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  1. hello there. i registered here to search for help for symptoms that are bothering me and that came after 15mg of olanzapine for 7-8 months. generally, i've been taking olanzapine for like a year or something, i started with a 5mg dose at 2015, after some time they upped it to 10mg, and then i've had a full-blown psychotic episode and i began taking 15mg. i was hospitalized and there they gave me high doses of 5 different medications. when i came back home, things just weren't the same. okay, that didn't bother me, i was still thinking that it's only a phase. then, month after month, i realized that that "phase" is actually... something deeper, different. so i searched about it on the internet; and saw that "antipsychotics destroy brain". i stopped taking olanzapine cold turkey, which was DEFINITELY a very bad idea. at first, i was very depressed, i don't know if it lasted long enough to be called a major depressive episode, but it was severe. i was full of guilt... but, the worst of it all - i couldn't feel a damn thing. i couldn't enjoy a damn thing. i was on a winter holiday and i'm a skier, but i didn't feel anything while i was skiing. yes, i could leave a bed, but i was doing it only because i felt like the world around me would judge me and criticize me if i didn't. people are supposed to feel happy, free when they're skiing, even scared. i didn't feel anything. i realized that i stopped caring about everything, so, you could tell me a good thing - i would feel nothing (sometimes it was even hard to fake a smile, because it was even hard to move my face). you could tell me a bad thing - i would feel nothing. i had a fear of being criticized, but now, that faded too. but that's okay, to be honest, it's much easier to live without the guilt and at the same time energy to do anything about the guilt you're feeling. and i wanted to feel things. i wanted, and not only wanted, but i still want to feel things. deeply. so i started faking reactions to things... i was like - okay, imagine you're a normal person who didn't go through this kind of situation. how would a normal, rational person react ? and then i reacted that way. i still do that tho, it became some kind of a habit. my concentration is very bad. my will is very bad. i have anhedonia and apathy. my cognitive abilities are awful. but i just can't seem to care. and you know, sometimes you feel bad for not caring about things. i don't even feel bad about not caring, i just don't feel a damn thing. i had a period where i was doing better and was motivated to recover. i still want to recover, but i feel like nothing makes sense and i don't know how to get out of this nonsense. if any of you found sense, can you please tell me how ? i know it's an extremely hard and long process, but i somehow believe that it's possible. WHY ? i went to the neurologist and spent a lot of money on some neurological tests, for example magnetic resonance imaging of the brain. guess what ? IT'S NOT THE BRAIN. IT'S PSYCHE. mind. mental. !!!!!!!!!!!! at least for me. tests can't and don't lie. i believe in those tests, even tho i have all the symptoms of brain damage, i surely don't have a brain damage because i have an evidence. the tests have shown that my brain is perfectly healthy, despite my mental disorder. i don't know about you, but i can recommend checking yourself just to be sure, it can ease the pain, even if you do have a brain damage or if you don't. if you don't have enough money, there are local hospitals where you can check yourself. so that's why i accepted medications and i'm currently using 10mg of escitalopram and i started few days ago aripiprazole 5mg. i'm willing to try things. i just feel so brain-foggy and that's stopping me from doing anything. and now, i'll go and search the forum for some advices from you guys, i will write here again. thanks if you read this. ...and yeah, sorry for a really bad post, i'm not so well right now. i'm glad that i became the part of this community, the feeling that i'm not alone makes me feel better. and it's hell.
  2. I’ll start with the Success Part, before I unfold the story. I am a classic poster-girl story of “Why You Should Taper.” I thought I couldn’t come off the drugs, I was convinced I was a “biological bipolar” – but by using SA’s conservative 10% or less tapering system, I hardly had any withdrawals this time, and could control my symptoms and make space for my stressors by holding. I’m a living example of why anyone should taper and hold in order to come off. And there is no such thing as too slow. I attribute my success to the SA taper, and a number of coping strategies. I got support. I had a psychologist, who was wholly supportive. I bullied my psychiatrist to do the taper “my way” instead of her way. She actually had helpful suggestions for lifestyle changes, too. I got an acupuncturist, a massage therapist, and later added an orthomolecular doctor and osteopath. I told my husband and all of my friends. I prepared for my taper. I owe so much to those who walked this path before me: AltoStrata, GiaK, Rhiannon, Petunia, BrassMonkey, MammaP, Bubble, Dalsaan, MeiMeiQuest, CymbaltaWithdrawal5600, and many more. And – to go further afield – Robert Whitaker for his excellent book, “Anatomy of an Epidemic,” and Will Hall for the “Icarus Harm Reduction Guide to Coming off Psychiatric Drugs” for showing me that it could be done, and how. And for helping me to accept that I may be different – but that different is not a medical condition. I got curious and read everything