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Toulouse

☼ Toulouse: My Paxil Withdrawal Journey

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DisneyFan88

Lately i've been getting a strange head-rush feeling in my head. Like my brain is moving. For a few seconds i feel like i'm going crazy and then it goes away. Is this another WD symptom?

My anxiety has improved over the last couple weeks. But this strange head sensation is bothering me. Can anyone relate?

Toulouse,

This has happened to me before. It's an anxiety symptom. I would get them right before a panic attack would come on - unless it was the head spinning that brought on a panic attack. I always would describe this "head spinning" as feeling like I was literally going crazy. It almost feels as if your eyes can't focus. It feels as if your brain is driving on the freeway with all of the windows down. This symptom is why I started my second round of Paxil last year. They terrified me.

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Toulouse

 

Lately i've been getting a strange head-rush feeling in my head. Like my brain is moving. For a few seconds i feel like i'm going crazy and then it goes away. Is this another WD symptom?

My anxiety has improved over the last couple weeks. But this strange head sensation is bothering me. Can anyone relate?

Toulouse,

This has happened to me before. It's an anxiety symptom. I would get them right before a panic attack would come on - unless it was the head spinning that brought on a panic attack. I always would describe this "head spinning" as feeling like I was literally going crazy. It almost feels as if your eyes can't focus. It feels as if your brain is driving on the freeway with all of the windows down. This symptom is why I started my second round of Paxil last year. They terrified me.

Thanks for your response. I have noticed today I had a couple periods of anxiety, once in the morning and again at night.both times is when I experienced this strange brain feeling.

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Toulouse

I wanted to update on how I'm doing. I have started (finally) to practice deep relaxing breathing / meditation and I am seeing great results.  I wish I had been doing this all my life now that I see the good it's doing me.  It takes away my anxiety feelings as well as physical symptoms (where my brain feels like its WD'ing and that icky can't describe feeling comes).  I've been doing at least once a day and now am doing 2x daily when I can.  (morning and at night before settling in). 

 

I think now that a lot of the feelings, sensations, symptoms I've had these last few months are all anxiety related. I'm sure the WD made me more sensitive to the anxiety, and also I have no medication to stunt the anxiety from growing and it escalated into panic attacks and the overall feeling of daily anxiety.  Little by little, through therapy, reading, understanding anxiety/panic  and now the meditation, I think I'm headed in the right direction. 

 

I think this anxiety is lifting, and will eventually go, but it will not go away without work. I don't think it will magically lift when i'm out of the wave and into a new window. I don't think anxiety works that way.  It will keep with you until you control it yourself and remedy what's causing it.  In my case, health anxiety (worrying that every little symptom is a sign of something terrible), work (i've been under a LOT of pressure and stress with my job since December/January, right before i started getting Panic attacks/ Anxiety issues. 

I've also been on a downward spiral (maybe for years but the paxil numbed it) with catastrophic thinking, worrying about what others think of me, thinking people don't like me, not liking the way I look, not being satisfied with professional output, and feeling like I'm not living up to my expectations.

I've been de-stressing, and working on all those issues (understanding them makes a huge difference alone). I've reduced my workload, and taken a huge chunk of stress off my plate.  (I think work has been the biggest stressor by far).  I finally have taken the initiative with anxiety and working non-medicinally and seeing improvements.

 

I am hoping to keep making improvements so I don't have to contemplate the need for meds again.  Wish me luck.

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KarenB

Toulousse - what an amazing post to read.  You are doing so well in caring for yourself, and it's lovely to hear.  Isn't it amazing what these 'little' things like meditation can do?  And they are free, and have no bad side-effects! 

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Toulouse

Toulousse - what an amazing post to read.  You are doing so well in caring for yourself, and it's lovely to hear.  Isn't it amazing what these 'little' things like meditation can do?  And they are free, and have no bad side-effects! 

