbalta until late afternoon. You would think the nagging headache would have been a red flag, but it wasn't. It finally dawned on me because I happened to glance over at my pill box. Just another indicator that my poor brain is struggling to function.

 

Tomorrow will be better.

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Rhiannon

Thanks for the advice, Jemima. I may rethink the taper & stretch it out longer between decreases. It is difficult to keep it at a slower pace since I really want to "get there". I guess in the grand scheme of things a few more weeks really isn't a big deal!

 

Today was spent battling a headache and feeling anxious...probably because I forgot to take my Cymbalta until late afternoon. You would think the nagging headache would have been a red flag, but it wasn't. It finally dawned on me because I happened to glance over at my pill box. Just another indicator that my poor brain is struggling to function.

 

Tomorrow will be better.

I totally relate to the urge to "get there."  Everyone feels that way, especially the first time or two around.  Unfortunately, what happens when people taper too fast is they end up getting sick and crashing into some nasty symptoms that take a really long time to settle down. Sometimes they go to their doctors for help, in which case they usually end up either back on a full dose of their med, or on a new med, or some combination of meds. Sometimes they reinstate or partially reinstate and then hold for a while--it can take a while, usually at least one to three months--until they're stable enough to begin to taper, now at a slower pace.

 

Either way, they end up further from "there" than they would have been if they had tapered at a pace their body could handle, right from the beginning.

 

Everyone's journey is different. I always say, don't plan ahead of time some kind of calendar schedule for how you're going to taper. You wouldn't try to calendar schedule the healing of a broken bone; the healing of a broken brain isn't going to follow a calendar either.

 

Best thing to do is go slowly, especially at first; keep a daily journal of your dose that day, how you feel that day, and your symptoms ranked on a scale of 1 to 5 or so; and just basically observe and collect information about how your body is going to respond as you taper. The minute your symptoms ramp up, hold for a while until they settle down. Go at this moderate pace until you have a sense of how your own withdrawal patterns ramp up, settle down and resolve.

 

Once you know how your body is going to react to withdrawal then you can speed up to tolerance.

 

This approach will spare you a lot of suffering and actually turns out to be more efficient in the long run as well.

 

I suspect many people here will vouch for it.

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WhoAmI

 

Everyone's journey is different. I always say, don't plan ahead of time some kind of calendar schedule for how you're going to taper. You wouldn't try to calendar schedule the healing of a broken bone; the healing of a broken brain isn't going to follow a calendar either.

 

 

Great advice. That's a good way to look at it. I am keeping a graph of sorts on how I'm feeling each day.  It's hard for me to go easy on myself. I have that perfectionist attitude and expect nothing but perfection from myself. So, I'm frequently disappointed in myself because no one is perfect. It's a vicious cycle. 

 

Motivation to get up and exercise is a vicious cycle for me, also. I have to force myself to do it and then I tire so easily and quickly that I'm frustrated with myself again! I'm working really hard on being gentle with myself and allowing myself to "feel" tired if that's the way I feel. That's the ultimate goal, anyway, to actually "feel" not be numb so I have to take the good days with the bad, the tired times with the energetic times and understand that it's all part of this long healing process.

 

I will try to think of the schedule I worked out as merely a "plan" and not etched in stone so that I don't end up disappointed in myself for taking longer. I have a tendency to look toward (or forward to) the end result and forget to LIVE during the process. On my mirror there is a sticky note that says, "Practice Progress Not Perfection!" I will make more of those today and move them around every few days so that maybe I will remember to follow that mantra.

:)

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WhoAmI

The last couple of days I've felt just plain wiped out, very sensitive to the heat, extreme lack of motivation, and numb. Add to these new symptoms the ongoing confusion and scatter-brained feelings and I'm not very useful.

 

Today, though, I did feel a tad better. I don't know if it's solely due to the fact that I started a new Omega-3 today or just part of the waves of withdrawal. I started taking Natural Factors RxOmega-3 Factors, one per day. I had been taking blend of Omega 3-6-9 that I bought at Wal-Mart, but never really knew if it was doing any good or not. That wiped out feeling isn't as bad today as it was the previous 2 days. I will see how the next few days go. Hopefully, the trend will continue.

 

I have been having very vivid dreams where I wake up feeling stressed. I dreamed I was at my old job and didn't know how to do a major task. I woke up the next morning feeling anxious just like in my dream! I hope these dreams don't continue.

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WhoAmI

The last four days have been improving. I have not had that complete "wiped out" feeling, but I do still feel tired, especially in the mornings. It is very hard to get myself out of bed and going. However, I don't feel as scatter-brained and confused as before. No more of the vivid dreams. I kind of feel "good", whatever that is.

 

The heat still really gets to me so I try to work outside only in the early morning hours or late evening.  The grass is getting taller by the minute!

