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Petunia

☼ Petunia: Recovering from 13 years of antidepressant use.

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Hi, I found this site a couple of weeks ago and have slowly been starting to wonder if what I’ve been going through the past 18 months is related to SSRI withdrawal.

 

I managed to successfully withdraw from Lexapro at the end of 2010, after over 13 years of AD use. I had various fluctuating symptoms for a couple of months, but then apart from constant ringing in my ears and a return of occasional anxiety, I seemed to be ok. I was studying to be a chi-ball instructor, was exercising regularly, was eating healthy and was generally quite happy.

 

After getting off Lexapro, I had been diagnosed with adult ADD and been put on medication for that. It worked well for a couple of weeks and seemed to completely cure what remained of my anxiety, but then I started to get extreme restlessness, OCD like symptoms, irritability and an increase in my sensitivity, to sounds and lights. I assumed it was a bad reaction to the stimulant medication. My life has been a confusing nightmare since the end of 2010 really, but until I found this site a couple of weeks ago, it really didn’t occur to me that my ongoing problems were being caused by a medication I stopped taking over 2 years ago.

 

I’ve had a lot of stress in my life starting from an early age and have always been sensitive and anxious. There has been some violent crime and sexual abuse, but I seemed to be ok until I got myself into a psychologically abusive marriage. That’s when I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression and started on Zoloft. For a couple of years it took the edge off my anxiety, but I never thought I had depression, but the Zoloft just made me feel generally numb, so I endured my marriage, for several more years until it became unbearable, tried to communicate with my ex-husband so that things would improve, but he wasn’t interested in change, he was already in his next relationship and had been for a while, I didn’t know that at the time though.

 

Then I went through about 4 years of extremely frightening separation/divorce and ongoing court proceedings. . There were other extremely stressful things I’ve had to deal with over the last 10 years, but I’m not going to go into details. I have been thinking that what I’m going through is a combination of long term stress, anxiety/depression, a ‘dark night of the soul’, menopause and/or some kind of spiritual transformation like kundalini, because I have engaged in various spiritual practises through my life.

 

At times its felt like my CNS is completely burned out or that I have some kind of serious hormonal imbalance, but I gave up trusting the medical profession, including psychologists after years of not being able to get any help from any of them and only ending up feeling worse and that its all my fault for not trying hard enough. I’ve had lots therapy, counselling and done various support groups over the last 15 years, nothing has been any significant help. I went back to college to study psychology and started a business, but that all fell apart when the marital abuse became worse and the divorce proceedings began.

 

Since finding this site, I’ve stopped taking all psychotropic medication, realizing that anything which effects my brain is having an exaggerated negative effect on my recovery. For a long time I’ve noticed that even small amounts of caffeine, half a glass of wine or even an anti-histamine will have a very bad effect on me, but I was thinking it was my imagination. I can’t even eat chocolate any more without suffering the next day.

 

I’m exhausted all the time, but it’s a weird kind of fatigue, its like a combination mental/emotional tiredness, not like anything I’ve ever felt before. I spend most of my time at home, on the internet on my bed, just doing the things I need to do to take care of myself and my teenage daughter. Its very difficult just getting out to buy a few groceries, but when I do go out, I function perfectly in a kind of dissociated way, like I’m not even in my own body, I’m watching myself like from a distance, wondering who it is that’s behaving so ‘normally’ when I’m feeling so awful.

 

Waves of negative emotions seem to get triggered by almost everything around me and almost every thought, I try not to think about things or do much of anything so I can avoid the emotional pain that thoughts or experiences bring, its like a kind of forced meditation. This symptom was at its worst from November 2011 – August 2012, but its not as bad now, seems to be settling down, I think its improved by about 50%.

 

Please would someone take a look at the details in my signature and give me an opinion if protracted anti-depressant withdrawal might be a factor in my current health problems which include:

 

Waking at 5am with racing thoughts

Feeling like I haven’t slept at all

Nausea, shaking, dizziness, body pressure, muscle twitches

Waves of negative emotion

Hot/cold flashes, sweating

Constant ringing in my ears

Sensitive to sound, light and smells

Can’t watch TV or listen to the radio because its too stimulating

Most things are too stimulating now, including being around other people too long

Loss of appetite and loss of weight

Hair falling out

Agoraphobia, mostly during the day, I’m able to go out easier late afternoon towards evening

Memory problems and mental confusion

Loss of confidence.

Loss of interest in doing anything or going anywhere

Can’t get any pleasure out of things any more

Loss of hope

 

I needed to put more detail in my signature, but that’s all that would fit. From about 2006 – 2008 I was also taking duramine (a prescription stimulant weight loss med) to try and lose all the weight I’d put on from being on SSRI meds. Sorry this is so long, but I wanted to try and provide a clear picture of my situation. Thank you

 

Petu

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Petu,

 

Welcome. I just read through your post and I am no expert but many of the things you describe are common to those of us with a history of SSRI use. :

 

 

Waking at 5am with racing thoughts

Feeling like I haven’t slept at all

Nausea, shaking, dizziness, body pressure, muscle twitches

Waves of negative emotion

Hot/cold flashes, sweating

Constant ringing in my ears

Sensitive to sound, light and smells

Can’t watch TV or listen to the radio because its too stimulating

Most things are too stimulating now, including being around other people too long

Loss of appetite and loss of weight

Hair falling out

Agoraphobia, mostly during the day, I’m able to go out easier late afternoon towards evening

Memory problems and mental confusion

Loss of confidence.