I could on the web, and learned a lot. I learned the most from SA and Beyondmeds.com. Most of what I have written as a moderator is not original – but is something I learned here or in my researches, that I applied to my life, and which I found effective. My psychiatrist resisted my desire to taper, but she told me she would support me if I put some things in place. We established a contract with my hubby, so that if I went off the rails, he would be able to get help for me. She would not taper me unless I made a commitment to take sun walks for light therapy and mood stabilization. I also eat meat and fish for mood stabilization & brain nutrition. I took up a tai chi practice and found a yoga studio which supports me. My karate mates have always supported me, even when I was too sick to participate. Meanwhile, my psychologist went to hear Robert Whitaker talk, and she came to realize how many of the cases she saw were people suffering from drug effects. She wrote glowing letters of progress to my psychiatrist, who really had no choice but to say, “Okay, I guess she’s doing well.” Nuts and bolts, I took a year to come off a low dose of reboxetine (it’s the least effective SNRI in the world, actually less effective than placebo), and another 2.5 years to come off the lithium. As I was suffering lithium toxicity (diabetes insipidus), I alternated some of my SNRI tapers with lithium tapers. I tapered 10% per month, or if while dry cutting, I had to drop by 15% (my largest taper), I would hold an extra month. I held an extra month if I had any upsets or stressors – funerals, travel, illness, bad news, etc. I held 3 months after the SNRI was gone before tapering the lithium again. My tapers were relatively symptom free. Most of my symptoms were from worry that I really was crazy – and there were mood spikes until I learned to manage my mood on my own. That’s what I should’ve learned when I got diagnosed 20 years ago. Nobody tells you that you can manage your own mood. In fact, nobody tells you that you are the only person who can manage your own mood! I greatly reduced gluten, especially wheat, and dairy. I cut the coffee way back. I start my day with protein (good for adrenals), and finish my day with carbs. I take magnesium baths whenever I feel "crunchy" and after every exercise session. I have raw food smoothies 2x a week. I take a number of supplements to manage my health without drugs. Most important: magnesium and fish oil. For mood & energy: NAC. I couldn’t take up meditation exactly, because of cult abuse in my past, but I can do tai chi and yoga, and I love breathing and mindfulness meditation. I found a great benefit to shamanic practice, because it is not worship of any foreign deity or guru, and my own inner experience is the guide to what I am learning and how I am growing. I took up creativity practices, like music, coloring, drawing, painting and writing. I took up correspondence with special people here on SA and in other places, so I could learn and grow by sharing with others. I was well supported by all of these people and practices, and I feel I have a web which will catch me if I ever fall down again. Sometimes now, I miss a practice. I might not get all the sun walks in, or I might eat wheat or dairy. But now I am well enough – I am buoyant enough – and I have enough practices – that missing one or two Jenga blocks doesn’t make the tower fall. (it also helps to not have a tall tower - our society asks too much of us, I believe, it's inhuman sometimes) When I come back, I’ll give more of my history – how crazy, abused, wild, suicidal, depressed, with unrelenting fatigue, and how I was convinced I was “bipolar.” Now, I have no diagnosis (I leave it on the medical charts so that I can refuse drugs – “No doctor, you can’t give me that, I’m bipolar!”), my body is broken from surgeries, abuse, accidents and pain. My major lasting drug effect is metabolic and autonomic dysfunction but those are compounded by surgeries, too. I still have severe delayed cycle sleep (but I always did: it is my difference), and unrelenting tinnitus. But my mental and emotional life is healthier than I’ve ever been before. I have compassion for my fellow human in a way I couldn’t before. I have passion for what I am doing, and a sense of purpose. I am driven to create, to share, to learn, to grow. I love meeting with people and listening, and feel so incredibly fortunate. I’m older and wiser than ever before, and I still have a lot of healing to do. But I am awake, alive, and grateful to be so.
  3. I used to take two kind of antidepressants for 2 weeks. Prozac (Fluoxetine 10) and Clomopramine 10. I stopped taking them as soon as I found out they have negative sexual side-effects. It's been 60 days I haven't taken them but my libido is not like it was in the first place before taking them. I am too worried about it. I have been suicidal over it. I have read that it can be a permanent effect which drives me crazy when I think about it. I talked to my doctor but he rudely refused to give me a straight answer since I stopped taking the pills he prescribed me. I talked to other doctors too. They said my libido should have returned in 3 weeks but I can't see any improvements since then. So, my question is, if you have any experience of taking such pills, tell me how long you took them and if your libido returned after stopping taking them or not, if so, how long did you wait till your libido improved completely. Am I suffering from PSSD (Post-SRRI Sexeual Dysfunction)? if so, won't I ever get my libido back? Is there any treatment for this?
