alexjuice

SIX Mistakes I've Made in Withdrawal

35 posts in this topic

Navigating withdrawal from antidepressants -- in my case antipsychotics and benzodiazepines as well -- is a daunting task. There is no guidebook. I am 18 months into my journey and have learned a ton. Unfortunately, I learned many of my lessons through experience. Many of these could have avoided had I only possessed better knowledge or (sometimes) better sense.

 

I've made many mistakes thus far, so many that I have decided to share my errors.

 

The problem with withdrawal from antidepressants (and all psychiatric medication) is that there is not a one-size solution that fits all. So some of the things that were mistakes for me will not be mistakes for all. That said, most of these mistakes will be mistakes for anyone going through the psychological torture of withdrawal syndrome (also known as discontinuation syndrome).

 

Because there is no cookbook with the recipe for healing, I don't fault myself for my mistakes. I've done a much better job (with help from sites about recovering from antidepressant withdrawal) guiding my treatment than has any professional medical doctor I've encountered. Overall, I've done my best. But there have been errors.

 

I hope you are able to learn from me and my mistakes. Finally, everything below is just my opinion. No facts, that's a fact.

 

Here are my top six mistakes.

 

1. Deferring to Medical Authority

 

I went through many medication stops and changes, each being problematic. I developed doubts about my doctor's understanding of my condition and ability to treat it. But he was a DOCTOR. I figured he must know what he was doing. After all, who was the one on mental health medications? Me! Who was the one with the diplomas on the wall? Him.

 

Means nothing!

 

Antidepressant withdrawal syndrome (withdrawal from any psychiatric medication introduced in the last 25 year) is not well understood or even well acknowledged. My early attempts to learn about what was happening to me, yielded little. My searches turned up generally reliable websites, but these websites are not reliable when the subject is prolonged withdrawal caused by discontinuation of psychiatric medication. This not because they intentionally misinform but because they don't even know that they're misinforming.

 

My mistake was trusting authority because it was authority. Even after I had good reason to doubt my doctors and certain health websites, I refused to accept what my eyes were seeing. MISTAKE. I was lucky to eventually, through persistence, find other websites with more information relevant to the hell I was going through...

 

I now believe -- unequivocally -- that the best advice about prolonged withdrawal syndrome does not come from professionals. No psychiatrist I have yet met has even acknowledged a belief in withdrawal lasting more than a few weeks. No, the best advice comes from the web of sufferers who have aggregated their personal histories. From all these anecdotes, as well as some research by renegade psychiatric health professionals, some understanding and some USEFUL guidelines about tapering and recovery have emerged. Still, much is not known. But I now check everything my doc recommends against the wisdom of the sufferers. It was unfortunate it took me so long to realize the state of affairs.

 

Trust your fellows.

 

2. Making Abrupt Changes

 

For me sudden changes to medication, especially, as well as diet, exercise, stress, stimuli, etc have caused worsened withdrawal symptoms.

 

There is, among the informed, essentially unanimous support for a slow taper off psychiatric medications.

 

But the same principle for me applies to most everything. If I change a major aspect of my health routine, I do it gradually unless I have a very good reason to do so otherwise.

 

3. Stinkin' Thinkin' (This Will Last Forever)

 

My withdrawal symptoms have been traumatizing. Certain of them, PSSD, gastrointestinal problems, and sensitivity to normal environmental stressors, sometimes scare me. I get scared I'll never be normal.

 

This terror, especially when I feel alone, makes this condition a torture.

 

I've realized, though, that giving in to my fear is a mistake. I have tried to change my mental approach to my ongoing symptoms.

 

If a problem has persisted, it may last forever, yes. However, it does no good to believe it will last forever. If believing this has any effect at all, it is, in my opinion, only negative.

 

I find my fearful ruminating self-reinforcing. The more I worry, the more I worry... and so on. Even if worrying does no harm, it does no good. Even if I think I will not recover, that my disability is permanent, I do not allow myself to think that way. It only makes my suffering more of a burden on my shoulders.

 

Therefore, the only option for me is to believe that I will get better. It is the most likely outcome, no matter how scared I feel at any one moment. Others have recovered, so I choose to believe that I will recover as well, even if there is no way of knowing this for sure.

 

In Alcoholics Anonymous, athiests regularly pray to 'God'. They do this because it activates a part of their brain separate from the part that drives their impulse to drink. It doesn't matter if God exists. They don't care. They pray because they stay sober that way.

 

I maintain a positive attitude for similar reason. It doesn't matter, right now, whether I fully recover or not. I choose to believe that I will fully recover because choosing otherwise makes my life... not worth living, frankly.

 

I've made this mistake frequently. But today, part of my self-care is always holding the belief that I will, someday, be through this.

