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StarChild: Following my star amid a sea of confusion

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StarChild   
StarChild

Greetings All!

 

I am blessed to have found you all and look forward to enlightening engagements. 

 

What a conundrum life can be, what a perplexity! But, as one inspiring author has once written "It is a great day in the life of a man (though at the time he knows it not) when bewildering perplexities concerning the mystery of life take possession of his mind, for it signifies that his era of dead indifference, of animal sloth, of mere vegetative happiness, has come to an end, and that henceforth he is to live as an aspiring, self-evolving being."

 

I am here because I'm not sure if I made the right decision. After reading posts on this sight, and garnering much inspiration from the heartfelt  writings of other recoverers, I am beginning to wonder if I am on the right track. Any insight would be appreciated. I have posted my background for anyone's information but you can skip this (as its quite long) and go straight to my question at the end under the heading "A Miraculous Intervention?". 

 

Background

 

The beginning

In 2010 I began suffering from severe OCD caused by a drug-induced psychotic episode which left me in a terrible spin. On that night I hallucinated hearing very ugly voices all around me and coming from my friends - I was extremely high on a mix of cocaine and alcohol - and I think my psyche could not take it anymore. My mind was flooded with nothing but horrendous intrusive thoughts of every abominable kind, they are truly unspeakable. This was not the fist time the psychosis set in. It had done so before when I was high on acid/LSD and to lesser extent when I'd smoke marijuana before that. I have a history of substance abuse and it was the substances that ultimately led to the outburst of severe OCD. In 2011, with these horrific intrusive thoughts banging away in my head from morning to night I managed to muster up the courage to get clean off every toxic substance that I was still consuming (alcohol, ecstasy, cocaine/cat, cigarettes). This helped me to get a job, study further and work towards having some sort of a career. [On a side-note: Externally I wasn't doing too bad. I had the respect of my family and people around me and was building a high profile social network through my work at the time - no one would've even suspected my inward suffering].

 

My first dose of medication

By 2012 I was totally clean and working slowly to build a life. Inwardly I continued to live with this horrendous OCD which was coupled with constant anxiety and depression - it was the hell of hells. I had never known that some can suffer such a deep suffering and be forced to live with it everyday. It was my unspeakable reality. One day, after I couldn't take it anymore, I mustered up the courage to go see a psychologist. I started telling her my story and then burst out int tears in her office. She looked at me and said "Oh, child, you're suffering from OCD". It was the first time I had ever heard of the term. She was absolutely great - very instrumental to my healing. I worked with her deeply for some time as an inpatient in a psychiatric hospital. While I was there, I started seeing a psychiatrist who put me on a cocktail - Seroquel, Lexamil and one or two other drugs. They paralyzed me and after a few months I quit and resolved rather to live with my excruciating OCD-Depression-Anxiety rather than be zombified by these drugs. 

 

Second Try at Meds

Then in 2014, while doing my first post-graduate degree, I couldn't take my suffering anymore. I was consuming tons of caffeine to help me concentrate and work past the OCD during exams and I just couldn't take the inward suffering. The caffeine seemed to help me concentrate but it also made my condition worse. I sought the help of an amazing CBT specialist who has been a psychological guardian angel for me. I worked with her for sometime and when I eventually opened up to her about the nature of my OCD thoughts and we jointly decided that I should consult a psychiatrist. The psychiatrist I saw was also great - she really cares about her patients and doesn't force anything onto patients but rather works with them and remains sensitive to their reactions and needs. We tried another cocktail - seroquel, fluoxetine, and something else (I cant remember). And my body immediately rejected all of them except fluoxetine. I felt so terrible form the meds that after three months of taking the fluoxetine and rotating the antipsycotic meds (we kept the fluoxetine stable while experimenting with other meds) eventually we tried an antipsycotic that made me feel so suicidal and terrible physically (tingling sensation everywhere etc.) that I decided to quit everything cold turkey. I had had enough, anything that made me want to kill myself had to go!

 

Fluoxetine (Prozac/Nuzak) Saves the Day!

