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☼ Petunia: Recovering from 13 years of antidepressant use

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ravijaua

Dear Petunia,

I hope your windows turn into permanent states.

Ravi

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Petunia

Wow! I think its been over a month since I logged on here. I never thought the day would come where this site was no longer my daily source of comfort, validation and survival.

 

I guess I'm due for an update.

 

I'm not recovered, but I'm feeling a lot better than I was at the beginning of the year. The worst is over now, I'm sure of it. Unfortunately, its taken the best part of 5 years for me to get to this point and I don't think I will be able to declare full recovery until some time next year at the rate this is going, but I'm happy to be out of the darkest part of the woods.

 

To summarize: I stopped taking lexapro via a two month taper at the end of 2010, after being on anti-depressants for about 13 years. Initial withdrawal lasted about 6 weeks. Then I was reasonably well for about 3 months, until strange new symptoms started to arise. I had no clue at the time what was going on, but I was going into delayed, protracted withdrawal.

 

I progressively got worse through 2011 - 2013. All the time I was trying to manage my increasing symptoms with various medications and supplements. I acquired a new diagnosis and tried various new medications, but everything made symptoms worse. By early 2013 I was suicidal. I was losing weight frighteningly fast, my hair was falling out, I wasn't sleeping properly, I was living in a state of terror through most of the day. Nothing in my brain or body was working right and I didn't know why.

 

Finding this site in May 2013 probably saved my life. So its now been about 3 1/2 years I've been completely drug free and living a very simple, quiet, clean lifestyle. I've been a prisoner in my own room, unable to go out and do things because everything has felt overstimulating to my nervous system.

 

But thankfully, I'm closer to normal now. My baseline state feels like I'm at about 75% recovered on an average day.

 

I wrote a long list of symptoms early in this thread, so I'm not going to go through it and say what has gone. Its easier now to say what remains.

 

I still wake too early with a sense of urgency and hyper-arousal. But I can no longer call it terror. On some days it almost feels like excitement, but my body is still reacting abnormally in the mornings and doesn't start calming down until some time passes. But these days its unpleasant rather than being unbearable.

 

I still have some temperature dysregulation issues, random nerve pains that come and go, head, neck and shoulder pain which gets triggered by physical type stress... but all very bearable now.

 

I still have intermittant blurry vision, some dizziness, cognitive and memory issues and I still get overwhelmed easily by noise and chaotic environments. But its not the nightmare it was. I still get mild DP/DR, but its about 10% of what it was when I was at my worst.

 

I'm still experiencing neuro-emotions and mood swings through the day, but they are mild now. My own emotions have returned, and they are feeling overwhelming at times, its taking some getting used to... but I like them. I like being able to experience true depth of emotion again, to feel life flowing through this body like its supposed to. I didn't realize how numb I had become being on those pills... like only being half alive all the time.

 

I still have tinnitus in the middle of my head and right ear.... that's about it I think.

 

The cycles of dread, terror and depression have stopped. I'm no longer living in a constant nightmare. I'm back at baseline after a recent wave, followed by a 2 week window and I'm happy to have reached this level of recovery, even though its taken so long.

 

I'm going to be saying that it took me 7 years to recover from 13 years of antidepressant use.... the next year is going to be easy after what I've been through and survived.

 

For anyone reading this, at the beginning of their recovery, don't be concerned. Most people don't take this long to recover. But for me I think it was the combination of long term use, ongoing, long term stress, which continued for another 2 years, menopause, lack of social support and a significant spiritual shift..... it all hit me at the same time.

 

Wishing everyone a happy holiday season if I don't get back here for a while.

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Bruin

Wonderful Petunia.....Iam so happy for you after the long and brave fight. Inspirational ...May your recovery continue apace.

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Junglechicken

There is hope for us all.

 

Wonderful news Petu, you made it through to the "other side", from the darkness to light.

 

Your courage, patience and faith got you there.

