Nadia

Nadia 5 Years Off - I Survived Antidepressants

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I was on antidepressants for 16 years - mostly SSRIs and Wellbutrin. Today I am celebrating being off of them for 5 years. It was a very difficult road, but I am, for all intents and purposes, recovered. My life is normal now. What few symptoms I have are almost nonexistent, brief and passing, bearable. So many times through the dark tunnel to today I thought I was damned forever, but I made it out. My first answers came from this site, and I am thankful.

 

If you are in that horrible dark tunnel, hang on. Know that even if you don't see the light now, it will come. Keep walking.

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Thanks so much Nadia for sharing your successful tapering and so happy for you being out of this hell and getting your life back! This is so encouraging! It gives hope to everyone who is still on the road.

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This is wonderful news! I'm so happy for you, Nadia. It's brilliant to see a new success story on here. Thank you Nadia.

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Great to hear from you, Nadia, thank you for that wonderful news, and for being such a dedicated, helpful member of our community for so long.

 

To follow Nadia's journey, see her Intro topic ☼ Nadia: There is hope!

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Nadia,

 

Congratulations on making it to the "other side!"

 

As all who have successfully completed the journey, you are an inspiration for all of us still walking the path.

 

Best,

 

Andy

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Wow thanks for this update Nadia.

I see we both went drug free at about the same time.

How is the fatigue ?

Did you ever take paxil?

 

Congratulations on being able to post a success thread. Not a small thing.

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Congratulations on your healing and new life! 

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Wow congratulations Nadia on your recovery, you are such an inspiration. I hope I could follow your path one day. Thank you for taking the time to write about your successful recovery.

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Congratulations Nadia, its wonderful to see your success story here after the long recovery process you have been through. Thank you so much for staying in touch and documenting your progress, it provides hope and encouragement for everyone who follows. After reading through your introduction thread (for the second time), it's reinforced for me that TIME really is the main factor in recovery, followed by taking care of ourselves the best we can.

 

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 Congratulations, Nadia.

I'm so pleased that you came back to write your story.  As one, who also had many years on and off antidepressants  C/T , it was encouraging to hear how well you are doing now.   I have been reading a little of your intro thread, and it resonated with me to a large degree. I could identify with so much . Some of the experiences you went through were so similar, that I felt I could be writing those exact words myself. Your symptoms were very close  to those I am experiencing. It gave me hope , at a time when I badly need it.

Thank you.

Ali.

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Congratulations Nadia!

Your story brings me hope!

Wishing you all the best!

Hopefull.:)

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That's awesome!

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Thank you so much nadia. I'm five months into a taper and the worst part is the intrusive ruminating thoughts. Your story enforces the fact I am doing the right thing! Go girl x

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Thanks for this!  Paying it forward is so pivotal for us. 

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Nadia

 

I'm so happy for you that you are able to celebrate being off of these drugs for 5 years and that you can say you have recovered.  You had some challenging times and for you to be able to share this news warms my heart.

 

Thanks for sharing and best wishes for a continued happy life.

 

Love and life,

Karma

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Nadia, thank you so much for sharing your recovery story!

I'm so happy to know that recovery is possible in spite of ct withdrawal! Thanks a lot!!!! Best wishes for you and your normal life! Enjoy it.

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Really good to hear about your success Nadia.  After 18 months off Paxil I have hit a prolonged wave that won't go away, and haven't slept properly for weeks.   Glad to gain encouragement that these feelings will pass.

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I'm 2 yrs off and have hit a longer wave....not loving it. (((Hugs)))

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Congratulations! Reading about your journey today gave me hope and got me through an anxious, depressed withdrawal morning. Bless you. Your generous communication to people on this forum is huge gift- a big chunk of the life raft

I'm clinging to. I wish you health and wellness and happiness.

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I was on antidepressants for 16 years - mostly SSRIs and Wellbutrin. Today I am celebrating being off of them for 5 years. It was a very difficult road, but I am, for all intents and purposes, recovered. My life is normal now. What few symptoms I have are almost nonexistent, brief and passing, bearable. So many times through the dark tunnel to today I thought I was damned forever, but I made it out. My first answers came from this site, and I am thankful.

 

If you are in that horrible dark tunnel, hang on. Know that even if you don't see the light now, it will come. Keep walking.