Soon after however, I started experiencing painful withdrawal so I went back to my psychiatrist because I felt I needed the medication again. We then agreed to dump all the other antipsychotic meds altogether and stick to the fluoxetine because it was the only one I reacted well to. Remarkably, after a few weeks on fluoxetine my OCD symptoms began to subside. My mind felt clearer, and I had a much greater degree of peace and calm psychologically. I was very grateful because it actually made a difference for me and saved me from horrendous suffering. The fluoxetine was a life-saver. I also felt happier, less anxious and less depressed. It really changed my life for better. I wasn't 100% better of course, I still had an underlying OCD-depression-anxiety which was there but I was much much better off! I continued to take the fluoxetine (60 mg) until I got an opportunity to move to Germany for a short-term 3 year work project.

 

Quitting Cold Turkey Again and Trying to Move On

 

In the last yer or so of taking the fluoxetine I started to plateau. I felt okay, not great just simply okay and was able to continue with life chasing my goals and ambitions. My OCD-anxiety-depression was still there to a degree, it never left me and every now and again I'd feel quite depressed and I started to wonder if it was worth relying on the meds. Then my intuition began to nudge me to consider quitting the meds. I was feeling okay and I had started to make lifestyle changes that made me feel great and I felt that if I could sustain my new lifestyle changes then I would be able to live free of the fluoxetine. I am aware of how debilitating it can be to stay on a psych drug for so long that you depend on it, and who knows, it can turn on you anytime on the journey. I knew deep in my heart that I was not the type of person to resign myself to remain on these meds for life especially with all their long-term side-effects.

 

So my lifestyle changes had me feeling great and I quit cold turkey in April 2017 cause I thought I was onto something. I felt great for about two months thereafter and then slowly depression and anxiety started to kick in. It grew gradually until it became debilitating. I couldn't work, I couldn't concentrate and at some point I feared if I may ruin the very three year contract that I am on. I lost all hope for the future, my life went absolutely grey and ugly. I hated everything and everyone around me! I hated life, and it felt hopeless. All my ambition, hunger for more and everything else just vanished! There I was, absolutely hopeless. When it got really bad I decided to check if it was withdrawal and I realized that it was. I know its withdrawal because my OCD has remained at the level it was after the meds helped. So the severity of the OCD has not returned and I'm so glad that I've retained that progress, its just the anxiety and hopeless gloomy depression that has been bothering me. I then found this site about two weeks ago and many other sources of info online and I realized that I was going through withdrawal and that there are brave men and women all over the world enduring and recovering from even worse. This gave me much hope. 

 

A Miraculous Intervention?

 

After sometime however, the hope I got from this forum waned as the depressive and low states kept hammering me! I felt I couldn't take it anymore. So I decided that I'm going to go back to a local medical doctor and get them to prescribe me some fluoxetine (prozac/nuzak) again. I had lost all hope of making it without some relief from the withdrawal. How would I complete projects, work with other people and meet my targets if I all could do was lay in my room curled up in a ball of corrosive self-pity, debilitating fear, hopeless gloom, deep depression and panicky anxiety. How would any of this amount to anything? Then miraculously, some supplements I had ordered to help me based on the book The Mood Cure by Julia Ross arrived last week the day before I was to see the Dr.. I was not sure about the supplements anymore "but since they're here anyway, I might as well try them" I though to myself. So I took the supplements and went to the Dr. anyway cause I had already given up and made up my mind. When I arrived at the Dr. she was not available due to an emergency and I was told to come back the next day. Perhaps this was a miracle intervention because the supplements actually helped me feel better. I definitely do not feel the way I felt while on the fluoxetine but I think they're just enough to help me cope and get through this. Sometimes I feel great and full of energy and can concentrate on my work, other times I feel slightly depressed and low, but I can still work and get through the day with them. 

