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GuineaPig

Ok so I am making another attempt to introduce myself here. I have been trying, but whenever I start to write about my story I end up getting confused and angry, and I also have difficulty concentrating well enough to write coherently.

 

To sum it up, it has been 16 years since I was first put on an SSRI when I was 19. Soon after I developed a host a strange and severe physical symptoms, along with deteriorating mental health. So, over the last 16 years,physically, I ended up with a diagnosis of Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, lhermittes sign, "idiopathic" narcolepsy, central sleep apnea, Prolactinemia and other disorders, all of them of an unknown cause. Mentally (after an initial diagnosis of depression) I have experienced just about every illness under the sun: mania, extremely disordered thinking, PTSD, odd changes in behavior and personality, depersonalization, severe anxiety with unwanted thoughts and urges, SEVERE self-injury, repeated bouts of suicidality, self-destructive behavior, inability to connect to others, eating disorders, OCD, hallucinations, amnesia,nervous ticks, split personality...it goes on.

 

In summary, over the course of the last decade and a half I have increasing felt like I am dying physically, and going crazy mentally. I was a bright and engaged student, writer, singer, runner, sister, daughter, and lover of life who was able to do almost anything she put her mind to and was full of hope for the future, and full of love for the people around her. I am now disabled, withdrawn into the black hole of my mind and have lost everyone and everything...down to losing the very inner core of myself. There is a part of me that remembers what I was like and can look at what and am now and see the complete and utter devastation of a soul. I spend my days like an old woman: completely alone, afraid to go to sleep at night and afraid to wake up in the morning, paralyzed during the day either too sick physically to do more than lay on the couch or too frantic mentally to do more than distract myself with TV. I am trapped inside of a body that is riddled with scars, losing it's hair and aging way too rapidly, I look out from eyes that don't work well any more, try to hear over the loud ringing in my ears and the constant chatter in my mind: I look in the mirror and I do not recognize myself anymore.

 

For years I believed that I was just unlucky enough to have contracted a bunch of strange medical problems with no known cause. Now I am faced with the realization that I was actually a guinea pig. That each time I popped another pill that I had been told would cure my illnesses, I was actually causing them. I feel that I could not have caused more damage if I had been doing hard street drugs for the past 16 years. So I am angry. I AM ANGRY. And I am constantly frustrated and hopeless. There is no justice, no hope for a better day. Only the knowledge that I have been robbed of something very precious. The chance to have a life. I am stuck here. I am Iatrogenic Illness at it's worst. And I digress. I apologize for any unnecessary ranting or divulging of overly personal emotions. I have no one to talk to about this.

 