 

Hugs,

JC

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apace41

Petu,

 

Your message is one of hope for all of us.  I know how low you were at the depths and seeing you with the confidence that you are past the worse is truly wonderful.

 

Keep enjoying and come visit us when you can.  Your words are always valued even though I understand why you are around less these days.

 

Best,

 

Andy

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elbee

Thanks for the update, Petunia, and great to hear you are in a better place! 75% sounds pretty damn good :)

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btdt

"For anyone reading this, at the beginning of their recovery, don't be concerned. Most people don't take this long" 

 

I am not sure why Petu but this line if evoking an emotional response from me... I am just not sure of the emotion... I look at the avatar faces and can't decide which emotion I am feeling... hysterical maybe but grinning to at the number of times I have written the exact same sentence. Not sure I will sort myself out on my own time as I tend to not type and think too well these days. 

 

I just wanted to say it takes as long as it takes... I guess and we don't always have to spare people our pain do we ... or the length of out pain ... I am not here too much of late maybe that is a good thing.  Bad attitude and all that... 

 

It just seems at some point the scale tips... maybe after five years maybe after 8 who knows it may be different for each of us... but at some date does it go from 

 

this won't happen to you cause I have to care for you cause I know how horrid the early days are and how little you know or have to support your early healing.... 

 

to 

 

FIVE years... are you fing kidding me you have earned the right to rage.. go have at it five years is too long for anything not rewarding not paying and not fun... 

 

I know this is likely out of line... it is just me today... still 

 

I wish you all peace long timers and newbies.... 

 

peace all B

 

For anyone reading this, at the beginning of their recovery, don't be concerned. Most people don't take this long

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LexAnger

Great update Patunia!

Your strength and patience are inspiring! I'm so happy for you that you are at the WDnormal!

I believe you will see lots more improvement and can't wait to hearing more great news from you!

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grandmaD

 I never thought the day would come where this site was no longer my daily source of comfort, validation and survival.

This is good news!  You must be starting to live your life again!

I'm not recovered, but I'm feeling a lot better than I was at the beginning of the year. The worst is over now, I'm sure of it. Unfortunately, its taken the best part of 5 years for me to get to this point and I don't think I will be able to declare full recovery until some time next year at the rate this is going, but I'm happy to be out of the darkest part of the woods.

I sure hope this continues to be the case!  I hope it just keeps getting better and better!

To summarize: I stopped taking lexapro via a two month taper at the end of 2010, after being on anti-depressants for about 13 years. Initial withdrawal lasted about 6 weeks. Then I was reasonably well for about 3 months, until strange new symptoms started to arise. I had no clue at the time what was going on, but I was going into delayed, protracted withdrawal.

Sounds like my story!

I progressively got worse through 2011 - 2013.

I find this comforting because this has been my experience also.  I thought I would improve as I tapered but after my tapering began in 2011 I found that each year got progressively worse with 2014 being the worst.

,Unable to go out and do things because everything has felt overstimulating to my nervous system.

Yep, can relate to that.

I still wake too early with a sense of urgency and hyper-arousal. But I can no longer call it terror. On some days it almost feels like excitement, but my body is still reacting abnormally in the mornings and doesn't start calming down until some time passes. But these days its unpleasant rather than being unbearable.

I found this interesting as this is exactly my problem also.  I cannot tell if it is anxiety, stress, fear or excitement, but it sure isn't pleasant and there's no getting back to sleep.

I still have some temperature dysregulation issues, random nerve pains that come and go, head, neck and shoulder pain which gets triggered by physical type stress... but all very bearable now.

The temperature issue is intereresting also that you still have that and I experience that and the other pains also which is a big issue at the moment.

 My own emotions have returned, and they are feeling overwhelming at times, its taking some getting used to... but I like them. I like being able to experience true depth of emotion again, to feel life flowing through this body like its supposed to. I didn't realize how numb I had become being on those pills... like only being half alive all the time.

