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Hudgens

Hudgens' Success Story

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Hudgens

Ten and one half months after ending my taper from Effexor (75mgs) I have returned to the normalcy and health which I generally enjoyed before taking any antidepressant. The last of my withdrawal symptoms-insomnia, lightheadedness and mild brain zaps-are gone. All food, drug and exercise sensitivities-are gone. I don't see any evidence of permanent damage of any kind.

 

I had to go very slowly. I took 3 years and 11 months to taper, and, although I eliminated a lot of suffering this way, I don't think it's possible to get off one of these drugs without some suffering. Still, there was only one period of a month or a little longer maybe, that I look back on as a true living hell. It happened because I began to taper too fast (3 50% cuts in a row), and everything went back to manageable within a few weeks once I realized my mistake and made a small reinstatement.

 

I began my life with antidepressants on September 12th 1992 and took my last dose on October 31st 2014. And so I was on one antidepressant or another for 22 years. What's important to me is that all of that stuff is behind me; for others, what's important is that it can be done.

 

Thank you to all who offered advice and encouragement through all of this. God bless this important site. I will always check back from time to time in case anyone has a question.

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kitschywoman

Thanks for this.  I'm about to reinstate, myself, having learned what cutting too fast will do.  I've been reading up on this site and preparing for a long, drawn-out taper once I get settled in at my higher dose.  How long did you give yourself after your small reinstatement before making further cuts?

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mcc2929

This is amazing. Thank you so much for posting.

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brassmonkey

Congratulations Hudgens.  It is wonderful to hear such an endorsement of the slow taper.  I will have been tapering 4 years at the end of this month and have to agree with you.  It hasn't been a painless ride but it has been a whole lot better than what most people describe.  Please keep us posted on what life after ADs is like, we really want to know.

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Hudgens

Kitchy, I usually waited about a month and a half between drops, but you have to be careful not to automatically go by a particular calendar date, and instead go by how you feel. It's important to give yourself plenty of time for withdrawal symptoms to show up each time. I've waited as long as 4 months before making the next drop in dosage. It's also very important to get to as low a dosage as possible before stepping off of the taper.  

 

Brassmonkey, I plan on returning from time to time. I think I'm alright now, but I don't think I'll completely stop worrying about it until I'm 2 years out. I'll be 60 then, by the way. I guess that's another important thing to point out-you can be "older" an still do this. I remember someone on here writing that a Dr. had told them that they would never be able to get off their antidepressant because they were 45. That's a lot of crap. It's not how old you are, but how you go about it that makes the difference. It also doesn't matter how long you've been taking a drug, or drugs. I think that your nervous system is as dependent on an antidepressant after two weeks as it is after 10 years. People who've  taken an antidepressant for both brief and much longer periods often have the same severe withdrawal when they cold turkey.  

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LexAnger

Thanks so very much Hudgens for sharing your successful tapering! Each of us who is still on the way needs it so much to continue this most terrifying, painful and long battle! It's just beyond unbelievable even for the micro tapers.

 

Can you share more insights about how did it feel during the slow taper, what you were able and unable to do etc. did all symptoms go away without other complications to your general health?

 

Again, your great success can save many lives. One of members I befriended here on the forum just took her life last week losing hope no being terrified by the non- out of the hell thinking.

 

Please update us when you can as you heal further.

 

Best wishes to you. So happy for you!

LexA

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alex

Congratulations Hudgens.And thank you very much.

I wish you the best in your drug free life.You deserve it.

 

Hugs.

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Hudgens

very sorry to here about the site member you referred to. That's so terrible.

 

I began having insomnia at the beginning of my third year. That was my most persistent symptom. It got a lot better late last spring and only more recently went away. Most of the time I did alright with it. There were maybe a half dozen times it was just awful, two to three days of one and two hours a night, times you really start to panic and think you're never going to sleep again. I had about a dozen separate episodes of waking up in a confused state. Those were pretty scary, knowing that something's not right but not being able to recall what. I would also get night sweets and sudden severe drops in body temperature, to the point where I'd be painfully shaking under the covers, so cold that I couldn't even reach out from under the covers to grab a heating pad on the floor next to the bed. Still with the great help of really simple mindfulness techniques, plus the gradual reduction of the overall severity of the withdrawal, I was more and more able to get out and do things. There was also some line I crossed sometime maybe during the third year, after which I no longer felt like a sick person who just didn't feel like their old self, but very much like someone who felt like their old self and just under the weather now and again. I very different feeling of normalcy and a feeling of self-sustainment had returned.

I think that I don't really have any more healing to do. The great thing is I'm feeling completely restored to what I remember to be my former self, prior to having panic attacks and going on antidepressants, thank God. And God give rest and peace to your friend.

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LexAnger

So generous of you responding with that much very helpful details! Thank you so much again!

 

I just found your thread and finished reading the last few pages (backward reading). So much great insight on top of the regular update! I will finish reading all of it.

 

I definitely gives me tons of hope for a smoother taper and regaining my full health back eventually.