Loss of interest in doing anything or going anywhere

Can’t get any pleasure out of things any more

Loss of hope

 

 

Someone will be along soon to help sort this out and give you some constructive comments/ suggestions to help you out. I know one of the first things knowledgable , helpful people will want know os more details about this:

 

 

Since finding this site, I’ve stopped taking all psychotropic medication,

When you say that you stopped taking all meds after finding this site... at that point in time... what exactly were you taking, at what dose & what rate did you taper off of each medication?

 

 

 

Again, welcome and I am sorry that you have had to endure so much but it sounds like your current life situation isn't too stressful?? That will be a big plus in your arena in getting better..... and you WILL get better!!! :)

 

RU :)

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It looks to me like you are indeed in a prolonged state of withdrawal from psychiatric drugs. You've been on them for a very long time and there have been many changes in drugs and dosages, all of which damage the central nervous system (although not permanently). Your taper off of Lexapro in 2010 was far too fast and taking a stimulant drug soon afterward compounded the problem. It is really no wonder that you feel the way you do now.

 

The best I can offer by way of advice is to listen to your body and avoid those things that set off symptoms as much as possible. Aside from a high quality fish oil and magnesium, avoid supplements. (See King of Supplements: Omega 3 Fatty Acids (Fish Oil) and Magnesium, Nature's Calcium Channel Blocker). If those seem to give you difficulty, don't take them either. They've been helpful to many of us, but you're in an extremely sensitized state.

 

You might also want to browse the Symptoms and self-care section for other tips that don't involved drugs.

 

And when you have a chance, please do clarify your recent drug history. It's difficult to figure out the time frames in your signature in terms of when you started and ended the drugs from Xanax in 2012 to the present. What drugs did you take last, how did you stop, and how long has it been since then?

 

I'm so sorry that you're going through all of this. Welcome to the forum.

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Hi Petu,

 

This is a pretty exhaustive list of symptoms. I am not surprised you are feeling so poorly.

 

Your symptoms are typical, in many instances, of a prolonged SSRI w/d syndrome... That said, they could be caused by many things. Have you been checked out by a physician? If I were you, I'd want to get checkd out ... Ya know, make sure there are no blatant deficincies or a thyroid disorder, something like that...

 

I have experienced a lot of these symptoms myself. I think all of them, actually. Caffeine, alcohol and chocolate have been problematic for me. Other unusual foods that have given me problems are eggs, garlic, and many herbal teas. So I understand how hellacious your symptoms are. I've also had issues with digestive health and vision deterioration and also some breathing problems.

 

good luck,

Alex

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Since finding this site, I’ve stopped taking all psychotropic medication, realizing that anything which effects my brain is having an exaggerated negative effect on my recovery.

Sorry to read about your harrowing situation. I too have experienced the dangers of trying to quit all Antidepressants and Benzodiazapems at once. Are you familiar with the issues regarding stopping all psychotropics at once? As others on this site will tell you: tapering is the best answer.

 

You are welcome here, friend.

 

-Salted

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When you say that you stopped taking all meds after finding this site... at that point in time... what exactly were you taking, at what dose & what rate did you taper off of each medication?

 

Thank you areyouthere for your reply and support. I will try and be more clear about my medication regime over the last 6 months, but its a mess, and my thinking isn't very clear.

 

Basically, I haven't been on any medication on a regular basis since around March 2012 when I stopped taking Ritalin. I only took it as prescribed for about 6 weeks, to see if it would work for my 'apparent' ADD without the side effects I get from Dexamphetamine. But the result was that I got worse side effects and less of a helpful effect.

 

Since then I've been taking various small amounts of Xanax, Propranolol (beta blocker), Dexamphetamine on an occasional, irregular basis in and attempt to get some relief at times or to manage to do things I need to do. When I say small amounts I mean never more than half of a .25mg tab of xanax, usually only a quarter and never two days in a row, I've always been scared of addiction. Only 5mg or 10mg of propranolol at a time, sometimes starting about 3am and then every 4 hours through the morning, but not very often and never more than 2 or 3 days in a row, I find that depression seems to start after taking that. I am prescribed 8 x 5mg Dexamphetamine tabs to be taken through the day, but for the past year, I've never taken more than half a tab at a time and rarely more than once or twice during the day.

 

Over the last 6 months I've gone weeks without taking any psych meds apart from this:

December 2012 Prozac for 5 days. I was prescribed the normal starting dose, whatever that is, I can't remember, but I only took a quarter of the tablet - 5 days in a row. The first day I felt a slight lift in my mood, an increase in anxiety and some anger. By day 5 I was suicidal and thankfully realized it was the medication and stopped taking it. I went back to my doctor and asked to try Lexapro again because I was thinking that maybe because it had seemed to help before, it might work again and then I would taper slower, I really wasn't thinking straight. I was given 10mg and only took a quarter of the tablet, but once again I was feeling suicidal in 3 days and actually worse than I had felt in a very long time, I didn't take any more...that was January 2013 and I haven't been back to my doctor since.

 

The reason I wanted to try the anti-depressants again was a combination. I think I had actually been starting to feel some relief from the constant anxiety and physical symptoms, but I wasn't feeling energetic or motivated or happy, I was starting to think that I was depressed, even though I was feeling better physically, there was no drive to 'get on and do anything'. I was also getting pressure from certain other people to do something to help myself, like go to the doctor..because they were worried etc. When other people want you 'back to your old self', it hard to keep disappointing them, especially when you can't really provide a logical reason, or something they understand.

 

In March 2013 I was due for my annual ADD check up and maintenance fee with my p/doc, it was going to cost me about $700 or go off the meds officially and get de-registered (the system here in Australia). So I put myself on a very low dose course of dexamphetamine again for about a week to make sure they were causing more problems than help before I got myself cancelled. I was taking no more than 15mg through the day for about 12 days before the side effects started kicking in. (OCD symptoms and extreme temperature fluctuations) so I stopped taking them and cancelled my appointment, haven't taken any of them since and wont.

