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Pug: My Story including CT Twice

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Hello Everyone, I am Pug and this is my story:

 

I found this forum on 12-31-2014 and I wrote, but did not post, this about me piece on 01-12-2015:

 

Greetings Everyone,

 

First I would like to say that I have nothing but respect for the immense courage and strength of everyone who is sharing here, and it is a testament to the best of what makes us human, and is very powerful.  Second, I think that the human body, mind, and spirit are incredibly resilient and capable of amazing displays of recovery and healing.  I keep the above thoughts in mind as I wade through the haze of withdrawal this is my life currently.  My suffering is nothing compared to so many of you here that I hesitate to even add my story.  But, I figure that the more people that speak up and document what they are experiencing, the better the chance that this movement will continue to shed light on these very dangerous substances.

 

A quick history to explain my situation:  I started on Zoloft in the early 90's for anxiety and depression; by my primary care physician.  He did not direct me to seek any counseling or psychiatric care, he just said to take the medication.  My condition improved, whether due to the medication or due to time passing, but I did not question anything and dutifully stated on the medication. I was put on 50 mg and was cycled between 50 and 100 mg depending on how I was feeling.   I did not understand that I could quit the medication and did not know I had other options.  I felt alone with no one to talk to about my situation, so I was a good patient and took my medicine (if only the internet was around back then).  I suffered all of the common side effects of Zoloft which made being on the medication as bad as being off of it.

 

Fast forward 20 some years to March 2014 and I am still dutifully taking my medication, my health is poor; I am obese, sleep very poorly, suffer minimized libido, feel totally flat emotionally, and just accept that this is my lot in life.  I get a new primary care physician and she suggests that I try coming off of the medication; (I was thought, "what?  I can stop taking it?  That is ok? )  She said I could taper or go cold turkey, so knowing no better I went cold turkey and that is when the rollercoaster of withdrawal and misery started.  During the next 5 months I hung on although I had no idea what withdrawal was, thinking that maybe it was the return of my symptoms.  During that 5 months I had several personal life changing events happen and by the August 2014 I was in bad shape and sure that depression and anxiety had returned full force.

 

My primary care physician put me on Prozac 20 mg and things got even worse as the restart was absolute living hell.  I have no idea how I managed to keep a job, care for myself, or stay alive because it was truly nasty.  If not for family I would have been doomed.  I rode out the restart and after a couple months started to get a bit of relief.  That lasted a few weeks and then out of the blue it all went bad and I either had a reaction to the Prozac or it pooped out, as I was immediately plunged back into start up symptoms that were complete hell.  I called my new primary care physician but they could not see me for two weeks and I was advised to go to immediate care/emergency.  My state of mind was very bad, so I just decided to quit once again cold turkey and forget the doctors.

 

I am now 1.5 months out from stopping cold turkey and I am once again suffering.  I found this forum a few weeks back and it has been a life saver, and I really mean that.  Discovering my symptoms were not unusual:  Insomnia, night terrors, waking up with suicidal thoughts, hot and cold body fluctuation, burning skin, tinnitus, brain zaps, anhedonia, mood swings, extreme fatigue, extreme agitation, hopelessness, lack of mental clarity, poor decision making, and lack of motivation just to name a few.  Without this forum I would not know that it is the withdrawal from the medication that is causing all of this, and that I am not relapsing or going insane.  What a tremendous benefit to know that I am still somewhere under all these symptoms, and that I can hope of recovery.

 

I have been working hard to help myself, I am practicing mindfulness/meditation, started seeing a psychologist, stopped watching TV, avoid listening to the news or reading the newspaper, read uplifting stories and articles, eat healthy and exercise as much as I can; connect with family, and read the success stories here and elsewhere.  It has all added up to helping me make it through the hell that is withdrawal, and that is hopefully leading to recovery.  I have somehow managed to stay alive, keep a job, and for the most part appear to be a functioning human as far as most people know.  I even sometimes have a little hope.  I would not choose this for my worst enemy, that would be too cruel.  I don't know any way to get out of this other than to just go through it.

 

Thank you for listening.

Edited by scallywag
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pug

I will follow up with more current information soon, it has been an experience, I am still in the withdrawal, but I am holding my own.

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Petunia

Hi Pug,

I'm not feeling well at the moment so I can't write a lot, but I wanted to welcome you. I'm glad you have found some support here already, others should be along soon with some suggestions. In the mean time check out the Symptoms and self-care  section for ideas to manage symptoms as you recover.

 

Petunia.

