When I was in my mid- thirties I was a single mom of a young son, had just bought a small house after leaving my husband when my baby was a little over one year old. I had lived with mom for a bit while I went to school again and got a job. I worked full time, I was doing really well for a single mother but I was feeling depressed and lethargic.
My primary care physician prescribed Effexor, a drug she said would not cause weight gain. It took a while before it felt like it was doing anything and by that time I actually felt more tired. Not too long after starting Effexor my mom had a heart attack and triple bypass and mini strokes. This was August 2004. It was absolutely awful. Mom went into sudden onset dementia. I was the only family close by and mom was so good to me when I left my husband I naturally took on her care.
But in 2011/2012 I discovered Reiki. Learning Reiki gave me coping skills, connection to spirituality, connection to like -minded people. I was doing well, in 2013 I met the love of my life. In late 2013 I was feeling so much better so I asked my doctor to get me off the meds that, by this time, I felt were doing more harm than good.
Her solution was to bridge me from Effexor to Citalopram. Once on Citalopram I just stopped taking it. At first it all seemed fine. Then late in 2014 I started having pain. I felt bruised a lot. If my son jokingly poked me in the arm I lost it. It hurt so much. I got angry a lot. I couldn't handle my cats sitting on me. Everything started to hurt. By 2015 I was regularly late for work. I was always tired. I hurt. My neck and shoulders killed me. I was miserable. At break times I had to scoot myself over to my cubicle wall and pull myself up to standing, then took several steps before I could walk upright. And the anxiety. I was having panic attacks which I'd never had before, I was crying all the time from anxiety. I was anxious everywhere and becoming agoraphobic. In May of 2015 I begged my doctor to put me off work. I was scheduled to go back to work several times. In September of 2015 I tried to go back. I cried from waking until I got to the parking lot where I turned my car around and went back home.
I let my doctor put me back on Effexor.
In 2019 I tried coming off Effexor. I thought I was going to kill someone by day three. I searched Facebook and found several Effexor withdrawal groups. One of them was so hugely knowledgeable and had so much research in the files that I realized I was drug damaged.
Even tapering, there were suicidal thoughts and some very dark weeks where I did not think I would survive. I still get morning anxiety and extreme fatigue but it's slowly getting a little better the last couple of months. The pain seems to be helped a lot with the proper supplements that we need due to psych meds ruining the gut and causing deficiencies. I'm still cautious and wary because, for many, the lower the dose goes, the worse the withdrawal is. There are people in the group who assure us our brains will heal with the slow tapering allowing our CNS to adjust and that life after withdrawal IS worth living, though many days, and after not being able to work for over six years now, I worry it may never be the life I had before, or the kind of life I will find rewarding.
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Phillipa is suffering withdrawal from Effexor