Thanks KarenB, and I truly had no idea how powerful the effects were until I saw for myself how quickly it calmed me and 'reset' my mind. Really, the other day it felt like a switch had been flipped.  Seeing the results definitely motivates me to keep doing it. I always wanted to try mediation, and it has been recommended before by therapists, but I procrastinated until my back was up against the wall. Now I wish I'd been doing this all my life. I always wanted to be more 'zen', and now I am on the road. 

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brassmonkey

They are skills that will last a lifetime and change things for the better.  I'm so glad that you're having this break through.

 

((((((((((((((((((HUGS)))))))))))))))))

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Toulouse

Sudden Setback -

 

I took Omega 3 the night before and yesterday was feeling panic coming on.  Last night I took magnesium and Omega three just a little while ago and sudden worsening of anxiety and panic.  I'm thinking I can't handle the Omega (and maybe the magnesium too). I was doing much better this week until I took these supplements.

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KarenB

They can cause issues for a few people - I'm guessing you started at low doses?  Did you start them close to each other, or leave a few weeks in between?  It may only be one that is causing you issues.  You could always try an epsom salts bath for a very gentle way to get magnesium. 

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Toulouse

Today and yesterday feeling so much better. I really think the Omega 3 kicked the anxiety up 10 notches.  I've found most supplements my p-doc has suggested have adverse effects.  The lavender pills that were supposed to calm me, for instance, made me very agitated and angry.  The Omega gets my anxiety going I think. (and gives me trouble sleeping I suspect too).

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Toulouse

They can cause issues for a few people - I'm guessing you started at low doses?  Did you start them close to each other, or leave a few weeks in between?  It may only be one that is causing you issues.  You could always try an epsom salts bath for a very gentle way to get magnesium. 

KarenB, I think the dosages are too high. And I'm pretty sure it was the Omega, not the magnesium (which I've used more often).  For now I am staying away from both to be safe and let my body settle down.  I remember a few months ago having a large salmon meal and having severe insomnia that night. I feel better the last two days since my last dosage of the Omega 3. (anxiety pretty much gone, or a 2 on scale of 10).

I have to try to remember that these anxiety episodes will pass and I will feel better soon. (easier said than done) When I'm in the thick of it, I think maybe I need a daily medication. Now that things have died down, that's no longer an option on my mind.

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Toulouse

Is there a list on this site of recommended p-docs and therapists?  Seems most p-docs who are reviewed online by patients have bad marks against them. Lots of 1 and 2 stars, maybe three stars if they're lucky. 

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KarenB

When I'm in the thick of it, I think maybe I need a daily medication. Now that things have died down, that's no longer an option on my mind.

Can you write this down for next time you're in a difficult patch? 

 

Good idea to let yourself settle before trying lower doses of anything. 

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Toulouse

I am highly considering the Gabapentin now. I've had an uptick in panic this week,  including these last few days.  I've been trying to handle things naturally but I think in my case, with the dizziness (my 1st and main symptom, followed or accompanied by panic) is so unpredictable, and out of the blue that I think it is happening more out of Paxil WD and not just your typical feeling anxious episodes.  (I even got dizzy after meditation this morning, which never happens).  My brain is just shooting off when it feels like shooting off it seems.    My doc has me down for 100mg 3x per day.  He says if I have a bad reaction I can just stop and the drug will be out of my system in 6 hours.  He agrees it doesn't work for everyone, but if it does, I'll be good.

The other P-Doc recommended Prozac, which I am weary of because it is an SSRI. Though the doctor says i wont have the same WD effects with it as I did with the Paxil when I inevitably come off.  (which I will attempt after things settle and I am better skilled with the therapy lessons).  Please, any thoughts or advice are welcome.

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KarenB

My first thought is that it seems a shame to return to medication after only a week of worsened symptoms.  I guess it depends which path you really want to end up on. 

 

Gabapentin does require 10% monthly tapering, so you'd want to be very sure before you took it.  The other thing to note is that once your CNS is destabilised, it becomes very hard to predict how you will react to another drug.  So if you are thinking these symptoms are a result of w/d, then that's even more reason to avoid trying to fix them with a drug. 