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clearday

I am now 1.5 months out from stopping cold turkey and I am once again suffering.  I found this forum a few weeks back and it has been a life saver, and I really mean that.  Discovering my symptoms were not unusual:  Insomnia, night terrors, waking up with suicidal thoughts, hot and cold body fluctuation, burning skin, tinnitus, brain zaps, anhedonia, mood swings, extreme fatigue, extreme agitation, hopelessness, lack of mental clarity, poor decision making, and lack of motivation just to name a few.  Without this forum I would not know that it is the withdrawal from the medication that is causing all of this, and that I am not relapsing or going insane.  What a tremendous benefit to know that I am still somewhere under all these symptoms, and that I can hope of recovery.

 

Welcome -

 

Many of us could have written the same thing, thanks for putting it so well.

 

Yes, you are there under all these withdrawal symptoms.

 

I also have two cold turkeys, and lived to tell the tale.  

 

I wish you the best on this difficult journey.

 

Time and patience is what we all need, and like you said, we all have real reason to hope that we will feel better over time. 

 

I have done a lot of healing, many of my symptoms are long in the past. But I still have a ways to go -

 

Glad to hear you're working your way through this thing -

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ang

Hello Pug,so lovely to hear you are "holding on", kept your job, and are are so positive, despite your agony, that you will improve.

 

I think our time lines are pretty much the same......   I gave up middle of last year 2014, and the withdrawals hit me after about 5 months... still a bit fuzziy there in my mind.  First the disabilititing physical symptoms, then the brain crash.

 

All I would like to say is, I was on effexor for 8 years or so,   tried to get off that, and it was such a bumpy ride,(Luckily managed only an overnighter in the lockup.....ie Mental Health Ward). I ended up on just heaps more different medications for another 18 months.

 

In hindsight, I truly think the bumpy ride attempting to get off all the meds, actually helped this second try, is nowhere near as bad as that failed attempt.  Longer of course, but I hope to never ever admit myself to that locked hopital ward again.......  I will never understand why, if you are voluntary, they still lock you in.......... maybe they know their drugs will send ya nuts.

 

Previously, ie 20 years ago.....I have been on and given up these drugs before, but never been on them very long   ..........    but even being on them one week, took me 3 weeks to get off them....    someone convinced me I just shouldnt trust my primary care physician, and should trust a psychiatrist, how wrong they were, I should never have trusted anyone with these horrific  medications.  How things have changed in those 20-30 years..........   thank god for free internet information, and this support group.

 

Anyhow.........  where I am now? About 12 months out  .... 6 months into withdrawals, failed reinstatements,  but I am getting better.........  I get dressed in the mornings , I manage to do the dishes, and I now have a job!   The boss is unbelievably nice.   I can work virtually the hours I can cope with, I have not told him yet about my present illness, I may tell him I have been unwell, and I get extreme fatigue (which I do)............

 

I hope anyone struggling with this WD can have an understanding boss, just say you have Chronic Fatigue  (which is part and parcel of this recovery)............   

 

I just hope I dont get hit with a massive wave, just yet!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!    Early days in my new job.  It seems harder when you feel good for a few days, and it hits again, it is merciless......  but having found out my worse, and I withstood that, what an amazing mind we all must have.    It is like god only gives you as much as you can cope with......  and what an amazing person I will be when I make it through, wont we all be. !!!!!!!!       Then Pfizer and Eli Lilly, et al better watch their backs   :)

 

I hang on to the dream that it will be 12 months down the track, I would have kept my job, and my healing would have progressed.  I actually have a day now and again when I dream of a positive future, one day I will have the emotional and physical strenght to make that happen.

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ang

I think pug, you must be where I am at..........  I couldnt tolate valium, after one course of about 3 weeks on xanax................  now valium sends me psycho. like I can actually feel my brain trying desperately to make new connections, if only I could describe it, and the only thing is three weeks wait for the horror to stop  (1/4 tablet).

 

Now I find I can not tolerate any SSRIs  SRNIs, they all make me worse.....(and yes, I hang in there for 2 or 3 weeks, every trial)...............    I guess i am glad, the only way out is thru.  I truly believe I will be pretty much 60-80% in another 12 months.  Today I reckon I am 35%  (been around this for two weeks now)...., which is way better than I have been previously, always on 10-15%.       My panicked attempt to reinstate and try yet a new drug, was fear and panic... those things the Big Pharma thrive on... all they did was make me semicomotose and suicidal......  may work for others but didnt for me...........   

 

Friends on this website set me straight, if it aint helping, why take it?

