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blazesboylan: Why should I taper?

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blazesboylan

Greetings all. This is my very first post by the way. I have been reading a lot of the posts on this site and there is a wealth of information regarding tapering. However, what I would really like to know is why should I taper at all? I am currently taking the following drugs daily

 

187.5mg venlafaxine
150mg pregabalin (Lyrica)
2mg risperidone

 

Sometime I take zopiclone to sleep but most nights I don't need it. I don't drink alcohol or take any other substances. I meditate and I eat reasonably well. I get moderate exercise. I am enjoying my work and in general I am feeling well. I was very ill in 2008 requiring hospitalisation though. The diagnosis was psychotic depression. I had a relapse in 2012 and I made a suicide attempt at that point. Since 2012 I have been reasonably well and I am getting better all the time. I can suffer from anxiety at times but it's very manageable. Sometimes I feel a little depressed but who doesn't. 

 

I have managed to taper the venlafaxine down to the current dose myself. I was taking 300mg not so long ago. Tomorrow I plan to taper it another 10%. I see a psychiatrist regularly and I told him that I was tapering. He just wrote my a prescription for the new dose. I will be back to see him next week.

 

To be honest, I would like to be eventually free of these meds entirely but I worry that I may have a relapse of some sort if I stop taking them altogether. So far the tapering has been going well though. I keep a diary to monitor my mood and there has been no significant change since I started reducing the venlafaxine. I just don't know though. I feel as if I am stuck between a rock and a hard place. I want to be free of the drugs but perhaps they are keeping me well? But, in the long term, from what I have been reading they could be doing permanent harm. I just don't know.

 

Please advise  :)

 

 

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Altostrata

Welcome, blazes.

 

If you are happy taking the drugs, there is no reason to go off them. But if you choose to go off, you should taper.

 

The reason to taper is to minimize the risk of withdrawal syndrome, which can last months or years and be disabling.

 

Please see the topics in our Tapering forum that apply to the drugs you're taking.

 

Also, you may wish to put ALL your drugs in the Drug Interactions Checker http://www.drugs.com/drug_interactions.html and post the results in this topic.
 

Generally, the more drugs you take, the higher the risk of drug-drug interactions and damage to your overall health.

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blazesboylan

Hi Altostrata,

 

Thanks for your reply. The thing is that I would like to be drug free. There was a time when I didn't take any of these drugs. Then I became ill of course and started on the meds. Now that I am feeling quite well I am wondering if it's time to give them up though. My psychiatrist seems to believe that I will need to take meds for the rest of my life but I don't really want to accept that to be honest.

 

I don't think that there is something organically wrong with my brain in a permanent sense that needs correcting by drugs as there was a time when I didn't have to take any of them. However, nobody really knows the answer to that question. The only way to find out if I can be ok without the meds is to try to come off them. However, I worry about a relapse of some sort. I feel that it's a big risk. On the other hand I worry about the long term effects which it seems could be very negative. 

 

I did take a look at the drug interaction site and there wasn't anything too worrying really. I don't feel that I suffer from any of the possible side-effects of any of my meds really.

 

I suppose that the safest approach is tapering. I am working on the venflafaxine now. My prescription is for 187.5mg and this comes in two tablets - 150mg and 37.5mg. I have started taking the 37.5mg tablet on alternate days. After a month I will stop taking it altogether. The 37.5mg tablet consists of grains and it would be difficult to split. I know that this isn't exactly a 10% reduction but so far so good. I feel totally fine.

 

I hope that you are having a good weekend!

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bubble

Hello Blazes and welcome from me too. 

 

Most of us, me included, came here in awful suffering after stopping our medication/ "tapering" too fast. I wouldn't call that a relapse although doctors prefer to see it that way (in their ignorance). It's not a relapse because I never had the same horrible symptoms before I started the medication. It was a totally new horror compared to which the symptoms that led me to start medication seemed mild.

 

To spare ourselves and others of this excruciating pain of withdrawal which can last a very long time we advise 10 % reductions. One of the tricks with withdrawal is that it hits us weeks and even months after we battered our CNS with too fast tapering. Alternating doses is a particularly bad idea! It's your choice of course. You can choose to believe us or learn it on your skin. We suggest holding for 30 days between cuts to see how our CNS reacts to change and based on the symptoms adjust the speed. Maybe you can go faster but it's best to start conservative and see what is the speed your CNS allows.

 

I don't have a personal experience with Effexor but I know members here who count beads to reduce it by 10 %. 

 

We will be able to provide more advice when you put all the drugs and dosages you took together with the dates (years, months) when you introduced them/ reduced them in your signature as explained here:  http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/893-please-put-your-withdrawal-history-in-your-signature/

 

I'm worried when you say you came from 300 mg not so long time ago and are making this mistakes now: alternating doses and going at a hectic speed. I'm very glad you came here before you started feeling the reactions. When it happens your doctor will probably say: you see you have to take them for life. you will think you're having a relapse but it will be a result of a taper which ignored the nature of ADs.