I know that the name of this forum is Surviving Antidepressants and the point of the introduction is to talk about my the drugs I have taken and my withdrawing. Besides the first med I was given up until the last few years, I generally do not remember the dates at which I started/stopped medications or the dosages, so I will just list what I do remember to the best of my ability. First it was Zoloft in 1998, then 4 or five other SSRIs on and off until 2007. In 2007 I finally got health care and received the many diagnoses I mentioned above (Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome are the main ones). Then the prescriptions came so fast and steady, doctors trying one after another on me. This is what I remember: Neurontin, Lyrica, Amytriptaline, Cymbalta, Lorazepam, Diazepam, Cyclobenzaprine, Skelaxin, Tramadol, Adderal, Ritalin, Hydrocodone, Buspar, Doxepin, Lamotragine, Lunesta, Ambien, Rozerem, Trazodone, Lexapro, and Klonopin. I'm sure there are others I am not recalling right now. I have had so many adverse reactions to these drugs and combinations...but I was led to believe that it was all Fibromyalgia and CFS (as pretty much any weird physical or mental reaction you may have can be attributed to these conditions) By 2013, I was taking Lamotragine (off-label for anxiety and PTSD), Lexapro (off label for "nervous system disregulation and abnormal pain signal processing"), Hydrocodone, Adderall, Klonopin and Trazodone (for insomnia). In the previous year (since I had been started on Doxepin and Lamotragine) I had experience extreme cognitive decline, personality changes, inability to experience emotions and several bouts of amnesia along with long periods of being bed-bound. While I did find plenty of information that said all of these things could be attributed to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, I also ran across information that stated these symptoms as side effects of anti-seizure medications. So in march of 2013 I began withdrawing from the Lamotragine and was off by May, and experienced a big improvement in my energy levels and ability to do things. This sparked an idea that the other medications may have been causing some of my symptoms. I started withdrawing  from the Lexapro and was off by October, the worst of the withdrawal being brain zaps in the A.M. About that time I read an expose article online by a psychiatrist who had taken SSRIs and experienced disease caused by them. He mentioned the book Anatomy of An Epidemic by Robert Whitaker. I got the book from the library and read it. I read a few blogs of people's experiences of disease caused by psychogenic drugs. It all clicked for me. Wisdom comes suddenly. The "autonomic disregulation" and "nervous system hypersensitivity" that my doctors had been telling me were causing my illnesses were real...and it was no mystery as to the source...these problems had been caused by drugs whose known effect is to disrupt neuron signaling in the brain. I began withdrawing from the adderall and came off of that in about a month (I was only taking 2.5 mgs for fatigue in the A.M.). I am currently also withdrawing from the Klonopin, down to .75 mgs from 2 mgs. The Trazodone will be last, I take it and my Klonopin every night with the full knowledge that I am taking something that will cause me to feel horrible the next day, something that has ruined my life...poison.

 

My experience withdrawing from these drugs has been different from what I have read so far here. I am going through most of the common horrors of it and a host of my own personal ones. But, I actually do not feel any worse than I have already at many, many times during the last decade. I attribute this to having been taken off many medications cold turkey and not realizing the impact of this and the effects of daily withdrawals as blood levels of these drugs drop when you are taking them regularly. I also think that for me, the effects of withdrawal have not been worse than the actual effects of just taking the drugs regularly. It all looks the same to me... taking the drugs, not taking the drugs: the damage has already been done. The only thing that makes this worse is the knowledge that I did this to myself, with the help of the medical system, and it's all going to be a footnote in the pages of medical history some day. Like lobotomy and a whole host of quack medical treatments that have been perpetrated on human guinea pigs over the centuries.

 

I wish I had a time machine. I saw a good joke in one of the threads here: "What do you call 1000 big pharma execs at the bottom of the Ocean? A good start."

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Frustrated

Wow you poor thing. You have been on quite a ride. I was also diagnosed with fibro. I wish you well on your journey to be med free. Welcome.

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Ssriwarrior

Thanks for sharing your story. I feel you on the anger! It's an atrocity of human rights and we have all been subjected to a massively uncontrolled experiment with unintended consequences.

You are a truly strong person to still be alive today and I'm so sorry the medical industry has harmed you in this way.

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nz11

Welcome ...wow i am so sorry for what you have had to go through.

That is one smorgasboard of poisons! Yep 'your drug has definitely been your problem.'

I cant help think that your story is oh so common. You have articulated it so well.

I think you are aware of the situation its unfortunate that we all have to do homework that doctors seem unable to do.

Well done on finding SA. Yeah i loved that joke as well.

Congratulations on the progress so far.

Wishing you strength and healing.

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dalsaan

Hi GuineaPig

 

Welcome to SA.

 

I can't see you as doing this to yourself. You were young, experiencing things that we're in the realm of 'experts', being feed a multimillion dollar lie that the whole world was buying including myself at one point.

 

I feel heavy of heart reading your story and where you are at. But, I do also hear someone in there, someone that's angry and someone that is driving their own life. I know that sense of losing who you are but it is possible to do that and find yourself, albeit a newly evolved self again.