 

So my question is as follows: My OCD is under control, I've retained the gains I made on the meds despite quitting and I'm almost 5 months free of the fluoxetine (prozac/nuzak). I am experiencing terrible withdrawal characterised by deep depression and ruthless anxiety but the supplements suggested in The Mood Cure are helping me to keep going and some days they make me feel great actually. So much so that I haven't felt the desperate need to go back to the Dr. for reinstatement. However, on the other hand, I was doing okay on the fluoxetine. It had no bad immediate side-effects for me and in fact only made me better until it plateaued but even at the plateau I was much better off than I was before I started taking it. But deep within I have a drive for true healing and to be free of all toxic substances and I feel its time to move on from the drug before I become dependent on it and subject to its long-term side effects. I am now stuck between a rock and hard place:

A] Go back on the fluoxetine and feel much better (or not) and possibly become its slave for life (a thought I detest) but avoid the current withdrawal and regain my ability to feel good and work at my peak performance and risk whatever long-term consequences may come (if they come at all)? 

----------- OR ----------

B] Stick to my new lifestyle (gym, supplements, high quality nutritious diet, spirituality - prayer, meditation, faith) despite the pain and suffering I have to endure on this path with the hope that deep work and true healing will give birth to a new me (though this is no guarantee), a stronger me that is going to the root of my pain and suffering and facing and processing it the hard authentic way rather than masking it?   

 

My Personal Philosophy

My personal philosophy is that I should rely on my own intuition and to follow our own Star. My Star seems to be calling me towards true healing and to inviting me to delve deep into my own inner abyss, my inner muck and hell and to conquer it. To conquer my laziness, selfishness, hatred and anger, jealousy, envy, pride, low self-esteem, gluttony, addictive behaviors, lack of self-control, childhood traumas and to do it authentically. My personal philosophy is that I should be free off all toxic and addictive substances and live a healthy life with the aim of changing myself into a better being not just on the outside (wealth, career, body, social status etc.) but also on the inside (spiritually, emotionally and psychologically). At the same time, its important to temper this philosophy with reality and not to be fanatical or extreme. I therefore want to consider the fork in the road where I'm at deeply and honestly before making a rash decision.

 

Thank you very much for your time and consideration!

 

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bubble   
bubble

Welcome to Surviving Antidepressants.

 

It's just before my bed time here but I thought I would welcome you here so that you don't have to wait too long for that first reply.

 

I will copy all the relevant links tomorrow.

 

At the moment I'd just like to say the following: reinstatement is best done shortly after abrupt discontinuation. I must admit I'm a big fan of it because I had my life restored. 

 

Since we advise very tiny reinstatement especially this far out you actually have a third option: continue with healthy life style and try reinstating 1 mg of Prozac. If it helps it doesn't mean you have to stay on it for life but you can slowly taper off of it later.

Edited by bubble

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StarChild   
StarChild

Thank you @bubble and @ChessieCat for your responses despite your busy schedules. I appreciate it!

 

It helps to know that reinstatement is always an option. For now, with the help of the right supplements I'm managing to bear the hardships of withdrawal.

Some days or even some moments of some days are really torturous (and that's when I start thinking of setting up a Dr's appointment) but so far, I'm managing to hold out. 

 

I'll watch myself closely over the coming weeks and let you know if I do decide to reinstate or if I'm getting better. On this journey anything can happen and I'm hoping for the best but I remain prepared for the worst too.  

 

Thanks for your time and consideration!

 

Blessings

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StarChild   
StarChild

Thanks @ChessieCat you're a star! 

 

Its reassuring to know someone cares and I appreciate the thoughts and links. I'll be sure to update you on how I'm doing.

Its been a rough journey and I think I need to reinstate and take it slowly cause that cold turkey stuff is painful.

 

One day at a time... thank you!

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AliG   
AliG

Star. Please take the time to look at the links. Reinstatement is the only way to alleviate withdrawal symptoms.It is best done immediately upon appearance of withdrawal symptoms.The more time that passes, the less likely it is to work. A low dose lets you explore the option with less risk of being sensitized.

 

 

On 9/21/2017 at 4:18 PM, StarChild said:

For now, with the help of the right supplements I'm managing to bear the hardships of withdrawal.

Unfortunately , supplements have highly variable effects in people and something that helps one person can be detrimental to another so we recommend being cautious with supplements.  Magnesium and fish oil do help to ease symptoms and are the only supplements we recommend.

 

Please take care and read up on the non- drug techniques as they will help you through this.

 

 

Edited by AliG

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ChessieCat   
ChessieCat

Okay, I have a bit more time to give a more in depth response.