 

HI Nadia,

 

Did you have bad insomnia for a couple years or so after quitting?

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Nadia,

I am a couple months away from embarking on my second try at stopping zoloft. Thank you for sharing your story, it will be a large part of my "support net" once I hit the long road to ending my ssri use...and I pray one day I will be able to share my story of success and have it help others!

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Looking for some encouraging advice. I'm going through the same thing you did. I was told to maybe reinstate. I see you didn't. At four years are you still doing ok? I can't imagine doing this everyday for 4 years. But I don't want to be on an ad anymore that I was put on for anxiety and panic attacks. Do you think I should stick it out? I function , take care of my girls , somewhat my house lol. I just feel obsessed. Ugh are you still doing good ?

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Hi shelbytrev,   I'm 2 years off Paxil after 12 years on it.   You are in the early stages  and it's a tough call.  I still have insomnia and other WD symptoms,  and when I began I never thought it would take so long. Like you, I didn't want to be on ad for the rest of my life.  Those early times are the worst, but take encouragement from this site, and just try and get through the days.   I don't regret my decision to come off Paxil, but I never thought I could feel so bad coming off it.   But I have some good days now and look to this site for support.

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Shelby, have you tried everything at your disposal to keep the stress and obsessing at bay? That included acupuncture for me, and I recommend it to anyone I can. Community acupuncture is cheaper and I love it. Never had tried it at all before this past fall, and I now consider it one of the biggest tools in my arsenal, that and exercise and sleep. 

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Nadia . . . what you wrote was exactly what I needed today. THANK YOU!

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Hi everyone! I'm sorry I "posted and ran" and haven't been back until now to say thanks for the congrats and answer questions! As you can imagine, once you are out of the nightmare, it's still hard to revisit. Looking back I'm still amazed I made it! The only way to do it is one step at a time... just do the best you can and trust time will help. So here are some answers:

  • nz11: "How is the fatigue? Did you ever take Paxil?
    • I have a LOT more energy than I used to, and I think it has a lot to do with getting adequate sleep. I still occasionally over-tire, and have to watch out for that, but I think it could also have something to do with having had chronic mono when I was younger. I also think I'm just naturally someone who needs to "gather and reset"... I get sensory overload easily and need to just find ways to cope with it, like taking 15 minute naps or doing a short session of meditation. Yoga and jogging and walking are extremely helpful with that, too. Physically I have a ton more stamina. I remember the first year I could barely go around the block without feeling like I was going to pass out (also because of the dizziness), and I would often get what felt like the flu if I overexerted myself. My best advice with this is make sure you do something every day, even if it's just a short walk or stretching, and don't panic if you feel worse. It will improve.
    • I did take Paxil but only like a week... it was the first anitdepressant prescribed to me, and I had a bad anxiety/jitteriness reaction to it, so they switched me to Zoloft instead.
  • Petunia - time was what helped most
    • So, so true... and it's important to remember your progress will not be linear. I know it is incredibly discouraging when you think you're doing great and then you plunge into another wave. For a long time after I was much better, there were still many days when I woke up with some anxiety and immediately panicked, thinking I'd hit another wave... but it's been a really long time now since that has happened (I can't even remember when!). I kind of learned to stop worrying so much, and know I will still, like any normal human, wake up with a little anxiety now and then, or have a bad night of sleep, but then it's just that and I'm still out of the nightmare and I feel sooo lucky.
    • Which leads me to my other thing I think helped: believing it could happen, even when I failed at this often. Just coming back to the thought it was possible. And it's not because I believe anything you want will come true or anything... it's just that the nature of a lot of what goes on in withdrawal has to do with a hyperactive and aware nervous system... your cortisol is out of whack, you're having panic attacks, you're barely sleeping, you have all sorts of crazy stuff happening to your body and mind, and of course you are so scared! And it can cycle back into itself. So it's really important to just acknowledge that panic, accept it, but also do your best not to feed into it and know your mind and body are working hard to get you back to stability.
    • Things that I swear by still: EXERCISE, NUTRITION, MEDITATION, FINDING PURPOSE. Keep walking and stretching, to the best of your ability. Eat well. Stay away from sugar. Keep a regular schedule. Stay away from screens late at night. Do a whole wind down routine. Don't worry if you slept horribly or not at all. Just keep at it. Give yourself permission to break down crying. When you are able to, accept it and go on. And try to find meaning in all of it... it can be so hard, but, for example, I started taking art classes. I can't say I enjoyed them even 10% of the time at first. I found them incredibly frustrating. I cried often. And yet, towards the end of the horror, I found a sense of deeper purpose in life and had one of the most creative and awake periods of my life. Probably a little manic, even, ha ha... but then it leveled. Sometimes you just go through the motions, and that way you retrain your nervous system back into a sense of safety and life purpose. Did you know you have the ability to turn genes on and off in as little as minutes if you exercise or socialize or do something that you enjoy? Try to find those moments as much as you can, as small or fleeting as they are.
  • Alua - ruminating thoughts
    • Yes, that is a tough one. Again, for this one, WALK! I remember still going circles and circles around the park and my brain just exploding with thoughts and worries and the most horrible thoughts. It's actually so crazy to think about now... sometimes there is just nothing you can do about it, but walking does help. Sometimes not immediately, but having that practice, in the long run.
  • IrvingKirsch - did I have bad insomnia
    • YES, and it was the WORST... I think so much of the other stuff was related to not sleeping. If you think of it, our body really needs sleep to reset and repair. Even cortisol goes down when you sleep... so it was incredibly frustrating to not be able to do the one thing that could help! I went through an especially bad period where I couldn't even lie down or I'd have a panic attack and had to semi-doze off a few minutes at a time in a sitting position. Magnesium salts baths sometimes helped and were a godsend. Eventually you are so tired you can have a night of sleeping through a few hours, only to be back to the horrible insomnia. I couldn't take naps because I felt such a deep sense of dread. I think it's really hard for people who have not gone through this to understand. Especially if they've had some insomnia, as they THINK they know what it's like, but what you're going through is soooo much worse. I'm not even really sure how I got through this, but I did... and Alto's suggestion to not panic about not sleeping helped a lot. It was like, this really, really sucks, but it is what it is... and eventually I started sleeping better in fits and starts. Now I can take naps and everything. I still wake up often at the crack of dawn, but I take some inositol or some magnesium and go back to sleep. I have also gotten good at deep belly breathing, which stimulates the vagus nerve, which has a calming effect on the nervous system. It turns out that many women in perimenopause have this symptom, too, and it seems to be affected by my cycle. In any case, I am so glad I can sleep normally now... I LOVE sleep! If you are going through the horrible insomnia, just know it will get better. I feel well rested most of the time now... I DO need to stay away from too much sugar, and I do need to exercise regularly, but I think this is the case for most people! In order to get through the worst of not sleeping when you just can't, try meditation.
  • Shelbytrev - did I reinstate and how am I doing now
    • I tried to reinstate but it was horrible. I think I got to a point there was no way my body would take it. I probably would have cowered back to the meds if not. That said, I am SO glad I didn't. Do I still get depressed? Yes! But my god... I feel like my life is SO much better than when I was on meds. I see friends on medication now still struggling... getting doses adjusted, changing from generic to name brand, always looking at the med for the answer, and I remember being that way too... and how impulsive I was and how I didn't change the things that needed changing in my life, and how my life got a lot, lot crazier when I was on meds, and how I spent most of my time feeling sh*tty and depressed anyway! I look back at my journals and see that the meds would only give me a little boost for a bit, and then I'd be back to just blah or bad. There are still things about them that I think were positive, but man, did they come at a horrible price... I DO NO REGRET GOING OFF MEDICATION FOR ONE SECOND. Even when I'm feeling awful. And I've realized I can stay OK if I stick through my bad days. I just have to stay on top of exercise and taking care of myself. I'm just a high-maintenance being, ultra sensitive, incredibly affected by my surroundings... and all of that has a good side, too. Life everything in life, it's a double-edged sword. But I am so much better at managing it. In some way, I am thankful for what I went through (can't believe I'm saying that!), because I am so much stronger and better at accepting and coping. One of the most valuable lessons I learned was you aren't supposed to feel great all the time, and you don't have to feel good to keep working at feeling good. Some days suck. That is just life. You plow through them. Then, magically, the sky clears. Some days I just don't feel like it, but I go to yoga anyway, or go for a run. I do what I have to do, and that keeps me from spiraling down. I took meds because I thought they made me stronger and more able to cope, and I had it in me all along to do it myself!
  • Orangecat - acupuncture
    • Oh wow, yes! I totally forgot. That helped me through the worst of it, as well. I think I probably tried everything in the book and then some. :P