 

I know it's hard when you are feeling like things just aren't improving.

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Toulouse

My first thought is that it seems a shame to return to medication after only a week of worsened symptoms.  I guess it depends which path you really want to end up on. 

 

Gabapentin does require 10% monthly tapering, so you'd want to be very sure before you took it.  The other thing to note is that once your CNS is destabilised, it becomes very hard to predict how you will react to another drug.  So if you are thinking these symptoms are a result of w/d, then that's even more reason to avoid trying to fix them with a drug. 

 

I know it's hard when you are feeling like things just aren't improving.

The problem started in March, so it's been a few months now. It's been sporadic, and seemed to improve, and then last week ramped up again.  It happens when I'm with my young daughters in a restaurant, in the kitchen (and mom's not home), or trying to take them to get ice cream. It's become really scary that I will get dizzy, possibly faint, go full blown panic attack while I'm out and about with two small girls in tow.  If I were single, and dealing with this on my own, I could see the point in toughing it out and staying strong.

 

I have a new therapist who swears she will fix me with mindfulness, but that starts five days from now.   She doesn't even want me on the xanax, and says she will get me off of it. 

The problem I am also having is that what if this is not just anxiety she can help me overcome with therapy?  What if this darned Paxil messed my brain up so bad, that it's really rattled and needs a medication to simmer it down?  My plan would be to try to get my head right using the therapy techniques and wean off the Gabapentin. But you're right, and it's scary, what if I have a bad reaction to the Gaba? But what if it helps?  Right now I feel that I'm at the brink of losing my mind. 

Edit- also, I am taking a xanax when things get dizzy and I'm about to go panic. I am afraid of taking more xanax. (it seems 2-3 times a week now).  So I am thinking the Gabapentin is better than a benzo.

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Jlynn

I have been struggling with severe dizziness for about three months now and one of the ways I can describe it is it feels like either my brain is shrinking and expanding in my skull or sloshing around inside there. Mine is, unfortunately constant right now but I know it is withdrawal related so I bet yours is too. Hopefully a sign of your brain healing!

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Toulouse

I'm a good case study of someone torn between hope and despair.  Each feeling battling each other for the upper hand every day. 

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Toulouse

My first thought is that it seems a shame to return to medication after only a week of worsened symptoms.  I guess it depends which path you really want to end up on. 

 

Gabapentin does require 10% monthly tapering, so you'd want to be very sure before you took it.  The other thing to note is that once your CNS is destabilised, it becomes very hard to predict how you will react to another drug.  So if you are thinking these symptoms are a result of w/d, then that's even more reason to avoid trying to fix them with a drug. 

 

I know it's hard when you are feeling like things just aren't improving.

KarenB, thanks for your support. I held steady, and feel stronger now.  Things have slowly improved over the last couple of days. Today was a good day. Hopefully more ahead.

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KarenB

I'm glad Toulousse, and I really hope you keep getting some good days.  Don't lose heart if you get some more difficult ones though - the road can be windy.  I think your Central Nervous System will heal better with more time without drugs.  Even though drugs can sometimes give initial relief, they usually cause further damage in the long-run. 

 

Recommended doctors etc http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/988-recommended-doctors-therapists-or-clinics/

 

I'll be thinking of you over the next wee while,

Karen

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Toulouse

I'm glad Toulousse, and I really hope you keep getting some good days.  Don't lose heart if you get some more difficult ones though - the road can be windy.  I think your Central Nervous System will heal better with more time without drugs.  Even though drugs can sometimes give initial relief, they usually cause further damage in the long-run. 

 

Recommended doctors etc http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/988-recommended-doctors-therapists-or-clinics/

 

I'll be thinking of you over the next wee while,

Karen

So yesterday I was feeling a bit better and decided to try magnesium again (last week I had a spike in anxiety after I took Omega 3 and Magnesium). I haven't taken either since. This morning, after taking 100mg of Magnesium Citrate, I woke up sweaty, and with anxiety / WD symptoms. Tics, twitches, general feeling of unwellness. Today I am not feeling good at all.  I am thinking I can't handle this type of Magnesium.  I was also reading that Magnesium detoxes the brain, maybe some of the stuff it is detoxing is now going out through my body (whatever I didn't sweat out), thus making me feel like a mess today?