 

The main thing I remind myself?  I have regained my brain.......... my clarity of thinking is back, although my emotions are scattered, and horrific..........  ruminations are horrific, but I need to tell myself, those emotions are not real, I thank this site for the neuro emotions section...........   

 

Anyway pug, well done!!!!!!!!!!    Keep in touch 

ang

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Wondering

Well, Pug, you hang in. My intuition tells me you have quite a warrior inside of you and you are going to come out of this just fine. Best wishes and quick healing to you.

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pug

Call it what you will, post acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS) or antidepressant withdrawal syndrome, or antidepressant discontinuation syndrome:  This is the hardest thing I have ever dealt with.  If I can make it through this and come out the other side I will know I have walked through literal hell and emerged still alive; and that is what I hold onto each day, and sometimes each minute.

 

I have no idea if I am still suffering withdrawal from the first cold turkey in March of 2014, or the second cold turkey in November of 2014, or possibly both; but I would wish this on no-one; it is just too cruel.

 

May we all experience a window of relief soon that will give us strength and resolve to continue this process; and I affirm that although my days can be so dark and without light, that I can heal from this.

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pug

Welcome, Pug.

 

How have your withdrawal symptoms changed over time?

 

Please see The Windows and Waves Pattern of Recovery

 

Hi Alto,

 

I have read about windows and waves pattern and I totally agree on this; because I have had them in the past and am currently experiencing it.  There is a lot of wisdom and truth to found here on this forum and windows and waves has been accurate for me.

 

My withdrawal symptoms have changed over time somewhat.  The acute stage after quitting the first time cold turkey was very similar to the second time quitting cold turkey, except the second time was much more intense.  The first time was a struggle and I thought I might be relapsing because I had not idea I was in withdrawal.  The second time was the same type of symptoms but twice as bad in intensity, and also included thoughts of death, suicidal ideation, and fixation on escaping my life in some manner; such as moving to a tent in the wilderness or something like that.  That lasted for the first three or so months and then I started to feel a little better and didn't want to die especially; I just wanted the symptoms to go away.

 

If the first withdrawal was a 5 on a scale of 10, the second one has been a 9.5 on the scale of 10; a total bad trip.  One of the difference is that the second withdrawal has included a protracted bout of mania like symptoms with little sleep and abundant energy for weeks, even though I was dead tired and begged the universe for some sleep.  Didn't have that during the first withdrawal and hope like hell it never comes back.  The second round has also included depersonalization, massive mental fog, complete lack of self worth, and zero confidence or feelings of competence and pssd.  Not sure if this is a continuation of the first withdrawal or was caused by trying antidepressants again and then going cold turkey the second time.  I just had no idea what was going on until I found this forum.

 

It has not been all bad news for me; after about 3.5-4 months I had a window that lasted for a couple of weeks where I felt somewhat normal. It happened so gradually that I didn't even realize it until it was pointed out to me.  This was followed by another intense wave of hellacious symptoms for many weeks around the 6 month mark after quitting cold turkey; but I think I am starting to get some relief.  So waves and windows are happening for me; and the all these changes must mean that I am healing and getting better.  At least I feel that way considering that change in symptoms must mean that something is happening, and hopefully something that means further recovery.  How I have kept my life together and functioning through all of this crap is a mystery to me:  I can't believe I am not homeless and destitute or dead; but I am not and I sure am grateful to still be amongst the living.

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pug

I have had a few brief windows lately, amongst a ferocious wave that has been on me for the last couple of months. If not for the few brief windows my hope would be about used up.

 

The windows are here and there for an hour or maybe a few, even most of a day a couple times. I am hopeful this means that healing is occurring and that more windows are on the way.

 

The unpredictable nature of this recovery process is very challenging; I never know what the day or night will be like. Since I have to work it is like going to a different job every day because I have no idea where I will be mentally, emotionally, or physically. It can be a matter of survival from minute to minute and a delicate dance to not screw up and loose my job; some days are hell.

 

Not much I can do but move forward after more than 7 months cold turkey and hang on for the next window.

 

I wish everyone of us a window and the strength needed to ride out our withdrawal until it arrives.

 

Peace and love to you all.

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Altostrata

Yes, it's a good sign you have windows.

 

Many people do better with fish oil and magnesium supplements, see
http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/36-king-of-supplements-omega-3-fatty-acids-fish-oil/
http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/1300-magnesium-natures-calcium-channel-blocker/
 

A lot of people find them helpful. Try a little bit of one at a time to see how it affects you.

 

See our Symptoms and Self-care forum for suggestions about how to cope with symptoms.