Well, as usual, brevity is not my strong suit, but I wanted to come back and check in... thank you so much to everyone who was there for me before!! This site helped me sooooo much. Just don't get too bogged down in the details... do what you can, try not to worry too much... in some ways you're going to make it out one way or another. I remember another success story where the guy said he did EVERYTHING wrong, and still got better... the important thing is to not to panic. And if you panic, don't panic that you're panicking!

 

Much healing to all of you! See you on the other side....

 

Love,

Nadia

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Hi Nadia, thank you for so much encouragement.  Wanted to ask you, how long you were in protracted withdrawal for? Thanks & Regards

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Hi everyone! I'm sorry I "posted and ran" and haven't been back until now to say thanks for the congrats and answer questions! As you can imagine, once you are out of the nightmare, it's still hard to revisit. Looking back I'm still amazed I made it! The only way to do it is one step at a time... just do the best you can and trust time will help. So here are some answers:

  • nz11: "How is the fatigue? Did you ever take Paxil?
    • I have a LOT more energy than I used to, and I think it has a lot to do with getting adequate sleep. I still occasionally over-tire, and have to watch out for that, but I think it could also have something to do with having had chronic mono when I was younger. I also think I'm just naturally someone who needs to "gather and reset"... I get sensory overload easily and need to just find ways to cope with it, like taking 15 minute naps or doing a short session of meditation. Yoga and jogging and walking are extremely helpful with that, too. Physically I have a ton more stamina. I remember the first year I could barely go around the block without feeling like I was going to pass out (also because of the dizziness), and I would often get what felt like the flu if I overexerted myself. My best advice with this is make sure you do something every day, even if it's just a short walk or stretching, and don't panic if you feel worse. It will improve.
    • I did take Paxil but only like a week... it was the first anitdepressant prescribed to me, and I had a bad anxiety/jitteriness reaction to it, so they switched me to Zoloft instead.
  • Petunia - time was what helped most
    • So, so true... and it's important to remember your progress will not be linear. I know it is incredibly discouraging when you think you're doing great and then you plunge into another wave. For a long time after I was much better, there were still many days when I woke up with some anxiety and immediately panicked, thinking I'd hit another wave... but it's been a really long time now since that has happened (I can't even remember when!). I kind of learned to stop worrying so much, and know I will still, like any normal human, wake up with a little anxiety now and then, or have a bad night of sleep, but then it's just that and I'm still out of the nightmare and I feel sooo lucky.
    • Which leads me to my other thing I think helped: believing it could happen, even when I failed at this often. Just coming back to the thought it was possible. And it's not because I believe anything you want will come true or anything... it's just that the nature of a lot of what goes on in withdrawal has to do with a hyperactive and aware nervous system... your cortisol is out of whack, you're having panic attacks, you're barely sleeping, you have all sorts of crazy stuff happening to your body and mind, and of course you are so scared! And it can cycle back into itself. So it's really important to just acknowledge that panic, accept it, but also do your best not to feed into it and know your mind and body are working hard to get you back to stability.
    • Things that I swear by still: EXERCISE, NUTRITION, MEDITATION, FINDING PURPOSE. Keep walking and stretching, to the best of your ability. Eat well. Stay away from sugar. Keep a regular schedule. Stay away from screens late at night. Do a whole wind down routine. Don't worry if you slept horribly or not at all. Just keep at it. Give yourself permission to break down crying. When you are able to, accept it and go on. And try to find meaning in all of it... it can be so hard, but, for example, I started taking art classes. I can't say I enjoyed them even 10% of the time at first. I found them incredibly frustrating. I cried often. And yet, towards the end of the horror, I found a sense of deeper purpose in life and had one of the most creative and awake periods of my life. Probably a little manic, even, ha ha... but then it leveled. Sometimes you just go through the motions, and that way you retrain your nervous system back into a sense of safety and life purpose. Did you know you have the ability to turn genes on and off in as little as minutes if you exercise or socialize or do something that you enjoy? Try to find those moments as much as you can, as small or fleeting as they are.
  • Alua - ruminating thoughts