I'm done experimenting with supplements.

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Altostrata

I have no idea what "detoxing the brain" means.

 

You may do better with starting with less mag citrate. I think I started with 25mg.

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Toulouse

I've had a weak feeling in my body and slight nausea that lasted all day and even now at midnight. No dizziness. Is this a shifting symptom? I hope I wake up better.

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Vonnegutjunky

Hey Toulouse - read your story - I have been on Paxil for 10 years now - at around 11 mg now - after I reinstated my Paxil I also had an adverse reaction to it after being on it for 9'years - also magnesium does increase my anxiety too however extra strong chamomile tea really reduces my anxiety (I use 3 tea bags, steep it for 15-30 min then down it) not saying you should do this-'but maybe try it the traditional one bag way and see if it helps your anxiety? Also I am very itchy too, but I don't know it that's the Paxil or menopause, I suspected Paxil because I wasn't itchy before the reinstatement -

 

I hope you can continue to feel better and I think you are very brave after being on a med for so long and now being free if it -

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Toulouse

I have no idea what "detoxing the brain" means.

 

You may do better with starting with less mag citrate. I think I started with 25mg.

I read today in a couple places that Magnesium can rev up symptoms during Benzo WD.  I have a feeling now that I am experiencing Benzo WD myself, due to my sporadic, but increased usage of Xanax in the last 2 weeks.  The week before I also had a bad spike in symptoms the day after taking Magnesium.  I am off it, and today feeling much better than yesterday.  (Yesterday I felt I was repeating the first week of my Paxil WD which made me think this is not the Paxil WD, this is new, it's the Benzo) - and now I know the Magnesium has caused WD to flare up some in Benzo WD, it all adds up. 

In any event, I feel I now have a good game plan (to stop taking the Xanax / wean off what I should).  And stop taking any supplements. They've all revved me up.  I was doing so good until recently.

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Toulouse

Hey Toulouse - read your story - I have been on Paxil for 10 years now - at around 11 mg now - after I reinstated my Paxil I also had an adverse reaction to it after being on it for 9'years - also magnesium does increase my anxiety too however extra strong chamomile tea really reduces my anxiety (I use 3 tea bags, steep it for 15-30 min then down it) not saying you should do this-'but maybe try it the traditional one bag way and see if it helps your anxiety? Also I am very itchy too, but I don't know it that's the Paxil or menopause, I suspected Paxil because I wasn't itchy before the reinstatement -

 

I hope you can continue to feel better and I think you are very brave after being on a med for so long and now being free if it -

Thanks Vonne. In the same article I read about Magnesium revving up Benzo withdrawal it also listed Chamomile as another one to steer clear of. I still get a little itchy but my hives are gone thanks to a gluten free diet.  Good luck and I hope you start to feel better too. 

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Toulouse

Pasting this experience from the benzo board as now I think it's more relevant to a Paxil WD wave.

 

I'm starting to think that this is a Paxil Withdrawal wave and not a Benzo WD. I took a half .25 a couple days ago and felt so sick, like I was having heroin WD. I skipped a dose the next day and felt fine. Yesterday I also felt fine, but in the late afternoon I got a nasty brain zap and decided not to cold turkey but to taper, so I took my tapered pill. Then I started feeling really bad again like the heroin WD feelings. It subsided a bit after a therapy session, but since I was still suffering, I decided now was not the right time to taper, so I took the tiny piece I cut earlier (giving me a total of half a .25mg). Then I felt even WORSE, my eyes were darting all over the place, felt like I was having some kind of convulsive activity in my brain, I was shaking and scared for my life.

I took a short drive to the ER, where after an hour things settled. They did blood, EKG and also. CT scan of my brain. Al, turned out normal.

