I was prescribed Sertraline (Zoloft) in 1998 when I had postnatal depression. I was told to take it for a year to 18 months. I went from deep depression/anxiety to euphoria in the space of about two weeks, I felt pretty damned fantastic, there was nothing I couldn’t handle. As time went on I continued to feel well but my emotions were dampened down, so I was functioning well, no depression, but no “joy” either. After a few months of feeling well I decided I didn’t want to be on Sertraline anymore, didn’t read the patient information leaflet or talk to a doctor, not that that would have helped anyway. I just stopped taking them. My head felt terrible, it began to feel water logged, if I turned my head there was a time lag between my eye balls catching up with the fact that my head had turned, so dizzy, gradually intense sadness would kick in, really really intense sadness and anxiety, oh the anxiety, pumping adrenaline and nerves shot to bits. I went back on the Sertraline.
The doctor told me to do the alternate day thing, alternate days for a fortnight,then every third day for a fortnight, then one tablet a week, I did this various times over the next few years to no avail. I tried a pill cutter and halving the tablet, it wouldn’t break down easily without crumbling so that was unsuccessful. Every time I tried something, I ended up in worse shape than the time before, it was all getting steadily worse. I tried meditation, healing, exercise, cognitive behavioural therapy, counselling, fish oil capsules, NOTHING touched it. I pressured my surgery to refer me to a psychiatrist for advice,but the psychiatrist had no clue and could only recommend switching to another drug. I did switch to Citalopram for a while, and Mirtzapine, I felt constant fatigue on Mirtzapine, and then back to Sertraline. Yet another psychiatrist recommended halving my dose of Sertraline and taking diazepam to mitigate the withdrawals, so replace one powerful drug with an even more powerful addictive drug.
This is my description of how withdrawal felt from my blog, I only recently found out that what was happening had a name,akathisia:

“5am and for about the 3rd night in a row I’ve barely slept, I can’t stop the adrenaline pumping round my body, my stomach is tightly knotted, I’ve barely been able to eat properly it makes me feel sick. I’m clammy, sweating and crying and P is trying to reassure me, but he has to go to work. I get up and drag myself through all the motions of the day and making sure boys get to school, I feel like the living dead, I make sure they get fed and make sure they and no one else is aware of what’s going on, I don’t hang around at the school gates. Oh I do kind of tell a few people I’m not really feeling right but I play it down.
The constant adrenaline is tormenting me on the inside and I can’t stop it.It’s been building up over a period of months and I’ve been fighting and fighting the feelings but it seems to have reached a peak of exquisite torture.It’s like being at the top of a roller coaster that never stops. Someone else mentioned birdsong, and it was a funny thing, the torture was worse in the mornings and over the summer months while it was slowly building, birdsong in the morning outside the window had become a kind of torture as well. I had to go to work only 2 days a week and God only knows how I managed it. I had taken
my last Sertraline tablet months ago, and come off it as per the doctors instructions, and now my depression/anxiety was back tenfold to punish me for daring to presume I could stop taking it. I must be wired up wrong, no one else feels like this do they? What is wrong with me? Maybe I really am insane, maybe I just can’t cope with life without my tablets, how come everyone else can cope with life, and I can’t? There must be something fundamentally wrong with me. By now the Orwell Bridge was beginning to look a bit attractive and I just wanted to escape the adrenaline surges torturing me, my nerves were in shreds”.
This was 2003,at the end of 2003 I gave in and went back on the sertraline.