 

4. "I'm All Better!"

 

This goes back to abruptness. I've made the mistake of confusing a good day for a return to permanent good health. When I enter into a good 'window' and feel okay, a wave of excitement grips me. I immediately start planning to make up for lost time, to get back on track. I start perusing the jobs and apartment listings.

 

When this has happened, I have, in my excitement, overexerted myself. After my brief "all better" periods, a setback has always followed.

 

I now try to exercise caution. If I proceed cautiously, I have better success holding my gains. My recovery will always be more gradual than I would choose it to be. But my reality has been that recovery is non-linear and that feeling "All Better" for a couple hours doesn't mean much.

 

I stay the course.

5. Not Being Cautious with Supplements (vitamines, nutirents, natural cures, etc)

 

One of my primary symptoms is hypersensitivity. I'm crazy sensitive. My symptoms have not, generally, been helped by supplements. They have, unfortunately, been greatly exacerbated instead.

 

But it is hard to not try something when others report a positive effect, so I have tried everything...

 

There have been occasions when I've had a positive reaction to a supplement on day one, only to have a horrible adverse reaction when taking the same dose on the following day. I don't know why this happens.

 

However, I have learned from it. Today, if I want to try a supplement, I try a fraction -- not more than 1/5th of the manufacturer's recommended dose -- actually, in my case, much less that this. If I react strongly, even positively, I do not take the supplement for at least two days afterward. If I try it again, I try a lower dose.

 

Strong reactions are a warning sign for me.

 

If I had known this at the start, I could have avoided some truly horrific adverse reactions causing everything from burning skin to lack of feeling/sensation in the extremities to complete wipeout (unable to get up from bed for many, many days).

6. Catastrophizing Necessary Lifestyle Changes

 

In the last 18 months, I have given up alcohol, nicotine, coffee, energy drinks, artificial sweetener, foods I can't currently digest, protein shakes, carbonated beverages, tea(s), fast food... and on, on and on...

 

These constitute some major changes. Some of these things I'd rather not give up. Because I didn't want to give them up, I ignored my body and kept trying to take some of them. Coffee was the worst in this regard. The more I tried it, the worse I got.

 

I suffered a significant setback with acid reflux by trying to add back some afternoon caffeine after I had already had bad experiences with it.

 

Finally, I learned that, for right now, I should avoid these things. This, I realized, is not the end of the world. Actually, lots of people would consider it an accomplishment to eliminate all of the things I listed above.

 

Someday I hope to indulge in some of those things. But I've decided to stop hurting my recovery out of stubbornness. Of course, I do really, really miss coffee.

 

--

 

Those are six mistakes that I've made since I decided to stop taking my medication.

 

Alex.i

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I can fully relate. I made exactly the same mistakes and made them several times. And also I learned a lot during WD but most lessons came far too late. Going CT from an SSRI is one of the things that cannot be undone anymore. It only matters that I know were my misery came from and that psychiatry surely has no answers for me and going back to meds could have a disastrous result.

 

Just as you, I already realized that something strange was going on after my first CT attempt, and my doctor could simply not be right in his view that this proved thst "I neede the med" because I never had those specific and gruesome issues before going on the med. But indeed, he was the authority and I was so sick that I saw no other option than restarting. And then all problems vansihed again... and I still cannot understand why I was not triggered at that point to start my investigation.

And that is what will haunt me for the rest of my life.

When I started to invest about PAxil on the internet, indeed you can find anything. Most sites, espscially the more "official" ones, give no information or just echo the lies of the leaflet. I was already 18 months in WD after my 5th attempt (and effectively living in a hell already for 3 years) when I finally found PP and learned about WD.

 

It is indeed very disappointing that after some days or even weeks of feeling relief (a window) youi feel like being thrown back to square 1. It still happnes to me now after 45 long long months, in fact I am in a wave for nearly a half year now, after a window of about 3 weeks. And that is still the pattern for me. We can do nothing but hope and pray for recovery... but I still cannot let go the thought that for some of us, the damage will be eternal. Most people report that they turning the corner at about 3 years.

I am not as dedicated as you in giving up all less health habits. I am not a coffee drinker, but still drink beer. Not as much as before and not on a daily base but I simply cannot give it up. So head off for you :)

I wish you all the best and maybe, just maybe we will finally be able to leave this behind and start a new life with a gruesome expeirnce but also a lot of new knowledge.

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alex, what a brilliant DIY Editorial! Everyone should read it. I'm going to pin it up at the top.

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Awesome post Alex!

 

If it makes you feel any better, most of us have made the same six mistakes and repeatedly I might add, until we found support groups. We learn from experience (trial and error) along with advice from those who have travelled down the same road.