 

Although extensive, could I ask you to complete your signature with, at least, the drugs you have withdrawn off and the timeframes (roughly). This provides a ready reconer so people don't have to go to your first post all the time to have some sense of your story.

 

Instructions on how to do that are here - http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/893-please-put-your-withdrawal-history-in-your-signature/

 

In the mean time do you have any questions you'd like to ask us?

 

Dalsaan

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mammaP

Hi Guineapig, I am angry on your behalf!  Your story happens too often with people being given drug after drug, started and stopped with adverse reactions and withdrawals.  One of our moderators, GiaK, also known as Monica from www.beyondmeds.com was in a similar situation and very very sick. She is now free of all drugs and doing really well. You can follow her story on beyondmeds. I was also polydrugged and in and out of hospital for years being given one drug after another. I was housebound and bedridden at times when I twigged that the drugs were causing my problem. I started to taper and felt better with each drop. Sadly I tapered effexor too fast and had withdrawal but reinstated and now am almost off. Then just one more to go, tramadol. I was angry at myself too when I realised but the anger needs to be directed where it belongs, the drug companies that are pushing the drugs and the doctors who prescribe them. None of it is your fault.

 

When tapering multiple drugs we recommend tapering the antidepressant first, so that the benzo can cushion some of the withdrawal symptoms that might pop up, especially the insomnia that often goes along with tapering and withdrawal. 

 

Here is a thread on tapering multiple drugs. http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/2207-taking-multiple-psych-drugs-taper-the-antidepressant-first/

 

Some people will taper one drug part way, then hold and taper the other part way, and so on until both are finished. 

Whatever you decide to do it would be best for you to hold for a while now to give your nervous system time to catch up and stabilise, then you can start again. You have been through a lot and your brain and nervous system have taken a battering, holding will give them a well earned rest. I know you want off as soon as possible but I would hate to see your suffering extended because of withdrawal. Hopefully you will start to feel better when the trazadone is being reduced.

 

Tips for tapering trazodone  http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/2883-tips-for-tapering-off-trazodone/

 

I am glad that you found us, you will get lots of support here.

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GuineaPig

Thanks to everyone who replied to my introduction, I didn't think I would get all that venting out without melting and wasn't even sure my post would make it past the admin...it felt so negative and personal. It is good to hear words of encouragement and support from others who know what I am talking about. Thank you for your sympathy and empathetic anger, it makes the isolation a little less harsh.

 

 Nz 11: you say you think my story is common, and I agree that millions of us have been poisoned by these medications. Do you know of anyone who has taken psychotropic meds and has later been diagnosed with something like Fibromyalgia or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome? I am curious because in my situation, I definitely became very physically sick after taking these meds, only to be told that I had a newly discovered mystery disease that was causing my symptoms. I am wondering how common a situation this is becoming. And I am concerned that maybe the medical system has unknowingly (or otherwise) invented syndromes that cover up the cause of the real problem.

 

Dalsaan: thank you for pointing out that I am still self-driven. The self that is driving may be a shell more or less, but you are right: I still have a hand on the wheel. That is not nothing. When you talk about a newly evolved self: do you have any experience in what it is like to "re-evolve" or have you seen others do this? What are people doing with their anger? I tried reading a book called "Medication Madness" which is written by a psychiatrist and expert witness for victims of psych meds who have been made so sick that they got in trouble with the law. The very first story in the book made me think about how close I had come to doing something similar, and all the other strange and dangerous things I had done over the years that neither I nor my therapists could explain. I got so angry I ended up locking myself in the basement bathroom so I could scream at the top of my lungs...and I ended up with a horse voice for a week. I am wishing that I had my punching bag (which I had to get rid of because I was injuring myself from hitting it too hard).