 

I can't remember the last time I took any xanax, it may have been about a month ago and if I did, it would have been a quarter of a .25mg pill. The last time I took any propranolol was about a week ago, I took 5mg about 3am when I woke up with extreme symptoms and couldn't get back to sleep...it didn't put me back to sleep, but I was physically more comfortable for a while. Sometime these symptoms get so bad I feel like I'm going insane, especially the body pressure and electricity/vibration feelings and head pressure.

 

I'm not sure if propranolol is helping or hurting my recovery because it works in the body not the brain.

 

I've been taking omega 3 fish oil for over a year, along with multi-vits, vitB, vitD, vitC, garlic/ginger and just lately I started taking magnesium without calcium, I was taking a magnesium/calcium combination.

 

So when I say I stopped taking all medication since finding this site, I really wasn't on any medication in a regular way, but I'm now understanding how even taking low doses on an irregular basis has most likely been slowing my recovery, that's why I stopped 'messing around'.

 

I hope that hasn't made it more confusing :blink:

 

Petu

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And when you have a chance, please do clarify your recent drug history.

Thank you Jemima for your reply and support, it helps to have other people understand and confirm how difficult this confusing syndrome is. Please see my reply to 'areyouthere' for clarification of recent drug history.

 

Its very frightening when it starts to be clear that the professionals out there who are supposed to be helping, are really doing more harm (often unintentionally), and there really is no one else who can help. Coming to terms with that myself has been difficult, but then trying to explain that to other people seems to add to the stress and the nightmare.

 

Just yesterday my parents (who are in their 80's) both showed up at my door, wanting to talk about my health because my dad had heard a naturopath being interviewed on the radio and he wanted to take me to see him. It breaks my heart that my aging parents are worried about me, trying to take care of me, when it should be the other way around. They have never been emotionally supportive, my whole life, pretty dysfunctional family really, not their fault, they came from bad situations too, but now they are really trying...and I can't seem to do anything to relieve their concern. It seems to add even more stress to me, but I don't have a big support system, its basically them, my daughter, who needs support from me and my sister who is also on ADD medication.

 

I'm grateful that finally I have my living situation stable and finances are not causing problems, some people are struggling with these issues along with WD. I guess I was dealing with more problems too, but just not understanding.

 

Thank you for your advice about supplements, I seem to be doing that right. I don't want to ramble on, just thank you for your support. :rolleyes:

 

Petu

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Thank you Alex and Salted for your replies and support, I'm actually feeling exhausted from writing the 2 replies I just did, so will keep this one short. I have considered that maybe I have another issue like thyroid etc, but when I look up the symptoms, they don't fit very well, the kind with hair loss also includes weight gain, but I am losing weight. There are so many different disorders that have some of these symptoms and I know that if I go back to my regular doctor he will give me a hard time, say its just anxiety and take some more xanax. If I go to a different doctor, it will be a whole lot of tests (maybe), which I just don't have the energy for and they will all come back fine, so the conclusion will then be - its just anxiety and depression, I can write you a prescription for.....

I've become very cynical and don't trust doctors any more. Getting myself in the car to buy milk and bread often takes my energy for the day, then I need a couple of days to recover. Occasionally I have a few reasonable days and make up for it and catch up on chores, but then its a big crash and back to bed for a few days. Energy is a valuable commodity to me, so I'm reluctant to waste it on another medical goose chase.

 

Alex reminded me about vision, mine has also deteriorated, but I was thinking it was the stimulant medication I was on for a while, but seeing as it hasn't improved, I guess not.

 

I had digestive system problems from 2011 to about June 2012, was having to spend most of my mornings close to a bathroom, but that settled down. I also went through an early stage of having nightmares all night, and being woken up through the night by loud sounds in my head, these days, I sleep fairly well by comparison, so I think I must be improving.

 

Thank you all for your support and I hope you are all feeling better, I hope to be able to provide some help and support for other people as I continue to recover.

 

Petu

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I've just started to notice a kind of pattern in my withdrawal process and I'm wondering if this is common and if so, how other people handle it.

 

I will go through a period of intense physical and emotional symptoms of anxiety, where my body feels generally overstimulated, often for days at a time. Then it will calm down and I will feel a little more comfortable, but exhausted, with a very low mood and unable to get any pleasure or enjoyment from anything. This has been very confusing and frightening because it feels like I'm sliding into depression, so its been triggering the anxiety to start again, or several times has sent me back to taking various medications.

 

So my question is, do other people go through this cycle and how do you handle it? I think perhaps if I know its common and can understand what's going on, I might not get anxious about it.

 

Thank you in anticipation.

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Welcome, Petu.

 

It sounds to me -- and I am not a doctor -- that your system was sensitized by Lexapro withdrawal and the ADD medications, which are stimulants, triggered bad reactions.

 

All of the stimulants you've been taking, even on an irregular basis, have been exacerbating this, renewing the symptoms. The sedatives may also be doing this as they can have paradoxical effects.

 

You are in a difficult position, but I would go on the assumption my nervous system is hypersensitive to neuroactive drugs and other substances and allow it to heal by avoiding such drugs.

 

In short, given the withdrawal-induced hypersensitivity, you are in a prolonged withdrawal syndrome situation.

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You are in a difficult position, but I would go on the assumption my nervous system is hypersensitive to neuroactive drugs and other substances and allow it to heal by avoiding such drugs.

 

In short, given the withdrawal-induced hypersensitivity, you are in a prolonged withdrawal syndrome situation.

 

Thank you Altostrata, for your welcome and opinion. I will now continue to avoid neuroactive drugs.

