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 part time 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, (this book is now called "The Antidepressant Solution"). 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!

Saturday, 31 December 2011

Happy New Year (from somone who hates new year!)

Yes Happy New Year, even though I hate it and hate January and February and don't believe in making New Years resolutions, after all you're just setting yourself up for failure, and if you're ready to do something that time will happen at any time in the year and not the 1st January. Ba humbug! Roll on Easter LOL

OK regardless of the above, my hopes for 2012 are that by next new year I hope I will be off of Prozac if I play my cards right this year (but what will I do with this blog at that point? It will have fulfilled it's purpose? carry on blogging the issues? or wrap it up and just support others in the cause?).

I want to see my oldest son settled and happy and following a particular path in life.

I want to see my younger son continue to do well at school despite his dyslexia.

I want our business to really really grow this year.

I want to make time to enjoy my piano more.

I want my friend who has had a really crap 2011 have a fantastic 2012 where everything comes right for her.

I want all my loved ones and friends to have a good 2012.

I want to meet a particular friend in person who I've been talking to on Facebook for sometime now, and have a really good chat about the ishoos and share (Abilify Danger). I hope to strengthen my friendship with others who I've met through my blog as well.


Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Skool Playground

So I was chatting to another Mum in the school playground, she was a very gregarious, extrovert personality, I can’t even remember how the conversation started or what it was about originally but it must have been quite personal, I confessed that I was on antidepressants, I thought I was probably the only person in the playground who’d had to resort to the shame of using antidepressants. Oh no, she soon put me straight, she was as well, and see so and so over there? She’s on them! And that one over there? and such a body you know, so and so’s Mum...

You could’ve knocked me down with a feather, I’m not sure what shocked me more, finding out that so many other people in the playground were also on antidepressants or the fact that she knew they all were, and how long before everyone in the playground would know I was as well?

My Prozac Reduction Timeline

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!!

(Maybe this time next year I will be celebrating a Prozac & Lustral free Christmas :)  )

Prozac Reduction Timeline

Sunday, 18 December 2011

1.30ml - for Christmas

So today I am going to 1.30ml, just over 5 weeks since I went to 1.40ml.
If I don't do it now it could be ages, given that I hate January and the long winter months after Christmas. Got to keep moving on though!

Already pondering what I'll do when I get to 1ml and how to proceed at that point.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

My Prozac Tapering Timeline vs MHRA SSRI Learning Module Advice on Withdrawal

It seemed quite timely to post my timeline as a blog post, I already have it as a seperate page on here which I keep updated.
The MHRA (Medicines & Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency) have recently published updated guidelines for UK doctors and health care professionals on SSRI's.
SSRI Learning Module: Withdrawal (discontinuation) Effects
One of the things the learning module says is that antidepressants can be withdrawn quite easily and gradual withdrawal can be staged over 4 weeks?!?! 4 weeks, it's taking me 4 freaking years!!!! It also says that people with severe problems can seek specialist advice, where is the specialist advice?? the specialist advice I got was my doctor writing to a psychiatrist for me and getting a letter back advising patient to halve her Prozac and be given Temazepan to mitigate the withdrawals I was suffering, so that's great, substitute one powerful addictive drug with ANOTHER powerful addictive drug. I resorted to getting my specialist advice from books and the internet. I think the doctors think I'm a freak, but it's no wonder if this is the advice they are being given, the sad thing is there are loads of us out there who have struggled with getting off SSRI's and loads of people who don't know they are struggling with a powerful drug because they think the problem is theirs and their mental health and not the drug. It really is a head f***.

My friend Mr Fiddaman has been posting extensively and writing to the MHRA about these issues here: Seroxat Sufferers Stand Up and Be Counted go take a look.

The other issue is that a lot of people want to get off the drug so fast, I fell into that trap numerous times, you just want it out of your system as fast as possible. I learned the hard way that it really isn't worth rushing it, if you're feeling bad, hold at that dose for as long as it takes to feel well again before making another reduction, you can see my timeline below is really haphazard, I threw out the calendar and schedules, just didn't work for me, listen to your body and head, play the long game if you have to, be the tortoise and not the hare!!

I'm at a stage now where my dose is so low it would be really tempting to just drop it totally, go straight from 1.40ml to 0 but I don't want to risk throwing away all my hard work and ending up back at square one because I know I am sensitive to withdrawal.

 25th May 2008 4.90ml

10th June 2008 4.80ml

14th July 2008 4.70ml

14th Aug 2008 4.60ml

14th Oct 2008 4.50ml

25th Nov 2008 6 months

3rd Dec 2008 4.40ml

24th Jan 2009 4.25ml

11th April 2009 4.10ml

18th April 2009 3.90ml

17th May 2009 3.80ml

25th May 2009 1 Year

6th July 2009 3.60ml

22nd Aug 2009 3.50ml

2nd Oct 2009 3.30ml

14th Nov 2009 3.20ml

25th Nov 2009 18 Months

24th Dec 2009 3.10ml

31st Jan 2010 2.90ml

6th March 2010 2.70ml

10th April 2010 2.60ml

25th May 2010 2 Years

5th June 2010 2.50ml

3rd July 2010 2.40ml

7th Aug 2010 2.30ml

18th Sep 2010 2.20ml

23rd Oct 2010 2.00ml

25th Nov 2010 2 Years 6 months

18th Dec 2010 1.90ml

2nd March 2011 1.80ml

28th April 2011 1.70ml

25th May 2011 3 Years

10th June 2011 1.60ml

23rd July 2011 1.50ml

10th Nov 2011 1.40ml

25th Nov 2011 3 Years 6 Months