 

These drugs change our brain.  The brain is physiologically dependent on the drug.  It is not a physical dependence like caffeine or nicotine.  The idea of reinstating is to give the brain the drug it needs.  These drugs are strong and a very small dose reinstatement may be enough to lessen your withdrawal symptoms.  It has nothing to do with how strong or determined we are as people.  Our brain has been changed.

 

If you do decide to reinstate we can suggest a very small dose for you to try.  Please read Post #1 of the reinstatement topic given previously.  The longer you leave reinstatement the less change there is of it being successful.

 

These really helped me to understand SA's recommendations:

 

Brain Remodelling


Video:  Healing From Antidepressants - Patterns of Recovery

 

I am not saying this to frighten you, only to inform you, that withdrawal symptoms might get worse and could possibly last for months or even years.

 

Withdrawal Symptoms - Delayed Onset

 

I will tell you my own experience with antidepressants.  Several years ago I cold turkeyed off Citalopram and felt the best I had done in a long time.  However 2 or 3 months later I became very sick with what I thought was the flu.  After feeling very low my psychologist told me that I needed an AD like a diabetic needs insulin so I accepted that I would be on an AD for life (NB that is an absolute lie and what is called the chemical imbalance myth).  I was prescribed Pristiq.  I ended up on 100mg and developed serotonin toxicity so I wanted to reduce my dose.  Because 25mg tablets are not available in Australia I reduced by half down to 50mg.  For 3 weeks I experienced extreme brain fog.  Everything I did required my full concentration.  At the end of the 3 weeks I was unable to type.  Being a professional typist for 40+ years I knew that something was very wrong.  Thankfully I had joined SA a few days before this happened and they had suggested increasing my dose.  After I couldn't type I took and extra Pristiq.  After about 4 hours I was able to type again and the foggy head was clearing.  I had the proof of what SA had been telling me about, that the drug had changed my brain.  After stabilising for a couple of months I commenced tapering the SA way and after a few hiccups at the start, I have been successfully tapering with only very mild withdrawal symptoms and I am now down to 19mg.

 

As my dose lowered I started feeling like my old self from many many years ago.  I bought a new car in May this year and was sort of excited but it was a dulled excitement (I was still on 25mg).  Next week my daughter and my grandson are coming to stay for a few days and I am excited.  A really true excitement which I haven't experienced for a very long time.  It wasn't until I started reducing my dose that I realised how numb I had been feeling for 25+ years.

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StarChild   
StarChild

If there is one lesson I have learnt from this experience, it can be summed up in the following two words: Supreme Patience!

 

I cannot believe I fell for it, the "I feel great so perhaps its time to quit!" phenomenon. Thanks for the "Delayed Onset" link which fostered this realization!

 

Fortunately I decided to post here and you all came to my rescue before it was too late (I hope). Thank you @AliG and @ChessieCat! Thank you for your selfless words of caution based on your own personal stories and experience.

 

I have reinstated - thanks for the "Reinstatement" link! The lowest dose I could get was 20 mg Fluoxetine but I decided to break it in half and start at 10 mg to be safe. I immediately felt better after taking it. I'm on my second day now and I'm feeling much better but have a few sensations running in my body - chills and hot-cold flushes and a sense of heightenedness mainly but they are mild and quite tolerable. Apart from these physical sensations, mood is good (the changes were almost immediate) and I feel good again so I hope that I will stabilize. I went out for dinner earlier tonight with some friends and it was good, we laughed and had authentic conversations about our own struggles.

 

This experience has left me in an unmistakable place of reflection and understanding. For example, I'm currently struggling with insomnia from overworking myself and pumping my system full of caffeine to stay awake - sometimes not even sleeping. I did this pretty much for the past two years to be a high performer and not to mention all the all-night binges on drugs and alcohol before that. As much as it pains and frustrates, I see now that I cannot simply undo this overnight by taking another sleeping pill habitually (which will just create a new dependency). Even though I've dropped the caffeine (since September) and have been clean off drugs/alcohol/nicotine for many years, my body has been affected by all of this and I must accept this. It will be a slow recovery indeed. 