 

Petu

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Hi Petu,

 

I haven't experienced the exact format of symptoms you have described, but I do know what you mean, and yes I believe it is all caused by withdrawal.

 

What happens is that we go through periods where we feel very unwell (waves) and then every now and then we experience periods of feeling better. Those periods might be very short lived in the beginning (even hours as opposed to days), and then when we get another wave it can be completely different symptoms altogether.

 

So it sounds to me like you're getting little windows of respite in between much larger waves.

 

I remember someone describing a similar experience in the link below. If you haven't already read this thread I recommend you do so (from start to finish). It's very insightful:

 

http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/82-the-windows-and-waves-pattern-of-recovery/

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Definitely! And the depression and anxiety are far more intense than anything I experienced before or during meds.

 

During my too-fast taper, I felt overstimulated, hypomanic. It was actually a functional, productive time for me. After several months off, I crashed into an exhaustion that has never really resolved although I did have a good window in February and March.

 

I think that recognizing the patterns and knowing that it is the process of my body recalibrating and finding homeostasis has helped somewhat.

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Yes! My withdrawal is cyclic as well. It starts with headaches/dizziness/physical suffering, then shifts to an emotional level and tiredness. When I'm feeling down due to tiredness and general blah, I do worry about the depression coming back.

 

As I get below what I've been told is a therapeutic dose, I do kind of fear that I'll feel like I did before the antidepressant. While it is nice to feel again, even hurt, and I almost want a second chance to deal with depression properly, I don't know how it will actually turn out.

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Short update:

 

Thank you everyone who replied to my thread recently.

 

I spent a long time last night reading through various pages on this site, including the one about windows and waves. I think I'm actually starting to get it. The last two years of my life finally makes sense. Confusion and a sense of unpredictability has been adding more stress.

 

Last night was the first in months that I wasn't woken up by hot flashes. This morning I had the usual surge of cortisol, but now I understand what it is and what its trying to do. So instead of staying in bed, feeling scared and miserable, I got up and loaded the dishwasher, packed away a portable air-cooler (winter is on its way here), then had a shower and washed my hair. I was using the cortisol for what it was intended, that made sense so I could do it.

 

Last night my computer locked up and wouldn't re-start. My computer has been like my lifeline for the last 2 years because I can't watch TV, read books or do much of anything else. So when it stopped working, I was expecting to have a panic attack, but I didn't. Eventually I got it working again.

 

I still don't feel good, and know its going to take time, but I have some hope now. I've regained some confidence and feel slightly more in control.

 

I've been experiencing overwhelming neuro-emotions since my withdrawal started, but because I didn't understand this, I thought it was PTSD which was being triggered by everything and anything. I've been avoiding more and more in an attempt to stop what I thought were external triggers. I do have a diagnosis of PTSD, so that was the only thing which made sense. I was paying closer attention yesterday and noticed that they do actually come in waves and last about 20 minutes regardless of what I'm doing or thinking about.

 

I hope everyone is feeling better with increasing windows.

:)

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Petu, thanks for that update. I am so glad you are learning to manage your symptoms. You're going to be fine.

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Is it ok for me to write about non-withdrawal aspects of my life in my own thread? For example, some things I struggle with are probably related to past trauma more than w/d, although I'm not sure.

 

Around the time I stopped taking Lexapro, I had what I've learned is called a 'geo-political' awakening, so my whole world view changed at the same time because of what I was learning about how this planet really works. Since finding this site and learning so much about the effects of protracted withdrawal, I'm now a bit confused if perhaps not everything I'm struggling with is related to withdrawal because I've noticed that most people, are longing for the time when they can 'go back' to the way they were before, but for me, that's impossible, that person just doesn't exist any more and in fact I can see that the person I thought I was, never existed in the first place.

 

Maybe this way of thinking is just another common symptom of w/d and I'm attributing it to something else. I know that going through the horrors of this is enough to change anyone, so none of us can completely go back to the person we were before medication, but I'm seeing that my idea of myself and what I believed about the meaning of life was never real to start with.

 

Short update:

 

The very small window I found myself in on Saturday and Sunday was quickly closed, probably due to some disappointment and dysfunctional family stress which got the better of me. Sunday night I was feeling quite relaxed and confident, as I often do in the evening, so I committed myself to getting more involved in a current problem my mum (mom) was having. But on Monday morning a wave kicked in and I was wishing I hadn't said anything, but I really had wanted to help. As it turned out, my help wasn't needed, but I had spent most of Monday stressed and anxious about how I was going to follow through on what I'd promised. When I heard I wasn't needed, there was an instant flow of relief, but then a bunch of negative emotions kicked in - neuro emotions I guess. Guilt, shame and helplessness.

 

Probably the window closing was going to happen anyway, not that it was a very clear window, just a slight improvement. On April 11 this year I had what I think was a real window. It was the middle of the afternoon and I went out to find/buy a glue gun for my daughter. The craft store had run out of them and wasn't getting any more in for two weeks, so I went to the grocery store to pick up a few things we had run out of. Suddenly I had a feeling of enthusiasm and creativity, something I hadn't felt in about 18 months. I bought some supplies for making a curtain for our laundry door, which I had wanted to do and then I got some things to make a healthy cake, also something I haven't been able to do since this started.