 

MammaP: I know I've read some stuff from beyond meds, I will have to go back there thanks for the tip. I would love to read a story about someone who has come back from this. I think the best way to sum up why I am angry at myself goes something like this: I am someone who won't eat out of teflon-coated pans, buys organic food whenever possible, makes sure the fluoride and chemicals has been removed from my drinking water and makes the food for my cats from scratch out of mistrust for what the pet food companies put in there. How could I have had such a HUGE blind spot to the medical industry? They are a big industry...just like all the others I don't trust. I have spent a lot of time and energy researching products and practices to make sure they were safe...why did it take me so long to research the medications? Maybe the blindness came from my own feelings of personal association to modern medicine: I studied biology and other sciences as an undergrad and worked in the field for a few years. Originally I wanted to be a veterinarian. Maybe it was too close to home. I don't know. As far as the Trazodone goes: I know about the nasty side effects of this drug and I hate still taking it every night because it nearly invariably causes headache and malaise the next day. (I hope it is causing the anxiety as well!) I usually feel better and more awake as the day goes on and I think this is because the level of the bad metabolites is dropping in my system. So it's ridiculous that right as I am recovering from the effects of this drug (as I am getting ready for bed), I have to take it again so I can sleep. But it will be the last one I taper off because I have read that it effects the metabolism of Klonopin, slowing it down. If I go off the Trazodone first I might experience withdrawal-like problems with the Klonopin, as my body will suddenly start metabolizing it faster. And I don't want to withdraw from both drugs at the same time.

 

Has anyone heard of people losing their hair from these meds? It amazes me how much I can obsess over my receding hair line (or lines, as it is my whole body) in light of all the other things I have lost. Eh, it's tough when you're vain.

 

Thanks again to everyone for your kind words, I think there is strength gained from struggling together.

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dalsaan

Hi GP

 

I have re-evolved as it were. I have found new hobbies, new strengths and new capacities having got through the worst of it. I've seen others do this as well.

 

In terms of anger I think we each have to find a way to process it that works for us. In try not to invest too much in it. I tend to believe the saying - holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. In the case of big pharma, it's like drinking poison twice! It's not always easy. What's happened to us is appalling, unjust and disgraceful.

 

Dalsaan

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GuineaPig

I am barely making it through my days. Yesterday I had this thought that I have always been crazy, and I always will be. None of the explanations for the mess of my life make sense anymore, I feel like I was just born messed up. I feel like things are swinging out of control and I am also completely isolated from everyone and everything. I just found out that my boyfriend is going to be out of town for the weekend which means I will be completely alone...and this scares me even though when we are together every night I can barely interact with him anyway. I'm having increasing thoughts that I should call a therapist or maybe go into inpatient...but I am also afraid that they would try to reinstate my meds and make things worse. Has anyone sought help from behavioral health during their withdrawing?

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mammaP

Hi Guineapig, I have merged your post with your introduction thread because it is specifically about your taper, it will also get

more views here. 

 

I started to see a CBT therapist when I was in early withdrawal and had reinstated. Talking to her helped me a lot and I managed

to educate her about tapering because she was an ex psych nurse and had never seen anyone who was able to get off effexor. 

It helps to talk because it can put things into perspective but you have to be very careful WHO you talk to.  Do you have anyone

in mind? A non prescribing therapist would be best because they would not be in a position to push drugs.

 

You asked about people being diagnosed with fibro after starting ADs. I know several people who fit that description, when tests

all come back normal fibromyalgia or ME/CFS  are diagnosed, then even more meds are added! 

Can you put the trazodone in your signature?  it doesn't seem to be in there, probably an oversight .

 

Hopefully you will start to feel better as you taper, it was quite remarkable for me and I felt better and better with each drop after

the first couple of cuts. Sadly I went too fast and had withdrawal symptoms but reinstated and started again. I also tapered 2 other 

drugs, while holding my effexor taper I tapered atenolol, which is  a beta blocker, and omeprazole which is a stomach acid blocker 

and both had side effects that eased up after tapering them. I did not taper the effexor at the same time but held that while I worked 

on the others. I was able to go faster with those because they aren't psych meds but still too 3 months for each one. 