 

Please study the thread on how to taper Effexor to spare you of that experience.

 

http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/272-tips-for-tapering-off-effexor-and-effexor-xr-venlafaxine/

 

This thread will help you to understand the importance of a proper taper before it gets painful: http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/1024-why-taper-by-10-of-my-dosage/

 

keep us posted.

 

bubble

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blazesboylan

Thanks for your reply and concern Bubble. I will take your advice. I will give you you tapering history on the venlafaxine to date. Unfortunately I only started to keep a record of my meds on the 5th of May so I am not sure exactly at what points I went from 300mg to 262.5mg and then to 225mg. However, I wasn't deliberately tapering for those dose reductions. I think that they were reduced over a 3 month period. My doctor just wrote me prescriptions for the lower doses. 

 

5th of May - 225mg

26th of May - 206mg

19th of June - 187.5mg

27th of July (today) - 169mg

 

On reflection I have been coming down a little rapidly. However, I will stick to the 30 day/10% guideline from now onwards. 

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Rhiannon

You're asking good questions and thinking about important stuff I think.

 

I recommend:

Harm Reduction Guide to ...something somethingpsychiatric drugs. By Will Hall. If you Google "Harm Reduction Guide Will Hall" you'll get to it. It's available as a pdf to download. 

and 

Anatomy of an Epidemic by Robert Whitaker, for sure.

 

I am not sure that after 22 years I will ever be able to live all the way off all psychiatric meds. I may have to stay on a very small dose. You can see my taper from my sig line below. What I can tell you though is that OMIGOD I am so glad I have tapered down to these low doses.  I had forgotten how rich and beautiful and complex and poignant and amazing life could be. And I had forgotten how much fun it is to be me, because I had lost and forgotten me.  So me personally? I feel like it's really worth tapering, very very slowly, to end up on the lowest dose possible of the fewest meds possible. I'm hoping that will be no meds at all, but frankly things are so much better now at these doses, I could live with having to stay on very low doses if I do.

 

The slow taper is absolutely the most crucial part though. 

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blazesboylan

Hi Rhi,

 

Thanks for your reply and your advice. It sounds like you have had a very rough ride. It sounds like things have been looking up for you and that's great really. I have actually read Anatomy of an Epidemic twice. I read it for the second time recently and that was when I really started to question whether I need to be on these drugs at all. It also made me worry about the long term harm that these drugs could be doing. I have been reading a lot about withdrawal on the net and some Googling brought me to this forum. I will read the Harm Reduction Guide also. Thanks.

 

I will taper slowly and hope for the best. One thing that I have definitely noticed when I reduce the Effexor is that I get a tingling/numbness in my left ear. This is paresthesia I suppose -  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paresthesia. It can be indeed be caused by 

 

"withdrawal from certain selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (or serotonin-specific reuptake inhibitors) (SSRIs), such as paroxetine or serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) such as venlafaxine".

 

 

It doesn't bother me too much to be honest. I keep a diary to monitor my mood from day to day too. I would feel a certain amount of anxiety that comes and goes and very often it doesn't have an actual cause. Sometimes I register a little depression but anxiety would be the predominant symptom. Since I have been reducing the Effexor there has been no noticeable change in my anxiety levels. Today I am feeling relatively well. I have been at home relaxing for most of the weekend. I haven't seen anyone since yesterday morning and it has been quite pleasant. I am going out to meet somebody later though. 

 

All the best,

Blazes.

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alexjuice

Blazes-

To some degree you have to take a leap of faith because you are not thinking properly because there are too many outside influences. You may think you can reason this out but I am not confident that you can. If you are having a good life then maybe stay on. Because statistically you are likely to live for a shorter duration on your current cocktail but shorter of good quality may be a good deal, I don't know. If I were you, I'd abandon your ideas about mental illness because they were illgotten and I'd gradually start to reduce your medications. This is if I were you.

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blazesboylan

Hi Alexejice. I have decided that I am going to continue tapering slowly and hoping for the best. I am only tapering the venlafaxine at the moment though. So far it has been going okay. There was a time (6 years ago) when I never took any of these drugs and then I became very unwell of course. Even though I was taking the meds I became ill again in 2012. To be honest, the thought of life without psychiatric drugs scares me a lot as I have been medicated at varying levels for 6 years now and I really wonder if I can be well without the drugs. However, the only way to find out is to taper them. Finding out could come at a great cost though. In 2012 I made a suicide attempt and I could have been successful. So, I really don't know. Perhaps the relapse was in some way caused by the drugs also. Nobody can really answer these questions though. Thanks.