  4. G'day folks! I've only just arrived, I've read a few threads here, but not had much to say. I've been lucky, really. Because I'm not heavily medicated and never have been - I've fought that every step of the way. Likewise, I've never been hospitalized or jailed - I've fought against that every step of the way. It started in my 20's when Doc's decided that my depression would clear up better with a bit of Prozac. Just to help me "over the bump" until I had frank hallucinations, watching Bigfoot amble about in traffic and around town. Time to get off the Prozac. So I go off, and persist in an empty marriage with unfulfilling work. So the Doc's (I can't even remember which Doctors did this, it's strange because I was in a new town in Indiana, and you'd think I"d remember going to the clinic or Doc's office, but oh well) prescribe Zooloft. I get jittery and palpitations, so I go off again. Over the next 10 years, from about 25-35, I'm prescribed various antidepressants, and most of them fail. The only one to stick was Wellbutrin, but I get ahead of myself. So after these 3 month each infusions of brain chemical bursts, for 10 years, is it any wonder that when the marriage fell apart in 1995 I went full blown, psychotic mad manic? At the time I described it as if a weight that I had held on my shoulders for years and years was suddenly pulled away and I came unstuck. I was talking to bees (and making contracts with them), stalking potential lovers, stripping my clothes off in the woods so as to be "invisible," paranoid that the lights in my windows were UFO's. This was not treated by medical doctors as mania. Nor was it treated as psychosis at any time: because here is the key - even though I was mad and manic, I was LUCID. I could tell you, "This just isn't right, I need to get help." Ergo, I escaped hospitalization, and the overdrugging that happens there. This was treated with yet another antidepressant (Wellbutrin?) and antianxiety meds (likely Xanax). I met a yoga guru at about that time, and he "cleaned me up" and stabilized me but that was another abusive relationship - because now I "owed him" my life. I was on Wellbutrin for 3 years after this, but the depression just kept sinking deeper and deeper as I had sold my soul to this yogi. When I told the yogi, finally, to go away, that I would be happier without him telling me "who to be," and "how to be it," I got marginally better. At the same time I met my birthfamily, Birth Mom, birth aunt, a sister and 2 brothers. When I got the family history and heard about great-grandma hanging in the shower, and grandma finding her, and the resultant paranoia about menopause this caused....when I heard about the uncles who were chameleons and bigamists....I thought, well. Maybe I am "manic depressive" or "bipolar." So again: with lucidity and clarity I presented myself to the hospital charity system for treatment. to be continued.......
  5. Hello all Forgive me if this should have been an intro topic, I couldn't decide whether to post it on the intro forum or here. This mainly focusses on my PSSD, one of the last parts of my withdrawal to abate, but I will eventually post a broader story that covers all aspects of my withdrawal success. This was originally posted by me on PP about a week ago - I had just joined, and then it was shut down. TheAutomator's PSSD Recovery Story: Hello all. I’ve always been a lurker on various forums, but never one to make a post. However, I feel that I owe it to everyone going through the same things I have been, to share this story. I took Lexapro, followed by Zoloft, for about 8 months in total, back in 2011-2012. I was 24 at the time, and had always had a raging sex drive. Not to give you waaaay too much information here, but I easily masturbated 3 times a day, every day! The most subtle of sexual thoughts could put me into heat. My sex drive was a strong part of my identity, and I never imagined anything could temper it. Well, as the familiar story goes, within a few weeks of starting on SSRI’s (for long standing issues with depression and a new job in a horribly toxic environment), My sex drive began to fade (amongst a whole host of other side effects). Physical sensation was significantly diminished, and the ability to have or maintain an erection was marginal at best. It was entirely impossible without direct physical stimulation as well. Orgasms felt like almost nothing. In my mind I was still sexual, but my body no longer functioned. It was hell. After 8 months, I quit over a 1-2 week period. Lexapro had crapped out, and Zoloft was now doing the same. The side effects (including the one in question here) were too much. I had tried various other ADs before starting these two meds to no avail, or with serious side effects. I decided I was finished with meds. The next 6 months were emotional hell. I slipped for a week and started Zoloft again, but quit promptly. Months passed and my sex drive wasn’t coming back. After reading about PSSD online, I became terrified, and angry at myself for ever trying these horrible pills. I had flatlined – maybe a 10% improvement since a quit and that was it. A year had passed. I tried every supplement under the sun (as I’m sure many other desperate sufferers have) and soon learned that I was sensitive to many of them, often feeling worse in a variety of ways. I developed a new rule – if it’s not in normal food, I won’t take it. Fish oils yes, Rhodiola no, for example. I tried licorice root once and had the worst two weeks of anxiety and insomnia in my life. I wanted to die. In the end, no supplement really did much for me, with the exception of inositol. Inositol, while doing nothing for physical sensation or arousal, restored my orgasm to pre SSRI levels in a matter of days. It also made me drop the 25 pounds I had gained *after* quitting ADs (with absolutely no change in diet). I had been unable to stop the gain, no matter what I tried, how much I controlled my calories. I had given up. My metabolism was screwed up – another lovely gift care of SSRIs. Inositol has been a god-send here. In the second year I started to experience the “windows” that people talk about. It first started over a weekend. I felt, overnight, almost 75% back to normal in every way (sensation, drive, erections). It was amazing. The sceptic in me feared it wouldn’t last, and he was right. 