 

My next one will be tramadol and I am not looking forward to tapering that one! 

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GuineaPig

Hi All,

If you are reading this and you have responded to any of my previous posts I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart. I hope that one day I will be able to respond to other's posts here and be of help.

 

I have been struggling with my Klonopin taper.  I feel like I am in severe danger of losing important progress I have made recently. And I don't feel like I can afford to lose progress again...the last 15 years of my life have been a continuous one step forwards two steps back as I have cycled on and off different psych meds. 

 

Last fall I went back to school and have been doing well at getting good grades and making connections with professors. This means a everything to me...prior to going back to school the only thing I was doing with my life was being sick. But it has been difficult because I am withdrawing at the same time. It has gotten to the point where I am paralyzed with fear and overcome with spiraling rapid thoughts. I've started to shake when people talk to me. I feel absolutely overwhelmed by the thought of my exams or socializing. I am also overwhelmed by the thought of withdrawing from any of these things...it would signify another failure (in what seems like an entire lifetime of failure). Also...if I withdraw I have nothing to occupy my time, there really is nothing and no one in my life outside of the people I know from class and the few times a month I socialize. After last semester I fell into a horrible black hole where I attempted to distract myself from the moment I woke up until I went to bed by playing games online or watching TV. I was extremely suicidal by the time this semester started. So it's like "damned if you do, damned if you don't". 

 

I wish there was a safe place I could go until this passes over. OCD like symptoms have gotten so bad that it is often extremely difficult to take a shower or do the dishes. 

 

Anyway, there is nothing I can do about all that. What I am wondering is if anyone has advice on reinstating benzodiazepines. I am thinking that maybe if I do I will be able to continue working on this school thing instead of crashing in on myself and losing another huge chunk of my life. And I am wondering if anyone has advice on what the hell people do with themselves while they go through withdrawal. I have no family to go live with, no friends. I fear that going into inpatient might end up making things far worse for me in the long run. And "taking a break" terrifies me...I have been taking a break for the last five years and it has caused me to lose everything I had left...mainly my sense of identity and any shred of self confidence. Yet I feel as if I will break if I don't. This probably doesn't make any sense. I am sorry about the rambling. My mind is fractured. I am constantly praying for help and I don't even believe in God. 

 

Such a mess....I find myself wanting to take that despicable horrible drug again just to not feel completely crazy for a little while. I am just going to post this now before I say more. sorry.

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Meimeiquest

My heart certainly goes out to you. I feel like I had a lot of pain, was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, from Prozac. It's hard to know (I say about myself). My pain did resolve when I stopped AD's and went on a different "cocktail."

 

I agree that your being able to be in school is the top priority. It sounds like you have worked really hard. You've been through a lot of tapering, I don't think it's surprising that you are struggling right now, although that doesn't make it any easier.

 

If you decide to increase the Klonopin, I would suggest doing it in tiny increments and trying to find the lowest possible helpful dose. The general rule of thumb is that it takes at least four days to evaluate a change.

 

Some other things to think about...blood sugar issues and general toxicity are things that have been associated with fibromyalgia as well as anxiety. Many, many on this list have found food issues to be a major issue, and even more imbalances in gut microbes. There are several therapeutic diets people have used, including low histamine, GAPS, and paleo autoimmune. Www.kellybroganmd.com might be helpful. Many people find fish oil and magnesium to be helpful. Niacin sometimes helps me with anxiety, I don't know why. Taurine GABA, and inositol are all things I have dabbled in that have helped me. I am also a big fan of Epsom salts baths (4 cups). The symptoms section has lots of other ideas. Gentle exercise, generally trying to keep pulse under 100, is huge. Keeping your daily schedule the same each day as possible can help regulate your autonomic nervous system, and sleeping in complete darkness. Remember, if you choose to try a supplement, make only one change at a time and start with a tiny dose. It would probably be helpful to start a simple log, just noting how severe your anxiety symptoms were that day, how you slept (maybe use a number scale) and what drugs, exercise, and supplements you took. Check out Alto's post, pinned on one of the forums, on the 3 S's.

