Popular Post alexjuice Posted July 22, 2011 Popular Post Share Posted July 22, 2011 (edited) Navigating withdrawal from antidepressants -- in my case antipsychotics and benzodiazepines as well -- is a daunting task. There is no guidebook. I am 18 months into my journey and have learned a ton. Unfortunately, I learned many of my lessons through experience. Many of these could have avoided had I only possessed better knowledge or (sometimes) better sense. I've made many mistakes thus far, so many that I have decided to share my errors. The problem with withdrawal from antidepressants (and all psychiatric medication) is that there is not a one-size solution that fits all. So some of the things that were mistakes for me will not be mistakes for all. That said, most of these mistakes will be mistakes for anyone going through the psychological torture of withdrawal syndrome (also known as discontinuation syndrome). Because there is no cookbook with the recipe for healing, I don't fault myself for my mistakes. I've done a much better job (with help from sites about recovering from antidepressant withdrawal) guiding my treatment than has any professional medical doctor I've encountered. Overall, I've done my best. But there have been errors. I hope you are able to learn from me and my mistakes. Finally, everything below is just my opinion. No facts, that's a fact. Here are my top six mistakes. 1. Deferring to Medical Authority I went through many medication stops and changes, each being problematic. I developed doubts about my doctor's understanding of my condition and ability to treat it. But he was a DOCTOR. I figured he must know what he was doing. After all, who was the one on mental health medications? Me! Who was the one with the diplomas on the wall? Him. Means nothing! Antidepressant withdrawal syndrome (withdrawal from any psychiatric medication introduced in the last 25 year) is not well understood or even well acknowledged. My early attempts to learn about what was happening to me, yielded little. My searches turned up generally reliable websites, but these websites are not reliable when the subject is prolonged withdrawal caused by discontinuation of psychiatric medication. This not because they intentionally misinform but because they don't even know that they're misinforming. My mistake was trusting authority because it was authority. Even after I had good reason to doubt my doctors and certain health websites, I refused to accept what my eyes were seeing. MISTAKE. I was lucky to eventually, through persistence, find other websites with more information relevant to the hell I was going through... I now believe -- unequivocally -- that the best advice about prolonged withdrawal syndrome does not come from professionals. No psychiatrist I have yet met has even acknowledged a belief in withdrawal lasting more than a few weeks. No, the best advice comes from the web of sufferers who have aggregated their personal histories. From all these anecdotes, as well as some research by renegade psychiatric health professionals, some understanding and some USEFUL guidelines about tapering and recovery have emerged. Still, much is not known. But I now check everything my doc recommends against the wisdom of the sufferers. It was unfortunate it took me so long to realize the state of affairs. Trust your fellows. 2. Making Abrupt Changes For me sudden changes to medication, especially, as well as diet, exercise, stress, stimuli, etc have caused worsened withdrawal symptoms. There is, among the informed, essentially unanimous support for a slow taper off psychiatric medications. But the same principle for me applies to most everything. If I change a major aspect of my health routine, I do it gradually unless I have a very good reason to do so otherwise. 3. Stinkin' Thinkin' (This Will Last Forever) My withdrawal symptoms have been traumatizing. Certain of them, PSSD, gastrointestinal problems, and sensitivity to normal environmental stressors, sometimes scare me. I get scared I'll never be normal. This terror, especially when I feel alone, makes this condition a torture. I've realized, though, that giving in to my fear is a mistake. I have tried to change my mental approach to my ongoing symptoms. If a problem has persisted, it may last forever, yes. However, it does no good to believe it will last forever. If believing this has any effect at all, it is, in my opinion, only negative. I find my fearful ruminating self-reinforcing. The more I worry, the more I worry... and so on. Even if worrying does no harm, it does no good. Even if I think I will not recover, that my disability is permanent, I do not allow myself to think that way. It only makes my suffering more of a burden on my shoulders. Therefore, the only option for me is to believe that I will get better. It is the most likely outcome, no matter how scared I feel at any one moment. Others have recovered, so I choose to believe that I will recover as well, even if there is no way of knowing this for sure. In Alcoholics Anonymous, athiests regularly pray to 'God'. They do this because it activates a part of their brain separate from the part that drives their impulse to drink. It doesn't matter if God exists. They don't care. They pray because they stay sober that way. I maintain a positive attitude for similar reason. It doesn't matter, right now, whether I fully recover or not. I choose to believe that I will fully recover because choosing otherwise makes my life... not worth living, frankly. I've made this mistake frequently. But today, part of my self-care is always holding the belief that I will, someday, be through this. 4. "I'm All Better!" This goes back to abruptness. I've made the mistake of confusing a good day for a return to permanent good health. When I enter into a good 'window' and feel okay, a wave of excitement grips me. I immediately start planning to make up for lost time, to get back on track. I start perusing the jobs and apartment listings. When this has happened, I have, in my excitement, overexerted myself. After my brief "all better" periods, a setback has always followed. I now try to exercise caution. If I proceed cautiously, I have better success holding my gains. My recovery will always be more gradual than I would choose it to be. But my reality has been that recovery is non-linear and that feeling "All Better" for a couple hours doesn't mean much. I stay the course. 5. Not Being Cautious with Supplements (vitamines, nutirents, natural cures, etc) One of my primary symptoms is hypersensitivity. I'm crazy sensitive. My symptoms have not, generally, been helped by supplements. They have, unfortunately, been greatly exacerbated instead. But it is hard to not try something when others report a positive effect, so I have tried everything... There have been occasions when I've had a positive reaction to a supplement on day one, only to have a horrible adverse reaction when taking the same dose on the following day. I don't know why this happens. However, I have learned from it. Today, if I want to try a supplement, I try a fraction -- not more than 1/5th of the manufacturer's recommended dose -- actually, in my case, much less that this. If I react strongly, even positively, I do not take the supplement for at least two days afterward. If I try it again, I try a lower dose. Strong reactions are a warning sign for me. If I had known this at the start, I could have avoided some truly horrific adverse reactions causing everything from burning skin to lack of feeling/sensation in the extremities to complete wipeout (unable to get up from bed for many, many days). 6. Catastrophizing Necessary Lifestyle Changes In the last 18 months, I have given up alcohol, nicotine, coffee, energy drinks, artificial sweetener, foods I can't currently digest, protein shakes, carbonated beverages, tea(s), fast food... and on, on and on... These constitute some major changes. Some of these things I'd rather not give up. Because I didn't want to give them up, I ignored my body and kept trying to take some of them. Coffee was the worst in this regard. The more I tried it, the worse I got. I suffered a significant setback with acid reflux by trying to add back some afternoon caffeine after I had already had bad experiences with it. Finally, I learned that, for right now, I should avoid these things. This, I realized, is not the end of the world. Actually, lots of people would consider it an accomplishment to eliminate all of the things I listed above. Someday I hope to indulge in some of those things. But I've decided to stop hurting my recovery out of stubbornness. Of course, I do really, really miss coffee. -- Those are six mistakes that I've made since I decided to stop taking my medication. Alex.i Edited February 4, 2019 by ChessieCat bolded 5 & 6 10 "Well my ship's been split to splinters and it's sinking fast I'm drowning in the poison, got no future, got no past But my heart is not weary, it's light and it's free I've got nothing but affection for all those who sailed with me. Everybody's moving, if they ain't already there Everybody's got to move somewhere Stick with me baby, stick with me anyhow Things should start to get interesting right about now." - Zimmerman Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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