2 days later I was back to my old new self. Over the year, I had 2 or 3 more such events, lasting up to a week. I felt hope… I wasn’t broken, just malfunctioning. Toward the end of that second year, which is about 3 months ago, I had what I thought was another window. But this time it didn’t really go away. Instead, the entire pattern started to invert. I was mostly functional, but had windows where I’d lose my sex drive for a few days! I was again skeptical the first month, but it has persisted, for 3 months now, and all the while getting better! I quit all my supplements (just to try and figure out if anything was helping and anything wasn’t) and I felt even better! It seems as if some were making matters worse, not better! I now consistently wake up with morning erections every night (I forgot how annoying those can be!), and can become physically aroused without direct contact (just thinking, or with visual stimulation). Women and sex drive me crazy again. I’m not 100% of my old self yet, maybe 80 or 90, but after what I’ve been through, this is heaven. I’ll be sure to return in a few more months for another update. I hope anyone who reads this will keep hanging onto hope. It was the other success stories that I read online that kept me sane. My PSSD lasted longer than I took the freaking SSRIs for, but it eventually started to remit. I think yours will too! It wasn’t a gradual recovery, but a lot of flat-lining, false starts, and eventual rapid change. It’s been like trying to start a car that doesn’t want to crank. A lot of nothing, the occasion where you alllllmost get there, but then the engine goes off again, and then finally that one good turn of the key that gets you over the hill! Keep cranking
  6. Hello everybody, i hope everyone is well. i would like to thank altostrata for this website and i also want to thank whoever volunteers, so thank you. anyways, i am almost fully recovered from the harmful effects of risperidone. I did not think i would recover, all in all it took 14 months to feel "normal." Here's a link of my first topic if you want more of a perspective on how i used to be: http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/12502-risperdalhater-my-risperdal-story-and-how-it-has-affected-my-life/#entry234527 I took risperidone for about 3 weeks, i recall starting off with 2mg doses daily then after a few days i complained about drowsiness and feeling weird so they lowered the dose to 1mg then after a few more days they worked their way up to 3mg daily and a long with that i received a long acting 7mg injection which can be taken once a month (as i recall). towards the end of me taking the drug i started feeling very very drowsy and i recall saying in a pathetic weak voice "I don't like this, i want to stop", so i dumped the risperidone in the trash and never took it again, i stopped cold turkey. the next week and a half or so i went through the worst experience of my life until that point. i had: - constant shakiness - could barely sleep - extreme sadness - seemingly a complete absence of happiness - serious muscular fatigue and weak blood flow these all disappeared after that week and a half except for the muscular fatigue and weak blood flow. the sadness/blah feeling got better at an extremely slow pace. libido died of course (pretty common with risperidone). thankfully i did not grow breasts or lactate like some of the victims of risperidone, perhaps they took it longer or took a higher dose. month 1-10 i was a fatigued wreck, people asked me why i looked so sad, i had to force my smiles etc. month 8-10 or so (as i recall) got slightly better but nothing big, just slight improvements. month 10.5 = more slight improvements in energy. nothing to be excited about though. month 11-14 is when the healing starting picking up its pace. i was hopeless at one point. i don't care if you've been on the drug for years, i still sincerely believe you will get better, just get off of the drug. taking this drug is not how a human being is supposed to live. so i started supplementing with niacin and my blood flow was better, i know because when i was at the gym i could actually get a muscle pump again, it wasn't that great but it was there. when someone is lifting weights, their blood is supposed to flow and the muscle that you're using will get filled with blood and become more vascular, i did not have this except for before i took risperidone. i've been lifting weights for 5 years, gym rat level; that being said, i could tell something was wrong when my blood flow became weak. don't worry about libido, it will return as long as you avoid those crap drugs. i personally put any drug in the category of "crap" whether it is prescribed by a doctor or not. i heard that when you show low libido, zinc can be a link.... yes i did try to make that rhyme. get your blood tested, i have heard that medicines can deplete certain vitamins/minerals. again, please get your blood tested. recovery won't happen overnight no matter how many methods you use to help yourself. supplements that helped me: Natural vitality calm magnesium: it's a powdered form of magnesium and has worked better than any magnesium i've tried. Melatonin __________________________________________________________________________________________________________ if you need help or advice, feel free to message me. at this point it has been 14 months and i am recovered, everything is back to normal. check your blood, supplement with what you need, eat good food, exercise. thanks for reading everyone.