Does this mean we haave to learn all over again to deal with negative emotions like anger and so on?  I guess we never realised how numb we were/are, your right there.

I still have tinnitus in the middle of my head and right ear.

I still have this also and at present is quite high at times and irritating

I'm going to be saying that it took me 7 years to recover from 13 years of antidepressant use.... the next year is going to be easy after what I've been through and survived.

Well, there is hope for me yet! 

Wishing everyone a happy holiday season if I don't get back here for a while.

I hope we hear from you before then!  Please keep us updated, even if it is to say you are the same or even better, which is what I hope will be the case!

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AliG

Petunia. I'm so very happy that the tide is starting to turn for you and that you are starting to see some light and hope at the end of this long, dark tunnel. Your patience is hopefully being rewarded with some healing and recovery. You deserve this and I hope you continue to make progress in leaps and bounds in the coming months.

Much love,

Ali 

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grandmaD

HI Petunia - again!  I was just wondering how your sleep patterns are now?  Also if you experienced long periods (like months) with fatigue, lethargy and tiredness?  How are your energy levels now?

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Purplestars22

It's so great reading your update Petunia! Amazing that you are 75% healed. Your story gives me hope that I will heal too. It's only going to get better for you from now on congrats! Ps22

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Altostrata

Petu, so happy to hear you're doing better. It's been a long, long road.

 

I added our cheerful "here comes the sun" symbol



to the title of your Intro topic, to show you're recovering.

I hope you will add your story to our Recovery Success Stories eventually!

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Flowers

What a wonderful update Petunia!

 

What a long road to recovery you have been on but at last you are seeing such a great improvement. I am thrilled for you and hope we hear more good news in your next update.

 

xxx Flowers

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dalsaan

Hi Petu

 

So happy things have turned for you. This has been a hard journey for you but you have been amazing in it. I admire your courage -to keep putting one foot after another, to maintain hope, to put your experience to good use moderating here and now to let go of SA as a daily survival tool.

 

I'm proud of you, I'm happy for you and I wish you the best from here on

 

D xx

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Petunia

Wow! I came back to write a little update and I have my sun symbol, such a nice surprise, I guess I really am recovering, thanks Alto.

 

.... and everyone else who has commented.

 

I will definitely write a success story when I feel ready, in fact I found myself composing the first few paragraphs in my head the other day while I was on my way out somewhere.

 

But, I'm in a little bit of a wave at the moment, perhaps that's what has brought me back here now. But its more of a ripple compared to what they used to be like.

 

If it wasn't for the accompanying watered down version of the morning horrors, I might mistake these current symptoms for something completely unrelated to withdrawal and take myself to the doctor to be checked for something more serious.

 

But jaw pain, breathing problems, fatigue and throat issues coincided with a return of morning anxiety/dread, so I know its a wave.

 

But I've had a wonderful few months of feeling better than normal, where I've been able to appreciate life in a way I've never experienced before, so I'm not complaining at all. I know the sun will be back again soon.

 

:)

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brassmonkey

(((((((((((((((((((HUGS))))))))))))))))))

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apace41

Wow! I came back to write a little update and I have my sun symbol, such a nice surprise, I guess I really am recovering, thanks Alto.

 

.... and everyone else who has commented.

 

I will definitely write a success story when I feel ready, in fact I found myself composing the first few paragraphs in my head the other day while I was on my way out somewhere.

 

But, I'm in a little bit of a wave at the moment, perhaps that's what has brought me back here now. But its more of a ripple compared to what they used to be like.

 

If it wasn't for the accompanying watered down version of the morning horrors, I might mistake these current symptoms for something completely unrelated to withdrawal and take myself to the doctor to be checked for something more serious.

 

But jaw pain, breathing problems, fatigue and throat issues coincided with a return of morning anxiety/dread, so I know its a wave.