 

That will be the hardest part, facing that I have been damaged first by my early childhood/teenage addictive weakness, and then more recently by my overzealous desire to perform and now by my ignorance of dealing with my treatment in hope of being "normal" again. 

 

The link on brain remodeling was profound for me. Its simple but very profound! It's going to help me mourn my my past as past, and develop the strength to make incremental changes over a very long time, not just with meds but in other areas of my life too. This is something I'm not used to but perhaps a lesson I had to learn now at this stage of my life even though it makes me feel like a failure sometimes.

 

Monday should be my 4th day, I'll let you know how I'm doing as I go along.

 

With Gratitude...

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ChessieCat   
ChessieCat

10mg is a large dose and your brain will have made some adaptation since you have been off almost 5 months.  You might want to consider reducing your dose to 5mg.   It would be best to reduce it from your next dose.  If you wait a few days you may have difficulties and end up having to stay on 10mg.

 

The lower the dose you can reinstate at the less you will have to taper and therefore the short period of time on the drug.  I have just used the Tapering Calculator - Online and if you taper 10mg at 10% every 4 weeks you will be at 0.5mg at the end of 2020.  If you taper 5mg at the same rate you will at 0.5mg mid 2019.  That's  a difference of about 18 months.

 

Tips for tapering off Prozac (fluoxetine)

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StarChild   
StarChild

@ChessieCat Thanks for this suggestion! I will do so from my next take and see how I react to that dose. The lower the better indeed so much appreciated!

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StarChild   
StarChild

Greetings

 

I hope you're all keeping well in your journeys!

 

I'm in a bind! Slowly the OCD has started to come back full swing and I'm panicking, its taking me back to a very scary and dark place that I haven't been in in a long time!

I noticed that it was back when I realized that I can't work and that I'm starting to spend more time reading about OCD and mental health just to keep myself motivated to survive the day.

 

I am starting to wonder if I shouldn't perhaps be on meds. I can take depression and anxiety but when these intrusive thoughts start to dominate my day... I don't know if I can live like this. Have any of you gone through this?

 

Right now I'm still on 05 mg Fluoxetine as that's the best dose but wondering if I shouldn't slowly work my way back up because I'm losing my ability to function.

 

The problem is that even the 05 mg is a stretch and anything above that leads to severe anxiety. 

 

Not sure what to do. Felling very lonely and afraid now.

It seems like my CNS can only take 05 mg but that leaves me in the hands of the OCD - what a bind!

 

Any thought, practical idea or encouragement is welcome.

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StarChild   
StarChild

I guess its a matter of Windows and Waves.

 

Some days I take the 05 mg and feel great, other days I take it and feel terrible. My solar plexis starts to rumble and then - BAM! - emptiness, dread, apathy and amotivation.

 

I suspect that its also how I take it too that will determine how I feel. Before coming off cold turkey I would take my meds first thing in the morning without food. Now I think its better to take the 05 mg after food. Perhaps I've become super sensitive.

 

I'll hang in there and see if it gets better over time.

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baroquep   
baroquep

Hi StarChild,  It typically takes about four days for the brain to register a dose change and a couple more days for symptoms to appear.  What you are experiencing right now is to be expected, particularly after making a fairly large adjustment just over a week ago.  Have you been keeping track of your symptoms?  If not, I would suggest that you do so that we will have a better idea of how the 5mg is affecting you.  If the OCD symptoms continue to cause you problems after your central nervous system has had a chance to settle, we can take a look through your daily symptom patter and see if there is something that can be tweaked.

 

Dr Joseph Glenmullen's WD Symptoms Checklist
Dr Joseph Glenmullen's Withdrawal Symptoms  

 

What we need to see for every individual day over several days is:

- Time and dosage for drugs taken in morning
- Time and description of any symptoms in the morning
 
- Time and dosage for drugs taken in afternoon
- Time and description of any symptoms in the afternoon
 
- Time and dosage for drugs taken in evening
- Time and description of any symptoms in the evening
 
- Time and dosage for drugs taken in middle of the night
- Time and description of any symptoms in the middle of the night (such as waking)
 
And so forth. A diary, in chronological order, such as:
 