 

I came home, made the curtain and made the cake, both on the same evening. This is what I used to be like, would get a creative idea and then have the energy and motivation to follow through and complete the project, but I hadn't seen that person in a long time, but that day, I was back for 5 hours....is that a real window? The next morning when I woke up, I felt awful again. I went into the kitchen, next to the laundry and looked at the new curtain/door. I got a feeling like "who made that?" I noticed that the fabric matched the decor really well, but then I thought "so what, I still feel like $%^#" I was glad I had made it, because it solved a small problem, but the way it played out had been weird and I haven't felt that creative energy again since :(

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Suddenly I had a feeling of enthusiasm and creativity, something I hadn't felt in about 18 months. I bought some supplies for making a curtain for our laundry door, which I had wanted to do and then I got some things to make a healthy cake, also something I haven't been able to do since this started. I came home, made the curtain and made the cake, both on the same evening. This is what I used to be like, would get a creative idea and then have the energy and motivation to follow through and complete the project, but I hadn't seen that person in a long time, but that day, I was back for 5 hours....is that a real window?

I would say "yes" that was a window. And having a down day or days or weeks after that is also something I've experienced. I have learned to be careful with the windows and not over do things ( not suggesting you did) for reasons such as : being exhausted , getting sore if the window involved physical energy etc. Sometimes I just enjoy being aware of the lightened mood.

 

I learned a long time ago not to make promises to anyone.... I generally cannot follow through and don't like the reputation that goes along with that. Of course there is the flip side... never the one to volunteer.

 

Having a window feels great doesn't it??!!! WOO HOO!! You are HEALING!!

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Symptom Update:

 

Its been a week since I stopped taking little bits of this and that to cope with symptoms (dexamphetamine, propranolol, the occasional crumb of a xanax etc)

 

Some symptoms have now decreased or stopped completely including -

 

Waking at 7am rather than 5am and my thoughts are active but not racing

Feeling like I've got some rest rather than no rest at all

Muscle twitches have stopped

No more intense sweating and hot/cold flashes are down to about 25% and now only last a few seconds rather than a few minutes

Sensitivity to sounds, light, smells etc has generally decreased, but its still fairly bad in early morning.

 

The other symptoms listed in my first post still continue, worse in the morning and starting to subside usually sometime between mid afternoon to evening.

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I would say "yes" that was a window.

 

Having a window feels great doesn't it??!!! WOO HOO!! You are HEALING!!

 

Thank you areyouthere,

 

If that is a sign I'm healing, then it gives me some hope, the thing I think I've missed the most is being able to express creativity, knowing that part of me still exists in some way, even if its locked up for now, is a relief.

 

I've learned my lesson about promises :)

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I would say that was definitely a window that you had. Windows started opening for me in about the fifth month after my too-fast taper off of Lexapro, although mine lasted only for minutes at first and they were few and far between. It's a very good sign that you're on your way to complete healing, however long it may take.

 

You might be interested in reading this topic which gets into the emotional anesthesia and lack of creativity that so many of us have experienced:

 

Anhedonia, apathy, and demotivation

 

The emotions and creativity seem to be the last normal functions to come back, which makes some sense as I believe they are the highest level of human functioning. I've just recently started doing some needlepoint and it is just wonderful to be enjoying a craft again!

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Thank you Jemima for the link and its wonderful that you have been able to do something creative again, I'm glad you are enjoying needlepoint

 

I read through the anhedonia etc topic yesterday and at first I was relieved to learn that its common and a normal part of wd. But then I got scared, terrified almost as I realized I'm probably going to be experiencing more of this and maybe even worse, I prefer the anxiety, as awful as it is, its sheer intensity makes me know I'm alive at least. This apathy and lack of positive emotion is such a cruel torture. I watch myself picking up crumbs of energy so that I can fake it for the benefit of other people and for a few minutes at a time I do a great job. When I had finished reading the topic, I felt myself sliding deeper into a dark void, which seemed to be my entire existence at that moment. Fueled by the impending panic, I got up, got dressed and headed out to do the grocery shopping I'd been putting off for 2 days. My thinking was that I needed some kind of distraction or stimulation, hadn't left the house for 2 days.

 

It started pouring with rain as soon as I had made the decision to go out, but I didn't care, figured it would be added stimulation and might make me feel a bit more of something...but it didn't.

 

I feel so isolated and disconnected from everyone and everything around me. It doesn't matter if I'm surrounded by people or sitting with family members who I'm close to, it feels like I'm encased in a thick tomb. Knowing that this is just part of it helps me not run back to my doctor like I did earlier this year.

 

While I was going through the intense anxiety/terror stage, (which lasted about 8 months) I learned that accepting the symptoms was the only way they started to subside. But I'm finding that acceptance of 'this' is almost impossible, its like accepting death...or the death of something :(

 

Yesterday, I got my grocery shopping done, which was good, I needed to get it done, but I feel like I failed somehow, because I didn't manage to endure the void/death sensation and accept it, I ran away to the grocery store. Not sure if I should be using distraction as a way to manage symptoms or the spiritual principal of acceptance, which for me is pretty much the only thing which provides any kind of meaning at all to this experience. I once read a book called 'Man's Search for Meaning' by Viktor Frankl, not sure if I spelled his name right. But the message was, any kind of suffering can be endured if there is meaning in it.

 

The very core of apathy, anhedonia and the effect of demotivation is an apparent lack of meaning in anything, so its like a catch 22 situation...how do you endure the suffering it causes if its very nature is a loss of meaning? I don't know, just thinking out loud really, trying to hang onto what remains of my very battered spiritual life raft.

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A couple of thoughts.

 

First, bear in mind that whatever you're feeling now you will not be feeling forever. I know it's an ordeal, but this WILL pass eventually.

 

Personally I think that whatever helps is okay, be that avoidance, or distraction, or spiritual practice. Anything that helps and doesn't make things worse. Right now you just need to get through this time; you're not establishing a precedent for how you will be living your life in the future. What's going on for you now is going to change and get better.

 

And the ways I have found meaning through this ordeal with psych drugs have been by, first, learning as much as I can so that I can help others; and second, by letting the whole experience open my heart to compassion. I think it has helped me to be more humble and compassionate and less judgmental of others.