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blazesboylan

So, I am 5 days into the latest venlafaxine taper. I have been taking 169mg (down from 187.5) since Friday. Overall I am not doing too badly. However, my sleep is not great. Last night I had a full night's sleep but I woke up feeling really tired. To be honest, my sleep hasn't been fantastic for quite a while. This is not something that I record in my diary but I think that I will start. However, a few month's ago when my life circumstances were quite different my sleep was dreadful. I was maybe getting 3 or 4 hours sleep a night. I would find it very hard to get to sleep and then, regular as clockwork, I would wake up around 4am and I just could not get back to sleep. That's when I was first given zopiclone. I would be woken up by crazy vivid dreams. These days I am often woken up by my dreams before the alarm clock goes off too but in general I am sleeping longer. Back then when I was having really poor sleep I was on 300mg of venlafaxine. The other medications were higher as well but I don't have a record of the exact doses.

 

So, two things have changed. My life circumstances (some more about that some other time) and my meds. In general my sleep is better though and overall I am feeling better generally too. It is hard to know but sometimes I feel that there is no direct correlation between my level of meds and my mood. According to my mood/drug/diet diary (which I have been keeping since the start of May) there is no correlation whatsoever. I have felt for a long time that these drugs don't make a blind bit of difference but I could be very wrong about that. Time will tell.

 

You know, another reason that I want to be off meds is that I feel embarrassed to be on them. It's not something that I would admit to a stranger and I really don't like being asked whether I am still seeing a psychiatrist and how I am doing in that respect. The less people that know about that aspect my life and my history the better. I'd have to really trust somebody before I would consider going there. It is so stigmatised in this country.

 

So there you go. When I feel tired I can also feel a bit down and that is how I have felt all day. Hopefully I will sleep a little better tonight though. Overall I'm not doing too badly I suppose. I am actually seeing my psychiatrist tomorrow. I am going to say nothing about the tapering. I've hardly told anyone about that. One person thinks that I am crazy to do it. She has never read a forum like this though. I gave her Anatomy of an Epidemic to read in the hope that she would understand. She returned it without having read it however. I was a bit disappointed to be honest.

 

That's all for now. I am going to watch some tv now and try to get to bed early. Good vibes to everyone here!

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Jemima

Hello Blazes,

 

Please be sure to stick to the 10% (or less) of your current dose reduction (not 10% of the original) and reduce no more often than once a month. Slow definitely wins the race in psychiatric drug withdrawal.The reason for this is that these drugs actually cause physical changes in the brain which reverse very, very slowly as the drug is withdrawn. Withdrawing the drugs faster than the brain can heal often leads to months or even years of of physical pain and emotional distress. Effexor is a particularly difficult drug from which to withdraw. We have several members who either quit cold turkey or went too fast who began experiencing severe withdrawal four to six months after stopping the drug. Apparently the really bad side effects are delayed for who-knows-what reason.

 

Of course, as staff on this forum, I'm all for getting off of these drugs. All of them have dangerous side effects which may not be apparent at first, such as diabetes, heart problems, and a shortened life span to name a few, and once they happen to a person, well, there they are, difficult or impossible to reverse.

 

Many of our members have, with much persistence, found that their "emotional problems" were actually due to medical conditions such as hyper- or hypothyroidism, vitamin or mineral deficiencies, hormonal upsets, mini-seizures, and a host of other problems that have yet to be diagnosed. Some people have bad reactions to common drugs that are not psychiatric in nature. (I get suicidally depressed from tetracycline, an antibiotic.) Many have been drugged for perfectly normal emotional issues such as the death of a loved one, a job loss, and so on.

 

In any event, psychiatric drugs really don't cure anything, whether it's a medical condition that causes emotional distress, a normal reaction to loss, or discouraging self-talk. Bully for you for taking this big step to normalcy!

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Rhiannon

Five days after a 10% reduction, having some mild symptoms, sounds about right. You're probably still adjusting to the cuts in Effexor and Lyrica in June as well. Take your time, let your brain adjust and heal. Sounds like you're on track. There's no reason to hurry. The best way to avoid "relapse" (which is so often actually delayed withdrawal effects) is to go very, very slowly. Consider even taking smaller increments. This is definitely a race which the turtle wins in the long term, because the slower you go, the more chance your brain has to gently heal and fully remodel itself.

 

http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/6447-best-of-sa/?p=91582

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blazesboylan

Thanks all  :D  I have actually slept very well for the past two nights and my mood has been pretty good overall. I am also registering very little anxiety. It's almost a week now since the last taper so in general things are going quite well really. I saw my doctor yesterday. He just gave me my regular script and I didn't mention the tapering. I don't have to see him again for a while either which is good. Anyway, I will take it slowly as advised.