  7. After taking the antipsychotic Invega for about two years, I finally decided at the beginning of last year that I wanted to stop taking the medecin. Looking for other people's experiences on the internet, I was guided to this website for which I am very grateful. With the loving support of my psychiatrist, I switched from Invega 3 mg to Risperdal liquid 2 ml. I also decided not to take any supplements because I didn't want any new chemical substances to interfere with the process of tapering off. I tapered off by 10% every two weeks and observed my body's reaction. Overall this was a steady pace my body was happy to handle. About two months ago, I finally managed to stop taking Risperdal. Looking back, it is very important to be mentally strong to taper off because you may not always get the necessary support and to listen to your body and let it guide you through the process and not wanting to rush things. But this, of course, you already all know and therefore I would like to thank you all for creating this website and putting your heart into it. Then there was still the sleeping pill Lorametazepam I was taking, varying from 1 mg to 2 mg. I had already tried several herbal sleeping aids but without any result. I was talking about this to a lady shaman and she told me that I should take the tincture and not the pills because they are also full of chemical substances. She said that my power plant was Lavender and since a few weeks now I take two teaspoons of Lavender tincture in a glass of water and I haven't touched the benzo since. I
  8. Hello, everyone. I'm new here, but was a long-time reader over at Paxil Progress before it shut down. I actually thought a couple weeks ago how far I'd come and thought, "I should post a success story!" because I hadn't felt PAWS symptoms in an entire year by that point. Well. Today and yesterday, I've hit a rough spot. Let me start with that necessary evil, backstory. In late 2011 I was prescribed Abilify for the off-label treatment of trichotillomania, or compulsive hair-pulling. I did not have depression, anxiety, or any psychiatric disorder; my doctor prescribed this solely for the pulling. When I decided it wasn't working, my doctor told me I could just stop. No taper - cold-turkey. So I did. A week after stopping, I experienced the scariest few days of my life. I was sobbing on the floor of my dorm bathroom, having panic attacks in the middle of class - when I managed to make it to class, that is - and felt eerily detached from myself, like I was living a dream and going through the motions, but couldn't feel anything...and yet was constantly about to fall to pieces in a hysterical mass of tears and panic. Then, about four days later, it ended. Boom, just like that - I was at work one evening, and suddenly felt like myself again. I had no idea that this was my brain's first reaction to quitting the Abilify, and that many more were to come. I experienced this again, in varying intensity (but always very intense and life-disrupting) several times over the next months. When I became pregnant with my first child, I felt myself "stick at a baseline" below my normal, as though my brain delayed healing because it knew I needed to focus on the pregnancy more. But I wasn't normal, or myself, or happy. I was ...some other person entirely, the whole 9 months. Then, as soon as I gave birth, the PAWS returned with a vengeance. A year later, I began a regimen of Amino Fuel, l-glutamine, and magnesium. I immediately saw marked improvement: my windows became longer, and I felt more and more like myself during them; the waves grew shorter and less intense. By 2014, I had two or three days of feeling bummed out every 7 weeks or so, and felt like me most of the time now, even in my waves. My improvements were so good that by summer of that year, I could even feel safe drinking coffee again, enjoying wine, etc., which I hadn't been able to do without triggering waves until then. In spring 2015, I became pregnant again. I had a couple days of feeling bummed out as my hormones leveled out, but no PAWS symptoms for the entire pregnancy. I felt like me. I was happy, ecstatic even, to have another child (whereas the first time, I was so depressed it tainted the entire experience). Upon giving birth, I did have a few days of severe baby blues, including a panic attack - I think it was the combination of epidural drugs and hormonal crash with perhaps a still slightly sensitive nervous system? I had my placenta encapsulated, so I took that and magnesium for a few weeks; within four days, I felt 99% better, then back to myself a week or so postpartum. Two nights ago, I chainsmoked a ton of cigarettes (and I haven't smoked cigarettes in over a year, just vaping low nicotine on an ecig) and drank a good amount of hard liquor (which I also haven't done in over a year). The next morning, I woke up feeling like my early days of PAWS: pounding heart, sweat, too much adrenaline/panic, the world is falling apart, etc. I calmed down after thirty minutes or less, but since then I've felt like I'm in a wave again - bummed out, random crying, lack of appetite, and more than anything this...relentless panic that I've done damage to my brain again, ruined my progress...or - the BIG worry, and hopefully the most ridiculous? Please weigh in - that I was never better at all. That because of my 2nd pregnancy, I just delayed symptoms and now my PAWS is back to stay. I realize logically that doesn't make much sense, because I have gotten immensely better over the years, hence this pregnancy was so much better than my first. Anyway. I realize *technically* I haven't been symptom-free for a year, since I had a panic attack (or perhaps a combo of a wave and postpartum crash or baby blues) this past February. But still, that didn't feel much like a wave the way this does. And it's been a while since I've had one like this - since 2014, most of my waves were "morning-only" where for a couple days I'd have symptoms in the morning, and they'd end very suddenly by noon. This one's been going on all day for the last two days, ever since the cigarettes and hard liquor I had at a wedding. I'm sorry for such a long post. My brain is going a mile a minute with worry. I guess I want reassurance that I won't be this way forever...that my progress isn't all gone because of one stupid night of excess (which I definitely will not be repeating). Also, just looking for opinions on how long my recovery's been - 4 and half years. That's a long time, especially since I only took Abilify three months. Is it possible it's taking so long because of my pregnancies, during which no waves or windows occurred (so I'm guessing, no healing for 18 months total during these last few years)? Thank you for your help. I just hate feeling this way again after SO LONG feeling like myself, no symptoms, and would love reassurance. Taylor