 

But I've had a wonderful few months of feeling better than normal, where I've been able to appreciate life in a way I've never experienced before, so I'm not complaining at all. I know the sun will be back again soon.

 

:)

 

 

In a lot of ways, Petu, this is even better than a super upbeat everything is awesome post because it shows where you REALLY are and that you are REALLY healing!

 

So happy you are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

 

Best,

 

Andy

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bromor

I was SO happy to read this.  There is always hope & our bodies are made to heal (even if it IS way longer than we would like!).

 

Hope you have a wonderful holiday season.

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LexAnger

So happy to hear this!

Hug hugs hugs,

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Petunia

:)  I thought it would be a good idea to log in and write a bit of a holiday update. Thanks for all the comments and support guys, I'm glad my recovery is giving some of you hope.

 

I'm still having some wavy periods and I've just got over a bout of bronchitis, which was added stress and probably caused the last little wave. I can honestly call them 'little' waves now, as opposed to tsunamis.

 

I've been in a stressful situation over the last few weeks, but I'm not sure if the added stress caused the wave, or the wave has made the situation feel more stressful than it actually is. I'm still feeling like my 'normal' emotions are stronger than they should be and I'm struggling with them at times. But life in general is so much better now. This will be the first Christmas since withdrawal started that I actually want to leave the house and go visit my family.

 

Last week I spent some time with relatives who are visiting from the UK, who I haven't seen in years. They have visited several times while I've been sick and I haven't been able to see them... but its great to finally be able to socialize again and feel comfortable.

 

I'm still exercise intolerant and have to be careful not to over-exert myself. But so many of my symptoms have gone away completely and even the tinnitus has reduced to a degree that I hardly notice it any more. Its still there, but it doesn't bother me at all now, I'm just not as sensitive.

 

When in a wave, the morning doom/dread feeling is like a shadow of what it was in the worst times. And when I'm not in a wave, its gone completely and I wake up enthusiastic about the day.

 

Sleep is pretty much back to normal now and I'm able to nap during the day again. When in a wave, I wake from daytime naps feeling a bit toxic and weird, but they are refreshing. When I'm not in a wave, daytime naps are completely wonderful again. I'm able to appreciate the simple things now.... like naps, sitting in the sun and enjoying a cool breeze..... I can relax again... its such a blessing and every day now feels like a gift.

 

Wishing everyone a good holiday season and continuing recovery.

reindeer-antlers-smiley-emoticon.gif

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Jncs

Hi Petunia,

 

SO glad to hear your optimistic update. You are an inspiration to me and my husband (btw, he is much better.)

Wishing you a Merry Christmas and Good Health in the New Year! :)

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direstraits

this is so inspiring to read!....at a time we need it....so happy for you!

 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year,Petunia.  xo

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Flowers

Wonderful to read especially  after all you have been through!

 

Merry Christmas!

 

xxxx

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Bruin

So good to read Petunia.....Merry Christmas and may 2017 be a great year of continued healing.

 

All the Best 

 

Bruin

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apace41

So great to hear this, Petu!

 

You are definitely on the way to being fully healed and back to a normal life.

 

So happy for you!

 

Happy Holidays!

 

Best,

 

Andy

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grandmaD

Awesome - I'm putting your post on the fridge for inspiration!

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Rain

Nice to hear you are getting much better! 

 

Have a nice holiday!

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WinningThrough

So, so glad you're starting to feel better Petu!

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btdt

Happy New Year Petu maybe this is your year.

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Petunia

Thanks for the support and holiday wishes. I'm so happy my recovery is giving some of you hope and inspiration. When I was going through the worst of it, I desperately clung onto descriptions of symptoms reducing or ending, needing the evidence that recovery is possible so that I could have some hope. But from my gloomy, withdrawal tinted  perspective, I was convinced that recovery wouldn't happen for me, that I was going to be the exception, and would be doomed to suffer for the rest of my miserable life but I still needed that little bit of hope to get me through each difficult day.