 

There's one thing that I wonder about the 10% of the previous dose reduction. If one reduces in this way in theory one never approaches zero. See the figures below for example. Starting at 169mg it would take two years to reach 15mg! I used Excel to generate this series by the way. I didn't work it out myself. The figures are rounded. Anyway, I am just wondering if this is what is advised!  :)

 

 
1 169
2 152
3 137
4 123
5 111
6 100
7 90
8 81
9 73
10 65
11 59
12 53
13 48
14 43
15 39
16 35
17 31
18 28
19 25
20 23
21 21
22 18
23 17
24 15

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Rhiannon

Yes, it's exponential decay, so hypothetically you never reach zero, but in reality people do quit eventually at a very low dose.

 

As for how long it takes, yes, it can take a couple of years, depending on your symptoms and what dose you start at and how long you were on the drug in the first place.

 

Once people get stable on a slow taper they have the option to speed it up to tolerance (carefully) by listening to their bodies and figuring out what pace works for them, so the time frame may vary. The 10% method is a rule of thumb, but your body is the true expert, and learning to listen to your body and adjust your taper accordingly is the key.

 

But once you get down to lower doses people also find that the bad effects of the drugs are reduced so much that there's less of a sense of needing to rush to get off the drugs, too.

 

This is just how it is. These drugs are powerful and make real, concrete changes in our brains and bodies, and it just takes a lot of time to slowly reverse those changes so that we can get off the drugs and stay off. Those of us who are doing this are generally pretty determined to either get all the way off these meds forever, or to find the absolute lowest dose that we can maintain our wellness on forever. We're ready to get off the psych med merry-go-round for good.

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Altostrata

With the 10% method, the fastest you can go off is about 6 months with reductions every 2 weeks -- if you tolerate that rate well.

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blazesboylan

Thanks guys. I will stick to the 10% per month rule as closely as I can. The next step downwards will be in about 3 weeks time though. As you know, I currently take 169mg venlafaxine roughly. I have two capsules - a 150mg and 37.5mg tablet. The way that I achieve that is by taking the 150 as normal and then by opening the 37.5 capsule which as you may know consists of grains. I make two equal piles of the grains and simply take one of them throwing the other away. It's not deadly precise as I am not using a scale or anything but it's pretty close I think. I may purchase a scale in the near future. It will probably because useful when it comes to splitting up the 150mg tab.

 

I don't think that I have mentioned it before but I take antabuse as well. I didn't mention it because it's not psychoactive and I don't really have any intention of coming off it. Anyway, I met some friends who were in town last night for drink. I was drinking a non-alcoholic beer that I hadn't had before. It had an unusual name. There was a glass to match the bottle with the logo of the beer of it. When it was my turn to get some drinks I just brought my glass to the bar and showed it to the bar tender. He brought me a bottle of my beer and the other drinks. I returned to the table and we continued drinking. After a while I felt odd. Then I looked at the bottle of beer that I had been given and it turned out to be an alcoholic version of the same beer. The bottles were very similar. So, I had to cut my evening short even though I had only drunk about half the bottle. My heart was pounding and my skin was starting to flush. I just came home and climbed into bed. Something similar happened to me a few months ago when I inadvertently drank alcohol thinking that I had been given non-alcoholic beer. It's not a pleasant experience but that is the whole point of antabuse I suppose. I must be more vigilant though. 

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Karma

Hi Blazes,

 

I'm sorry for your difficult evening. I agree, you will need to be more vigilant.  I have a food allergy and have to be super vigilant.  It is a pain, but vigilance prevents me from getting ill due to inadvertent exposure to food allergens.

 

I am tapering off of Effexor, too, and I am down to 11.4 mg from a high dose of 375 mg.  I live in the US and have venlafaxine compounded into a liquid to make it easier to decrement evenly at lower doses.  As Rhi said now that I am down to lower doses of the drug I feel so much better.  Life is rich and the beauty around me has depth and texture.  I actually experience joy and use it as a measure of how I am feeling.

 

I find that Effexor withdrawals are not linear.  What that means is that you don't necessarily experience the withdrawal X number of days after a reduction.  On my journey sometimes I've experienced immediate mild symptoms right after a decrement and other times I've experienced mild symptoms within a week or so of a decrement.  Usually, if I haven't experienced any symptoms within 2 weeks after a decrement I consider it successful.  I then wait at a minimum another 2 weeks before my next decrement.  This has worked well for me.  I am able to work at a demanding and meaningful full time job and enjoy my life. 

 

Identifying your own pattern can be very helpful.  It sounds like you already log your doses of meds, supplements and food and how you feel in relation to any changes.  I think you will find that eventually these logs will help you identify patterns.

 

Don't focus on how much time it takes to come off of the drugs.  If you find your sleep is more disrupted you may want to hold a little longer than a month.  Once you are pretty stable and have a sense of which symptoms crop up for you after a decrement, then you can gently test to see if you can go more quickly or not.

