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My Long Struggle


[Ch...]

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Mine is a typical story of the shrinks thinking and their naive treatment methods. This all began in 1996, when I had a severe mental breakdown. I was about 40 at the time and had a family history of depression and anxiety issues. Of course, in those days, families tended to cover up those dark chapters.

  They started me on combinations of old fashioned anti-depressants and of course, Xanax. Months went by before I felt any relief and I began to understand that the doctors keep pushing up the dosages until the side effects become intolerable. Each Psychiatrist has their little favorite meds and don’t wish to face the realities that perhaps the ones they are pushing are not the solution.

  After many changes and agony, I finally stabilized, but at a price. By 1999, I was prescribed up to 5, 1 mg Xanax a day and it seemed like a miracle drug at that time. Little did I know at the time what a monster I’d created. This went on and I was assigned a job in the Middle East, where I thrived for almost 6 years. All that time, I continued using 5 mg Xanax a day. There were wars and terrorism near my fortified compound and I felt protected from the extreme stress. I would come home every 6 months and had prescriptions for the lung durations I was overseas.

  I came home in 2005 and continued my Xanax use for a few additional years. I didn’t feel I was struggling, but the fact I had to carry around a 1 mg Xanax all the time should have been a red flag. I suppressed any doubts I had about long term Xanax use and the devastating consequences. I simply didn’t want to face the ugly truth.

 

  By 2013, things had become more complicated. The meds were not doing the job and to complicate this, my doctor of 20 years was retiring. He recommended another shrink nearby. I knew when I went to a younger doctor that they’d be appalled at the length of time I’d been addicted to Xanax. Yes, he was shocked and told me what long term use had done to me. He immediately changed all my meds and cut the Xanax down to .5 mg of time released, 3 times a day. This was a very dramatic taper and left me shaky and dizzy those first few months. He put me on a SSRI, Lexapro which made me feel horrible. He warned me about seizures and what might happen if I didn’t follow his instructions to the letter. I worked full time through all of this and the mental pain was practically un-bearable. I just had to suck it up, and in my late fifties, I had to summon all my strength just to get through the days. My weight began to plummet and I wasn’t sleeping well. My particular shrink was an addiction specialist for older adults.

  Little did I know at the time was that the reduction of Xanax was just prolonging my agony and would drag out for another few years. As 2015 rolled around, the side effects from the Lexapro became un-bearable. He switched me over to Zoloft, which didn’t help at all. I had severe night sweats, hands soaked from excess perspiration all day. I was on the verge of throwing up in the mornings and the doctor seemed to ignore my side effects. He said I’ll get used to them. I got a bit angry and asked him if he’d ever taken this medication and he said no. Well, how would you know the side effects then, I asked? I believe these shrinks have no idea what the side effects are really like. As I wasn’t sleeping well he prescribed my Seroquel, which seemed to work very well and allowed me some much needed rest.

  Near the end of 2015, I’d had enough of the drugs and feeling terrible day after day in a high stress job I could not hide from. Yes, you just wish to hide when your emotions overwhelm you, I’ve been there. My wife went along to the doctor and was a little shocked when the doctor and I began to argue. I was tied of his optimism when I’m the one suffering. She told him directly that he wasn’t helping me. He told me I may need to find a doctor who could help and it might have been the best advice he’d given me.

  At this point, he decided the Xanax had to go and began a quick taper. I’d read of the consequences of addiction and dreaded the pain that was coming. He said I was strong and it would be ok. I told him there was no way this was not going to hurt. After all, his specialty was addiction and I reluctantly trusted him. In late October, I was well on my way to being free of the Xanax once and for all. I don’t know where I found the strength to go on. He tapered me down below 1 mg quickly and had me keep a few handy, just in case. I was sleeping ok, to my surprise, although I’d wake covered in night sweat. This would go on for months. It was at this time I discovered Benzo Buddies and read many of the Successes. In a matter of 5 weeks, I had tapered down to no Xanax at all and did it safely.

I don’t wish anyone to read this and think they could do this, see your doctor for a taper like I did. I was right to trust him.

