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Tao of the Brassmonkey

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brassmonkey

Brassmonkey- A Success Story

 

To some people six and a half years is a very long time to take to accomplish a goal.  For me it’s been one tenth of a lifetime, one third of the time I was actively taking psych drugs and one quarter of the total time I was on Paxil.  Given where I started six and a half years ago and where I am now I would gladly do it all over again if it meant regaining my life in the manner that I have.  Six and a half years seems like a long time, but I can so clearly remember the night I made the decision to “do something about it” I can relive it moment by moment.  At the time I couldn’t remember anything for more than a couple of seconds which makes this even more amazing.

 

It’s been 24 some years now since I started taking Paxil. At the time I was in what I though of as a very rough place.  I was in an incredibly stressful job, suffering constant pain as the result of several medical procedures and had developed some really bad anger issues.  Anger was a learned response I acquired growing up, but this was getting out of hand.  Counseling and learning coping techniques would have been the better course of action, but there was this new “wonder drug” on the market that would cure the ”chemical imbalance” that was causing me to lash out in such a destructive manner.

 

And it was indeed a wonder drug.  I could feel the difference just a few hours after taking the first dose.  My life calmed down and things were much better for many, many years.  Then one day I noticed that it wasn’t as effective as it once had been.  Talking it over with my doctor we decided to up my dose.  Things went back to being fine, almost.

 

During that time there were some big changes that took place in my life.  My wife and I had made some good investments and savings and were able to retire early.  We went traveling and such and enjoyed life.  Until one day the stock marked crashed and we lost pretty much everything.  Having to come out of retirement and find a job was a very upsetting experience to say the least.

 

Making it through the next decade plus some was quite a challenge. At first, I was very glad for the numbness that the Paxil was causing.  After a while I again noticed that it was not working as well as it should, and we again upped the dose.  This put me at 40mgai.  It didn’t do much good.  The anhedonia was taking over big time, short term memory was going away, and I hurt constantly. 

 

I’ve always enjoyed my alcohol and I started enjoying it more and more. In my mind it was helping with the physical pain and it did help distract from the day to day survival conditions we were facing.  But it also was getting out of control and I started to spiral down on every front.

Yes, you have to hit rock bottom before you decide to do anything about it, and I did.  It finally sunk in one night just how bad I had let things become and I knew I had to do something about it.  Next stop AA.  But there was much more involved than the alcohol.

 

I knew that the Paxil was not working anymore and was very sure that my doctors recommendation to “just stop taking it” was wrong.  It took several weeks of researching to learn that “the drug was my problem” and I had to get off it.  There was a lot of conflicting information on line and it was quite a slog getting through it.  One day I happened on a site called PaxilProgress and my life changed.

 

PaxilProgress or as I often refer to it now “Prior Place” seemed to know what they were talking about.  They had reference material and a taper protocol that made sense and would work with you and give support as you worked your way off of the drug.  The stories of what some of the people were going through scared the heck out of me though. I envisioned myself sitting in a chair rocking back and forth for months chanting “it’s only withdrawal, it’s only withdrawal”. My lovely wife told me, “if that’s the way it’s going to be, then we will make it through it”.

 

I liked their idea of doing a 10% taper every four to six weeks, but it seemed to me that everyone that was trying it got hit hard with symptoms after each drop.  I was struck with the idea of spreading the drop over four successive weeks and rounding it out with a hold to try and lessen the symptoms.  I decided to sneak up on each 10% over several weeks and see what happened.  This was later dubbed the Brassmonkey Slide Method by one of the other members.

 

Not a whole lot happened. It was almost two and a half years of steady tapering before I noticed that things were starting to change. A year and a half after that, around the four-year mark I knew I was making progress, and the final year and a half was marked with steady improvements. Five and a half years after I started I was able to make the final taper to “0”.

In the middle of all this my Prior Place life line was suddenly pulled out of my hands. I had found another site, SurvivingAntidepressants,org during a previous closure of Prior Place and renewed my account. The atmosphere was a bit different, but much more like home. The knowledge and support here has been a major key to my successful taper and recovery.