Of course no one there had any answers as to what caused this reaction, but I know I didn't feel like that until I took the Xanax.

 

Edit: I've been taking half a .25 Xanax as needed and started feeling worse the last week. My doctors don't think it's Bezo WD since the dose is so low and the frequency of use. And I got MUCH worse the last two times I took a Xanax.

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Toulouse

Just wanted to note that last week i was getting really really bad effects after taking even a teeny bit of Xanax.  I think my body is rejecting it out-right.  It was making me go crazy (not even half of a .25 was my full dosing). I felt like a crack addict, my eyes were darting everywhere.  So since 4 days ago, no benzos or anything in my system.  Feeling better gradually each day.  Don't know what to make of my xanax experience except that I'll never take another one. 

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Toulouse

So it's been a week since my last xanax.  I feel my brain is still recovering, I'm not 100% yet.  I definitely believe I somehow had a bad reaction even with the sporadic use of the benzo. It seemed that I got worse without realizing the pill was making me worse, not better.  SO 7 days later, I'm hoping I keep recovering.  It's hard to describe the feelings in my head, but I know they're related to the benzo.  I didn't know what else to do for the panic attacks, looking back. I thought I'd be okay just taking a pill 'as needed.'   I hope that since I wasn't on long term, or for high dosages, that I heal quickly.  

 

I'll never take another benzo, I know that for sure.

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Toulouse

The more I go through this, the more I think it's still the Paxil withdrawal symptoms and that this could be a wave I'm going through. The anxiety, which seems to have shifted from panic attacks, to just daily bouts of anxiety to varying degrees of intensity. (also with a mix of bad reaction to taking the occasional benzo).  I'm just worried I'll not get better (feel back to normal).  My head just doesn't feel right at times. Sometimes I feel like I have the urge to roll my eyes.  It's hard to explain. I don't know if this is anxiety or not.

 

I do get small windows, where I feel pretty close to 100% for the better part of a day or two. 

 

I've been doing meditation for about a month, and starting to think it's not helping, but maybe even activating my brain in ways that are not good for me.  I felt a bit less brain-zappy yesterday not meditating.  I will go for a few days without it and see if there's a bigger difference. 

Any input is appreciated. I feel like no one is seeing my posts and it can get discouraging. 

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scallywag

Toulouse, I am following your posts and reading them. I've had little to say in response.

 

A few things:

  • Small windows are good news. Celebrate your next one!
  • People recover from taking Paxil and benzos, and the combination.  Either side-effects decrease as they taper, or withdrawal symptoms diminish with time after the last dose. It's tough to hold on to that information in the face of little improvement. 
    You will get better.
  • Meditation is something that takes time. Some people notice differences within weeks; others notice improvements after months or years.  It too is something that requires patience.
  • I have a suspicion that your brain-zaps have nothing to do with meditating. I could be wrong. If you find a connection between them, then you have good information about something to avoid while you have withdrawal symptoms. 

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Toulouse

Thanks to everyone here, I appreciate your words of encouragement and support.  Through a few tough periods, I contemplated the need to get back on a med and I found strength here to stick to the road of recovery I'm already on (hard as it may be).  I feel it in my heart that when I get through this wave of anxiety and head symptoms, that I'll be stronger and closer to health.  In hindsight, taking the occasional xanax was a horrible idea.  Even at 2 times a week, or 3, it added up and I think gave me either benzo WD symptoms or aggravated my Paxil WD symptoms.  I am almost 2 weeks from popping that last (what I thought was a tiny 1/2 of a pill) and hopefully will recover from the effects that stirred up soon.

I think the anxiety is related to the Paxil WD and hopefully my body and mind will settle down soon so I can get through this.  Thanks again to the kind folks who respond to me.

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grandmaD

How are you doing now?  My doctor wanted me to switch from Paxil to Prozac.

