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dalsaan

The psychology of withdrawal

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dalsaan

I dont want to go all psycho babble here but I have been trying to work on my own frustration with a slow withdrawal.

 

I know from experience that if I go too fast I get into trouble. This is not news to any of you or to me! But,

I still have to really discipline myself not to do it. And, I dabble with supplements a lot. Even when I get things

to a relatively good space, I cant help but push it further (to my detriment)

 

Basically, I find it very hard doing nothing (holding, letting things lie etc) I think this is because I associate my troubles

with the drug and just want to be off it. Also, I think I experience myself as being passive around this stuff

with my Dr (in the early days) and so I equate holding etc with doing nothing and therefore with passivity.

 

I tend to want to feel some sort of control in this and therefore research/read extensively, make regular changes - diet, supps etc

hold as long as I can but not long enough. I could claim the control by saying my body is dictating the terms of this but I dont.

 

Can anyone relate to this and what are some of the mindsets you have that might be less than helpful?

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Barbarannamated

Dalsaan,

 

I dont have what i think you're asking for, but I will offer that I've felt envious of those of you doing a slow, careful taper. I tapered Pristiq in a manner that I thought was careful before finding this site. Now I know it was very sloppy and too fast and I'm paying dearly in protracted withdrawal.

 

I'm sure others will have valuable insight for you.

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dalsaan

Thanks barb, that's helpful in its own right. I am lucky in the sense that I have the opportunity to do this slowly. And I need to remember that

 

Dalsaan

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peggy

gosh dalsaan - that is so much like me!!!!

 

I feel very stable and so it is very, very hard to keep going slow. But when i hit that brick wall i always wish i could back pedal and go slower. I am now preparing my doses in 3 week bundles so i am less likely to make an extra cut.

 

I am not doing any supplements except fish oil and the occasional magnesium.

 

I can relate to the passivity, however at the same time i feel like I HAVE taken control (and you should too) by researching and finally understanding what has been happening to me - that is that my 'relapses' have actually been withdrawal - and i DON'T have to stay on medication forever - so in contrast to that slow taper is better. It's amazing to think that up to just two years ago i had dutifully drunk the kool aid and believed that i needed to be on medication forever.

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Altostrata

Yes, the patience and discipline are very difficult to learn! Also that we aren't always in control of our fates, and doctors don't have all the answers, we're on our own.

 

Zen Buddhism has a lot to offer in teaching these lessons.

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Rhiannon

Dalsaan, I can absolutely relate to everything you're saying. I think this is the hardest part about a slow taper.

 

And that's saying a lot, because hard as it is to deal with being patient with a process about as thrilling as watching paint dry, that's a heck of a lot easier than dealing with the ravages of a too-fast taper.

 

Here are the things that have helped me with it:

 

Focusing on other areas of my life besides the taper: At some point the taper became background and the rest of my life became foreground. I think this is easier when you get to low enough doses that the meds themselves aren't getting in the way of living your life. But there are things you can do even when the meds are messing with your head. Try a new hobby. Set yourself simple goals that you can actually enjoy achieving (like exercise goals, for example, or making a new friend, or learning a simple new skill). Find things that can give you a sense of progress and accomplishment in getting your life back, even very small things, so you can see that your life is getting better, measured in other ways than by those numbers on your taper.

 

Focusing on and celebrating intermediate milestones: Instead of making The Final End of the Taper be the goal, find intermediate goals to be excited about, and then really allow yourself to celebrate them. For example, hitting a whole number (like 3.0 instead of 3.1)--make it a celebration, take yourself out for dinner, get a massage, tell your family and friends, blow up balloons, have a party! Really congratulate yourself and allow yourself to enjoy and appreciate those steps.

 

Give yourself a "visual" of how far you've come: I measure out my doses by dissolving the tablets in water and then measuring out my dose for the day, so for me, the way the "visual" works is by looking at how much I get to throw away every day. Or how many more doses I'm getting out of one tablet than I used to (I dissolve a 10 mg tablet of Celexa, which used to be one day's worth, and now I'm getting three days of 3 mg doses out of that). Instead of focusing visually on what's left to go, I try to look at how far I've come. This may not work when you're early days yet, I don't know.