In 2006 I attempted another withdrawal, but at the same time we found ourselves going through a stressful life event, I tried to tough it out but ended up back on the Sertraline again.
So here I was, several years later and no further forward, and not for wont of trying! Everytime I went in a book shop or library I would try and find anything I could about antidepressants and depression, but nothing really enlightened me. I rummaged around on the internet but couldn’t find the answers. Until one day, I was browsing around Waterstones, and “Coming off Antidepressants” by Joseph Glenmullen jumped out at me, I read it avidly, and discovered TAPERING!!! But, all the examples in the book referred to liquid Seroxat or Prozac, I was really upset to find Sertraline was not available in liquid form. Armed with my new information about the simple concept of tapering, further digging led me to Dr Healy’s protocol of switching to the equivalent dose of liquid Prozac. These two pieces of information became my secret hope, I latched onto them. I decided to take a leap of faith and switch to liquid Prozac. At the beginning of 2007 I marked up my calendar with a schedule, I was going to go down from 5ml to 4.90ml the first week, 4.80ml the next week and so on, as my sons would say “epic fail”. By about mid February the nightmare was unfolding again and I had to give in and go back to the top of my Prozac dose, I was devastated.
Still I hadn’t given up hope, P was sympathetic but he couldn’t understand why I didn’t just give it up and accept I “needed” the drugs like a diabetic needs insulin. After lots more research, and P having interesting and enlightening conversations with a client who was a pharmacist about my problem, I started my taper again in May 2008, this time much much slower and here I am four years later down to 1ml liquid Prozac and still sucessfully tapering. It has needed a lot of self-discipline. I kept this blog/diary of my progress; I’ve been amazed to meet a few others who have been tapering longer than me. Nowadays my withdrawals are fairly benign, but I still feel a bit scarred from the experience,the akathisia has left me still feeling like my nerves are quite raw and very close to the surface but I can live with that now.
There is a huge assumption that these drugs are benign and harmless, they are not; they can cause extreme agitation and internal torture. They are dished out like smarties and people left to deal with the results. Starting them is like playing a game of Russian Roulette, you might be a lucky one who can take them and come off them with ease, or you might not. My understanding was that they were meant to be taken for only a year or so after you feel “well” but many many people are stuck on them for years or forever, I know many people who’ve given up hope of coming off SSRI’s and I hear many people say “oh I’ll be on these the rest of my life”. There is NO support or advice in place through doctors or psychiatrists on how to taper safely off the drugs.....if anyone does find any help in the UK, please let me know, although it’s a bit too late for me now as I’ve almost done it myself, but I know a lot of other people who might like to know!

Thursday, 24 December 2009

3.10mls and recurring dream

Have gone to 3.10mls today, a small one, then in a few weeks will go to 2.90mls. Love Christmas but hate new year and January bah humbug!
I've been getting that recurring dream loads lately, overwhelming packing and cleaning to do, I am sure someone up there is trying to tell me something or give me a message if only I could interpret it!
Anyway Happy Christmas to anyone who might be reading this and a happy 2010 and here's to lots more successful reductions, who knows this time next year I might be nearly off the prozac!

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Monday, 2 November 2009

Insomnia


I lay awake all last night, just could not switch my brain "off", getting more and more wound up as the night dragged on, worrying, I'd got a full day tomorrow, how was I going to cope on no sleep? should I throw a sickie, I've never ever thrown a false sickie and pride myself on how little sick leave I have had. When you're lying in the dark, unable to switch off, everything seems so much worse than in the cold light of day. For me insomnia is a very frightening experience because back in 2003 when I was "breaking down" a feature of that illness was not being able to sleep for literally nights on end, and feeling really so terrified and alone as I felt myself cracking up and mentally falling apart at the seams, adrenaline rushing round my body 24/7 keeping me awake against my will, caused by the prozac/lustral withdrawal, a very dark and frightening place to be. I feel scarred by 2003, one bad night now and I'm back in 2003 and thinking I'm falling apart once again. In the cold light of day I know this isn't true. This too will pass, I love that quote.

Prozac reduction timeline

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Fuzzy head

I've had such a rotten cold and lately my head has been quite fuzzy and spaced out, don't know if it's the cold or the prozac reduction which is kind of what it feels like, like the old days when I used to withdraw to fast and get the fuzzy spaced out feeling.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Recurring dream

I had that recurring dream in a very strong way last night, it was the end of a two week holiday, which actually seemed a lot longer than two weeks, a coach was going to collect us to take us to the airport the next morning and our hotel room/house was an absolute tip and I just did not know where to start with all the packing and tidying to do. It was more like moving house really, quite bizarre.

Oh yes, 20th Wedding Anniversary yesterday!!

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Blip

I have had a bit of a withdrawal reaction this week, came to my notice on thursday that I was feeling a bit "blah", and P who is very finely tuned to my behaviour noticed it because I tend to transfer my negativity onto him, ie blame him for everything, sort of like kicking the cat I suppose. These days it doesn't phase me or P and I know it's only a temporary blip.