 

The recovery story doesn’t stop at reaching “0”.  In fact, it’s only beginning. Once the drugs have totally left the body it can actually start the real job of recovery.  That’s why we like to wait a year before declaring a success story, and that year is up as of April 15, 2018.

 

I’ve glossed over the meat of the taper because there is just too much to write about.  The things that happened, what I learned, coping strategies and much more. Most fo which is already in my introduction thread. This post is to declare that I have succeeded in my quest to get off Paxil.  I am going to start a new journal thread to talk about the details.

For those who have been with me since the beginning, I want to thank you for your support and companionship during a long hard journey.  Some of you have long since finished and have moved on, while others are close on my heels and will be writing your Success Stories soon. There are too many of you to name names, but each and every one of you are very dear to my heart.

 

Those of you who have joined along the path; even though it will be rough and bumpy along the way the end destination is so worth it.  Keep at it and you will make it. Your company has been invaluable.

For all new ones who are joining each day: it’s very scary, rough, and painful journey but it is the only path there is to follow.  In just a few short years you will all be writing your own Success Stories too, and I can’t wait to read them.

I have worked with many thousands of members over the time I’ve been tapering and have yet to find one who did not have the strength, once they truly set their mind to the task, to be able to see it through to a successful conclusion.

 

(((((((((((((((((((((HUGS TO ALL)))))))))))))))))))))))

 

Brassmonkey

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Frogie

Brass:

 

Happy tears are running down my face reading this.

 

So wonderfully written. And you have done so well.

 

I just hope I can do as well as you.

 

Congratulations again!

 

Take care,

Frogie xx

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brassmonkey

This is the third journal thread that I have had during my travels with the drug Paxil.  Each one has been indicative of the state I was in at the time I was posting.  My first, "Letters from the Island of Anhedonia", documented my early years of learning about tapering and the variety of experiences, feeling and lack there of and surviving one day at a time until thing started to improve.  Sadly it was lost with the closing of PaxilProgress.

 

My second journal, "Brassmonkey- Talking About Myself", is still available here and is about to be closed to further posting.  In it I have chronicled the day to day experiences of a long taper.  I have also added bits of wit and wisdom about "life, the universe and everything".  It has served well as a record of my thoughts, but it's time has come to a close also.  

 

Having reached a full year of being drug free it is time to move on. No, I'm not leaving, you can't get rid of me that easy. Rather it is time to start a new discussion documenting the post "0" experience, how I got here, what worked and what didn't during my taper.  I am also going to throw in a lot of my philosophy of life, beliefs and ways of living that have gotten me to this point of my life. Which is why I'm titling it "Tao of the Brassmonkey".

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KayM

Brass,

Thank you for all of your support and congratulations on reaching the one-year mark!

Looking forward to reading your new thread!

 

KayM

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wantrelief

I am relieved you are sticking around, Brassmonkey!  I look forward to reading more about what you felt worked and didn't work during your taper.  It is really too bad that your old journal was lost when PP closed. It would be helpful for those of use in "surviving one day at a time" mode to read how you made it through that time yourself.  Thanks for being here to help those of stuck in the middle of withdrawal life.

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apace41

Great success story, Tom!

All the best,

 

Andy

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Shep

Beautiful, Tom. So glad to see you on this side of the forum. Thank you for sharing your success with us. 

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Dan998

I knew you'd get there, Tom.

 

Thanks for being the light that has helped to guide us along the path to recovery.

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bhasski

Well.. 

Its great that you are sticking here and  it gives hope when you told about it.

 

I am on  '0' - the only difference is that there is no taper.

 

Congrats and best wishes.. 

Keep helping people coz its very rare in world to get by in these circumstances.