    • Yes, that is a tough one. Again, for this one, WALK! I remember still going circles and circles around the park and my brain just exploding with thoughts and worries and the most horrible thoughts. It's actually so crazy to think about now... sometimes there is just nothing you can do about it, but walking does help. Sometimes not immediately, but having that practice, in the long run.
  • IrvingKirsch - did I have bad insomnia
    • YES, and it was the WORST... I think so much of the other stuff was related to not sleeping. If you think of it, our body really needs sleep to reset and repair. Even cortisol goes down when you sleep... so it was incredibly frustrating to not be able to do the one thing that could help! I went through an especially bad period where I couldn't even lie down or I'd have a panic attack and had to semi-doze off a few minutes at a time in a sitting position. Magnesium salts baths sometimes helped and were a godsend. Eventually you are so tired you can have a night of sleeping through a few hours, only to be back to the horrible insomnia. I couldn't take naps because I felt such a deep sense of dread. I think it's really hard for people who have not gone through this to understand. Especially if they've had some insomnia, as they THINK they know what it's like, but what you're going through is soooo much worse. I'm not even really sure how I got through this, but I did... and Alto's suggestion to not panic about not sleeping helped a lot. It was like, this really, really sucks, but it is what it is... and eventually I started sleeping better in fits and starts. Now I can take naps and everything. I still wake up often at the crack of dawn, but I take some inositol or some magnesium and go back to sleep. I have also gotten good at deep belly breathing, which stimulates the vagus nerve, which has a calming effect on the nervous system. It turns out that many women in perimenopause have this symptom, too, and it seems to be affected by my cycle. In any case, I am so glad I can sleep normally now... I LOVE sleep! If you are going through the horrible insomnia, just know it will get better. I feel well rested most of the time now... I DO need to stay away from too much sugar, and I do need to exercise regularly, but I think this is the case for most people! In order to get through the worst of not sleeping when you just can't, try meditation.
  • Shelbytrev - did I reinstate and how am I doing now
    • I tried to reinstate but it was horrible. I think I got to a point there was no way my body would take it. I probably would have cowered back to the meds if not. That said, I am SO glad I didn't. Do I still get depressed? Yes! But my god... I feel like my life is SO much better than when I was on meds. I see friends on medication now still struggling... getting doses adjusted, changing from generic to name brand, always looking at the med for the answer, and I remember being that way too... and how impulsive I was and how I didn't change the things that needed changing in my life, and how my life got a lot, lot crazier when I was on meds, and how I spent most of my time feeling sh*tty and depressed anyway! I look back at my journals and see that the meds would only give me a little boost for a bit, and then I'd be back to just blah or bad. There are still things about them that I think were positive, but man, did they come at a horrible price... I DO NO REGRET GOING OFF MEDICATION FOR ONE SECOND. Even when I'm feeling awful. And I've realized I can stay OK if I stick through my bad days. I just have to stay on top of exercise and taking care of myself. I'm just a high-maintenance being, ultra sensitive, incredibly affected by my surroundings... and all of that has a good side, too. Life everything in life, it's a double-edged sword. But I am so much better at managing it. In some way, I am thankful for what I went through (can't believe I'm saying that!), because I am so much stronger and better at accepting and coping. One of the most valuable lessons I learned was you aren't supposed to feel great all the time, and you don't have to feel good to keep working at feeling good. Some days suck. That is just life. You plow through them. Then, magically, the sky clears. Some days I just don't feel like it, but I go to yoga anyway, or go for a run. I do what I have to do, and that keeps me from spiraling down. I took meds because I thought they made me stronger and more able to cope, and I had it in me all along to do it myself!
  • Orangecat - acupuncture
    • Oh wow, yes! I totally forgot. That helped me through the worst of it, as well. I think I probably tried everything in the book and then some. :P

Well, as usual, brevity is not my strong suit, but I wanted to come back and check in... thank you so much to everyone who was there for me before!! This site helped me sooooo much. Just don't get too bogged down in the details... do what you can, try not to worry too much... in some ways you're going to make it out one way or another. I remember another success story where the guy said he did EVERYTHING wrong, and still got better... the important thing is to not to panic. And if you panic, don't panic that you're panicking!