 

I hope something in all of that resonates for you...I know this is a very difficult time. Please be assured, you will get through it and you will get yourself and your life back.

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I fully agree with Rhi. Distractions, mindfulness, acceptance - use whatever works to get you through this period. It is just a period, too, and it will pass. The emotional deadening gradually lessens with more and longer windows as time goes by. You won't be stuck in that dark, empty space indefinitely.

 

My capacity for compassion has also increased, I believe, along with the development of patience. I've also learned to handle anxiety far better than I could before this experience. Perhaps there's something about withdrawal that's so awful a person comes out of it knowing that terrible experiences can not only be endured, they can be enlightening and lead to better things.

 

Hang in there. You will be all right, perhaps even better, in the long run.

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Right now you just need to get through this time; you're not establishing a precedent for how you will be living your life in the future.

 

Thanks Rhi, I need to keep reminding myself this because when it gets bad, I feel so trapped in the moment and can't see a way out, so its like I'm locked inside of this hellish place for eternity.

 

Jemima, I hope this ordeal is somehow making me a 'better' person, because that's what I meant about needing to hold onto a spiritual perspective, its the only meaning I can find.

 

How do you do a multiquote?

 

The anxiety was back yesterday morning, I thought it would be a relief to get a break from the dark void feelings. But it was as bad as its ever been and I spent most of the day in bed feeling vulnerable with my body shaking and vibrating, feeling an incredible pressure. I was so miserable because the night before, the depression feelings had started to lift and once again, there was a glimmer of hope.

 

This morning I woke up with waves of memories and neuro-emotions, it was like being in a waking nightmare, it hasn't been this bad in weeks, but I endured it and did my breathing and releasing technique,it lasted about 2 hours.

 

I can't cry though. No matter how bad it gets, I can't seem to get that release most people get from crying. I used to cry... a lot. But now its like my tears have frozen up. Sometimes its like I don't even exist, so there is no-one here to cry anyway.

 

My daughter is going to be away for 3 days, she is staying with her boyfriend tonight and then with her dad for 2 nights, so I'm going to be alone. I don't have any pets either, which is difficult, this is the first time in my life I've ever lived without a pet of some kind. I would like to get a dog, but at the moment, I just don't have the energy or motivation to go through everything required for a new puppy or even a rescue dog.

 

I know I'm going to be ok, but I have abandonment issues and being like this makes it worse.

 

Several months ago, I stopped all artificial sweeteners, thinking that it would help my recovery and healing. I have used equal and splenda in drinks for years and often drank pepsi max. Now, after reading through a thread here and following some of the links, I think I might also be detoxing from aspartame.

 

I couldn't find any information about how long aspartame withdrawal can last, its been over 6 months that I haven't had any. Although about a month ago I suddenly got a craving for some pepsi max and decided to try a little to see what happened. I poured a little bit in the bottom of a glass and tasted it, it tasted like metallic chemical poison, I took another sip to make sure I wasn't imagining it - I wasn't. Then I threw the rest out. About 20 minutes later, I got stomach cramps.

 

I'm thinking I might leave off my omega 3 fish oil for a few days, I can't remember when I started taking it, but its probably been about 2 years and perhaps I've become sensitive to that now too. I'm wondering if I need to taper that, I usually take 2 caps with my evening meal.

 

I wish I had found this site in 2010 before I stopped taking Lexapro too quickly.

 

A few weeks after I was completely finished with it, my ears were ringing, I knew it was a possible withdrawal symptom and hoped it would stop soon. But since then, I haven't had one moments peace, it hasn't stopped. I have two separate tones now, a high pitched ringing and a higher pitched electronic static noise. I'm losing hope that they are ever going to stop. When I'm in a noisy environment, I don't notice them so much, but when its quiet, they sound loud and it makes me sad to think that I may never experience complete peace and quiet again. I guess there are worse things.

 

Sorry to complain, I know some people have it worse than me and still manage to stay positive and hopeful. I'm resisting the urge to delete this and not post anything because I don't want to complain. This has been going on for so long, I don't even let myself make plans and dream any more because I've been let down so many times by not feeling well enough to do the things I want to do.

 

Maybe getting this out has helped a little. Sorry for anyone who reads it. I hope everyone is feeling better and having some good days. :)

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I can totally relate. Every time I have a bad spell, I find myself thinking that this is how it's going to be forever. I've been doing this so long that objectively I can remember thinking that in the past, and also getting better and realizing that I have gotten better, and back and forth; but still every time, I get into that "this is hopeless and life is hopeless and this is forever" kind of mind space.

 

So I think that hopelessness and "forever" feeling is actually just another withdrawal symptom.

 

Not that that changes anything. But I hope it's some consolation. I remember just a couple of weeks ago I was in that space, and today I'm feeling better; I suspect I'll be back in that space in another week or two because I've just made another cut. If that happens, remind me what I said today!

 

:-)

 

Hang in there! You WILL get through this. As somebody once said, here on this board, the LEAST likely thing to happen is that nothing will change. You're going to get through this.

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Its been 5 days since I updated and a few things have changed.

 

I had a couple of reasonable days this week where I felt more relaxed and comfortable going out. I got creative in the kitchen for dinner on two nights and my hair loss seems to have slowed down.

 

I stopped taking all vitamins and supplements apart from vit c, magnesium and turmeric. I had been taking omega 3 fish oil and thought it might be having a negative effect.

 

No caffeine, no artificial sweeteners, no alcohol, no medication of any kind.

