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My life completely changed this past February


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Hello everyone,

 

I have suffered from GAD for about 10 years now - my story started with a panic attack that had me hospitalized back in 2001. I was put on Paxil, which I stopped taking after about 40 days due to a quick onset of sexual dysfunction. I learned to deal with my anxiety when it flared up and later found Xanax from a friend. I only used .25mg Xanax as needed and truly was an occasional user. By occasional, I mean a 30-day prescription would last me anywhere from 9-14 months.

 

Jumping ahead, this past February I started to suffer from severe insomnia. It started out with me waking during the night, and by March I was barely able to sleep 1-2 hours per night. My anxiety was through the roof. On February 25th my GP prescribed Lexapro. I made it 4 days before the s/x were too much to handle and stopped taking it. I called my doctor and they gave me 1mg Xanax to help me sleep. All these years and I NEVER EVEN KNEW it was available in larger doses.

 

By March 10th I still was not sleeping, so my GP prescribed Doxepin and 1mg Lorazepam for my anxiety. The Doxepin did nothing to help me sleep so I discontinued use after 15 days. On March 11th I confided in my General Manager at work and he told me to take all the time I need to get better – thank God for an EXTREMELY supportive workplace. I left work that day on FMLA and the madness soon followed....

 

On March 23rd I saw a neurologist who prescribed me Ambien. It seemed to work for the most part, but many nights I added Xanax to the mix to take the edge off. On March 30th I met with a Psychiatrist for the 1st time in my life. She decided to put me on Xanax ER. Things continued to get progressively worse and I saw her 2 more times over the next few weeks. On April 6th she prescribed 25mg Seroquel. April 14th she upped my Seroquel to 50mg and added 25mg of Zoloft. Life was spiraling out of control at this point. My wife was hanging on by a thread and literally screaming at me each night to take my handful of meds. I knew they were poisoning me, but I reluctantly took them.

 

Still following?

 

I was taking .5mg of Xanax ER 2x a day, and 50-75mg of Seroquel, 10mg of Ambien, and 25mg of Zoloft right before bed. It's all very murky to me at this point because a mere 5 days later I was being driven to the ER by my wife, mother, and mother-in-law. I felt and truly believed that I had died and gone to hell. I'll spare the gory details, but I was basically catatonic, couldn't speak, and had to blink to give my authorization to be checked into the behavioral unit. Awful, awful, awful week. Enough said.

 

I spent a week in the unit, was stabilized with new meds and released on April 26th. The regimen? 25mg of Zoloft, 2mg of Clonazepam (1mg in the morning, 1mg in the evening), 30mg of Remeron, and 10mg of Ambien. Things were better and I ended up getting back to work after 8 weeks on FMLA.

 

I saw my Pdoc on May 23rd and she was extremely pleased to see me doing so well. My anxiety had dissipated, so she recommended that I increase the Zoloft to 50mg and decrease the Clonazepam to 1mg per day. So here I am today. Tomorrow will be 2 weeks since reducing my Clonazepam by 50%. I honestly had no idea how large this cut was until stumbling upon these boards. I've had some w/d symptoms this past week, but have managed to stay with .5mg of Clonazepam in the morning and evening. Last night, decided not to take my Ambien and actually slept with just the 30mg of Remeron. I'm thinking about trying this again tonight.

 

I've been on the Ambien for just over 10 weeks and Clonazepam was rudely introduced to me just over 6 weeks ago. My goal is to get off both of them and work on the AD’s at a later time. I have an appointment with my pdoc on June 24th but have no idea if she will advocate a crossover to Valium. I'm really hoping she will.

 

Thank you so much for taking the time to read “my story.” It's been a brutal ride (far worse than I can put on paper), with too many med changes in such a short amount of time. Any advice on next steps or words of encouragement would be greatly appreciated.

 

Cubfan4real

 

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Welcome to chaos and disorder!

 

Boy do the meds muddy the waters. I too was on multiple meds. I couldn't figure what was helping, what was hurting, what were side effects, and what was withdrawal. I am off almost all of it!

 

The tricky part of this is that anxiety and panic attacks really are not mental diseases. They are fully treatable without meds. There is cognitive behavior therapy. I have gotten a lot of help dealing with the anxiety of withdrawal from Claire Weeks "Hope and Help For Your Nerves."