 

Much healing to all of you! See you on the other side....

 

Love,

Nadia

 

Thank you so much for responding Nadia. I'm glad you are doing so much better now!

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Thank you for your post , it is a beacon of hope and something that I can fortunately go back and read when things get tough and will inspire me to continue on and live up to my screen name

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Hi Nadia, thank you for so much encouragement.  Wanted to ask you, how long you were in protracted withdrawal for? Thanks & Regards

 

Hi MaryDavid,

 

I went off antidepressants cold turkey in November of 2010. About 3 months later I started having severe anxiety and insomnia. The first couple of years were the worst, and I'd say I was in protracted withdrawal (not sure it should be called that, but we all know what we mean... the long-term nervous system destabilization that results) for another 3 years. There wasn't a clear "now I'm better"... it was a pattern of one step forward, two steps back, three steps forward, one step back, etc. the entire time. I'd say it was five years total until I felt I was well enough to write a success story!

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Thanks for the encouragement. I've been off Prozac since 1/3/16 and Wellbutrin since early March. Right now I feel absolutely empty and devoid of feelings. I also am having severe issues with making goals and motivation. It's often difficult to convince myself to get out of bed in the morning. I also have trouble completing normal tasks without pushing myself (no energy to load dishwasher). I can find energy to do things I really like, such as gardening. Has anyone else experienced a similar complete loss of willpower?? How do I get through this?!

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Sunshine and rain- My first comment is YES I have experienced this, and from my reading around this site over the past year, YES it absolutely is normal. It is not your fault. You are not lazy. And it is a temporary situation, so your life is not doomed and you will not have to resign yourself to just sitting miserable for the rest of your life. That is because it is a symptom of withdrawal, and over time lets up. 

 

I personally decided to withdraw from ssri's after ten years plus because I felt a strange creative block that I attributed to the medicine. When I went a bit lower on them medicines at various times, it seemed, the block let up somewhat. Now after nearly a year of successful slow tapering I definitely feel that creative block has lifted a lot. Anxiety and the usual life questions remain, but I have more energy and imagination/emotion I can use to cope with them. However, in the process of withdrawing, particularly in the beginning (I was on hormonal birth control at the start which I now think made my withdrawal much more difficult) I absolutely felt a lack of motivation to do anything. I would get up, see my husband off to work and then come back home to lie on the couch or nap. I began taking light therapy seriously as it got darker, and used acupuncture, also got very routine about fish oil and magnesium. I think these things helped. But time helped the most. The days of lying on the couch seem so far away to me now. I have much more energy, and I even have begun to exercise regularly. I am less all or nothing about my career goals and have settled into a healthy if imperfect routine of making art, which is my long term profession. So IT GETS BETTER! Don't get too upset over a temporary situation if you can help it. In the meantime try to enjoy the things you love in a small, mediated, halfway type of way. If you can't garden, maybe ask a friend or hire someone to help keep the garden up so you don't get distressed it is failing. Sit in the garden instead, for fifteen or ten minutes, and get some light and be near the plants. Be satisfied if you can do just that, and can't actually garden. That's okay for now. 

 

Long walks in the sun and if you are interested, acupuncture are very productive and not too difficult things to do even if you don't have much motivation for the normal activities. These activities are healing and will help you relax and progress in rebuilding your body's functions without the drugs. That's what needs to happen. We all have been on powerful drugs for a long time, and it just takes time to undo the ways in which our brains and bodies were adapted to the drugs. Unfortunately for some it takes more time than for others. Hang in there, go slow, and good luck. 

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Thank you so much for your supportive reply, Orange Cat. I'm just trying to make it through each day...

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I come read your story to find encouragement in my protracted withdrawal. 28 months and it is exactly as you say...1 step forward and a few back and continue. You give me hope. :)

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Thanks for coming back and sharing your story! It's encouraging to read! 

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Nadia, thank you for coming back and sharing with us. I am still tapering bupropion. 11 months in and had to do a small reinstatement 36 days ago. I think I am coming along and stabilizing but it is hard. The waves are hard. It is so encouraging to here your story as I had followed it some before. Nadia, it is so good to hear you say that it gets better with time. I continue to ride the tide of time and I am so hopeful it will really all come back to steady. I am encouraged to hear you say it does!!!'

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