 

Karma

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blazesboylan

Hi Karma,

 

That is a huge amount of Effexor that you were taking a one stage! I am so delighted to hear that you have managed to taper to such a low level and that you are doing well. That gives me hope. I remember having a conversation with one psychiatrist not so long ago and he told me that I would have to take the drugs for the rest of my life. Anyway, as I have said previously I just don't accept that and the more I read about psychiatric the drugs the more I am convinced that it is better to be drug free.

 

Regarding sleep I fell asleep quite easily last night. I woke after 6 hours though. As it is a holiday in Ireland today I am not at work and I was hoping to sleep for a bit longer. After my first hospitalisation I couldn't get enough sleep by the way. At the weekends I could sleep for 12 or 14 hours no problem. I used to have to drag myself out of bed in the mornings during the working week. It was awful. It's more the opposite now of course. I don't think that I am getting enough sleep. However, the awful insomnia that I was suffering from 6 months ago is gone thankfully. I have started to record my sleep in my diary as well now so that I can identify patterns.

 

Regarding my mood I have to admit that I feel a little depressed today and that I felt a little depressed yesterday also. I find that I can feel like that if I haven't had enough sleep. This has always been the case with me though. I think that it's relatively normal to feel a bit cranky and down when one hasn't had enough sleep. However, I feel a certain degree of loneliness today. As I was saying, it is a holiday but I don't have any plans to meet anyone. On the one hand, I would like some company but on the other hand I am not sure if I do. As I said on another thread I feel that I suffer from avoidant personality disorder. No professional has ever given me that diagnosis but I feel that it is the most fitting as I have almost all the symptoms.

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Avoidant_personality_disorder

 

"Individuals afflicted with the disorder tend to describe themselves as ill at ease, anxious, lonely, and generally feel unwanted and isolated from others."

 

That sentence sums it up really. That is pretty much how I am at times. However, I really feel that I have become increasingly avoidant since my first hospitalisation in 2008 when I first started on the medication properly. My social circle has shrunk dramatically to the extent that today is a holiday and I may not have a single conversation with anyone all day! 

 

Anyway, it is a sunny morning here. I am going to go to the local garden center to buy some plants. One for the kitchen and one for my desk at work. 

 

Good karma to you  :)

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Karma

Hi Blazes,

 

I think it is very normal to isolate while being on these drugs and to some extent while withdrawing from them.  I actually find that I am becoming more social now the lower I get on Effexor.  Just observe where you are today and do what gives you comfort.  You may find one day that you crave a little more social interaction.

 

Yes, I was on a very high dose of Effexor and I've been on it for a long time.  I'm taking my time coming off of it and I've found what works for me.  If my success gives you hope then I've achieved my goal :).

 

Good karma to you as well, Blazes.

 

Karma

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Altostrata

Perhaps you're an introvert? That's very normal, but psychiatry has done its best to make it into a disease. There are lots of psychiatric diagnoses you might adopt if you wish, including having a personality disorder. We don't go by such labels here. We encourage people to do the best they can to have good lives.

 

By the way, psychiatric drugs are considered to be ineffective for personality disorders, whatever they are.

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blazesboylan

Hi,

 

"psychiatry has done its best to make it into a disease"

 

I think that there is a lot of truth in that statement. I have been thinking about this whole avoidant thing an awful lot. I have come to the conclusion that this it is just how I am and there isn't anything necessarily wrong with preferring to be by myself a lot of the time. For years I have been going along to social events and as soon as I would arrive I would be planning my departure. That is, if I was not drinking. I have said this on another thread but I am now wondering if my excessive drinking at social events in the past was in some way a means of coping with them. I have no problem meeting some people on an individual basis by the way. I frequently do. In fact, I spent over two hours with someone this evening after work and I enjoyed the conversation. I think that having some company was helpful today.

 

"By the way, psychiatric drugs are considered to be ineffective for personality disorders"

 

Yes, so it seems from what I have been reading. I had an appointment with my psychiatrist soon after I made this particular self-diagnosis by the way. I told him that I thought that I was avoidant and he told me that he couldn't really do very much to help me there. Ultimately my personality is my personality and no drugs are going to change that. Maybe they might help with some of the symptoms such as depression or anxiety and so on but there is no prescription medication on earth that is going to make me something that I am not in any fundamental way.

 

I would like to return to the subject of tapering however. I have to admit that I am have not felt great today. I have been feeling a bit depressed. I woke quite early this morning after not having enough sleep. I am feeling pressure in my forehead. My left ear is tingling more than usual also. I have felt exactly like before however and it will hopefully pass now because it passed then. I am going to sign off now because it is bed time. I am hoping that I won't have trouble sleeping again. I don't feel absolutely dreadful or anything but it definitely feels like discontinuation. It's amazing really because I generally felt better than normal last week.

 

Bye for now.