 

So, please don't be too hard on yourself. As far as recovery goes.....your right re: "stay the course" and you WILL recover.

 

 

Peace and Healing to You!

 

 

Punar

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alex, what a brilliant DIY Editorial! Everyone should read it. I'm going to pin it up at the top.

 

Thanks, alto! I found myself with some energy, time and a notebook so I started writing down some thoughts on my experience. When I got home, I typed it up.

 

Cheers!

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Feel free to post more of your thoughts. We love 'em.

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Feel free to post more of your thoughts. We love 'em.

 

Ditto.

Plus you always make me smile and sometimes even laugh out loud, which is always a good thing and all too rare for me.

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LOVE this list Alex. I seem to ping pong between #3 and #4. Right now I'm totally in the midst of a #4. I've been having a great window and have gone from going out with friends once every six months to a record 4 times in the past week and a half! I'm thinking "I should start looking for jobs", "Maybe I can move out of my mom's house and room with someone" and even "I should plan that trip to Europe I've always wanted to take!" LOL. The sad thing is that, as you mentioned, it's always followed by a setback or a knock back down to reality eventually. All I can do is try to "stay the course" like you said. Brilliant editorial!

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Alex, I missed this thread the first time round.

What a fantastic post.

There's something real special about you.

xx

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Ya know, Lor, I wrote it and I miss it pretty frequently myself. That is, I don't always follow the lessons I've already learned. Like recently when I overdid it with magnesium supplements because... well, I'm inpatient and hard of good sense under the circumstances.

 

Thanks for the kind words, though. I do very much appreciate them.

 

I wish you a terrific 2012. (The even years have tended to be better ones for me, so personally I am quite hopeful for '12.)

 

Happy New Year!

 

Alex

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Thank you so much for your post!

 

Since I took my last fractional dose of Lexapro in December, I've been going through the disappointment of having a good day and thinking that withdrawal was over, and then crashing for another day or two or three. I thought I was all alone until I read this. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I tend to blame myself for lots of things that aren't my fault (I'm really sorry about the Titanic), and your post helps so much!

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I'm just beginning to find out about this list of mistakes. I could no longer handle what I was going through on Viibryd. I called the psych 4 days ago amd complained loudly. He flat out told me to discontinue use then follow up after the weekend. Now from what I've read, you have to discontine viibryd gradually. I was only on 10 mg, so I called him back yesterday for a followup. I have yet to get a callback from the clinic he works at. I'm definitely changing psychs. Next time one offers an antidepressant, its going to be no way, put me in therapy instead. Unfortunately, the hospitals in this area use the same clinic.

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Thanks Alex....

 

The biggest mistakes I've made were too much/too soon in between drops.

 

The Stinkin Thinkin is a biggy. I have a tendency to awfulize or believe that a situation is never going to end. When I was pregnant I just had this feeling that I would always be pregnant and that nine months was no where in sight...Can you believe this :blink: It's where my head goes.

 

Over exercising is another error I've made.

 

Another biggy....I spent soooo much money on supplements and honestly, nothing stopped WD. Magnesium gave me temporary relief from anxiety, only to be married to the bathroom. Lovely.

 

B complex exacerbated wd anxiety. Not going there again.

 

Eating sugary things to comfort myself.....not good either.

 

Alex I will refer to you list again and again....thanks

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Awesome post Alex!

 

If it makes you feel any better, most of us have made the same six mistakes and repeatedly I might add, until we found support groups. We learn from experience (trial and error) along with advice from those who have travelled down the same road.

 

So, please don't be too hard on yourself. As far as recovery goes.....your right re: "stay the course" and you WILL recover.

 

 

Peace and Healing to You!

 

 

Punar

 

You should add a 7th: Family who don't give a damn. I made the mistake of telling my brother the diagnosis I suspected all along, even before seeing the shrink. He was all over me like a cheap suit. Be that he's ex-military, he considers me to be a liberal crybaby who wants nothing more than attention. Yes, I admit to that, but he's not the one going through withdrawal hell. His response is to suck it up and move on.

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I LOVE this Alex!

 

Thanks for posting I can relate to so much of what you said.

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Thank you!  It's amazing how we struggle with these issues.  Since I started the taper, I've struggled with a perception that whatever I'm currently experiencing is permanent.  I struggle again and again to convince myself that a bad day is nothing more than a bad day.  A good day is nothing more than a good day. And my emotions flow through me, they do not define me.

 

-Mtnbkr

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this is such an encouraging post!!

 

While I annoyed now dealing with tapering and withdrawal, I had two serious injuries; one in April 2002, another May 2008.

