Jump to content
NobodySpecial

NobodySpecial's Introduction & withdrawal log

Recommended Posts

NobodySpecial

Hi everybody,

 

I thought I'd introduce myself, and let you know that I'm going to be starting a weekly withdrawal log to map my progress, support others and hopefully receive support.

 

Below, I've included a few points, and I'll be adding different things as I go on. For now, I wanted to keep it simple and get the ball rolling.

 

Who am I?

 

I'm currently taking 35mg of Amitriptyline for sleep, and as of today (01/01/18), I am starting a very slow taper off the medication. I have taken Amitriptyline since May 2016.

 

Why am I doing this?

 

I've had two withdrawal attempts prior to this, and in my last attempt, I stumbled across this website and realised that it was going to be something of a pilgrimage rather than a quick affair. I've also been interested in writing since I was a kid, and I've recently started up a creative writing practice again and thought that it would be great if I could start capturing my withdrawal journey because it'll hopefully be useful to somebody else in future and also provide me with context and a wider understanding when things start to get tough.

 

My medication history / explaining the situation?

 

I'll try to keep this as short as possible, so I'll use dot points:

 

  • I have an OCD personality, I enjoy feeling good and things being perfect. I obsessed about sleep a lot.
  • I moved out of home, couldn't control as many variables around sleep and started to get really frustrated when I didn't feel well rested.
  • Cycles of frustration continued for 6 months, before I stopped being able to sleep altogether.
  • This resolved, and was replaced by a 2 - 3am panic attack, being completely unable to fall back asleep.
  • The 2 - 3am rising continued for 4 months, before I started waking 2 hours after falling asleep and being unable to fall back asleep.
  • Tried everything, nothing worked and in my defeat, tried Amitriptyline 30mg.
  • This worked, however the somatic and psychological impacts of the nightly panic attacks and sense of being "broken forever" remained.

 

Withdrawal # 1

 

  • I had been taking the medication for about a month, and I was worried about weight gain and felt like a failure for taking it. I was also obsessed with "proving to myself that I could sleep without it now" because I had previously thought I was broken forever.
  • I tried to taper off quickly, using a variety of other sleeping aids to mask the taper.
  • In October 2016, when I had tapered down to about 5 - 10mg, I had a huge panic attack and reinstated, ending the withdrawal attempt.

 

Withdrawal # 2 

 

  • This withdrawal started in March 2017, when I tried to taper down much more slowly (but not slow enough).
  • I fully came off in October 2017, however due to having family commitments and still working with a high level of anxiety in evenings, I reached my capacity and ended the withdrawal attempt.
  • I reinstated to 35mg because I was so anxious and uncomfortable that I felt like I couldn't relax unless I took a larger dose.

 

What I'd like to achieve?

 

So now that I've had two withdrawal attempts, I realise that the challenge is going to be a combination:

 

  • The physical and psychological fear of being permanently broken, and unable to sleep again without medication.
  • The physical and psychological fear of feeling tired and how that triggers me.
  • The obsession to feel in control re: sleep, and the fear of relaxing into a sense of flowing with life.
  • The chemical experience of withdrawal.

 

I believe that the process of withdrawing is going to be therapeutic in that it'll trigger each of my fears, and allow me to soothe them directly and rewire my nervous system over the withdrawal period. Hopefully, once I'm fully withdrawn, I would've also cleared out and rewired the triggers around sleeping. 

 

Eventually, I would like to be in a position where I am able to relax into the knowing that sometimes I'll sleep well, sometimes I'll sleep badly, and not reject one experience and try to cling to another.

 

What will my taper look like?

 

It's going to be a slow taper, going from 35 -> 32.5 -> 30 etc, in increments of 2.5 per month.

 

I'm aware that I have a limited capacity to approach challenge with composure, so if I need to hold or reinstate, I'm completely comfortable with doing so because this'll be more like a marathon than a sprint and ensuring that I maintain a healthy capacity is going to be key for this.

 

The goal is to feel comfortable at each reduced dose, and spend enough time at each increment that I feel completely confident that I could sleep with this amount. I need to do this, because when I have withdrawn at a quicker rate, I realised that I wasn't certain I could sleep on any of those increments and when I reinstated, I had to go back to the beginning to feel comfortable again.

 

Please note that I'll be sharing more stuff, like the supplements I take, practices I use - for now, I just wanted to keep it simple :)

Share this post


Link to post
Gridley
Hello, NobodySpecial and welcome to SA.  I'm glad you found your way here and are committed to doing a slow, safe taper.
 
To start, we ask all of our members to fill out a signature so that all of your information can be read at a glance.   Include drugs, doses, dates, and discontinuations & reinstatements in the last 12-24 months. Also include supplements.  This helps moderators determine you current situation and we ask that you follow the instructions at the link below.

 

 

 •    Please leave out symptoms and diagnoses.
 •    A list is easier to understand than one or multiple paragraphs. 
 •    Any drugs prior to 24 months ago can just be listed with start and stop years.
 •    Please use actual dates or approximate dates (mid-June, Late October) rather than relative time frames (last week, 3 months ago)
 •    Spell out months, e.g. "October" or "Oct."; 9/1/2016 can be interpreted as Jan. 9, 2016 or Sept. 1, 2016.