  As Thanksgiving rolled around, I was touch and go. While thrilled that I no longer used Benzos, it was not without some pain. I was able to sleep, lost 15 pounds (a good thing) and tried to get my life back together. The long winter, with short days and cold weather didn’t help me much. I held onto the fact that I needed to make it to spring and I hoped I could turn the corner. Every once and a while, I’d forget and reach into my pocket for a Xanax and remembered I don’t need them anymore. This was a great comfort and kept me going through this difficult trial.

  As Christmas neared, I didn’t feel much better, but enjoyed building a fire in my fireplace each evening. My career was touch and go, but I was able to muster the strength to get up and face each new day. Yes, I was still sick to my stomach and felt shaky, but time would heal that. I was actually terrified as I read others stories in here and the hell they went through. I was very lucky and if compared to some, was an easy transition. I saw that they recommended a full 3 months before telling my story and decided that mid-year 2016 would put me in a good position to share my story.

  The winter finally ended, but I’d been flat for so long, I could not gauge my progress. I did notice things like how green the grass had become and why I didn’t see it until now. Thoughts still raced through my mind and the stress from work wore me out physically and emotionally. I began to take long walks which helped me enormously. I still had the night sweats and thought it just a rebound effect and hoped it would pass.

  I tried to explain to the doctor my lingering symptoms and asked him if he’s done all he can and he said yes. He kept wanting to up the dosage of the Zoloft and I disagreed. At, last, I decided to take matters into my own hands. I tapered myself off the Zoloft slowly and was surprised to discover they were causing my night sweats, the trembling and most of my remaining anxiety. I felt better immediately and after a few weeks didn’t need them any longer. So, I was now down to just the Seroquel, which I still need to sleep. I feel these doctors lose sight of reality and need to put down their books and be more reasonable. In my case, he was doing more harm than good.

  Yes, I’d been right to trust him on the Xanax, but he was naïve about the rest of the anti-depressants he had me on. They don’t train them very well about actually listening to their patients. I may still have a long way to go, but am free from the Benzos and most of the others. It was not nearly as bad as I’d feared. As stated, what worked for me may not work for others, but I’m glad I hung in there.

 

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Chiper56, congratulations on being drug free.  You were on a a pretty high dose of Xanax and other meds.  That is quite an accomplishment to get off all of them.  Where are you in your healing?  Do you have any residual symptoms?  Again, kudos to you for sticking it out and coming back to tell us about it.  It will give hope to many here who are struggling to get there.

 

XX

She

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Chiper, You sound like a tough enough guy to withstand a lot...putting one foot in front of the other and keep going. Blessings to you on your journey.

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Jude :thumbs

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Another amazing story of grit and determination!!! What a difficult road you traveled. I'm glad you stuck with it even though the odds were against you. Good that your wife was on your side and believed in you.

 

CONGRATULATIONS!!! Have a wonderful life!!!  :thumbsup: :thumbsup:

 

I, too, wonder what symptoms are remaining and how you're doing.

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Another amazing story of grit and determination!!! What a difficult road you traveled. I'm glad you stuck with it even though the odds were against you. Good that your wife was on your side and believed in you.

 

CONGRATULATIONS!!! Have a wonderful life!!!  :thumbsup: :thumbsup:

 

I, too, wonder what symptoms are remaining and how you're doing.

 

 

I second what Terry says.

 

Thank you so much for giving us hope  :smitten:

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I do appreciate the comments in support. I was asked if I had any lingering issue and I simply don't. I'm free at last and can get on with my life. The quick taper they recommended was successful in my case and I repeat: Don't try this on your own as it's too dangerous. See a good doctor to get you thru this.

  I'm not all that tough, but fought thru this and you can too! I have not felt this good in 10 years and wonder if it will get even better. Take it one step at a time or you'll feel overwhelmed. The fear of the withdrawl was more of a menace than what I actually went through. I suppose I'm luckier than most. It will not be as bad as you may imagine. Look at what you have to gain, a free life!

Best to All

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Great story.  Congratulations!  I'm about 10 months.  You are so right when you say doctors don't know what we are going through.  I had one doctor tell me she didn't know what PAWS was(post acute withdrwawal symptoms)!

 

Keep up the good work.

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