I have a new long view.... When I have a good day or a good couple of hours, I enjoy and embracethem Knowing: they will be gone soon!! But for now I will enjoy what I can do. And when I experience a very significantly bad setback, mentally I pace myself: I know this won't last forever, I will have more good days and more bad periods again. But none of it is permanent!! I will enjoy the good moments when I have them.... And patiently allow my mind and body to rest and recover when it leaves and I am back in bed again.

 

The only drawback to this approach for me has been I end up tolerating new lows too well.... Too patiently.... Rather than questioning if a drs new changes to my routine are to blame. I would have caught the bad side effects from my dr changing me off my Xanax and onto buspar back in Oct, two full months sooner, if I had been more vigilant. But still it's a long game plan... Two months is not that bad in the over all scheme of things!! But yes had I been fretting over my new low swing (which I had reasonably attributed to moving out of multiple storage units in multiple stages this summer/fall) instead of taking it in stride, my symptoms from buspar would never have become so severe.... Since I would have refused to go further up on it as directed. But it's ok!! Sucks it's impacting my christmas!!

 

Now I think I will adapt my accepting the good and bad together as it comes... To being more vigilant about shifts around medication changes!! But generally embracing each phase and stage for what it offers (when I face a set back I view it as a needed rest and rejuvenation) has helped me not have my hopes and expectations dashed repeatedly by swinging Soo high and Soo low with every shift :)

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GREAT POST!!!

definitely been on the "talking to my doctor" merry go round.

also made the over exercise mistake, just recently, did a dosage drop of Seroquel and headed off to ballet class for 4 days in a row, on the 4th day right in the middle of class I started shaking, a dark cloud passed over the sun, all the lights went off, my legs went numb, I was gripped with dread, and I had to leave class and go home and curl up in bed. the next day I woke up shaking & crying and reinstated halfway (half the dose I'd just dropped.)

recently got Visterol prescribed to help with Seroquel WD, seems to be helping, no intention of staying on it as long as Seroquel (2 years)

helps with the ataxia, burning skin, burning eyes. jittery, panic, shakes

LOVE YOU ALL!!! STAY BEAUTIFUL!!!

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Wow-this hits the spot, even this far out from the original post.

 

Beginning my 6th month from 'jumping' off Klonopin.  Typing this in the middle of the night-the insomnia is just about intolerable.  And the comment above about family; hell yah...I'm just attention-seeking, a whiner.  The feeling of isolation-of being discarded by not only family but society.

 

I guess it's fortunate I can't afford all the supplements I see recommended...taking Vit C, magnesium, and iodine.  And I did just spring for the Lactium I've seen discussed here and on Beyond Meds...so desparate to sleep-I'd be happy with 5 hours...

 

Tomorrow my internet access will be more limited-and I don't think now that's such a bad thing...tmi causing the catastrophic thinking...and thinking positive has never been easy for me.  Alex's post helps me see what I'm doing to myself.  Thanks.  

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Every time I feel scared and apprehensive about embarking on the withdrawal train, I read something like this and it makes me feel more positive. 

 

I agree with you, I have had such a negative attitude for so long and now I think I am finally ready to discontinue my meds due to my positive attitude about life now. 

 

Thank you so much for this post.

 

And sending positive vibes to you Billy. Stay strong. 

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Navigating withdrawal from antidepressants -- in my case antipsychotics and benzodiazepines as well -- is a daunting task. There is no guidebook. I am 18 months into my journey and have learned a ton. Unfortunately, I learned many of my lessons through experience. Many of these could have avoided had I only possessed better knowledge or (sometimes) better sense.

 

I've made many mistakes thus far, so many that I have decided to share my errors.

 

The problem with withdrawal from antidepressants (and all psychiatric medication) is that there is not a one-size solution that fits all. So some of the things that were mistakes for me will not be mistakes for all. That said, most of these mistakes will be mistakes for anyone going through the psychological torture of withdrawal syndrome (also known as discontinuation syndrome).

 

Because there is no cookbook with the recipe for healing, I don't fault myself for my mistakes. I've done a much better job (with help from sites about recovering from antidepressant withdrawal) guiding my treatment than has any professional medical doctor I've encountered. Overall, I've done my best. But there have been errors.

 

I hope you are able to learn from me and my mistakes. Finally, everything below is just my opinion. No facts, that's a fact.

 

Here are my top six mistakes.

 

1. Deferring to Medical Authority

 

I went through many medication stops and changes, each being problematic. I developed doubts about my doctor's understanding of my condition and ability to treat it. But he was a DOCTOR. I figured he must know what he was doing. After all, who was the one on mental health medications? Me! Who was the one with the diplomas on the wall? Him.

 

Means nothing!