  9. I’ve tried writing this introduction more than once and I have to say that it’s kind of difficult to summarize almost twenty years of wrestling with these dang meds. Around 1995, my second marriage was falling apart. I hated myself and I was falling apart. The marriage counselor my (ex-)wife and I were seeing recommended a doc who could prescribe something for me. In tears, I practically begged that doctor to give me antidepressants. To his credit, he was reluctant but he did end up giving me handfuls of free samples of a relatively young drug called Paxil. At that time, I had never had a panic attack. When I began taking Paxil, and it gave me panic attacks as my system got used to it, I was told that it cannot give you panic attacks. It was only after I began taking Paxil that I actually made a serious suicide attempt and ended up hospitalized. When one of my doctors tried to help my taper off Paxil by halving my dose, I reported symptoms of withdrawal. My doctor told that was impossible: that these meds do not give you withdrawal symptoms, and that any symptoms I was having must be the underlying pathology reasserting itself. I then spent years in the care of a doctor who seemed to have never met a med he didn’t like. When I complained of Paxil’s sexual side effects, he put me on Wellbutrin. He started stacking the meds on me. I was getting tremors in my hands from the Wellbutrin, so he put me on Neurontin (Gabapentin). Never able to get free of sexual side effects, I tried a bunch of different meds. Effexor. Buspar (which had me screaming at the top of my lungs). Etc. But I always returned to the welcoming arms of Paxil. Things started to turn around for me when I started researching medications for myself. After spending some time on Serzone (Nefazodone), I saw online that some countries had banned that med due to concerns over liver toxicity, so I asked to be taken off it. Doing more research exposed me to the fact that many folks were experiencing the side effects and withdrawal symptoms I had been reporting to my own doctors for years. And gradually, the doctors started to admit to the existence of “discontinuation syndrome” which seemed to be particularly bad for those taking my main medication – Paxil. I started to trust my own observations more. I started keeping a daily log of how each dose of each medication affected me over time. This log has been a tremendously helpful tool for me. My doctor at the time felt that such detailed record-keeping was pathological. Luckily, after almost two decades medicated, I found a doctor who was willing to listen to me. She put me on Lexapro in another attempt to get free of sexual side effects. She was willing to listen to me when I told her how sensitive I seemed to be to these meds, and how halving my dosage yielded catastrophic results. I told her of my plan to do a very gradual taper; much more gradual than she thought necessary. She was willing to go along with it as long as I reported in regularly. So, in October of 2013 I began my most gradual taper ever. And on 05/28/14 I became med-free. We’ll see how it goes. My wife and I just celebrated thirteen years of being happily married, so I'm very lucky to have her as my support network. She's seen me at my best and she's seen me at my worst. I'm mainly here at Surviving Antidepressants to learn more about these meds and to have experienced, knowledgeable, and impartial folks who can help me evaluate whether what I'm going through is withdrawal or the depression/anxiety that has plagued me in the past.
  10. Hello All, This may be slightly long but I think it's worth the read for those on/coming off ADs or with significant others on/coming off of ADs. I've been a member of the Topix discussion that was recently removed since around the middle of last year. Like many, my significant other was prescribed an AD (Effexor in this case) for generalized anxiety. This was in early February. The effects were almost immediate but as I was so unaware of the possibilities with these drugs I did not notice any troubling side effects. She had a lot more energy and her anxiety really was gone, but I did not know to relate this to emotional blunting. This girl was absolutely trustworthy and honest and I know this because we were together all the time and she hid nothing from me. We were inseparable. I came to eventually realize that within the first few days of taking Effexor she began to lose feelings for me, but that "give a ****" factor had already gone away and I was of no concern to her. Within a few months she had full blown mania, she was hyper-sexual and had begun cheating. There was no selection, just whoever would take interest in her. At the same time this started, she told me that she had lost her sex drive. I did some research, found this was a common complaint and decided to give it time. We didn't have sex for many many months, all the while she was sleeping with pretty much anyone who would give her the attention. She started drinking heavily almost immediately. I just had no idea that ADs could do this. Eventually I had a growing suspicion, but I could really find nothing online. It took a lot of very specific