 

I did up the Omega-3 to 3 capsules per day and I'll work up to more and see how that goes.  At Alto's suggestion I ordered some magnesium supplements to add also.

 

Also keeping a daily log of my symptoms to hopefully see any trends.

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WhoAmI

I've started taking the magnesium tablets. At first I was taking 50mg but have reduced it down to 25mg. I was having headaches right after I started taking 50mg. I actually took a few days off from it completely and have now started back at25mg. 

 

Occasionally having vivid dreams. They're stressful dreams where I wake up feeling anxious because I'm either trying to do some task that should be simple and easy as pie, but I'm just not able to do it. It's like my brain just won't "do it"!  Sleep has been OK besides the dreams. I still wake up really tired and it's hard to get out of bed. I'm really hoping this improves sometime soon. I like getting up early when it's quiet and cool outside so I miss that now.

 

I haven't been keeping up with my daily log as I should and I'm going to try and do better.

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Altostrata

It's always good to hear from you. How is your taper going?

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WhoAmI

I actually feel like I'm beginning to level off.  :) It seems like my moods, emotions & feelings are more "even" and I feel good. I'm still on my first 10% reduction...this is week 4. I plan to do the next 10% reduction at week 6 as long as all continues to go well. I feel so "normal" that I forget to take my Cymbalta most mornings. Of course, being so scatter-brained from years of taking the stuff could also be partly to blame for that, too.

 

Sleep is still a stinker, I wake up about 4:00, but usually get back to sleep eventually. Still very hard to get out of bed...and I was always one to hop up when the alarm went off. Really missing my mornings.

 

No more headaches since the magnesium switch down to 25mg. I wish I could find a smaller dose magnesium pill, the ones I have are 100mg and after cutting them they're awful hard to swallow. I have Doctors Best chelated mag.

 

I have also upped Omega3 to 4 per day...these are the size of horse pills so they're hard to swallow, too!  :wacko:  I am able to get them down, though. All in all I will gag down horse pills if it helps me to feel well.

 

I've been keeping more busy this past week which I think helps a lot. It keeps my mind occupied on things other than myself. I find that I am reminding myself to smile. I'm not a real smiley smiley person, I think I have a pretty "straight" face most of the time, but I catch myself thinking...smile, this is your life right now so enjoy this right now". I had a counselor tell me once to enjoy the moment. I am reminding myself each day to do just that. I seem to always have that feeling that I'm just waiting for the next "thing" to come along or happen to me. My life is now and I better get to living it.

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WhoAmI

Mornings are still yuk for me. It's really hard to get out of bed, I just feel so tired in the mornings. Then, in the evenings I don't want to go to bed. It's like when you're sick you don't want to go to bed because you never sleep well when you're sick. I know I'm going to wake up around 4 and feel groggy til I lug myself out of bed by 7 or 8. So, sleep is a work in progress.

 

Still reminding myself to smile and that TODAY is my life so I must live it.  And...Practice Progress NOT Perfection.

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WhoAmI

Oh my, it's been a long time since I posted here or even visited the forum. I've been following Alto's recommendations and feeling fairly well doing that. I stalled my dose reduction over the winter since those months seem to be gloomy for me. Now that the sun is out I'm much more optimistic and starting my reductions again, which is good. However, I've learned since I started this journey last July or so that slow and steady really does win the race! At first, I didn't want to take YEARS to get off Cymbalta, but I've realized it IS going to take years and I've accepted that.  :)

 

I'm down to about half my original dose of 60mg. Mornings are still hard. I don't want to get up and my body feels like lead. This is weird since I've always been one to hop out of bed in the mornings. I may not have been the cheeriest morning person, but I didn't linger hitting the snooze button like I do now. 

 

I'm taking supplements: Omega 3, Magnesium, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, & Calcium

 

I had to start a part time job a couple months ago which has made me tired, too. So much so that I don't have the energy to do my workouts anymore. It's a sad, vicious cycle being too tired to do a workout that will give me more energy in the long run. I'm working on that. Which means, I'm trying every day to convince myself to get up and DO IT. 

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Altostrata

Thanks so much for checking in, WhoAmI. Good to hear you're doing so well. You'll figure it out, don't worry.

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Petunia

Thank you for the update WhoAmI.  I'm happy to hear that you are still doing well with your taper.  If you are having problems doing a full workout, like you used to, perhaps you could set a smaller goal for now, just doing 10 minutes or going for a walk, so that you can get back into it slowly, then build up again as your energy increases.

 

Do let us know how you are doing from time to time.

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WhoAmI

Once again, it's been a while since I've updated my progress. It's slow progress, but I'm still moving forward. So, now I've passed the halfway mark. I've really slowed my tapering because I've had a lot going on. I guess I just don't want to rock the boat. My son is now off living his own life, I've moved into a smaller place back in the town where I grew up, and I'm not having to work the part time job any longer. It is still sooo difficult to get out of bed in the mornings which really sucks. I'm going on more walks around my neighborhood and tracking my steps with a Jawbone UP wristband. It provides a bit of encouragement. 