 

Yesterday around 10am I got a wave which lasted about 2 hours, then I felt ok for the rest of the day. But today has been bad again, intense akathisia from when I woke up and all the associated sensitivities, neuro-emotions and hot flashes. For a while it got so bad I was feeling terror/panic and the thought of taking some xanax or propranolol crossed my mind, but only briefly. Instead I reminded myself that I've been through this before and survived.

 

There is also a new symptom - burning/tingling sensations in both my arms. It only lasts for a few seconds and comes in waves, its not painful, in some ways its almost pleasant, but its new. There has also been some random numbness and tingling in my hands and fingers this week.

 

Most of the week I've been fairly clear headed, but yesterday the fog came back, I needed to proof read one of my daughter's assignments for college and give her feedback, it took me ages to make sense of what I was reading, found I was reading the same sentence over and over. I hate not being able to help her, it so frustrating to have my cognitive functions let me down, I'm actually struggling to type this.

 

Anyway, that's it for now. I hope everyone is improving, healing and having better days.

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I've had another difficult morning. After reading through more of this site yesterday I decided to put a blanket over my bedroom window to try and stop the morning cortisol surge. I already sleep in a sleep mask and use ear plugs, but I thought the added blanket might help.

 

I think I did sleep slightly longer, but when I eventually did wake up and get up to use the bathroom, the light got me anyway. Then the shaking/buzzing started along with nausea and freezing cold internally but surface waves of heat. I put on my computer to try and find something to distract me, but it didn't work, the panic was overwhelming. Tried putting the eye mask back on and going back to sleep, but I would doze off for a few seconds and then wake suddenly with a jolt of anxiety and waves of fear.

 

Last night I had been fantasizing again about getting up and going to the gym, but I couldn't even get dressed and bring my garbage cans in, not until just a few minutes ago anyway. It just gone 2pm. Every evening when I'm feeling better, I make little plans about what I'm going to do the next day, and every day I fail to follow through, I just can't believe it, I'm like two completely different people.

 

This has been going on for 18 months now. Apart from trying to RI for 3 days earlier this year, I've been off Lexapro for over 2 years. I know its only been about 3 weeks that I've been off all meds completely, I still can't believe that I've only just started to 'heal'. This is wearing me down and hope is getting thin again.

 

My Mum came over for a couple of hours yesterday afternoon. She is in her 80's and more active than a lot of 30 year olds. She goes to a gym 4 days a week, church on Sundays, shopping almost every day and has created a routine of visiting me every Sunday and Wednesday afternoon. I don't have much social support, so I'm really grateful for her visits, but I feel so bad because I should be the one helping her, she goes to regular medical appointments, by herself, she is very independent like I used to be.

 

I'm not sure if these visits are actually good for me though. My dysfunctional family has a pattern of bonding over negativity and that's what the conversation generally consists of. She will tell me about all the bad things in her life and complain about my Dad and talk about all the medical complaints of everyone she knows. In my family, its like, if good things happen, you don't talk about them or share them, not sure why, so it feels 'normal' to have these kinds of conversations with my Mum.

 

Its not all bad, I managed to get some good news out of her and I wondered why she hadn't volunteered that information on her own, because it really was something impressive and surprising. Sometimes I find these visits very stressful because I'm supposed to talk and I have nothing to say, I don't do anything and I get sick of hearing myself talk about 'my symptoms'. I used to be so independent and busy. Yesterday was pretty bad and I was dreading 'the question'.... 'So, what have you got to tell me?' There was no bad intention, just a conversation starter I guess, but my mood instantly sunk even lower, I just looked at her, ignored the question and asked her about something she had half mentioned when she first walked in.

 

Apart from this web site, my Mum is the most supportive person I have in my life. She ordered and had delivered a freezer last week because I needed one and just couldn't manage to get out and buy one myself, it all felt too overwhelming and not worth the stress. This time last year I was feeling awful, but I was liaising with all kinds of businesses and contractors because I had to renovate a house so my daughter and I would have somewhere to live. I don't know how I managed to do it, but I did.

 

Now I can't even go and buy a freezer for myself. It was like, renovating this house and moving, took my very last bit of emotional energy, and then I collapsed. I had thought that once we moved into a safe and stable place, once I finally had some relief from years of stress, then life would start to improve, but I have fallen apart even more. :( I think I just needed to vent and get that all out.

 

This morning was a bad one and I started to doubt that I'm ever going to recover. I can't see anything positive in the future because I can't see myself as ever being capable of more than basic survival. I've had a lot of trauma in my life, spent lots of time in purely survival mode, I'm not sure if I know how to live any other way. I'm dealing with WD and trauma, sometimes its difficult to tell them apart, they seem to trigger each other.

 

Fighting the urge to delete this and not post anything, I hate complaining, some people have it much worse than me. But I'm so scared that one more bad thing is going to happen too soon and its going to push me over the edge of my stress threshold before I've had a chance to recover any of my strength.

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I have just finished reading your whole thread and am just blown away by the difference in tone from the first post to the most recent! Like watching a flower blossom (in time lapse photography) except that it happens in the mind (my mind as I read your story). The reading about different aspects of the withdrawal syndromes really helped you, it seems. Like if you know it is probably withdrawal (the body readjusting to a different chemical environment), you can mentally grit your teeth and just go through it. I do not know if this accurately describes your experience but it is the perspective I gained from your writing.

 

One thing that really helped me deal with a lot of intense symptoms of anxiety (and whatever feelings I could not put my finger on) was sipping powdered magnesium in water. (Mentioned in the symptoms and self care thread). I used it at way far below the recommended dose and I think it really does lower cortisol spike related symptoms. (Apparently crying does the same thing but I was doing too much of that.) I found mine at a day spa. I think there is something helpful about omega 3 too, it has been written about extensively. I've recently started it again tho I feel really good.

 

I am so glad you were able to note your experiences here, I wish you all the best!