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Rhiannon

Looks like you made about a 10% cut in the Effexor in late July and two cuts in June as well. I would be surprised if you were not having some withdrawal symptoms at this point. Nothing to be concerned about. If it gets too overwhelming you can always bump it back up a bit, you've come down pretty fast. 

 

There will be ups and downs, that's normal. 

 

I'd recommend this time taking a longer hold and waiting until you're feeling pretty well and then waiting another two weeks after that before making your next cut, just to be sure that the healing is keeping up with the rate that you're reducing.

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blazesboylan

Hi Rhi,

 

I have decided to go back up to 185mg venlafaxine for maybe a month. As you say, I may have been going too quickly. I am feeling a lot better than I was a couple of days ago though. The depression is gone. What I am feeling now is some anxiety and possibly paranoia. I am worrying about things that I definitely wasn't worried about a couple of weeks ago even though nothing has really changed. Anyway, I have decided to make an effort to be a little more social and less reclusive so I will be meeting with some friends over the next few days. The thing is though, I have felt exactly like this a year ago when I was on higher meds so as I have said previously on this thread I don't really think that there is any sort of a direct correlation between my mood and the level of meds. This would suggest of course that anti-depressants may indeed be useless. In fact, I remember feeling like this so many times in the past before I ever got onto the medication merry go round so the evidence would suggest that the drugs are not making any real difference!!! By the way, I have found the Harm Reducation Guide I will be transferring it to my Kindle later. I will read it as soon as I am finished my current book which will be very soon. So, that's the plan for the time being. A month of 185mg and then on with the taper! 

 

Have a great weekend folks  :)

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blazesboylan

Hi All

 

I read the Harm Reduction Guide and I enjoyed it. It certainly helped strengthen my resolve to get off these meds entirely over time. I am feeling quite well today. I had a good sleep last night. It was needed after Friday night because I work very early on Saturday morning. Anyway, I have decided to continue with the taper where I left off. I am currently taking roughly 170mg venlafaxine and I will stay at this level for four weeks. I think that it's inevitable that I will have bad days but they will pass as I am finding. As I say, I have had bad periods in the past when there were no adjustments being made to my meds so I am thinking that they may not be making any great difference. I have learned here however that the level of a drug that one is taking and and its effect are not necessarily linear. So, I may not experience any major upheavals for quite a while yet. I think that I am in a better place psychologically than I was in the past though and it is a good time to taper. 

 

I hope that you are all having a good weekend!  :)   

 

Blazes.

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blazesboylan

Hi All,

 

I thought that I would check in as I haven't been here in a week. Anyway, I don't have much news. The taper continues. I shall be going down another 10% on the venlafaxine at the end of the month. Overall according to my diary the mood has been okay and good some days. The sleep has been a bit better although this morning I woke up around 5am. I have been awake since. The tingling in my left ear is still there. It comes and goes and it doesn't bother me. I don't have any real news. I started reading Doctoring the Mind (Why psychiatric treatments fail) this morning. I am sure that I will enjoy it as I enjoyed Epidemic very much. Have a great weekend everybody.

 

Over and out,

Blazes  :)

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blazesboylan
I haven't been here in a while so I thought that I would check in. I finished Doctoring the Mind by the way. I would really recommend it. I reduced the Effexor to 150mg today. I was taking roughly 170mg for about 4 weeks. I suppose that 20mg is a bit of a jump (12%) so we will see. The tingling in my ear is already evident again. It is surely related to the Effexor. I will see how it goes for the next month anyway. Since I have been last I have been pretty well though. Very little anxiety or depression etc.

 

I was looking for a little advice on something though. If the 150mg Effexor works out then I am thinking that I would like to start reducing the risperidone also although not at the same time of course. To be honest, I am not even sure why I am taking an anti-psychotic at all. I had two psychotic episodes and the first one was more intense than the second. However, now that I have been well for two years I am not sure why I need to continue taking an anti-psychotic. I found this by the way. 

 


 

"CONCLUSION: The data from this study suggest that a majority of patients who have major depression with psychotic features do not require treatment with antipsychotic medication for more than 4 months."

 

It seems that the prevailing advice here is to taper the anti-depressant first though. Anyway, I'd just like to know what people think!

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Rhiannon

Well I personally think it's fine to interweave a taper. I think it makes sense, actually, for harm reduction, to bring down the doses of all your meds in as expedient and safe a way as you can, and antipsychotics have a lot of bad side effects.

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Altostrata

What you might want to do is hold the Effexor at 150mg and reduce the antipsychotic very carefully so as not to rock the boat. See how you; do with that for a while. Minimize the variables until you feel you can control more complexity..