 

I remember numerous times, reading an inspiring post about some improvements which had happened and being filled with hope while reading. But then instantly, the doomy, hopeless feelings would return. It took a long time before a positive, optimistic outlook actually stuck around for more than  few seconds.

 

I'm still in the same wave as when I last posted, but managed to have a nice Christmas, not that I did anything special. Just being able to feel ok and even happy at times made it seem like the best Christmas ever.

 

The last couple of mornings have been quite bad and I had to resort to breathing exercises today in order to calm myself down. I think this spike in a minor wave may have been caused by eating spicy, Indian food for dinner two nights in a row.

 

I'm also caught up in a moderately stressful situation, which I don't want. It seemed like a good idea at the time and now I've got some responsibilities that I don't want to just walk away from, so I'm dealing with it for now.

 

I can't figure out if its the wave causing the situation to feel overwhelming or if the situation is something I really need to get out of. Its supposed to be fun and enjoyable, not something I need to be doing, so its rather puzzling to me.

 

I'm having emotional reactions, both good and bad which feel overwhelming and way off the scale of what would be considered normal for the situation. I don't know if this stress is bad for my recovery or if I should just stick with it and let my nervous system continue adapting and finding its proper balance.

 

A lot of the emotional reactions I'm having seem to be linked to past trauma and a bad experience I went through, but are being triggered and released by the events of this current situation.  I just don't know if I should stick with it and let it run its course, or find a way out to reduce the stress.

 

At times it feels like my own personal history is being re-written symbolically through this new endeavor but now, I have some control and choices, which is quite different from what much of my life has seemed like in reality. It feels like there's something here in this situation I need to learn or work through, in order to be able to let go of something from my past.

 

If I could sum up my life so far in one sentence it would be something like.... born into a situation with the odds stacked against me, fighting to survive every day and unable to escape from the inner and outer chaos to find peace.

 

My inner chaos has climbed off the scale the last few years while going through withdrawal, but it was only when I stopped fighting it, that I was able to find some peace and start to recover. The way I'm understanding it now is that a chaotic self was created as a reflection of the outer chaos which surrounded me as I was growing up. Its never felt good and so I've been fighting with this self the whole time, fighting with my own created reality. Letting go of the fight and accepting the chaos of me has allowed the fullness of this chaotic self to slowly come into the light to dissolve naturally.

 

Now I find myself symbolically fighting with a reflected aspect of this old chaotic self.... something out there in the real world. The old me is hanging on by a thread by creating a symbolic form of itself 'out there' and inviting me to fight with it, thus continuing its existence through our ongoing conflict.  Yes, I think that's what this is. All I have to do is let go, stop fighting and be done with it. Whatever remains here when the struggle ends, will be the authentic me I suppose.

 

Sounds simple now :)

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bubble

This is just beautiful Petunia!

 

The story of your recovery is the best holiday present for me. I've been following your progress since I came here over 3 years ago. Even in the darkest moments you just endured and although you thought you would be an exception on one level you just went on, even without hope sometimes.

 

I miss your stories and often thinking about you imagining what it is like for you in your reality with the recovered you... To stop fighting is so hard because it's so counter intuitive but yes, it makes things happen :)

 

Big hugs

 

(I'm also doing much better than this time last year when I also doubted and couldn't believe something like that would be possible again...)

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DizzyGirl

Dear Petunia I habe just read through your whole thread. What can I say ? You are an inspiring woman. I really hope when you are 100% recovered that you will come back and write a success story, because you have a wonderful way to describe everything and one sucess story more will help so many people. I have copied some of your sentences and sent it to ppl that are recovering from antidepressants and need some hope.

 

????????????

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Petunia

I logged in to post an update and realized this will be my first for 2017. When I made my introduction cry for help, back in 2013 I never dreamed that 4 years later I would be writing on the same thread, still on the same recovery path which began 3 years prior to that.

