I used Paxil between 1996 and 2005. This is part 3 of a 3 part series detailing my experience. My experience with SSRI withdrawal was difficult, to say the least. I’ve been asked to tell this story, so I did for those that want to hear it. Spoiler alert: I survived and it turned out OK!
My experience with antidepressants and anxiety is mine. Yours may be different. Please keep this in mind.
My Withdrawal Experience
I experienced physical symptoms, magnified emotions, magnified anxiety, depressive moods, and intrusive thoughts. It was quite a struggle for 8-9 months. I found myself often overwhelmed and surprised by simple emotions. I was anxious all the time. I was having panic attacks regularly and become really afraid of the next one. Intrusive thoughts centered around death, dying and existence dogged me every day. All the while, my body was simply not cooperating with me at all. I experienced visual and balance issues, headaches, stomach issues, muscle twitches, and all kinds of unusual sensations and impairments.
Over time (8-9 months), I did get better. Time was the magic ingredient!
- Along the way, good things happened too:
- I lost all the weight I had gained while on Paxil
- My emotions and personality returned
- My sense of good judgement returned
- I was able to right my ship financially
- I started reaching out to repair and rebuild relationships with important people in my life
- I was learning about how to teach and help people
- I found parts of myself that I never knew I had
- I expanded my interests into different areas like philosophy and literature
As painful and difficult as it was, my SSRI withdrawal was an essential experience in making me who I am today. I am grateful for the experience! I’d even do it again if I knew that I would wind up where I am now.
THINGS YOU CAN DO IF YOU ARE EXPERIENCING SSRI WITHDRAWAL
When tapering an antidepressant, GO SLOW. Slower is ALWAYS better. This is not a detoxing issue. Give yourself the best chance to have the best possible experience by going very slowly.
Don’t Try To Micro-Manage Your Body
Resist the urge to try to micro-manage your brain chemistry or hormones. Be as healthy as you can with your habits, but there is no magic food, supplement or herb that will cure your withdrawal issues. Be patient.
Let Time Pass
In the end, your body and brain will re-adapt. You are not broken or damaged. Time is what you need for your body to go back to its natural pre-medication state. Time is the cure.
Don’t Camp In Victim-Land For Too Long!
You may be in pain, and you may struggle, but this does not mean you must suffer. There will be bad days, but you must do your best to not get permanently stuck in a victim mindset. You are still capable, even if impaired temporarily.
Please note: I cannot advise you on medication. I cannot tell you to take or not take it, nor can I tell you which medication to take or not take. I cannot advise you on doses or medication switches. I cannot tell you how long it will take you to come off your antidepressant. And finally, I did not take benzodiazepines at all, so I have no real experience in that area (although I can say with certainty that you should NEVER abruptly stop taking a bento after regular use.).
In my first book “An Anxiety Story”, I wrote about my antidepressant experience. That book can be obtained free via Smashwords or as a free mp3 audiobook download. All the ways to get it are on my website .
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Podcast Intro/Outro Music: "Afterglow" by Ben Drake (With Permission)