 

 

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katieb

Congratulations Tom. So glad for you and also glad that you are sticking around. As you my or my not remember I am 6 months behind you in my withdrawal. So from being on paxil for 20 years I am now 6months post 0. Things have been OK with a month of anxiety and dizziness (this last month) and mild depression. None of these did I have before I took the drug but things are slowly getting better. I still have muscle pain in neck, shoulder and forearms and very loud tinnitus  but I am paxil free. I am also  perimenopausel so this may be exacerbating things its too difficult to know at the moment but I too hope to write a success story. I never believed that I would see this day. There is hope. If I can do it then you all can. Thanks to the p p   forum and surviving antidepressants site and every one on here. 

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Tootsieroll

I'm literally crying too.  There's a strange sense of bittersweetness when one door closes behind you and another is about to open.  I vividly remember the period in my life when I stumbled upon the PP forum desperate for some insight as to what I was experiencing after a cold turkey and a reinstatement. I was welcomed by many members and one of which were you.  I remember thinking 'Gee what a long name Brassmonkey is for a forum name' :)  That feels like a lifetime ago.  Now here we are, with what 'feels' like the closing of an era.  I'm so proud and happy to have been on this same journey with you.  Enduring these years is indicative of the strength we all possess to see this through.  Wishing you nothing but the best moving on forward.

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gigi63

Brassmonkey you were one of the first to be responsive to me when I crashed. Thank you for your help. I have followed your thread and have learned and listened and learned. Patience, time, patience, time...  have been key critical themes I have heard from you. I have thought of you often as I knew you were at zero and have waited for this post!   Congratulations to you!!!!!  Very very encouraging to myself and many, thank you.  I eagerly await your new thread. Thank you. You have a beautiful story here!!!!  So much hope for ALL!

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RealMe

Brassmonkey, thank you so much for generously posting your success story.  There is so much hope in your experience, especially that in time and with perseverance the suffering will eventually come to an end.  The "medications" I was prescribed were different from yours, but my experience was strikingly similar.  At first, I thought I improved dramatically; then it turned into worse pain than I had ever known before the medication.  I have been tapering since August, 2017.  I CT'd the largest part of it before I found SurvivingAntidepressants.org, but for the end run I am working the recommended slow taper.  I look forward to reading your "Tao of the Brassmonkey." :)

xo RM

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aberdeen

Congratulations on the one year off! I remember being surprised at how much effect the tiny doses below 1mg could have, but they really do. I dont think they would in  average circumstances, but for those sensitized or in a reactive place, I believe they can and do have an effect. More recovery wishes being sent your way. I believe we all can heal, but the key is time and going very slowly. Enjoy your spring. It missed us, we had a storm closing the schools down and leaving us buried in ice and snow, just on Monday *sigh*.  Soon I hope.

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kitschywoman

Congrats, Brass!  I've been crossing my fingers for you, but I've always suspected that you'd do well, given your scientific methods and steady pace.  I still pop in and out and follow your progress very closely, as I am patterning my taper after yours (only I've been doing a combo dose of pill and liquid).  I've gotten down to 25 mg and have been holding for several weeks (as I tend to do over the winter when the weather is blah and I'm not as active).  I was thinking of taking a longer break from tapering (like a year) just to see how things settle out before starting again, but I may change my mind once winter finally ends here.  I'm very much functional, although anxiety/insomnia are my unpredictable companions.  But they're like annoying siblings now, not nearly as fear-inducing as they used to be.

 

Glad you've passed your one-year Quitaversary and I'm greatly looking forward to future updates!

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nick1990

Thanks Tom - your a true legend . 

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Hibari

Thank you for posting your success story Brass  I appreciate the detail of your journey and the confidence you have that the rest of us can make it by taking it step by step.

 

Hibari

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coldturkmama

Awesome!! :)

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Santino

BrassMonkey

You did it bro. You re a hero around here and you re keeping it up to it with this story. I am really glad you made it my friend and i wish you a happy life ahead. Take your time and enjoy cause you worked hard for this.