 

Would there be counseling available to you at low/no cost on campus? With all that you are going through, having someone to just talk to about it all might be helpful, if you can find the right someone.

 

Good luck!

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Meimeiquest

One more thing...I had a long visit once with the dean of one of the "schools" in a community college. A lot of their funding is based on what percent of students graduate. The school probably cares almost as much as you do that you are able to continue. Just encouraging you to reach out to them for support!

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Rhiannon

Hi GP, I merged this with your Intro topic, only one Intro thread to a person.

 

I have to run to work now so don't have time for a long reply but want to say, judging by the info in your sig line, what you're experiencing right now is not unexpected after all the changes of meds and doses you went through in 2014. I don't know if I would expect an increase in K to be a lot of help with that. Reinstatement with benzos can be iffy; I would suggest that if you want to go back up on your K dose you do it in small increments. Try a slight increase for a couple of weeks and if that goes well go up a little more.

 

I am very sorry to say that I don't think there's any easy "fix" for you right now. In your shoes I would go ahead and take some more time off, but not change any meds at all. You will eventually stabilize and things will be much easier then. Sorry, gotta run!

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GuineaPig

Thanks all for your replies. I finally understand how this forum thing works and will keep my personal questions/discussions here. 

 

So I reinstated, back up to the last dose I felt stable at. The relief was immediate, within an hour I went from being suicidal to feeling I could handle life again. Which is a total mixed blessing. On the one hand, I will now be able to go to my job interview, stay in classes, and continue to work on applying to grad school. On the other hand, I am only just delaying the withdrawal process again and adding more time until I can be drug free. And of course this dose of K makes me tired, and I know it affects my memory, perhaps causing long lasting damage. 

 

I am planning on stabilizing for two months (since I have just been through two months of traumatizing hell) before making 5% liquid reductions every month. I feel good about this prospect...except that I am supposed to be starting grad school in the fall. So while I hope that a very gradual reduction will keep my WD symptoms minimal enough to not interfere with working on my thesis and teaching, I know that there is the possibility that even with a very slow taper things will get hairy again. And it would be a disaster to have to drop out of grad school. 

 

Has anyone done a slow taper while simultaneously taking on a major life change like this? If the odds are against me I would like to know. As much as it would suck to have to go in and explain all this embarrassing stuff to my advisor and see if we can delay my enrollment...that is preferable to having to withdraw later because I am having a mental breakdown. 

 

I am really anxious to move forward with my life after spending 16 years in a drugged out haze, but I don't want to set myself up for failure. I know that no one here is a "professional" and that my experience will be unique, but I have no other source of knowledge outside of the personal experiences people have to share on this forum.

 

Did anyone taper during a major change/challenge in their life. If I need to delay enrollment is there a way to do that that won't ruin my chances at going back to school at a later date?

 

Thanks so much,

GP

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GuineaPig

MammaP,

Thanks for your advice about the CBT. I was able to find someone who does not prescribe who can see me starting in the middle of April, and I am hoping it will be helpful. 

 

I truly believe that "fibromylgia" can be caused by AD's. Side effects of AD's include "flu-like" symptoms, musculo-skeletal pain, and sleep problems...which are the three main symptoms of fibro. And one of the leading theories of what causes fibro is that it is an "over-sensitizing" of the central nervous system, which is exactly what AD's do when they cause up-regulating of neurons. As a biologist this makes a pretty solid argument to me.

 

I have finally updated my signature per your request. I changed the tramadol to trazodone...substitution error on my part. And I've added my recent developments including my reinstatement.

 

Thanks and take care,

GP

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Meimeiquest

So glad the RI went well so far...that's a huge blessing. I would be interested in the mods' opinion if you would be best served by dropping the Trazadone or Klonopin first.