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pug

Thanks Alto,

 

I have been using the supplements for a couple of months now, I just have not updated my signature to reflect that.  I am currently taking:

 

Krill oil 3g

Magnesium 400mg

Zinc 10mg

Vitamin C 1000mg time release

Epsom's Salt Baths

Herbal teas

 

I have cut out almost all caffeine, sugar, artificial sweeteners, and processed foods.

 

I am experimenting for sleep with:

 

Lactium

Seriphos

 

I also use:

 

Alpha Stim ECT each day

Meditation

Deep breathing

Acupuncture once a week

 

This forum is an absolute life saver and I would not have made it this far without it; thank you so much!

 

I read the success stories here regularly and the symptoms and self-care also.  I copy any success stories off of the web and keep them on a flash drive that I read every day for comfort and support.  I mark off each day on my calendar to show that I am one day closer to more healing and improvement.

 

I am trying everything that I can get my hands on to help get through this.  There does not seem to be any magic bullet other than giving it time; which of course is the most challenging part of the process when you just want to feel well.  That is all I want; just to feel well enough to engage in my life in a meaningful way each day.

 

Peace and love to everyone here; may we all find our permanent window soon.

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pug

Getting close to 8 months off antidepressants cold turkey and today is one of my worst days yet! Just basic survival today. I feel like I have been run over by a truck. I am trying to accept it as a passing phase that will get better soon but it feels like an ongoing torture. Don't remember it being this bad for a very long time.

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pug

What a crap storm this is at the moment. Maybe this is punishment for the few brief windows I had about a week ago. Trying to take it minute by minute right now.

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alex

8 months off can be very very tough dear P.

I've been there.Hellish waves are the rule, and windows are the exception.

Over time it WILL be the oposite: the good days will outnumber the bad ones.

I am telling you this, because IT IS HAPPENING TO ME NOW....!!!

SURVIVAL MODE dear Pug; remember that...SURVIVAL MODE....

 

It will get better,hang in there.

I have you in my thoughts.

 

Hugs.

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Petunia

Hang in there pug, I was still going through the worst of it at 8 months off, and hadn't really even had much in the way of windows, so you are definitely doing ok if you have had windows.

 

This isn't punishment, although I know it feels that way. Its just the way recovery happens... steps forward and steps back and one day you look back and realize you have made some progress. Don't try looking back when in a wave though, because everything looks distorted. You are doing all the right things and sometimes we have to live minute by minute to get through the tough spots. This one will pass, like they all do.

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pug

Alex and Petunia thank you for the kind words and encouragement, it is greatly appreciated and helped sustain me. I had some relief from the worst of it this weekend an I am feeling more hope in this moment.

 

Thank you again.

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LoveandLight

Well done, pug x

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Wildflower0214

I just wanted to welcome you, Pug. I am glad you have found your way here. I know that the support and information on this forum will be immensely helpful to you on the journey towards wellness.

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pug

LoveandLight and Wildflower, thank you so much for the encouragement, it is greatly appreciated. I have had a bit of relief the last few days; just enough to sustain my hope and it couldn't have come at a better time. Waves and windows; you just can't understand it until you have experienced it.

 

Healing wishes for all here.

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Wildflower0214

Glad to hear you have had some relief recently. I find that those times of lighter symptoms provide me with hope. And hope is really what has kept me alive, the hope for something better, for a better future.

 

I pray you continue to improve and that the good times outweigh the bad times sooner rather than later.

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pug

Wildflower, thank you so much for the support. The burden of feeling sick so much of the time gets overwhelming and is a major challenge as I try to continue to work through this recovery and healing. I hope that I can somehow manage to keep my job, but on days like today I don't know if it is going to be possible, and that just adds to the stress, which adds to the burden. Yuck!

 

May we all have a window soon.

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pug

It has been a miserable day but the "Here comes the sun" posts in this section are giving me some hope. Thanks for posting them!

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pug

Today is my 8 months off of antidepressants and I am feeling very poorly. I have been dealing with insomnia and anxiety issues that are jeopardizing my job, which just adds to the stress. I will be seeing a sleep doctor today, but I am guessing they will recommend drugs to help me. Last night out of desperation I took 0.125 mg of xanax to help with sleep (something I have only done about 5 times in the last couple of months). Today I am feeling a bit more rested but physically sick and nauseous.

 

There seem to be no easy answers:

 

Take a drug to sleep and maybe keep my job.

Take no drugs for sleep and probably lose my job.

 

I am holding on to hope for a miracle window to happen and some resolution of my symptoms.