 

I hope those suggestions give you some ideas.

 

If it helps, too, let me add that now (after two and a half years of tapering multiple drugs) I feel SO much better than I did back when I was on those full high doses, even though I still have probably three more years to go before I'm off everything. I'm able to do things, feel things, enjoy things that were out of reach two years ago. I'm slowly getting my life back, after 20 years of it being ruined by psych drugs. It's slow, but it's progress. You really have a lot to look forward to WAY before the end of your taper.

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peggy

Rhi, that was a great post!

 

Thanks for your wonderful insight.

 

When i thought i was staying on meds for at least a long, long time - taking them WAS in the background. I think i have been really lucky, because i didn't had any major problems with ongoing side effects (except stuffing up libido) and, whilst not being able to cry at sad movies i thought my emotions were 'all there'. I guess i hadn't reached poop out.

 

So, my drive to get off has more been because i wanted to and i don't like being reliant on a little capsule filled with little white beads. Now, my drive to get off is because i know more about what they have done to my brain and i want to get it out of me before any more damage is done - but i also understand that going slow prevents damage as well.

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Gijoeman

I completely relate to this thread. The need to be in control of the process. But I think after my recent drop (5 to 4mg of remeron) I will find the patience. My problem is that I have 13 years of paxil use that I am now in protracted withdrawal from complicating whatever it is the remeron is doing or not doing. If I go too fast with the remeron everything falls apart. I have been to 5mg once before and I screwed that up. I really thought I could estimate my doses. I have been weighing now with this reduction and I have gone from 15mg to 5mg in 4 months with no real major issues. I think I will stay at 5mg for now.

 

But it is hard to not attribute my paxil waves to remeron. I just want off. I hope that remeron will be easy and gradual compared to the paxil withdrawal.

 

Alto seems to like to ask the question whether the new drug covered up the protracted withdrawal. I don't think that really ever works. Remeron got me sleeping and that was about it. Things went from bad to worse at 7 months off paxil and continued to get worse through month 14. 95% of my symptoms have been emotional. Very few physical symptoms other then fatigue.

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jr1985

I can relate. I hate the idea of holding for long periods of time, but it's what I have to do to get stable.

 

When I actually start tapering I'm going to use the micro-taper method, which allows you to make smaller cuts more often. I think this is better for me psychologically because it seems like you're actually "doing" something more often, rather than just sitting still, even though it may ultimately take the same length of time as a regular taper.

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Shanti

I can relate. It's our nature to stop doing something that is harming us. It goes against our instinct to keep taking it after we see how it's hurting us. It's very hard to do a slow taper. I keep pushing it too. I've started and stopped my Xanax taper countless times, thinking I can get away with doing it an easier way. Even after all I went through with the Paxil. I just want to be done with it. But yes, we have to take it easy and be patient. Difficult.

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strawberry17

I am an excrutiatingly slow taperer and Rhi's post is excellent, especially about not letting it take over your life, you just have to kind of keep it ticking away in the background while you get on with your life.

I'm lucky that I have a very supportive husband who has seen the whole process with me and he holds me back from dropping if the time isn't right. Sometimes we disagree though because I want to get to the next drop, but he worries and cares.

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amg2012

Having just read this post by xdebbiejo

 

"I've decided I have not got any WD symptoms !

I'm just exhausted from working all hours day and night lol

Had a long sleep this afternoon and feel sooooooo much better :) "

 

I thought that is an idea for a new topic but I think it rather fits well here on this topic which I was just reading.

 

Confusing WD symptoms with every day normal life physical and emotional feelings as Debbie mentions in her post. I have also blamed WD symptoms when it was something else entirely. Recent example; for the last week or more I have had a lot of body pain and tension which certainly has affected my emotions/mood as well. But at some point I realized that it isn't due to withdrawal but that my body is out of alignment.

 

As our focus is on the withdrawal, our first thought with any symptom is to place the blame here. Rhi is right, we need to put withdrawal in its place and get on with other things so we are not overly focused on this one area of our lives.

 

So, the question is: Is what I am feeling really a withdrawal symptom or just another common reaction to everyday living.

In other words, people that are not going through withdrawal have their aches and pains and emotions too! Something to keep in mind.