Google searches to find what I had suspected, but that was months into it. So fast forward after I found out about the infidelity (which was gut wrenching, agonizing, horrific to say the least - it took the life out of me). I had found the Topix discussion, printed many relevant pages and showed it to her. She almost laughed it off, she would not reply to any specific questions. Like most others, she felt new and more alive. Her friend base had changed, and many of them had been given a very different story than what was really happening. She told a lot of them that she was afraid of me, suddenly cops were showing up because her new partners were calling the cops on me, for absolutely nothing. She would scream and break things and hit me, when she had only had one beer (this stuff is BAD NEWS when mixed with alcohol). At a certain point she had not only thrown me aside, but her entire family as well. They did not understand what was happening, so I began to speak to them. In October her life had spiraled out of control and she decided to begin a taper, but only because everyone insisted and she really had no choice. For what it is worth, her doctors refused to believe me. They actually suggested we up the dose because "it wasn't working". So no help there. The withdrawal was horrible. We tried all the supplements and methods that work for some people, but they had no effect on her. She cut her dose slightly about once a month, the same week she would be softer but then the withdrawal would ramp up quickly. In this period she nearly moved out of the state with her old boss. She was planning on leaving me and I had no clue until I found an email and confronted her. That is when it really hit her. She tapered more quickly (perhaps too quickly) because she just wanted off the stuff. In December she finally quit taking it. She had the very horrible brain zaps, she was insanely moody and I was walking on egg shells non-stop. But I stuck it out. The delayed withdrawal hit around January/February but at this point she knew it was withdrawal. And she absolutely was pissed that she had been given a drug like this. She is more upset now than ever that this can happen. We found out two weeks ago that she is pregnant with my child. We are getting married, and she is dedicated to un-doing these things. We are starting over fresh. It is not easy, but it can happen. The best advice I was given was by btdt on Topix. She said do not hold them to their actions, they do not know what they are doing. My fiance echoes this sentiment now. She is more than angry that she let a GP talk her into taking these meds, and then would not listen when she was a danger to herself. But that is how the stories seem to go. Don't get me wrong, it hurts. And now that we're at the one year mark since this started, there are a lot of triggers that I have to really put in an effort into pushing aside. Simple things - songs, smells, places, weather, tone of voice, etc. I'll be around to answer any questions or comments. I want to help as many as I can.
  11. Making Activist Art

    On BlueBalu's thread, BTDT wrote: OMG B! I just started a play tonight! I was inspired by attending a theatre festival this weekend, and so many of the plays addressed real issues, like relationships, inner demons, and feminism and taking control of your life. In one play, Florence Nightingale told her cohorts to "stop taking the pills, they are only meant to control you!" (and she, Maggie Thatcher, and Jane Austen escaped the asylum!) I thought I would start a play about withdrawal. I've never written a play before, so I will need to get help from some experts, but I can visualize how it will be. It would be best to condense it into a very potent 1-act play, and might be a way to get our voices heard in a broader audience. I'm basing the characters on composites of people here - one depressed, one anxious (and abused), one "psychotic" (I call it Emergency), one chronic pain, and an Alto-like character (again, composite, of course). It will show 5 years in these peoples' lives, and at the end, they will meet on the internet and start recovery. It shows the drug rep and the doctor, and I've just written the part where everyone gets their first prescription. The next scene, a year later, people will be manifesting side effects, and get additional prescriptions. The scene after that will be 5 years, and the characters will be on multiple scripts with debilitating effects, but the pseudo-Alto character will have figured out withdrawal, and will be helping the others to take charge of their conditions. They will be talking on the internet - with some of them talking over coffee like we do here in Brisbane. It would be nice if I could bring the emotion that a play like "Love Letters" brings, where the actors read their internet posts aloud, and their stories come alive for all the others listening. The challenge is to make the characters real and engaging, to invoke the caring of the audience, and to present the material without being "preachy." To raise awareness. I have 2 playwright/directors in mind - one did a searing expose of self injury (one of her early works - confronting, not very successful - but it sure had us talking) - and the other has done plays about "encounter groups" and "body dysmorphia / anorexia disorder issues at a lingerie sales party." Both are activist-aware, and while they cannot write the play for me - I must write what I know - they can guide me to getting it published and up and running. And hopefully, making it a good script. And if I'm good enough, perhaps one will consent to cast and direct it for me! Additionally, if it is a one-act, it will tour the "festival circuit," which means that potentially thousands of people could see the performances, where if it's a full-length play, it might never be seen, except maybe at one local theatre. I know nothing about writing plays. But I hope to have a rough draft ready in 2 weeks to show these ladies at the next festival. Btdt - you are a prophet!