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direstraits

sorry you're feeling so poorly,pug.

 

this is such adreadful experience and seems to never end.

 

just wanted to say I'm thinking of you and hope you see relief soon.

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pug

Thanks Direstraits for the kind thoughts. I hope thing improve for you also.

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Altostrata

Can you go on disability leave?

 

Make sure you have signed up for disability insurance first, if your work offers it.

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pug

Alto,

 

Thank you for the thoughts.  I am looking into the disability, my work has long term disability after 12 weeks of being off of work, but I am not sure if I would qualify.  Antidepressant withdrawal syndrome is not going to work, I might be able to claim PAWS as a reason, but I don't know if that would work either.  If I try to use chronic insomnia or persistent anxiety or something similar they will just want to give me pills to treat that so I am not sure what to do. I am going to try and schedule a full physical and tell my primary care doctor that I am not feeling well to get that on the books; and I have history with the sleep doctor and a psychologist that I could point to as backup; I just don't  know.  It is a mess to be certain for me just like many others folks here.

 

Any suggestions from anyone would be greatly appreciated.

 

Thank you.

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DaddyCee

Insomnia is hellish as you probably know..... but it does get better.  At 8 months off from a fairly rapid taper, all I could do was think about my WD symptoms. I call it "self consuming thoughts".  You are doing the right thing by taking each day as it comes. I'm nearly 2 years out now and I noticed big leaps forward after 14 months or so.  Keep at it Pug, my thoughts are with you.


 


Namaste.


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pug

DaddyCee,

 

Your words mean more that I can express because they give me some hope for the future.  Thank you for the wisdom and taking the time to help me, it really means the world when I am struggling so greatly!

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apace41

Pug,

 

Thanks for visiting my thread and your words of encouragement.

 

It sounds like you are in a little bit of a rough wave and you are wise to plan for the "what if".  Having said that my sense is that this will pass for you and that you will not need to take a longer term disability.  I think you are seeing windows and waves and that you can hopefully muddle through the work difficulties until you see longer windows in your healing.  Having said that, a plan for a longer term leave makes sense although you've identified some of the challenges to that approach.

 

What conversations, if any, have you had with your company officers who might be able to help you?  Are you close to anyone in HR?

 

There might be ways to work collaboratively to get you the space and time you need.

 

Just thinking out loud.

 

Hang in there.

 

Andy

 

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pug

Andy,

 

Thank you so much for the words of encouragement and advice. Your thoughts really help since I am having a hell of a time just thinking at a basic level. My supervisor knows I am having some "health issues" that include serious insomnia. I am going to update them again soon to let them know I am still struggling.

 

I know that FMLA is possible although it is unpaid, it could get me up to 12 weeks if needed. And if I still am unable to work then I could try disability; or they may fire me and I would get 6 months of unemployment to try and put my life back together.

 

Thank you again for the support and help, and I truly do hope this becomes a non issue because I hit a major window!

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pug

Thoughts on my recent experience, now hitting the 8 month anniversary of quitting antidepressants.

 

This wave has been going on since the middle of May. Symptoms include:

Nasty insomnia

Night panic

Fear

Heavy anxiety

Intrusive thoughts

Inability to deal with stress of any kind

Lack of motivation

Body temperature fluctuations

Flu like symptoms

Wired and tired and then extreme fatigue

Brain fog

Upset stomach

General despair and hopelessness

 

This is very much like the beginning of withdrawal for me. I guess I was lucky to get a brief window between these waves; I sincerely hope I get another window soon.

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apace41

Pug,

 

What are you doing in the way of mitigation?  If you've mentioned before, I apologize.

 

Are you exercising, meditating, playing video games, etc.?
 

It will pass by.  I know 2 months is like forever, but... think of it as time healing.

 

Best,

 

Andy

 

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pug

Andy,

Thank you for the questions. I go jogging for about 35-40 minutes almost every day after work. I practice meditation and deep breathing as much as possible, although it can be almost very difficult to maintain any focus when symptomatic. I also practice mindfulness, trying not to get hooked into the racing mind and ruminations. I also try to do jigsaw puzzles or other types of games when I can to try and distract.

 

My biggest hurdle is handling withdrawal at work when I can't distract myself with those things and have to try and get work done; and work is not distracting because it takes every bit of my ability just to do very simple tasks. Work also becomes a major stressor when I know I need some sleep at night and I can't get any. It becomes a viscious cycle and I am not doing very well at the moment.

 

Thanks again for the words of encouragement, they really do help and I will keep them in mind as I move forward.

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