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blazesboylan

Thanks for the advice guys. Yes, I think that I will proceed as planned with the risperidone. I will start to reduce it in maybe 3 weeks. It will be hard though because I am it dispensed it in a single 2mg hard tablet. I suppose that I will have to cut it up. Anyway, I am having a nice weekend. The weather is pleasant. I am not feeling any type of discontinuation from the Effexor really apart from the tingle in my ear which comes and goes.

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blazesboylan
Greetings,

 

I got chatting online recently to someone recently who has asperger's syndrome. She inferred from my style of communication that I could possibly have asperger's myself and suggested that I try an online test and find out. So, I did the test and tried to answer all the questions as accurately as I could. The result was convincingly positive. I have to say that it was a bit of a revelation to me although it does explain an awful lot. I have been a lot reading about the condition since and I certainly have lots of the symptoms. It really does explain so much. All my life I have felt as if I didn't fit in and I have always found socialising to be very trying. It is quite ironic that I had made the decision a few months ago to socialise a lot less because I really have no interest in it. I can meet people on an individual basis but I hate groups and small talk. I just can't do it. It seems pointless to me. Also, there is alcohol at practically every social event and as I don't drink it's yet another reason to stay at home.

 

It's funny that a few posts back that I was claiming to have avoidant personality disorder. AVPd and schizoid as well of course. However, they all share a lot of similar symptoms. So, it turns out that there is probably something organically different about my brain after all. Episodes of psychosis are a lot more common in those with asperger's than the general population also. I have had two of course.

 

So, I am not fully sure what the point of this post is. I suppose that it is something to discuss with the psychiatrist next month. However, I get a bit frustrated with my doctors to be honest. I use the plural because I see different doctors all the time. I have at times asked whatever doctor I happen to be seeing what my diagnosis is (what I am supposedly being treated for) and they just tell me anxiety. It seems to be a bit broad to me. I am not schizophrenic although schizophrenia can develop in those with asperger's. I have read also that schizophrenia can develop in healthy people following treatment with some psychiatric drugs.

 

Anyway, I am going to continue with the tapering. I will start to work on the risperidone soon. At times I feel as if I am really taking a major gamble though. For some reason I have a lot of faith in risperidone. I feel as if it is keeping me well. As it turns out now, there may be an underlying condition after all. However, 2mg is not a lot.

 

Thanks for reading. I am off to the cinema now. I am meeting someone who I suspect has asperger's himself. Birds of a feather ....

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Petunia

Hi blaze,

 

A few years ago, I also self diagnosed with asperger's after doing some online tests, buying and reading several books and learning about it. I was walking around thinking of myself as an 'aspie' and was in the process of getting an official diagnosis to add to my growing list.  But then I stopped.  I started developing a new perspective after being introduced to various new ideas from watching videos from the bipolarorwakingup youtube channel.

 

Now I see it incredibly sad and frustrating that in modern, western culture, the only available context for any thoughts or preferences outside of the 'normal' range is that of a sickness, even if those preferences are positive things like not wanting to drink alcohol or waste hours and hours gossiping about superficial things.

 

But the need to fit in, belong and be understood is real, for me, I think this has caused some anxiety in my life.  It would be nice if we could just be who we are, without having to carry some negative label to explain ourselves.

 

 

Anyway, I am going to continue with the tapering. I will start to work on the risperidone soon. At times I feel as if I am really taking a major gamble though. For some reason I have a lot of faith in risperidone. I feel as if it is keeping me well. As it turns out now, there may be an underlying condition after all. However, 2mg is not a lot.

 

 

I'm sure you will be fine as long as you take it slow enough.  Even if your personality and way of experiencing life falls into a category labelled as 'asperger's', it doesn't mean there is a cure for it.  Self acceptance and learning how to make your life work will probably eliminate the anxiety better than any drug.

 

I hope you had a nice time at the cinema with your friend.

 

Petu.

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Altostrata

I would never take the results of an online test seriously.

 

Being quiet and introspective and not particularly social is not Asperger's syndrome. It's being an introvert, and there's nothing wrong with that.

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blazesboylan

Petu - Thank you for your kind words and you are totally right in all that you say. I have bought a book on Asperger's for my Kindle and I am reading it now. I can relate to a lot of it. However, the book so far deals with Asperger's in children and my childhood is now so long ago it is very hard for me to remember what it was like to be a child. I do know for certain that it took me a long time to settle at school at first. I was crying all the time and begging to be allowed to stay at home. I was most definitely teased and bullied a lot by other children too. Whether that means Asperger's or not I really don't know. Anyway, if it is indeed true then I don't see it as a bad thing. It's not a disability. It just means that I won't necessarily enjoy what most people seem to enjoy doing and that is fine. I don't see why I should have to conform to suit people who don't really care very about me at the end of the day.

 

Altostrata - It's not just a case of having no interest in socialising. As I said in my post "I certainly have lots of the symptoms".