Friday, 2 October 2009

I was deeply touched by a relative this week

This past week or so a relative has made contact with me and has been like a breath air talking openly with me about this blog and the contents, I have been deeply touched and wish I'd realised 10/11 years ago at the start that I could've talked to this person. Thank you!

3.30mls or expressed as a percentage I am 34% reduced

Tomorrow I will go from 3.50ml to 3.30ml, I calculated that I am now 34% down, so about one third of the way, and it's taken me about 16 months to get that far, so I suppose it could be another 2 years and 8 months before I'm free of the drug, so about June 2012!!!

Another recommended read (kind of)


Just read "Prozac Diary" by Lauren Slater, a good read about Lauren's life and 10 years dependent on prozac, in places the language is too flowery and what I call "arty farty" but where it isn't too flowery it's a good description of a life with prozac.

Saturday, 26 September 2009

New job

This Monday, I am starting a new part time job, so I'll be working two part time jobs and doing 4.5 days a week now, which I'm looking forward to as I know the new job will be good and they are a nice team of people I'll be working with, and we need the money, I've been so lucky getting away with working part time while the boys were young, but the time has now come where I need to pull some weight to get some much needed money in the house,  but I'm going to be so busy with work and the boys and Peter is so busy getting his business fired up that I'm hardly going to have time to worry about how the withdrawal is going!!!!
All being well this coming week, I will go down to 3.30ml on saturday!

Saturday, 19 September 2009

An excellent book on PND

I have just read "My Journey to her World" by Michael Lurie, it's only 130 pages but it's about his experience coping with his wife's post natal depression. There was so much in it I could relate to. "Going through difficult times can either make us stronger or break us. This book is my story of how I came face to face with the devestating illness of depression and in particular post natal depression..."
Anyway, recommended reading for anyone going through this.



My partner's depression

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

A chemical imbalance in the brain

That's how you end up hooked on ssri's, like lots of others I believed that line about a chemical imbalance in the brain, that's why you get depressed again and have to take the pills.

Saturday, 22 August 2009

3.50mls (14mg) New reduction....

....now down to 3.50mls, I can't believe how well this is going, after so many years of trying and failing at this I sometimes wonder if I'm just dreaming that this is working and I'm going to wake up from the dream one day.

I am getting used to "feeling" more in the way of emotion about things, hard to describe to people who havn't been on prozac how much it can numb you.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Recurring dream again...

had it again last night, had loads of stuff to clear out from one place to another, it almost felt like the Scouts Auction.

Friday, 10 July 2009

Recurring dream

Yes I had that recurring dream, had it several times and it's always been about moving house or packing at the end of the holiday, and always the task of packing everything up seems overwhelming, and exhausting and sometimes sad, and so it was last night.

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Comfortably numb

I'm feeling more emotion just lately, nothing major, but enough to appreciate how much prozac has numbed me over the years.

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Kick the ginkgo


I've been taking ginkgo for months and months, I've now been advised by an expert not to take it, so I've ditched it!

Thursday, 4 June 2009

110 Views?

Just noticed there have been 110 views of this blog (and it's not all me) but no comments? LOL

Monday, 18 May 2009

If you were diabetic you'd take insulin wouldn't you? so what's the difference?

I heard this line a lot, but I never totally bought into the idea that my body/brain needs Lustral or prozac, this line gets thrown about a lot when someone can't get off SSRI's without getting depressed again, it made me feel totally dependent and trapped by my dependency.

Sunday, 17 May 2009

3.80mls OK so I'm still a crap blogger but....


...I have broken through the 4ml barrier, in fact I am down to 3.80ml and still going strong. Peter worked out that I seem to have a withdrawal about every 4th or 5th cut, as if there is a cumulative effect. So from 5ml to 3.80ml, I think that means it's gonna take another couple of years LOL

Saturday, 11 April 2009

4.10ml Is it really four months?

I am now down to 4.10ml and at the end of April I will go to 3.90ml and will have broken the 4ml barrier!!! I did have a bad withdrawal for a week or so in March, I got really depressed and tearful, it was quite hard again to hang in there and think "this will pass", but with Peter's support I did, and it did, and I am now feeling really well again. Of course the better weather is great and I went on a 7 mile bike ride yesterday and 8 miles today and we got the garage and garden cleared and loads of crap to the dump. We're going through a bit of a scary time at the moment, Peter working mega hard to get the business up and off the ground, we could do with being a lot busier....