 

Enjoy the most deserved life in its fullest!

 

Best,

LexA

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LoveandLight

Very happy for you x

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manymoretodays

Great and yay! Thanks for sharing......needed. My fear/anxiety is kind of a pain today. Positive distraction.

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brassmonkey

There are a lot of us in that age range (I turned 49 for the 13th time last spring) and it seems to not be a factor.  I do think having the extra life experience helps us to keep a better perspective on it.  I frequently remind people that this is the "once in a lifetime experience" that is teaching the "Darn Kids" just how tough life can be and how strong they really are.  You are right, it all comes down to attitude and speed of taper.

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Marmite

Well done to you Hudgens. 22 years! That's such an achievement to be off psych drugs at last.

You are an inspiration to all and it's good to see that slow and steady wins the race.

 

Good luck in life. It begins again now...!

x

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marie123

Congrats on your success story. I am in my late fifties, and I agree with you that it's never to late to come off these drugs.  I was wondering how were you able to taper in such small increments? I am having a tough time with dry cutting Trazadone in small increments. It's so crumbly and hard to get a precise dose.

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Hudgens

I've tried to explain this several times before, but it's difficult. I went looking through a junk drawer at the beginning of my taper in 2010 and found a sort of device-I still have no idea what it's real purpose is- that I used for measuring. Looks a little like the top of a small monkey wrench (but it's not a wrench). It's got screw and a locking nut for the screw (wish I could just download a picture, but I have no idea how), anyway, what I'd do is take a white, round, generic Effexor pill and take a tiny section off of the pill's edge by rubbing it on a piece of sandpaper, then put the pill in the adjustable gap of my measuring mechanism-lock the screw-and that way know exactly how much to take off of the pill each time (that is, by reducing the pill on the sandpaper until it fit neatly into the previously set gap of the device). When I was ready to make another reduction-I would prepare the pill to fit the gap and then take a tiny bit more off, readjust the screw on the device and lock it in place again for the new smaller dose. When I got to the center dividing line in the pill I just cut the pill in half for a half dose.

 

When the piece of pill got down to about 2 mgs it was too brittle to use the machine anymore and I had to switch to crushing the pills and measuring by eye. In order to see where I was in mgs, I began by crushing a half dose and then dividing that pile in half and then in half again until I reached a pile that looked like the one I was currently down to-that way I knew the mgs. (Can't imagine anyone understanding this description, but it's really a very straight forward and pretty simple procedure). The amounts I recorded on my Introductory thread are only approximate-but the actual procedure, at any rate, allowed me to taper very slowly, down, in fact, to about 6 finely ground grains of Effexor. I had to use a lighted magnifying glass for the last 2-3 cuts. I also used the same single edge razor blade throughout the almost 4 years of the taper. When the amount got so small that the grains would get picked up by the edge of the razor blade making the measurement extremely difficult-I decided to end the taper. I was actually thinking of getting a microscope to go down to 1 grain of Effexor, but decided it wasn't necessary.

Years before all this I successfully got off of 4 mgs of Xanax with a similar method-except that I only reduced the 1mg pills with the sand paper-using the pill markings to remember what dose I was at. I tapered that time over a 7 month period and was fine afterward. It was nothing compared to the Effexor taper. I don't want to minimize the difficulty of a Xanax taper-I know a lot of people here have had trouble with this sort of thing comparable to antidepressant tapering-I was just lucky with it.

 

One of the problems of going down to such a small dose is that, when grinding the pill, you can accidentally "breath in" a dose-worth of the drug, I mean when just preparing it. I started wearing a surgical mask when grinding the pill to avoid this. When the taper was over I went nuts for about two weeks cleaning the room I'd used for the prepariand taking each dose. I scrubbed the walls, washed the carpet, vacuumed several times with a Hepa filtering vacuum so as not to kick any Effexor dust into the air-scrubbed the dresser on which everything was done inside and out several times. It was almost like OCD except I was satisfied eventually and wanted to be very careful I wasn't going to ingest a dose after the taper was over-the problem, as I said-being that with a dose of 6 grains (dust particles really) accidental ingestion is quite possible-and I'd used this room for almost 4 years with only spot cleaning from time to time-I even wore plastic gloves when preparing the powder. Maybe I went too far, but I wanted to take every precaution to insure success (I think it was mostly fear of the horrific withdrawal symptoms that drove me, a powerful motivator certainly), and anyway it worked, and it's over.

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Altostrata

You can attach a photo to a post. Use the More Reply Options button.

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Hudgens

Tried, but it's telling me the file's too big, no idea how to change file size.

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Nomoreheadmeds

Congratulations hudgens I'm really glad for you.Really glad I read this too it helps.

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DLB

Well, I can certainly tell you what that device is. I use them often. That is opened up and then is placed on an "I" beam in a building and then you tighten screw to fasten it to the I beam , then you screw in threaded rod at a desired length and hang whatever it is you want to from the rod ( in my trade we put pipe hangers on the end and run lengths of pipe through a series of these setups) mostly plumbers and electricians use these.