 

So I support your wish to get off these meds. I had a physician tell me once that medications were poisons with beneficial side effects. I would love to say that most doctors will sit down with you to help you untangle this morass of medications. But that doesn't seem to be the way most of them work. I think you'll find a lot of support for your goals on this forum.

 

I am an RN, and my one piece of advice is to keep a daily log of what you take, how you benefit, and what side effects you experience. Also include withdrawal symptoms. This will help you assess your situation, and will help you discuss your situation with professionals.

 

You're on the right path to try to sort this out . . .

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Hi Cubfan4real

 

You have quite a story! Glad you found us. Yes, the decrease in Clonazepam is pretty steep, you seem to be weathering things pretty well though....?

 

I didn't know how powerful the drug was either until it turned on me. You're not alone in your misery and you can heal from all this, many have, many will, and you will too.

 

We'll support you along your way.

 

Welcome to BenzoBuddies  :)

 

Star  

 

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Cubfan4real,

Welcome!  You have been though the wringer on the med "merry-go-round" (like many of us here.) There are WONDERFUL folks here who can help you reach your goal of getting off your benzo's.  They will work with you to make the ride smoother, and us fellow BB's will be right there with you too....

Blessings,

itzsweird

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Im new here to .. I just wanted to say reading the forums and starting a blog here is helping. Knowing Im not alone and the stuff Ive gone through is " normal " has made all the difference. I hope you post more :)
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Hi Cubfan4real,

 

Sorry to hear of your awful story.  I'm glad things are at least a bit better now.  These drugs sure can really mess you up.  I also had a horrible multi-drug hospitalization experience in the early 1990's, which included Zoloft.  I'm currently directly tapering off Klonopin, which has worked for me pretty well.  You might want to try that instead of asking for Valium, which doctors in the U.S. seem to have an aversion to prescribing.  Klonopin is pretty long-acting, so it's easier to direct taper from than Xanax or Ativan.  Valium is also very sedating and many people find it causes depression pretty badly (that's a problem with Klonopin too, but supposedly especially so with Valium).  In my opinion, it might be better to go with the devil you already know, especially since you've had so many med changes. You might want to ditch the Ambien first, because it's shorter-acting.  I'm not sure how that should be tapered, or whether you can just quit it.  I'm sure others will have good advice on that. 

 

I'd go off the Klonopin slow and easy, paying attention to how your body reacts, and decreasing at a rate you can handle.  People usually suggest no more than 10% a week.  You can go faster or slower depending on how intense the symptoms are.  Ideally, you want your doctor on board and knowing what you are doing, but if you think they are likely to yank the drug or try to taper you too rapidly if you say you want to quit, I'd just keep seeing them to get the prescription and quietly taper on my own.  I have an amazingly good pdoc right now, but I've had plenty of others, and I know what most of them are like.  I think it's very important to be in control of your taper.  Good luck to you. 

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Hi Cubfan4real

 

You have quite a story! Glad you found us. Yes, the decrease in Clonazepam is pretty steep, you seem to be weathering things pretty well though....?

 

Welcome to BenzoBuddies  :)

 

Star  

 

 

Star,

 

I am weathering the storm pretty well all things considered. Last night I decided not to take my Ambien and was able to sleep again with just the Remeron. I think at this point, barring setbacks, I'm going to C/T the Ambien.

 

I will be leaving for a 4-day vacation on the 16th with my wife. I'm considering holding the Clonazepam at 1mg until I see my pdoc on the 24th. Does this seem like a good plan or should I attempt another dry cut by myself?

 

Thanks to everyone for their replies and encouragement! I'm really happy to have found this Forum.

 

Blessings,

 

Cubfan4real

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Hi cubfan4real,

 

If you're going to CT the Ambien, it might be a good idea to hold off on another cut to the Clonazepam, hopefully you can enjoy your vacation that way.

 

Pam

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The tricky part of this is that anxiety and panic attacks really are not mental diseases. They are fully treatable without meds. There is cognitive behavior therapy.

 

Hi cubfan4real,

 

I think yram offered great advice if you are considering using therapy as an option.  In my opinion Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is worthwhile, but hard to find therapists that practice this method.

 

I was on just about every AD known to man at one point or another, only to realize they were compounding my problems.  I got off EVERYTHING, but I would advise you to get off only one med at a time.  It is totally doable, it just takes a long time, so patience is important.