All the best

Santino

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brassmonkey

Well, it's not being a total walk in the park.  Got hit with an acute episode of depression last night.  It lasted several hours before calming down.  What I really hate about them is that they turn everything in the world black, nothing is right, everything hurts that's the way it is and always has been.  It really sucks the joy out of life.  Got to bed late and had a bad night so I'm quite tired this morning.  Now I just have to get through the "hangover" and residual depression, could be a few hours, could be a week.  I'm pulling for a few hours.

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coldturkmama

Ah, just a glitch. Hopefully a few hours and you’re good to go. :)

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Hibari

Sorry to hear about the drop down and I'm  hoping it is a small glitch in your recovery.  It's an icky awful feeling when it happens but you have so much time of feeling well and moving toward health.

Wishing it to be a few hours as well.

 

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brassmonkey

It was just a small hic-up, the acute lasted several hours and I spent a bad night from it.  Had a bit of depression hangover for a couple of days, but I'm back to Recoverynormal.  Thank you everyone for the well wishes, they always help.

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Frogie

I'm glad you are in Recoverynormal. 

 

You always snap back. I hope someday I will be able to do that.

 

Take care,

Frogie xx

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Rabe

So happy to hear was so transient brassmonkey!  You deserve it!!!

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caperjackie

Congratulations Tom! A long and hard road but one well worth travelling!

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Miko789

Congrats Brass!!! Was a difficult road. Patience  and being  methodic was key to the success getting off.

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brassmonkey

We've had a bit of a cold snap the past few days with some rain so it's been cold and damp.  I let my feet and legs get a bit chilled a couple of days ago and now I've been having "Jimmy Legs" where the muscles twitch making my feet and legs jump around when I'm trying to sit still.  It's actually quite funny to watch the first few times, but gets boring pretty fast.  I'm going to try some walking and stretching and keeping them warn to see what happens.

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Rabe

Yikes!!!  You are literally dancing as fast as you can. ;)

Sorry...hope improves as they warm!!

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Centime

Thank you Brassmonkey. Your posts have helped me already—given me hope. I’ve been on Paxil for 30 years. 

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nicolantana

Hey Brassmonkey. Congratulations! and thank you for sharing with us. Not sure if you've answered questions or are open to answering questions, but if you could describe some of the Anhedonia and return of emotion when you get a chance?? were you completely emotionless/zombiemode for a while and now back to a full range?? how was that??

 

cheers, and best of luck!!

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Rosetta

Brass,

 

So glad that dip cleared up quickly.   Hope it's smooth sailing from here on out.  

 

-R

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brassmonkey

I Think I Have Anhedoina, But I Don’t Care

 

Anhedonia is one of those symptoms that really upsets people, and not with out cause.  It can be very unpleasant and disheartening. It is, however, a very important part of the healing/recovery process and needs to be embraced rather than feared.

 

I experienced anhedonia to some degree for a lot of my time on Paxil and during my taper off of it.  As I have mentioned before, I have done two major up doses while on Paxil. From 20mgai to 30mgai and again from 30mgai to 40mgai.  I first started to notice the anhedonia about a year into the change to 40mgai.  I had been going through a rough patch “life wise” for several years and thought that my lack of caring was due to the cumulative effects of life’s hard knocks.

 

During my downward spiral with the high dose of Paxil, drinking and continued life challenges, the anhediona continued to increase.  About the time I decided to do something about my life I pretty much didn’t care about anything.  I didn’t care enough to care about not caring. Until that flash of insight that set me on the path of righting my life.

It took getting sober and about two and a half years of tapering before I noticed any changes.  Another year and a half would pass before I really saw my emotions start to return.  From there it was a stead climb out of the black hole of emotionlessness. Once I made the jump to “0” things really started to improve. Today I still get small bouts that last for a few hours, but they are nothing like what it was in the beginning.  Now it’s more just normal emotional fluctuations like anyone would experience.

 

So, what did I do to get through it. Not a whole lot. I found that fighting against it only made things a whole lot worse. I found that accepting the anhedonia was much preferable to the alternatives of unrelenting anxiety and panic. I learned to look at anhedonia as a blessing in a way.  Without it I would have been feeling the over whelming panic and anxiety that is so common in WD.  Sure, I wasn't enjoying life, but I wasn't suffering either, and the loss of a happy life to it is only temporary. 