 

Antidepressant withdrawal syndrome (withdrawal from any psychiatric medication introduced in the last 25 year) is not well understood or even well acknowledged. My early attempts to learn about what was happening to me, yielded little. My searches turned up generally reliable websites, but these websites are not reliable when the subject is prolonged withdrawal caused by discontinuation of psychiatric medication. This not because they intentionally misinform but because they don't even know that they're misinforming.

 

My mistake was trusting authority because it was authority. Even after I had good reason to doubt my doctors and certain health websites, I refused to accept what my eyes were seeing. MISTAKE. I was lucky to eventually, through persistence, find other websites with more information relevant to the hell I was going through...

 

I now believe -- unequivocally -- that the best advice about prolonged withdrawal syndrome does not come from professionals. No psychiatrist I have yet met has even acknowledged a belief in withdrawal lasting more than a few weeks. No, the best advice comes from the web of sufferers who have aggregated their personal histories. From all these anecdotes, as well as some research by renegade psychiatric health professionals, some understanding and some USEFUL guidelines about tapering and recovery have emerged. Still, much is not known. But I now check everything my doc recommends against the wisdom of the sufferers. It was unfortunate it took me so long to realize the state of affairs.

 

Trust your fellows.

 

2. Making Abrupt Changes

 

For me sudden changes to medication, especially, as well as diet, exercise, stress, stimuli, etc have caused worsened withdrawal symptoms.

 

There is, among the informed, essentially unanimous support for a slow taper off psychiatric medications.

 

But the same principle for me applies to most everything. If I change a major aspect of my health routine, I do it gradually unless I have a very good reason to do so otherwise.

 

3. Stinkin' Thinkin' (This Will Last Forever)

 

My withdrawal symptoms have been traumatizing. Certain of them, PSSD, gastrointestinal problems, and sensitivity to normal environmental stressors, sometimes scare me. I get scared I'll never be normal.

 

This terror, especially when I feel alone, makes this condition a torture.

 

I've realized, though, that giving in to my fear is a mistake. I have tried to change my mental approach to my ongoing symptoms.

 

If a problem has persisted, it may last forever, yes. However, it does no good to believe it will last forever. If believing this has any effect at all, it is, in my opinion, only negative.

 

I find my fearful ruminating self-reinforcing. The more I worry, the more I worry... and so on. Even if worrying does no harm, it does no good. Even if I think I will not recover, that my disability is permanent, I do not allow myself to think that way. It only makes my suffering more of a burden on my shoulders.

 

Therefore, the only option for me is to believe that I will get better. It is the most likely outcome, no matter how scared I feel at any one moment. Others have recovered, so I choose to believe that I will recover as well, even if there is no way of knowing this for sure.

 

In Alcoholics Anonymous, athiests regularly pray to 'God'. They do this because it activates a part of their brain separate from the part that drives their impulse to drink. It doesn't matter if God exists. They don't care. They pray because they stay sober that way.

 

I maintain a positive attitude for similar reason. It doesn't matter, right now, whether I fully recover or not. I choose to believe that I will fully recover because choosing otherwise makes my life... not worth living, frankly.

 

I've made this mistake frequently. But today, part of my self-care is always holding the belief that I will, someday, be through this.

 

4. "I'm All Better!"

 

This goes back to abruptness. I've made the mistake of confusing a good day for a return to permanent good health. When I enter into a good 'window' and feel okay, a wave of excitement grips me. I immediately start planning to make up for lost time, to get back on track. I start perusing the jobs and apartment listings.

 

When this has happened, I have, in my excitement, overexerted myself. After my brief "all better" periods, a setback has always followed.

 

I now try to exercise caution. If I proceed cautiously, I have better success holding my gains. My recovery will always be more gradual than I would choose it to be. But my reality has been that recovery is non-linear and that feeling "All Better" for a couple hours doesn't mean much.

 

I stay the course.

 

5. Not Being Cautious with Supplements (vitamines, nutirents, natural cures, etc)

 

One of my primary symptoms is hypersensitivity. I'm crazy sensitive. My symptoms have not, generally, been helped by supplements. They have, unfortunately, been greatly exacerbated instead.

 

But it is hard to not try something when others report a positive effect, so I have tried everything...

 

There have been occasions when I've had a positive reaction to a supplement on day one, only to have a horrible adverse reaction when taking the same dose on the following day. I don't know why this happens.

 

However, I have learned from it. Today, if I want to try a supplement, I try a fraction -- not more than 1/5th of the manufacturer's recommended dose -- actually, in my case, much less that this. If I react strongly, even positively, I do not take the supplement for at least two days afterward. If I try it again, I try a lower dose.

 

Strong reactions are a warning sign for me.