  

You wrote in your post that you plan to taper at a rate of 2.5mg per month.  At Surviving Antidepressants, it is recommended that a person taper by no more than 10% of their current dose with at least a four week hold in-between decreases.  The 10% taper recommendation is a harm reduction approach to going off psychiatric drugs.  Some people may have to taper at a more conservative rate as they are sensitive to even the smallest drops.  In your case, while at the higher doses your reduction of 2.5mg per month would fall within the 10% guideline, please be aware that as you get lower, you will be exceeding the recommended 10% drop.  Please also remember the four-week hold between drops to allow your system to acclimate to the new dose.  You might want to consider tapering each month by 10% of current dose rather than the 2.5mg drop.  
 
 
To get you started, and familiarized with the protocols followed by SA, I am linking a few topics so that you have a better understanding of what is recommended here. 

 

 
 
 
 
 

Share this post


Link to post
NobodySpecial

05/01/2018 - Update

 

On 01/01/2018, I reduced my dosage by 2.5mg from 35 to 32.5mg. I had some difficulty sleeping the first few nights, however this leveled out by 04/01/2018 and I feel back on track now.

 

I realise now that my weekly updates are probably going to be quite boring because I think I'll feel quite stable until I start getting further into my taper. What I'm currently finding challenging is that I have sleep anxiety associated with going down in medication doses and I have to work through this alongside the actual chemical withdrawals.

 

@Gridley, thank you for the information. I had a quick question - is it appropriate to talk about the psychological / mental health side of my withdrawal? As working through the issues that resulted in me going on Amitriptyline in the first place is going hand-in-hand with coming off the actual medication, as each drop in dose reveals more material that needs to be worked through.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Gridley

It would be fine to talk about the psychological/mental health aspects of your withdrawal.  I'm glad you're back on track with your sleeping.  

 

Are you familiar with Claire Weekes' work?  She did groundbreaking work in dealing with anxiety.  Google survivingantidepressants.org claire weekes and you'll find some good techniques on dealing with anxiety.  This link may also be helpful:

 

 

Non-drug techniques to cope with emotional symptoms 

 

We don't recommend a lot of supplements on SA, as many members report being sensitive to them due to our over-reactive nervous systems, but two supplements that we do recommend are magnesium and omega 3 (fish oil). Many people find these to be calming to the nervous system. 

 

 

 

Please research all supplements first and only add in one at a time and at a low dose in case you do experience problems. 

 

Share this post


Link to post
NobodySpecial

Thanks @Gridley, I'll check her out. Also, that's what I have done over the past few years with these supplements because I initially found that I was really sensitive as well :)

Share this post


Link to post
kesh

Just checking in as another person who obsesses over and catastrophises not sleeping.

 

One thing I found useful in healthier days (I couldn't do it now) was deliberately depriving myself of a night's sleep. It showed that I was in charge, could face and deal with the lack of sleep, and removed any anxiety about not sleeping that night as I had already decided not to sleep.

Share this post


Link to post
NobodySpecial

I agree Kesh, I found mindfulness and self soothing exercises really help to slowly iron out the sleep related triggers in my nervous system.

 

Have you tried this @kesh? And what other strategies do you use?

Share this post


Link to post
NobodySpecial

12/01/18 - Update

 

My first two weeks of reducing Amitriptyline have gone smoothly, as expected.

 

I did learn something though, and that is that white-knuckling through it isn't going to help.

 

After 1.5 weeks of occasionally rough sleep, I noticed that my anxiety was quite high in the evenings. Initially, I wanted to totally avoid any other supplement for sleep and just go as sober as possible.

 

However I did this last time, and I ended up getting to the end of my teather and reinstating instead. So this time, I took some Scullcap and Oleamide to help ease the evening anxiety and it worked a charm.

 

I think this sort of flexibility is really going to help throughout the withdrawal because it's better for me to have sleep and a quick reset, rather to totally avoid any other supplemented assistance throughout the process.

 

I'm also going to spend an extra 2 - 4 weeks at this current dose of 32.5 because I'm moving into another house in two weeks and I don't want to mix lifestyle changes with a further reduction.

 

I had extended family visiting when I was in the final legs of my withdrawal last year and was too stubborn to see that the combination of both was far too stressful.

 

This time, I'd rather be as slow as possible and create long standing, nourishing change.

 

I'm starting to see that this whole journey is about being attuned to everything that is going on, inside and outside, and making decisions that are going to best support me based on this information - rather than stubbornly trying to bulldoze my way through.

 

I'm overseas right now and haven't had any issues with sleep or withdrawal symptoms yet. But I did lose a $1000 camera on the plane and it is still raining!

 

Share this post


Link to post
ChessieCat

I've moved the new topic you created to SA's existing topic which you can find here:  forest-bathing-reduces-cortisol-aids-mood-immune-system

 

There are many existing topics on SA.  To search the site I use google.  To find this topic I typed in survivingantidepressants.org forest bathing

 

Share this post


Link to post

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use.