 

When it comes to WD, anhedonia is nature’s way of protecting us from the excruciating experience of constant panic attacks, nonstop anxiety, adrenaline rushes, cortisol spikes, palpitations, suicidal ideation, intrusive thoughts, and the like.  Your mind decides that it is better to feel nothing at all than to be put through the ringer 24/7 with emotions and sensations that wrack the body and soul and slow the healing/recover process to a snail’s pace.  When the mind is allowed to feel nothing, the body is then allowed to relax and direct its energy to where it really needs to be used. This provides for faster more complete healing, less painful WD symptoms and a better quality of life.

 

Yes, anhedonia is no fun.  Primarily because we make it that way.  We all want to regain our feelings as fast as possible.  But we are in a healing situation where the body needs to be allowed to do what it needs to do, because it knows best how to put itself back together.  Once we understand this, accept it, and stop fighting it we will start to heal at a faster rate and life will be much more pleasant as we do so.  

 

You can't fight against it.  This is a drug induced sensation that we have no control over.  Trying to fight it or overcome it just burns a lot of precious energy and causes a huge amount of frustration and anxiety because it doesn't help anything.  The emotions, feelings of joy, happiness, love, and excitement as well as creativity, ambition, and a whole lot more are being chemically suppressed and for the time being are just not accessible. Acceptance of the situation is the best path to follow.  As you reduce your dose further and your body has a chance to heal your emotions and all will slowly start to come back, but it does take a lot of time.

 

One thing I did learn was to look for and cherish all the little moments of joy.  They are popping up all the time but are very fleeting and easily overlooked.  When you look at a flower, instead of thinking "darn, I can't enjoy this flower", watch for the momentary little flash of joy that that flower brings when you first see it, and acknowledge it when it happens.  Stop and try to see the beauty in things, even if you don't feel it. "Wow, the sun on those clouds is really pretty, one day soon I will feel it again".  Stop and recognize the joy/wonder in the scene, but let your body react in its own manner.  This exercise will help reestablish the neural pathways and little by little dig out and strengthen the feelings. It is one of the symptoms that is really good to practice AAF on, as there is nothing you can do about it but live with it as best as you can.  Like a bad house guest, ignore it long enough and it will eventually go away.

 

Anhedonia can be a real relationship challenge.  I went through that for quite some time.  I learned that even though I couldn't call up or experience the feelings they were still there inside, just not accessible.  At the time I had been happily married for 33 years but couldn't summon up any of the feelings I had for my wife.  I mentioned this, and it lead to several "late night discussions".  Once we both understood that it was a manifestation of the drugs things started to improve.  After I had been tapering off of the Paxil for a while the feelings slowly started to show themselves, until, now I am more in love with her then ever.  We celebrated number 39 a couple of months ago.  It's a big test of a relationship, but if the feelings are true in the first place and both people trust each other it is something that can be gotten through and make the relationship all the stronger.

 

Like everything else we feel or don't feel in WD, Anhedonia comes and goes in waves and windows.  It is, however, frequently one of the last things to go.  Some people have it bad until after they jump off, while for others is clears up as they taper.  Given a lifetime, the time spent in ADWD/recovery is insignificant.  We have all had our "life" cruelly taken from us and want it back now.  But to get it back fully we need to let the WD/recovery run its course, put on a brave face, and accept whatever it throws at us, whether we can feel it or not.  With time, the healing will happen and when it knows we are ready, our minds will allow us to feel our full range of emotions again and life will be even better.

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Rabe

That was wonderful brassmonkey!!!  Thank you!!!  My daughter was 'honest' with me aGAIN today and I have been beating on myself since...but perhaps I ought to be grateful that I feel sad and down about what I am not in her eyes...least Im feeling!

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Rabe

Brassmonkey how can we read Talking About Myself?

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brassmonkey

You should be able to read it, but just not post to it.

 

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