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Hi Petu, I haven't been on your thread until now, I'm glad you fought the urge not to delete your last post, this is a great place to talk others in similar situations to yourself. With regard to the vitamins, yes I stopped taking a multivitamin as I suspected the B vits were aggravating me, I just stick with Omega and Magnesium and a healthy diet. The morning cortisol/akathisia thing is just vicious isn't it? You're doing loads of positive things to help yourself, you'll get there, it will get better.

I can relate to the windows you talk about as well, it's bloody brilliant when a window of joy and creativity comes along, gives hope that healing is happening.

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Hi Petu,

 

Ive just found this site and like you am querying what on earth is going on in my body. I can relate to alot of your symptoms as I am also very sensitive to drugs and have probably fried my CNS somewhat. It is so hard when you are exhausted to contemplate getting out of the house or cooking dinner, but I think that we have to be on the right track if we are on here? We definately belong here, this site is by far the best advice I have found so far. From people with REAL life experiences. Dr's are just taking guess at what they (perhaps genuinely, perhaps not) estimate to be best solution for us. I am astounded at the fact that they dont know what the hell interects with each other and what doesnt, which leads me to belive that we have to be able to somehow in whatever state we are in, manage our own condition. That is where my hope lies. In taking control of my body and regaining a little bit of me at a time. Day four of my wean and I am hurting, i feel ill but i hope that just somehow I'll make it through and on the other side i'll feel physically better, emotionally I am just not sure about yet, but if we stop having the physical symptoms so much surely it will alolow us more time to focus on what is going through our brains..

??

 

I hope today find you well and you have done a little of something to make you feel good. :)

 

peace

 

nik

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The reading about different aspects of the withdrawal syndromes really helped you, it seems. Like if you know it is probably withdrawal (the body readjusting to a different chemical environment), you can mentally grit your teeth and just go through it. I do not know if this accurately describes your experience but it is the perspective I gained from your writing.

 

 

 

Hi cymbaltawithdrawal,

 

Thank you for reading my thread. You're right about how discovering this is most likely withdrawal has given me encouragement.

 

I have a liquid form of magnesium and I usually have it at night with dinner, but after reading your post this morning, I put some in water and sipped it over the course of an hour. I'd had a very rough morning again, lots of neuro-emotions coming up over and over for about 3 hours, bringing up past traumatic memories. As much as possible, I try and let myself feel them and then release them, it seems to work better than trying to distract myself, which rarely works anyway.

 

My day improved. I got something to eat, sat outside, did a little bit of weeding, chatted to a neighbor for a few minutes and actually enjoyed it, did some washing, had a shower and washed my hair, for me, this was a very good day :)

 

Don't know if it was the magnesium or just a window.

 

I'm glad you are feeling good now, I hope you keep feeling better and better.

 

Petu

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Thanks Strawberry,

 

I often write things, read what I've written and then get a surge of negativity about myself and what I've written. Its like what I've read in other posts here, I have a very critical committee in my head, continually judging me harshly, its much worse in the morning

 

The morning cortisol/akathisia thing is just vicious isn't it?

 

OMG! I used to think that regular old anxiety was bad, please, I will take that again any day. If only people knew just how bad this can be. I was trying to explain it to my Dad. I said, imagine if you were in a life threatening situation, someone had a gun to your head, imagine how that would feel, body tense and shaking, sweating, thoughts racing. I told him that's how I feel, but there is nothing making me feel that way. But he didn't understand, if you've only EVER experienced emotional/physical changes as a result of some external reality, then I suppose it would be difficult to imagine being tortured by your own body and not being able to control it.

 

I read a post on another site where someone uses aspirin to lower cortisol. A few weeks ago I had a headache and took an aspirin and noticed that not only did my headache go away, but I started to feel more relaxed, didn't relate it to the aspirin at the time though.

 

Now I'm wondering if it would be ok to take aspirin occasionally on the very bad mornings. I used to find propranolol helped, but stopped that because of the rebound depression and not wanting to use anything which might slow my healing process.

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my hair loss seems to have slowed down.

 

I stopped taking all vitamins and supplements apart from vit c, magnesium and turmeric. I had been taking omega 3 fish oil and thought it might be having a negative effect.

 

No caffeine, no artificial sweeteners, no alcohol, no medication of any kind.

 

 

Yeah, I forgot about the hair loss.... in my acute withdrawal mine started coming out too. Seemed like I lost more than my '100 hairs a day'. Decided not to worry about it, the hair follicles have to heal too!

 

Aspirin: Started taking a baby aspirin a day. Can't hurt. Probably helps.

 

Caffeine: Stopped it for a time in acute phase, now have been able to have a 12 oz. cup in morning, no problems. Have also been able to add in a 7.5 oz. can of 'cola' 1 or 3 times a day if I like. The regular kind, altho I can occasionally drink the artificially sweetened too. I've lost my taste for it in the huge amounts I was consuming before my abrupt CT. There's a lot of junk science out there regarding artificial sweeteners.

 

Omega 3 has some kind of effect like helping my thoughts calm down. Can't explain it. Magnesium actually had a physical effect of taking the huge knot in my stomach (anxiety) and loosening it. Especially when I sipped it on an empty stomach. Can't explain it.

 

I try to drink a lot of water, too. Read somewhere women 'should' have 9 cups a day (72 oz). So I bought a 2.2L jug to fill and drink (74 oz). That way I can see that I get it down instead of guessing.

 

I like the saying: "Everything helps and nothing helps until it does."

 

Cheers!

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I like the saying: "Everything helps and nothing helps until it does."

 

:) I like it too

 

I also like this one "When you are going through hell, keep going"

Think it was Winston Churchill who said that.

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