 

I switched to full-time work while tapering, but that's not the same thing. Got through my dad's death without unusual problems. First, I would wait until really, really stable or two months...whichever comes last, before reducing. And you could try some 2.5% cuts, you could always speed up later if it is really easy.

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Rhiannon

I started my taper while I was still recovering from an attempted CT which was followed by a terrible intense suicidal depression and being put on three new meds, at the same time that I moved across the country to a place where I knew absolutely nobody and started a new job that required learning a lot of new skills and that was pretty much my last chance at having a job that would keep me out of poverty, going into late middle age. It was pretty intense. I won't say I was happy and I won't say I felt good, but I pulled it off.

 

I relate to SO much of your story, above. Read my intro when you get the chance. I was the same way, no teflon, organic food, etc. but I bought into the med lie, and even defended my meds when people suggested maybe I shouldn't be taking them. Aaarrgh! But I think the meds themselves cloud our ability to see what they're doing to us. (Peter Breggin writes about this--"intoxication anosognosia." His book Medication Madness is a lot about that.)

 

And I never felt good on the meds. I was suicidal and miserable and agoraphobic and unable to deal with life and unable to connect with people while on them, most of the time, and when I tried not taking them all hell REALLY broke loose. I just bought into the "I have an underlying illness" crap.

 

And hey, here's the great news: you can recover. You will. I used to joke that at 58 I was the only person I knew whose memory was getting better and whose hair was filling in. (The memory is still slowly improving. The hair has I think gotten as good as it's going to get.)

 

It won't happen overnight. You can't undo 16 years of having your brain and nervous system mangled, in a short time; the healing and recovery and rebalancing is not a fast process. And you have really dropped a lot of meds really fast in the past year, which is not something that people generally bounce right back from, it's going to take a few years before you really get a sense of your new baseline. But I hear your anger, and your commitment, and those are good things. They can give you strength and determination, which you'll need.

 

I would recommend taking as long as it takes to get stable rather than giving yourself a two-month deadline, and I'd also recommend letting your body tell you how fast you can taper rather than forcing it to a 5% per month rate (although that seems like a good place to start, just listen to your body about whether that's too much and how fast you can go).

 

If you start stable enough, and taper slowly enough, and listen carefully to your body, you can be functional while tapering; you can even feel good sometimes, and eventually you'll feel good more of the time than not. 

 

I really relate to your desire to move forward after spending 16 years in a drugged haze. I lost 20 years of my life, it's awful. You have my support for sure! I will continue to encourage you to take it slow and be careful, all the more so because you want to have a life now. The last thing you need is to crash and burn because you were in too much of a hurry.

 

I do understand that it's a balance between withdrawal symptoms and the cognitive and other effects of the drugs, I know that's a tricky dance, that was a problem for me when I was first tapering too, because the drugs made me so stupid and I had a new job that was pretty much a last chance for me, trying to get on my feet after 20 lost years. Only you can figure out how to dance that dance in a way that works for you and your body and your life.

 

I just urge you to take it slow at first until you have a good handle on how the withdrawal is going to play out; it changes over time, there are immediate effects and then there are "lag time" effects, and it's important to know what that pattern is going to be so you don't cut too much and then get slammed by a lag time catching up with you when you've already cut too much and it's too late to fix it.

 

And on top of that, as I mention above, you still have some recovery time coming up from the rather abrupt coming off a lot of meds in the last year. I know you were not well on the meds, and now that I've had time to read your story I definitely see why you did it that way, and that's okay; but your brain and body have a lot of healing and adjusting to do now, and that's just a thing you have to make space for. It can't be forced or pushed or speeded up. Willpower is no help. It's like healing anything else, a broken bone, a major injury, a car wreck; it just takes time.

 

Give yourself time. It's worth it. This is the beginning of getting the rest of your life back. 

 

It's really better to take it slower but stay steady, stay stable. This is a race that's won by the turtles, always.

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