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Hudgens

Thanks DLB, I've been wondering about that for five years. Worked great for what I used it for. 

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Karma

Hudgens,

 

Congratulations!  I am beyond thrilled that you wrote a success story!  I've followed your journey to help gauge my own.  I am down to 6.5 mg of Effexor.  I have it compounded into a liquid suspension so I can very accurately measure my dosing with a syringe.  It works great.

 

Thank you for taking the time to share with the community what your withdrawal symptoms were and how you are feeling now.  It means so much coming from someone who is living the experience.  I agree with what someone else said, you are an inspiration to us all!

 

Love and light and continued good health,

 

Karma

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Mort81

Amazing story! Going slow is the way to go and even then takes some good time to recover.

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Hudgens

No offense, but you seem to be going very fast.

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toomanymeds

Did you ever struggle with any nausea?

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Hudgens

OH yeah. But the only period of struggle with it and many other withdrawal symptoms was when I sped up my tapering by 50% drops. Everything was much more manageable after I started the slow, careful taper. The bad period was the great motivator for the slow careful period. I just NEVER wanted to feel that awful again.

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LexAnger

still thinking about you Hudgens and what you accomplished.

You are a hero to all of us and I will look your example up all the time to keep myself miving.

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Hudgens

Never been called a hero before. Thanks.

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LexAnger

Hero of its own kind, well deserved although Only we know.

I believe nothing in this whole world can be more challenging than going through this hell and getting out of it.

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Hudgens

One year since last dose of Effexor.

Feeling fine. No withdrawal for I don't no how long.

 

Some extra stress in my life now-taking care of relative going through treatment for cancer.Isn't bringing back withdrawal.

 

Neither is lots of exercise.

 

I've seen the topic of possible effects of antidepressants released from fat during dieting. I've lost 15 pounds recently and no adverse effects so far.

 

I think I'm out of the woods.

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Meimeiquest

So, so cool! I remember you from your Benz days and I just couldn't be more happy for you and for the trail you have left for others in your notes.

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Charliegirl66

I an new to this site...but very interested in your story ....I did what I thought was a slow taper over aprox. 5 months and still went through HELL...I am doing so much better but have never felt 100 % myself.after tapering off of Lexipro my last portion of the pill was taken about 5/2015...my worst issue now is I still have the feeling of shaking throughout my body especially when I am laying down. This started back when I first started my taper in December 2014 ...it is not as bad but still there ...at first I thought it was a rapid heart beat...still do not know what it is.I am hoping to find your original post to read more about your journey ...thank you for yor post ....so happy to read a success story....

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Hudgens

Yeah, I had the shaking, sometimes vibrating, and always when I laid down to sleep at night.

 

Antidepressants affect the entire nervous system not just the brain. I think the shaking is part of the withdrawal the body goes through-also the flu-like symptoms-you've probably had that too.

 

Don't let it scare you-better than withdrawal anxiety and depression. Can't hurt you-just your peripheral nervous system readjusting to the lack of antidepressant.

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Charliegirl66

Thank you for your reply ...it really helps to know that this is "as suspected"a withdrawl issue....I have had just about every symptom out there except the brain zaps ( fortunately I did not experience that one) I thought I had finally made it through the really horrific issues !I occasionally have unexplained anxiety and still cry very easily. .. but now this shaking thing has flared up again ....I was starting to wonder if something else was going on . It helps so much to know others have had this .I guess I need to be patient and except this will take much longer than I had ever expected .

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LT2

Hello Hudgens,

 

Thank you so much for sharing your journey.  I have been Effexor free for 6.5 months after approximately 17 years.  Did a fairly long taper (1 year from 75 mg to 37.5 then about 8 months from 37.5 to 0 by counting beads)  I feel this helped me avoid some of the more severe symptoms. I was, however, caught off guard by the panic/anxiety/racing heartbeat that started the second month after I had stopped.  I had never experienced that type of anxiety before Effexor so I felt pretty sure it was symptomatic of the withdrawl.  Fortunately, those incidents have decreased in intensity now that I am entering month seven.  The most concerrning thing to me has been my level of cognitive decline in terms of memory, strategic thinking, writing, and speaking.  It has become exponentially worse over the last couple of years, since I have weaned off Effexor.   My memory was always excellent and now I have difficulty being specific about what I have heard or read just hours prior.  In the past I wrote speeches for executives of a global 500 company, and now I have problems putting together coherent sentences!  I lose my train of thought in the middle of conversations and often simply do not know what to say/reply to people. I can feel my brain searching for the proper information/comment but it comes up blank!   These are not occassional occurences, but are becoming the norm.   I am becoming very very concerned.  I am about to be 60 years old.  My question to you--did you experience any period after you discontinued anti-depressants during which you felt cogitively impaired? If so, how long did it last?   This is not the same as the confusion/agitation I felt in the early days of starting to wean down, this seems much more permanent/pervasive.  I hope it isn't so.  Any commentary is appreciated.  Thank you for reading this!

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