 

Anyway, I don't know. As I have already said above I am a bit tired of dealing with psychiatrists. They don't seem to be happy unless they are writing prescriptions. It would be great if they could tell exactly what I am being treated for but they can't. At the moment I am dealing with public psychiatrists by the way. For what it's worth I have decided that I am going to try and get a private consultation for a second opinion. However, I was seen frequently by a private psychiatrist in the past and I really feel now that she was pretty useless too.

 

I will say one thing. I started on medication properly over 6 years ago when I had my first severe psychotic episode. On reflection I have not been the same person since. I definitely suffer with anhedonia to some degree. I feel as if I have lost interest in life. For example, I used to really enjoy going to the cinema and watching films at home. I have little interest now. The rare film that I watch now bores me. I just can't wait until they are over and I can go home. Very frequently when I come home from work I just climb into bed for a couple of hours and lie there and think. Of course if I tell a psychiatrist any of this they will just tell me that these are all symptoms of my mystery illness and I need to keep taking the drugs or it will get worse.

 

To finish, I am going to start reducing the risperidone very soon. I am going to get a digital scales on Amazon tonight.

 

All the best everyone  :)

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Petunia
 I definitely suffer with anhedonia to some degree. I feel as if I have lost interest in life. For example, I used to really enjoy going to the cinema and watching films at home. I have little interest now. The rare film that I watch now bores me. I just can't wait until they are over and I can go home. Very frequently when I come home from work I just climb into bed for a couple of hours and lie there and think.

 

I'm not certain that being bored by most films these days is necessarily anhedonia.  I had some trouble finding TV shows and movies which held my interest long before I got withdrawal, now its even harder.  I can usually find interesting documentaries online to watch, but I find that I get bored easily by them too and have to keep finding new subjects and ideas to explore.  I don't think this is an illness, but more a case of being alive, awake and having a thirst for new ideas, knowledge and learning.

 

Intentionally laying awake in bed for 2 hours on a regular basis could be called meditation, introspection, contemplation or reflection, philosophers do it all the time :)   I naturally started doing this from a very young age, as a child I would often be happy with my own company, lost in my thoughts about life, the universe and everything beyond, unfortunately, for some reason, this disturbed my mother, especially if I tried to engage her with my questions, so I was discouraged and told to do something more productive.

 

What was your first psychotic episode caused by?

 

Mine was caused by not being able to handle a spiritual experience called unity consciousness which I had induced by doing some intense meditation.  I was 'playing around' with osho's dynamic meditation and hadn't expected anything to happen, but it did.  I also was never the same after that, once someone experiences a change of perspective or a more expanded way of understanding something, its impossible to go back to a previous way of knowing, but that doesn't mean its a bad thing, just a different thing.

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blazesboylan

Hi Petu,

 

You speak a lot of sense. It's not just films that bore by the way. I find that a lot of things bore me now, including some people. My social withdrawal has a lot to do with wanting to avoid people and situations that I no longer find entertaining or comfortable. I am hearing the same old jokes etc. and they just don't seem to be as funny any more. When I used to drink I would be delighted if I got an invitation to a party or whatever because it was an opportunity to get loaded. However, I have now started to refuse the rare invitation that I get to anything or I just make up an excuse not to go. I don't feel any ill will towards any of these people or anything by the way, I just think that my needs are different.


 


Regarding the first episode of psychosis, I will try to explain the cause briefly. I had a brief romantic relationship with a certain girl. I had strong feelings for her. Love maybe. That ended and I was deeply hurt. I started to behave very strangely after that. I was literally praying that we would get back together and visiting churches and so on. I was never particularly religious. I was also seeing "signs" in everything and noticing coincidences. While all this was going on I was making contact with my father's family too. My father had never been in my life by the way. I eventually met my father one afternoon but never again after that. I felt that he rejected me also I suppose. Fast forward some months and I was put in a very stressful situation in work. I made certain mistakes and then lied and tried to cover them up. Everything just seemed to be going wrong. I became extremely stressed and then I became psychotic. Extreme stress can be a precursor to psychosis of course. I was admitted to a psychiatric hospital and spent several weeks there. It was a hellish experience really.

 

By the sounds of it I am like yourself in that I have an enquiring mind. I have always been interested in subjects like science, philosophy, music, literature and most recently psychiatry. I read quite a lot. In case you were wondering Blazes Boylan is a character in Ulysses by James Joyce. 

 

The second psychotic episode was very different of course. It was preceded by what I refer to as my day of bliss. I think that I briefly experienced what Buddhists call nirvana. I will post about that another time. It is getting late and I need to go to bed now. It is funny but I know a guy who is also in Australia who became psychotic through meditation! He is taking a lot of meds. I told him about this forum too.

 

All the best,

Blazes.


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Altostrata

It's not unusual to go through a stage of emotional anesthesia and inability to concentrate when recovering from these drugs. Over time, this lessens.

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