 

I just wanted to welcome you and to let you know if I can do it, any one can!

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Hi cubfan4real,

 

If you're going to CT the Ambien, it might be a good idea to hold off on another cut to the Clonazepam, hopefully you can enjoy your vacation that way.

 

 

Thanks Pam,

 

My wife feels the same way. I keep thinking that I'm only 6+ weeks into the Clonazepam and my mind is telling me to get off of it as quick as possible. I tend to obsess a bit about all the meds I'm on... Holding at 1mg per day until my next doctor visit seems like an eternity! Again, I hope she's receptive to a slow taper. I have a funny feeling she will tell me to cut to .5mg and raise my Zoloft to 100mg.

 

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The tricky part of this is that anxiety and panic attacks really are not mental diseases. They are fully treatable without meds. There is cognitive behavior therapy.

 

Hi cubfan4real,

 

I think yram offered great advice if you are considering using therapy as an option.  In my opinion Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is worthwhile, but hard to find therapists that practice this method.

 

I was on just about every AD known to man at one point or another, only to realize they were compounding my problems.  I got off EVERYTHING, but I would advise you to get off only one med at a time.  It is totally doable, it just takes a long time, so patience is important.

 

I just wanted to welcome you and to let you know if I can do it, any one can!

 

Thanks Perseverance,

 

I just read your signature line and must say your accomplishments are inspiring. Well done! I am currently seeing a psychologist but he does not specialize in CBT.

 

Funny how I have 2 new doctors in my life that I never had before!  :-\

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Hello!

 

I was on .5 of K. for about the same time you, so are you a short term user, BUT I could not CT. It was too painful and between work, wife and the kids, I decided to slow down.

This board will be a huge help to you, but I would suggest a slower taper esp. if you are leaving on vacation and CT on Amb.  I know you are desperate to be free of this med, so was I!

But you have to be patient and show some compassion to yourself.  You can get off of these meds and heal. It's a process and you have more control than you realize.

Get a good taper plan and you have a lot of support here...

 

My family did not really understand what I was going thru and honestly you can't explain it to them.  I finally got my wife on the board to read some of what is on here and finally she understood.  But even if your family never understand, we do...

 

Good luck! let us know how your progress goes and enjoy your vaca!

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LP,

 

I saw in one of your older posts that you used Clonazepam wafers at the end. Could you share your cut with me? Is it posted on a thread for viewing? I'd be interested in seeing how you became Benzo free.

 

Thanks for the encouragement bud; it's much appreciated.

 

 

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Hi cubfan4real,

 

If you're going to CT the Ambien, it might be a good idea to hold off on another cut to the Clonazepam, hopefully you can enjoy your vacation that way.

 

 

Thanks Pam,

 

My wife feels the same way. I keep thinking that I'm only 6+ weeks into the Clonazepam and my mind is telling me to get off of it as quick as possible. I tend to obsess a bit about all the meds I'm on... Holding at 1mg per day until my next doctor visit seems like an eternity! Again, I hope she's receptive to a slow taper. I have a funny feeling she will tell me to cut to .5mg and raise my Zoloft to 100mg.

 

 

I don't understand increasing one drug to offset the effects of tapering from another when they're like apples and oranges, how does this help?  ???  No need to reply, I just get frustrated because I see this happen a lot around here, people are still miserable and now have to taper from a higher amount of the other drug.  :(

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I don't understand increasing one drug to offset the effects of tapering from another when they're like apples and oranges, how does this help?    No need to reply, I just get frustrated because I see this happen a lot around here, people are still miserable and now have to taper from a higher amount of the other drug. 

 

Indeed Pam,

 

I have no intention of upping my dose of Zoloft. She already wrote me a script for 100mg pills the last time I saw her because "it's easier to go up if nexessary." I still have at least 2 weeks worth of 50mg pills and will be cutting the 100mg in 1/2. She may tell me to increase it, but it's not going to happen....

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It's good to have the support our of our Dr's, but sometimes we have to figure out what's in our best interest.  I was raised not to question Drs, but now I admit I will do some research to find out what I can about a surgery, medications or a diagnosis my Dr gives me.  I don't do this to undermine them, but since I now consider myself a partner in my own healthcare, it's my responsibility to hold up my end.  I'm glad you're taking an active role in your own. :thumbsup:
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