 

If I had known this at the start, I could have avoided some truly horrific adverse reactions causing everything from burning skin to lack of feeling/sensation in the extremities to complete wipeout (unable to get up from bed for many, many days).

 

6. Catastrophizing Necessary Lifestyle Changes

 

In the last 18 months, I have given up alcohol, nicotine, coffee, energy drinks, artificial sweetener, foods I can't currently digest, protein shakes, carbonated beverages, tea(s), fast food... and on, on and on...

 

These constitute some major changes. Some of these things I'd rather not give up. Because I didn't want to give them up, I ignored my body and kept trying to take some of them. Coffee was the worst in this regard. The more I tried it, the worse I got.

 

I suffered a significant setback with acid reflux by trying to add back some afternoon caffeine after I had already had bad experiences with it.

 

Finally, I learned that, for right now, I should avoid these things. This, I realized, is not the end of the world. Actually, lots of people would consider it an accomplishment to eliminate all of the things I listed above.

 

Someday I hope to indulge in some of those things. But I've decided to stop hurting my recovery out of stubbornness. Of course, I do really, really miss coffee.

 

--

 

Those are six mistakes that I've made since I decided to stop taking my medication.

 

Alex.i

You made this post 3 years ago I am wondering how your digestion is now?  

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I made the biggest mistake, stopping an a/d CT

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My mistake was to keep thinking I was going to find the magical supplement that would help only to waste an awful lot of money on various remedies.

 

CS

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My biggest mistake was this:  Smoking marijuana. 

 

Folks, it might seem like a good idea and I've read some members on here actually recommend it, but I cannot even begin to tell you how badly this set me back and messed up my brain.  I thought I was actually mostly recovered when I smoked the pot and it brought me way below my worst and I'm just beginnig to emerge from the hell that stuff caused me.

 

It's still difficult to write about this experience, to be totally honest, but I think that this community needs to be very aware that marijuana will totally destroy your life if you're not careful.

 

Be very wary folks - there's no escape from WD.  Don't risk your recovery.

 

I wrote a bit more about this experience in my introduction topic, but it's so tragic and disheartening what has become of my once prosperous and fortuitous life that I can't dare to elaborate about how badly it destroyed ALL my progress.  It makes no sense to me either, maybe someone could help to explain how smoking too much pot lead to a massive panic attack which then destroyed my progress in one short night.

 

It's amazing to me how much pain and suffering 4-5 hits from a joint that was being passed around by colleagues caused me over the ensuing year.  It's also amazing that I didn't hurt myself out of frustration, and that I'm still alive to tell the tale.  That's right, I smoked pot one time, not chronically - just one experiment to see if the pot would help my withdrawal symptoms - JUST ONE TRY - and BAMMMMMMMMMMMMMM.  The after effects still resound, and it's been almost 14 months. 

 

Please, for the love of god do not smoke pot during withdrawal.  Please, I'm literally on my knees begging you not to try.

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Better. I can not handle the big food allergens but I am better able to eat. I weigh 170lbs which is a gain of 25 lbs from 18 months ago !!

 

Alex.i

You made this post 3 years ago I am wondering how your digestion is now?  

 

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i am glad you improve, happy to hear from you

 

be strong, it seem taking many many time,

 

time is the big healer

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An excellent post Alexjuice I wish I'd read it 4 months ago.Really helpful read.

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Thank you stan. Stan, you are right, time is a powerful healing force. I am better than I have been in a long time. However, I am inpatient also because I am now ready to be perfectly healthy!!

 

Thanks Nomoreheadmeds. I wrote this post 4 years ago. Wow, how the time can fly away!!

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Wonderful post...I can relate to all six...especially #4.

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4. "I'm All Better!"

 

This goes back to abruptness. I've made the mistake of confusing a good day for a return to permanent good health. When I enter into a good 'window' and feel okay, a wave of excitement grips me. I immediately start planning to make up for lost time, to get back on track. I start perusing the jobs and apartment listings.

 

When this has happened, I have, in my excitement, overexerted myself. After my brief "all better" periods, a setback has always followed.

 

I now try to exercise caution. If I proceed cautiously, I have better success holding my gains. My recovery will always be more gradual than I would choose it to be. But my reality has been that recovery is non-linear and that feeling "All Better" for a couple hours doesn't mean much.

 

I stay the course.

 

This is exactly what I need to hear. I have always been prone to this kind of behaviour, so I need to be extra vigilant now. I am glad that I found your post early in the game.  :)

 

Great advice, alexjuice. Thanks for it!

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Thank you for this, Alexjuice. I can rlate to everything you said!