  12. Hi everyone, As I've gotten better over the past 3+ years after quitting antidepressants cold turkey and having really bad problems with severe anxiety, insomnia, and other withdrawal symptoms, I've realized how important moments of happiness and contentment have been to my recovery. Of course, feeling happy or even content seemed completely impossible at first, and attaining them even now is still sometimes a challenge. But, looking back, I can see clear patterns of measurable, lasting improvement after periods during which I somehow managed to feel good. Usually, these moments involved reconnection with friends and traveling, taking time off work, and finding things to do that made me feel a sense of fulfillment, even if it was precarious and fleeting. A few months ago, I came across a fascinating article that talks about the importance of positive social connections to our health. It turns out your body turns genes off and on depending on how you subjectively experience your environment, sometimes even hours after, and this can have a tremendous impact on your physical and mental health. It is a long read, but a very worthwhile one! Here's the link: The Social Life of Genes What is SO difficult in recovering from antidepressant withdrawal is that the withdrawal makes us feel so miserable. Precisely what we are desperate to recover from is overwhelming negative physical and emotional feelings. So... what can you do? In case it helps anyone, I'll describe some of the things that helped me (often tips given on this forum). Don't expect to have big results, especially at first. The important thing is that you keep trying. Try to notice and appreciate anything resembling a positive emotion (or even neutral) as much as you can, even if it only lasts a few seconds. If you fail, don't worry... This isn't about getting it right, it's about generating more positive emotions little by little. Sometimes you can fake your way through them, sometimes they'll come to you and you'll be surprised. 1. Taking magnesium salts baths to relax. Try to concentrate on the pleasant sensation of water surrounding you, on the warmth. If it doesn't feel good, don't worry. Just think that it IS good, that it will be good again someday. 2. Look at flowers and trees and nature, really observe them. 3. Spend time with animals. 4. Smell things you like or remember liking before. Don't worry if you don't get a positive response. Just observe what it brings up in you. If it is negative, don't judge it, just let it go. 5. Reach out to others, either here or in your life, as much as you can. At the end of the day, try to find anything positive about an interaction you had, even if it seems insignificant. Don't dwell on the negative stuff. 6. Take walks, trying to be present with what is around you. 7. Listen to calming, pleasant music... don't overdo it, though. I often would get things "stuck" in my head, so if you're in the worst stages of withdrawal, start small. Maybe wind chimes, or the the sound of the ocean, and just for a very little bit. 8. Do something to help someone else, however small, and then reflect on it that night. Tell yourself you should feel good about what you did, even if you don't believe it. 9. Whenever possible, enjoy food. At first you might be having severe digestion problems. I was having strange taste distortions at first, but with time I found that treating myself to something delicious really made me feel good (just make sure it's healthy and something that won't make you feel worse... excessive sugar, etc.). One of the first things that I started feeling a desire for was food and nature. I found my body asking for things it probably really needed, like dark leafy greens and celery or fruit. 10. Have a cup of tea (something you can tolerate) or a glass of water and really concentrate on the sensations of drinking it, think about the good it does your body. 11. Spend as much time as possible NOT thinking about withdrawal. Distract yourself with books or TV shows or just looking out the window. One of the first things that I was able to enjoy was the first season of Downton Abbey and Jane Austen novels. One day I realized I was looking forward to reading a new chapter or seeing another episode, and though it was a weak feeling at first, it grew into a greater desire, which was amazing after feeling completely dead for a long time. 12. Try learning something new, without expecting any results. I started taking drawing classes, and though I often get frustrated and even break down crying when I'm doing something, I later look at what I did and see small moments of success that make me feel good. Even better is when I'm able to let go and "not think" and just let my body experience what it is doing. 13. Enlist someone to cheer you on. When you're in withdrawal, people can be incredibly critical and frustrated with your lack of progress. If you have a good friend or family member who is willing, ask them to help you. My mother forced me to go on walks and just kept repeating I was going to beat this and I was going to be OK... she really helped me survive the first few months of hell! 14. Enlist other people to help you with basic tasks or back you up with work when you're in deep crisis. I kept working at first, and I was making a lot of mistakes, so I would have someone "check my work" before I turned it in. Especially during the months I was getting very little sleep, it was a life-saver to have this support. 15. If you can, take time off work, and try to get out of your usual environment... seek out people and places that make you feel better in ANY way. 16. Allow yourself to be distracted. I got really worked up about eating, sleeping, getting better... to the point I was holding up my own progress. Somehow sometimes I would break out of that and become distracted and afterward I'd realize I had forgotten about my pain and suffering for a moment! Do not underestimate the power of distraction! Sometimes what really helped me was being around people I could not talk to about what was going on with me. It forced me to be in the moment. 17. On the flip side, also allow yourself to complain about how awful you feel with someone safe once in a while. Just let it out, and then move on. Tell the other person you don't need feedback or opinions, that you just need to vent and need a sympathetic ear. 18. At the end of the day, review your day and think of anything that was positive, however small. If there was nothing positive, congratulate yourself for having gotten through it. 19. Allow yourself small moments of giving up. Rest for a moment. Cry, think that's it, you can't take it any more. Then un-give up and keep going. Even the tiniest steps will add up to something. It's going to take time, but you're going to get better. Nadia
  13. Jeff Foster talks about seeing depression from an 'awakened' perspective. "We can view depression not as a mental illness, but on a deeper level, as a profound, and very misunderstood, state of deep rest, entered into when we are completely exhausted by the weight of our own false story of ourselves..." While watching this video I could see how it might relate to many of us, desperately trying to uphold a life, reputation, roles and ideals which no longer seem possible.... "when we are completely exhausted by the weight of our currently unworkable story of ourselves" The original cause may be different, drug withdrawal rather than a natural evolutionary/spiritual process, but the effect is the same, that of being forced to slow down and rest in order for transformation and healing to occur.
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