6 a.m. Woke and vomited
8 a.m. Took 2.5mg Lexapro
10 a.m. Had diarrhea
10:30 a.m. Ate breakfast
11:35 a.m. Got a headache, lasted one hour
12:35 p.m. Ate lunch
4 p.m. Stomachache
5 p.m. Took 2.5mg Lexapro
6 p.m. Ate dinner
9:20 p.m. Headache
10:00 p.m. Took 50mg Seroquel
10:20 p.m. Headache got worse
10:30 p.m. Fell asleep
2:30 a.m. Woke, took 3mg Ambien (NOT "took 1/2 tablet Ambien")
2:45 a.m. Fell asleep
4:30 a.m. Woke with headache

 

An appointments diary is perfect for this and can be bought at stationery stores. 

 

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StarChild   
StarChild

@baroquep Thank you very much for your response! I appreciate the work that you moderators do to help us along this very lonely and scary experience. 

 

Okay, so I don't have a detailed diary like what you've indicated above, I'll keep one going forward. For now I just have a few thoughts I've written down based on my recent experiences. I'll paste them below for review and I've also adjusted my signature for greater accuracy. Below are the details with some explanations.

 

21 - 22 Sep 2017: Reinstated - Fluoxetine 10 mg

- Felt a lot of chills and hot-cold flushes and a sense of heightenedness but I could sense a lift in my mood with these effects happening. I had also taken L-tryptophan and L-tyrosine on 21/09/2017 and thought this was causing it so I decided to stop but this continued on 22 and that's when ChessieCat suggested I go down to 05 mg.


23 Sep - 27 Sep 2017: Adjusted Down Reinstatement - Fluoxetine 05 mg

- I went down to 05 mg and felt much better, felt like something had lifted and I had the relief I was yearning for.

- Then next day 24/09/2017 - BAM! totally different experience of deep depression, dread, anxiety and suicidal thoughts. 

- On the next day 25/09/2017 I felt okay again - this confused me and I wasn't sure what was up.

- Then from 26/09 - 27/09/2017 I was back in deep depression, dread, anxiety and suicidal thoughts and it felt like its getting worse and intensifying so I panicked and contacted my psychiatrist from my home country because I was getting scared that things would fall apart and I'd lose everything and I started wondering if it was not best for me to just be on these meds and accept it rather than go through this torment. She suggested that I go back to 20 mg for 30 days, then updose to 40 mg on second month and then 60 mg on the third. Last time we reinstated together with this particular psychiatrist in March 2015 (see my signature) this went well and I was much better off so I thought to try it given the terrible state I was in.

 

28 Sep 2017: Tried taking 15 mg on empty stomach with coffee upon waking (to offset the drowsiness from the Doxylamine which I take to sleep) and was severely anxious/depressed

29 Sep 2017: Took 20 mg on empty stomach and felt anxious, hot-cold flushes, depression – maybe too much so I thought I’ll put aside my psychiatrists reccomendations and go back to 5 mg and stabilize there to see how it develops

 

30 Sep 2017: took 05 mg without food upon waking and felt very anxious/depressed
01 Oct  2017: took 05 mg after breakfast and felt slightly anxious but generally great the whole day!
02 Oct  2017: took 05 mg before food and felt horrible the whole day, couldn't work, felt suicidal and after being amotivated all day I decided to drank caffeine (cappuccino) at night 11 pm and started feeling better, able to work a little because I have a crazy week packed with deadlines. 

 

So this is where I am now and I will keep the diary going forward. 

 

Thank you very much for your help!

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StarChild   
StarChild

Date

Symptoms

03/10/17

  • Took 05 mg after eating and felt okay – felt normal, neutral - I can feel the difference the 5 mg is making

04/10/17

  • Took 05 mg after eating and felt okay – felt normal, neutral - I can feel the difference the 5 mg is making

05/10/17

Until

08/10/17

  • Struggled with sleep from overworking combined with insomnia and felt very terrible cause had to function despite deep sleep deprivation and being high on caffeine
  • Took 05 mg after eating and felt low and down but I think that was more sleep deprivation/sleeping pill hangover and caffeine high/come down rather than the meds
  • I’ll get some sleep now and see how I fare in the next few days

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