 

But here I am, miraculously still alive, still struggling through some days, but in general seeing life now as a gift that I wasn't able to appreciate before. Each day is precious, even the crappy ones. This horrendous experience has taught me the true meaning of hell and now that the worst is over, every day feels kind of wonderful by comparison, even when my emotions are too intense and I'm in physical pain and I have to wait a few hours before I can do something I need to do... I'm happy I survived and grateful I get a second chance.

 

Right now, I'm not sure if I'm still in an extended wave or if this is my real 'withdrawal normal' and I was in an extended window for a few months.  I'm hoping this is a wave and it will be the last one. Its not so bad, probably about 25% of the awfulness of my worst times. But I still hate waking up in the morning to waves of fear and doomy, gloomy feelings, which hang around until midday. Last week they were lifting late afternoon, today they went away at 12:30, so I felt comfortable to go out and do a few chores earlier than I expected.

 

Yesterday I walked to the park, I haven't done that in a while, not without my pokemon hunting phone in hand anyway. But yesterday I felt inspired to absorb some nature free from technology and I'm glad I did because I was remembering how bad it had felt previously, being nothing but a vibrating mass of fear fueled bundle of DP/DR, wondering if I'm ever going to feel ok ever again.

 

But yesterday I felt ok.... what I was seeing with my eyes made sense. Colors are starting to appear rich and full with depth and meaning again. I was looking at the water in the lake and suddenly realized that it was was a beautiful, deep green, like a heavy velvet curtain draped across the land. I could feel the color, taste it and for a few moments it was me, there was no separation. I used to have experiences like this often, before zoloft and lexapro and now, my connection with life is coming back.

 

While I was feeling much better the second half of last year, I took on a few responsibilities, but now I'm struggling with them. Its not anything serious, and supposed to be fun, but I'm feeling the pressure of it as stress. Other people are involved and I'm wondering if I should pass my responsibilities to someone else. Hopefully this is a wave, on its way out.

 

Well, that's my update. 

 

I'm so glad you are feeling better too bubble.

 

.... and DizzyGirl, thank you for letting me know what I write is helpful, it gives the whole ordeal some meaning. If what I've gone through can help someone else, then it wasn't just pointless, miserable suffering for nothing... which is what it felt like most of the time.

 

Oh! I almost forgot the main thing I wanted to write about.....sleep.  Its completely back to normal. I go to sleep easily between 10 and 11 and sleep through the whole night without waking. My dreams are back to normal, mostly pleasant or neutral, with occasional weirdness- the normal kind you sometime have in dreams, and I wake up after sleeping for a solid 7 - 8 hours.

 

Supplements: all I take now is 200mg of Mag Citrate at night and 2000mg of Vitamin C twice a day. I'm also taking turmeric as a natural anti-inflammatory, but still not sure if its actually doing anything helpful. It doesn't seem to hurt though. 

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Shep

But yesterday I felt inspired to absorb some nature free from technology and I'm glad I did because I was remembering how bad it had felt previously, being nothing but a vibrating mass of fear fueled bundle of DP/DR, wondering if I'm ever going to feel ok ever again.

 

But yesterday I felt ok.... what I was seeing with my eyes made sense. Colors are starting to appear rich and full with depth and meaning again. I was looking at the water in the lake and suddenly realized that it was was a beautiful, deep green, like a heavy velvet curtain draped across the land. I could feel the color, taste it and for a few moments it was me, there was no separation. I used to have experiences like this often, before zoloft and lexapro and now, my connection with life is coming back.

 

 

 

Wow, this is such a beautiful post, Petunia. Thank you for writing it. 

 

I also have severe dp/dr, so I can relate to the struggle. This is so beautiful to read.  :)

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btdt

A toast to second chances... wishing you peace Petu thanks for the beautiful update... it was inspiring. 

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