 

quote name="alexjuice" post="7954" timestamp="1311306510"]Navigating withdrawal from antidepressants -- in my case antipsychotics and benzodiazepines as well -- is a daunting task. There is no guidebook. I am 18 months into my journey and have learned a ton. Unfortunately, I learned many of my lessons through experience. Many of these could have avoided had I only possessed better knowledge or (sometimes) better sense.

 

I've made many mistakes thus far, so many that I have decided to share my errors.

 

The problem with withdrawal from antidepressants (and all psychiatric medication) is that there is not a one-size solution that fits all. So some of the things that were mistakes for me will not be mistakes for all. That said, most of these mistakes will be mistakes for anyone going through the psychological torture of withdrawal syndrome (also known as discontinuation syndrome).

 

Because there is no cookbook with the recipe for healing, I don't fault myself for my mistakes. I've done a much better job (with help from sites about recovering from antidepressant withdrawal) guiding my treatment than has any professional medical doctor I've encountered. Overall, I've done my best. But there have been errors.

 

I hope you are able to learn from me and my mistakes. Finally, everything below is just my opinion. No facts, that's a fact.

 

Here are my top six mistakes.

 

1. Deferring to Medical Authority

 

I went through many medication stops and changes, each being problematic. I developed doubts about my doctor's understanding of my condition and ability to treat it. But he was a DOCTOR. I figured he must know what he was doing. After all, who was the one on mental health medications? Me! Who was the one with the diplomas on the wall? Him.

 

Means nothing!

 

Antidepressant withdrawal syndrome (withdrawal from any psychiatric medication introduced in the last 25 year) is not well understood or even well acknowledged. My early attempts to learn about what was happening to me, yielded little. My searches turned up generally reliable websites, but these websites are not reliable when the subject is prolonged withdrawal caused by discontinuation of psychiatric medication. This not because they intentionally misinform but because they don't even know that they're misinforming.

 

My mistake was trusting authority because it was authority. Even after I had good reason to doubt my doctors and certain health websites, I refused to accept what my eyes were seeing. MISTAKE. I was lucky to eventually, through persistence, find other websites with more information relevant to the hell I was going through...

 

I now believe -- unequivocally -- that the best advice about prolonged withdrawal syndrome does not come from professionals. No psychiatrist I have yet met has even acknowledged a belief in withdrawal lasting more than a few weeks. No, the best advice comes from the web of sufferers who have aggregated their personal histories. From all these anecdotes, as well as some research by renegade psychiatric health professionals, some understanding and some USEFUL guidelines about tapering and recovery have emerged. Still, much is not known. But I now check everything my doc recommends against the wisdom of the sufferers. It was unfortunate it took me so long to realize the state of affairs.

 

Trust your fellows.

 

2. Making Abrupt Changes

 

For me sudden changes to medication, especially, as well as diet, exercise, stress, stimuli, etc have caused worsened withdrawal symptoms.

 

There is, among the informed, essentially unanimous support for a slow taper off psychiatric medications.

 

But the same principle for me applies to most everything. If I change a major aspect of my health routine, I do it gradually unless I have a very good reason to do so otherwise.

 

3. Stinkin' Thinkin' (This Will Last Forever)

 

My withdrawal symptoms have been traumatizing. Certain of them, PSSD, gastrointestinal problems, and sensitivity to normal environmental stressors, sometimes scare me. I get scared I'll never be normal.

 

This terror, especially when I feel alone, makes this condition a torture.

 

I've realized, though, that giving in to my fear is a mistake. I have tried to change my mental approach to my ongoing symptoms.

 

If a problem has persisted, it may last forever, yes. However, it does no good to believe it will last forever. If believing this has any effect at all, it is, in my opinion, only negative.

 

I find my fearful ruminating self-reinforcing. The more I worry, the more I worry... and so on. Even if worrying does no harm, it does no good. Even if I think I will not recover, that my disability is permanent, I do not allow myself to think that way. It only makes my suffering more of a burden on my shoulders.

 

Therefore, the only option for me is to believe that I will get better. It is the most likely outcome, no matter how scared I feel at any one moment. Others have recovered, so I choose to believe that I will recover as well, even if there is no way of knowing this for sure.

 

In Alcoholics Anonymous, athiests regularly pray to 'God'. They do this because it activates a part of their brain separate from the part that drives their impulse to drink. It doesn't matter if God exists. They don't care. They pray because they stay sober that way.

 

I maintain a positive attitude for similar reason. It doesn't matter, right now, whether I fully recover or not. I choose to believe that I will fully recover because choosing otherwise makes my life... not worth living, frankly.

 

I've made this mistake frequently. But today, part of my self-care is always holding the belief that I will, someday, be through this.

 

4. "I'm All Better!"