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Toulouse

It's been a while since I posted here and have been meaning to. It's been over a year now since my last paxil pill. A lot of symptoms have come and gone over the year and I'm still dealing with issues I think are related to WD. I've been having anxiety issues since March of this year when I started getting panic attacks.  Luckily those went away after I started therapy and practicing mindfulness and meditation (almost) daily.  Though I am still having anxiety issues, mainly when I leave my house, doing something simple like going for a walk with my dog, I start feeling sort of lightheaded, or detached from my body. It feels like sea legs, or like I've had a few drinks, whereas my balance seems slightly off.  I think it is anxiety because generally at home I don't feel this effect (or to a much lesser degree).  That and interrupted sleep is my other chief complaint. I wake up an hour after dozing off, and then again 4 hours later. Sometimes I can fall back asleep for another couple hours, other times, I'm just up.

 

I was taking Benadryl for about a month, to help with the sleep, at the recommendation of my GP. But I found that made my lightheadedness much worse the next day. I've seen some improvement since stopping the Benadryl last week.

I had an integrative dr run tests to check me for Lyme or mold illness, and after him thinking it may be mold issues (I had a test called a c4a test that was elevated that he thought pointed to mold), I'm pretty sure I didn't have mold issues since the other tests pertaining to mold came up normal. C4a measures inflammation and a number of things can cause inflammation,as we know, including anxiety.  I also have either histamine intolerance or chronic hives (which my diet has resolved much of).  These histamine issues can also cause the C4a test to be elevated.  And I'm blaming that on the Paxil WD, since I didn't have histamine issues prior.  Anyway, yeah - the WD has messed my body up for sure. 

 

The good news is I feel more like myself again, mentally. I'm not anguished or angry, short tempered, like I was when I was on Paxil and in the first few months coming off.  I'm exercising lightly again after a year off. I lost 25lbs due to diet and cutting caffeine and alcohol. (and doing an anti-inflammatory diet). I feel cognitively, I'm not as forgetful, and that I'm improving a bit in that area. 

 

The anxiety is a real butt kicker, and at times I wish there was a safe pill I can take to make me feel normal again.  I hope in time that it fades and I can regain the ability to do all the things I used to do, like travel, go out to parties and be around people and large spaces, or concerts (all of which I enjoy but cannot do at this time due to the anxiety ramping up full effect). My GP recommended I try a beta blocker since he knows I don't want to touch another psychotropic drug. I am weary of this since my anxiety isn't triggered by an increased heart rate, I think it would be useless and I'd be anxious about even trying it.

 

So for anyone reading, this is what it's like for a guy coming off Paxil after 14 years, about a year after quitting.  I'm functional, but in some ways not much as the anxiety is still a major issue. 

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Toulouse

So another update, and it seems more positive.  My anxiety has finally lifted. It's been going away little by little. I am feeling much more like my old self these days. It's been a good 3-4 weeks since I felt any real anxiety.   Not only did the anxiety lift, but so too did my insomnia, which I suffered with most of this year.  I've been able to get good, unbroken sleep for the last few weeks (with a hiccup here or there, but mostly I am happy to have my sleep back). Prior to that, my sleep was slowly getting better over the course of the last 2 months.  Seems to have gone hand in hand with my anxiety getting better, so maybe the two were related.

The dizziness / unbalanced feeling I had for a few months finally went away about a month ago. I'm very happy, needless to say. 

I did start to get a return of muscle twitches and muscle cramping.  Funny how the mental symptoms go away, and are immediately replaced by physical ones. For about three weeks I was dealing with this phenomenon but those things gradually improved and now almost unnoticeable. 

 

So right now, I'm feeling pretty good.  Knock on wood that I continue to feel better.

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Vigor

Great updates Toulouse. I am happy to hear the anxiety is dying down - that has to be a huge relief. I think the exercising and changes in diet are going to increase the healing as well. I have also cut out caffeine and pretty much all sugar - aside from the occasional glass of orange juice. 

 

Keep treating yourself gently and you will get better and better. If you ever want to shoot me a pm please do - I am not as active on here lately - but I always answer pm's.

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Toulouse

Thank you, Vigor, you have been very kind.

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