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Altostrata

Excellent point, amg.

 

If you can't tell whether it's withdrawal or the stress of everyday life, do yourself a favor and manage the stress. This is an invaluable skill anyway.

 

Don't push yourself past your own limits, keep yourself feeling good, don't compare yourself to others, have faith in yourself that you're doing the best you can do.

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Rhiannon

And really, things don't split up into neat, convenient categories in real life anyway. The biochemical and neurochemical processes that cause withdrawal symptoms are also involved in everyday aspects of our lives. Withdrawal can make it harder to deal with wobbles in life, and wobbles in life can make it harder to deal with withdrawal, and really it's impossible to draw a line and say precisely what's causing what.

 

I find it most helpful and useful for myself to consider withdrawal just another factor in the complex and constantly-changing algebra of my life, and to try to look at all the different factors and do the things that I know are good for my health (every aspect of health) as much as I can manage. (Some days that actually works. Most of the time I'm pedaling fast trying to keep up and having to leave something out--usually housework.).

 

But learning to cope and take care of myself and balance everything (well, working on learning that, still far from mastering it) is, like Alto points out, something I need to be able to do in life anyway.

 

I sort of manage withdrawal as if it were a chronic health condition that's always there, needing to be taken into account but not the center of my life, sometimes worse and sometimes better.

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Nikki

Having just read this post by xdebbiejo

 

"I've decided I have not got any WD symptoms !

I'm just exhausted from working all hours day and night lol

Had a long sleep this afternoon and feel sooooooo much better :) "

 

I thought that is an idea for a new topic but I think it rather fits well here on this topic which I was just reading.

 

Confusing WD symptoms with every day normal life physical and emotional feelings as Debbie mentions in her post. I have also blamed WD symptoms when it was something else entirely. Recent example; for the last week or more I have had a lot of body pain and tension which certainly has affected my emotions/mood as well. But at some point I realized that it isn't due to withdrawal but that my body is out of alignment.

 

So, the question is: Is what I am feeling really a withdrawal symptom or just another common reaction to everyday living.

In other words, people that are not going through withdrawal have their aches and pains and emotions too! Something to keep in mind.

 

 

I have been sounding off like a Blithering Idiot this morning on my post and another one I started.

 

I came to the conclusion this afternoon that I am having the confusion of dropping a dose with life's challenges. I have both, and it ain't a good mix.

 

As our focus is on the withdrawal, our first thought with any symptom is to place the blame here. Rhi is right, we need to put withdrawal in its place and get on with other things so we are not overly focused on this one area of our lives.

 

I tend to do the opposite. I blame everything on life. I don't know why.

 

Thanks for the posts....

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peggy

for many of us we have been on meds for many years - i am going into my 14th year!!!! - My life has changed around me during that time, my children have all left home, some married with their own families, have been through menopause, retired from work, my body is 14 years older. So, we have to expect that our bodies and emotional life will be different than before we went on meds.

 

When i am feeling ok, i try everyday to say a prayer of gratitude for what i have. I make a point of focussing on the good, hoping that these actions help to reduce or even prevent the bad times.

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alexjuice

I agree it's important to incorporate meaningful stuff into life. I've spent the last year focusing on my health, waiting to get better. Some times this was all I could do, and that's that.

 

Other times I let a sort of stinking thinking get in my head, that it was all or nothing. If I can't work a 40 hour job, I should do not try to work except on my health so that I am ready for that job. I've decided I still need to find other things to do, be it gardening or whatever, besides sitting on my hands getting well.

 

I intend to do no more postponement. Life must go on, as best it can. I think of what Einstein said about the simplicity of solutions and adapt it a bit to withdrawal.

 

... Make withdrawal as cautious as possible, but no more cautious than that.

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Oneday77

I hear you. I have been slowly tampering for 2 years. Every drop in the dose feels like I am in control, until the side effects kick in and I feel like hell. My psychologist reminds me that the «  withdrawal me » is not really me.!It’s not my fault, even though I feel guilty for feeling like that. 

Without Cymbalta ( I am now at 5 mg), I feel naked all the time and it’s very scary. But I don’t feel numb, anxious and starving for bad food all the time. 

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