 

This goes back to abruptness. I've made the mistake of confusing a good day for a return to permanent good health. When I enter into a good 'window' and feel okay, a wave of excitement grips me. I immediately start planning to make up for lost time, to get back on track. I start perusing the jobs and apartment listings.

 

When this has happened, I have, in my excitement, overexerted myself. After my brief "all better" periods, a setback has always followed.

 

I now try to exercise caution. If I proceed cautiously, I have better success holding my gains. My recovery will always be more gradual than I would choose it to be. But my reality has been that recovery is non-linear and that feeling "All Better" for a couple hours doesn't mean much.

 

I stay the course.

5. Not Being Cautious with Supplements (vitamines, nutirents, natural cures, etc)

 

One of my primary symptoms is hypersensitivity. I'm crazy sensitive. My symptoms have not, generally, been helped by supplements. They have, unfortunately, been greatly exacerbated instead.

 

But it is hard to not try something when others report a positive effect, so I have tried everything...

 

There have been occasions when I've had a positive reaction to a supplement on day one, only to have a horrible adverse reaction when taking the same dose on the following day. I don't know why this happens.

 

However, I have learned from it. Today, if I want to try a supplement, I try a fraction -- not more than 1/5th of the manufacturer's recommended dose -- actually, in my case, much less that this. If I react strongly, even positively, I do not take the supplement for at least two days afterward. If I try it again, I try a lower dose.

 

Strong reactions are a warning sign for me.

 

If I had known this at the start, I could have avoided some truly horrific adverse reactions causing everything from burning skin to lack of feeling/sensation in the extremities to complete wipeout (unable to get up from bed for many, many days).

6. Catastrophizing Necessary Lifestyle Changes

 

In the last 18 months, I have given up alcohol, nicotine, coffee, energy drinks, artificial sweetener, foods I can't currently digest, protein shakes, carbonated beverages, tea(s), fast food... and on, on and on...

 

These constitute some major changes. Some of these things I'd rather not give up. Because I didn't want to give them up, I ignored my body and kept trying to take some of them. Coffee was the worst in this regard. The more I tried it, the worse I got.

 

I suffered a significant setback with acid reflux by trying to add back some afternoon caffeine after I had already had bad experiences with it.

 

Finally, I learned that, for right now, I should avoid these things. This, I realized, is not the end of the world. Actually, lots of people would consider it an accomplishment to eliminate all of the things I listed above.

 

Someday I hope to indulge in some of those things. But I've decided to stop hurting my recovery out of stubbornness. Of course, I do really, really miss coffee.

 

--

 

Those are six mistakes that I've made since I decided to stop taking my medication.

 

Alex.i

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Oh I especially recognize 3 and 4. 3 sucks, 4 stands for the HOPE in me. That I will feel better, more "normal" and eventually be able do all those things.

Thanks for this great post!

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I struggle again and again to convince myself that a bad day is nothing more than a bad day.  A good day is nothing more than a good day. And my emotions flow through me, they do not define me.

 

-Mtnbkr

 

Brilliant MTNBKR!!

 

I will write that somewhere.

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Wow-this hits the spot, even this far out from the original post.

 

Beginning my 6th month from 'jumping' off Klonopin.  Typing this in the middle of the night-the insomnia is just about intolerable.  And the comment above about family; hell yah...I'm just attention-seeking, a whiner.  The feeling of isolation-of being discarded by not only family but society.

 

I guess it's fortunate I can't afford all the supplements I see recommended...taking Vit C, magnesium, and iodine.  And I did just spring for the Lactium I've seen discussed here and on Beyond Meds...so desparate to sleep-I'd be happy with 5 hours...

 

Tomorrow my internet access will be more limited-and I don't think now that's such a bad thing...tmi causing the catastrophic thinking...and thinking positive has never been easy for me.  Alex's post helps me see what I'm doing to myself.  Thanks.  

I would like to more about how you are doing .

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oh I wish I'd seen this a few days ago, LOL

 

yep, I mistake a good window for the end of WD.

 

Quote

4. "I'm All Better!"

 

This goes back to abruptness. I've made the mistake of confusing a good day for a return to permanent good health. When I enter into a good 'window' and feel okay, a wave of excitement grips me. I immediately start planning to make up for lost time, to get back on track. I start perusing the jobs and apartment listings.

 

When this has happened, I have, in my excitement, overexerted myself. After my brief "all better" periods, a setback has always followed.

 

I now try to exercise caution. If I proceed cautiously, I have better success holding my gains. My recovery will always be more gradual than I would choose it to be. But my reality has been that recovery is non-linear and that feeling "All Better" for a couple hours doesn't mean much.

 

I stay the course.

 

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