 

As far as withdrawal symptoms, I haven't had many different ones. The main thing is the shift in my morning energy. This is the worst symptom of all and it doesn't seem to be changing. I'm hoping that more exercise will help. I'm not hungry AT ALL in the mornings so eating breakfast is difficult even though I know it's important to get a good start. So, I try to eat something no matter how small. 

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Altostrata

Good to hear, WhoAmI. Please let us know how you are doing, and have a happy 2015!

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WhoAmI

This journey has been VERY long and hard. I am finally at 20mg/day and it's the most difficult so far. I've got a lot of stress right now which isn't helping. With all the stress I've started having brief panic attacks in the last few days. I could feel the stress building up like I was getting wound tighter and tighter without any way to relieve the pressure. Now it's to the point where I would welcome ANY relief, even increasing my dose again, which I thought I'd never do. It's disappointing. What's worse is the panic attacks, though. They're so terrifying and, even though I know the worst part is temporary, I can't get this anxious feeling to go away. My son is visiting now and I should be happy and enjoying his brief visit. He's been stationed in Puerto Rico since November. I just need to talk about it and I'm hoping this helps. Any suggestions are welcome. 

:(

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WhoAmI

So, I decided I couldn't function normally and had to go see my dr for help. "help in this case means something temporary to help me function normally while my brain and body adapt to these lower doses of cymbalta. So, I left with .5 mg of ativan to take as needed. This morning I was so afraid of waking up afraid ( :wacko: ) that I set an alarm for 4am to take one. I did that and felt better when I woke up, but still woke up earlier than usual and still had some scary feelings and nausea. The ativan did take the edge off so that I didn't and don't feel on the verge of a panic attack. So, that's an improvement. Still very nauseated, though, so I can only drink water and wait til it passes. 

I have decided to go back up just a bit on cymbalta, I added 10 beads from a 60mg capsule which equates to about 3mg (if my math is correct). That coupled with the ativan will hopefully help. 

 

If this improves things I will hold here for a few months at least and the next reduction percentages will progressively get smaller each time so that I could still be weaning off cymbalta for YEARS still. And, maybe I never will get off of them completely especially if the last few days is an indicator of life without them. I will be OK with that, it's not what I wanted originally, but it has been a terribly scary and anxious few days and I do not want to live like this forever.

 

I'm attaching my dose reduction schedule. Maybe someone else will get some help from seeing how I've been doing it.

Cymbalta dose reductions.pdf

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Altostrata

It sounds like updosing Cymbalta a bit was the right thing for you to try.

 

Yes, going off it will take quite a while. When you're feeling stress, it's best to hold on tapering for a while.

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WhoAmI

Good news...I haven't needed the Ativan at all for anxiety feelings. I'm relieved for that. :)

I'm still at about 23mg of cymbalta. After this episode with anxiety I really started to rethink this whole process and whether it is worth it. Feeling the anxiety and stress was really scary. That got me thinking that maybe I *do* need cymbalta. I'm struggling with this because I read that mental issues like anxiety and depression are an illness to be treated just as any other illness. Then, I think that I don't want to be dependent on medication to have "normal" mental function. (Whatever normal is!) It just feels different to accept that my body needs a med to have normal or 'safe' blood pressure levels than it does to accept that my body needs a med to have normal mental clarity and function. I'm asking myself, why is that? Is mental function just another bodily process to be treated/thought of in the same way as blood pressure or high cholesterol? I keep going back to the same issue...I have taken anti-depressants for so long that I don't know what I'm like without them. Bottom line is that this recent anxiety episode is frightening me in to thinking that I just need to accept the fact that I need the meds and to just take them.

 

I'm trying to pay a lot of attention to the way I feel and work on improving how I feel. I don't generally feel all that good. I don't exercise. I don't eat balanced, regular meals. I don't sleep great.

I've got to work on ways to make myself feel better.

I can exercise more. Go to bed and wake at the same times. Eat at regular intervals and balance my meals. I will set daily alarms to tell me to go to bed and wake.

Saying all this and doing it are very differen animals. I live alone so it's not like I have someone here to hold me accountable. Maybe I will come back here every few days to report back my progress.

 

Enough rambling for now. I have a plan for the sleeping part of all this so I'll work on the meals and exercise.

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Altostrata

What you need Cymbalta for is to forestall withdrawal syndrome, one symptom of which is intense anxiety.

 

There is no such thing as "chemical imbalance", and "depression" is not controlled with drugs as diabetes is.

 

If you wish not to taper, it's up to you, but please do not be misinformed about why you're taking a psychoactive drug.

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