Posted 15 September 2010 - 11:04 AM
hello all. Now that I can finally hold my head up and look at the computer screen for more than 5 minutes I am going to share my story with you in hopes that it will help someone get through the withdraws or maybe scare you enough into not taking this drug at all. It all started in November of 09...I had been off and on anxiety medication for the majority of my late teens through my late twenties. I decided at 30 (after taking Prozac) that it was time for me to stop taking anti-anxiety/anti-depression medications all together and try to win the battle of what I thought was anxiety disorder (or so my doctors had diagnosed me as being). This worked for me for about 2 years, or so I thought it did, but in all reality I was actually self medicating with alcohol and over the counter sleep aids. I thought that I had finally beaten this condition that had haunted me since I was a kid. I graduated college in 2008 (finally) in Medical Technology. As a single mother of two I should have felt extremely accomplished but I did not. My daughter had gone to live with her dad in May of 2007 for his reason "so you can concentrate on your last year of school". I didn't think anything of this since I kept her full time while he was in law school out of state for 3 years. After graduation I landed a full time job almost immediately since I had been working every other weekend 3rd shift as a med tech. Things should have been great right? NOT...My ex would not let my daughter come home and life started to spiral out of control. My drinking increased, and so did my anxiety. I had a few bouts of severe depression into that next summer (2009).
In July of 2009 I met a guy that turned my world around, I was in no place to be in a relationship and did not want one. But after about 2 weeks of him constantly texting me I gave in. We dated for the next 4 months until out of the blue he breaks up with me. At this point in time my son had grown attached to him and really cared about him, so this not only broke my heart but his as well. I can handle having my heart broken but when it comes to my children that is a completely different story. Some might say that I let this guy in too fast but if you knew me I had a wall the size and depth of the great wall of china built around not only my heart but my mind as well and some how he had the tools to tear it down. So, devastated, I tried to maintain the best I could and not look a mess in the presence of anyone (not even him, cause he continued to call). I did not drink anything during this period and took some time out to get to know me. By Christmas of 09 I hit a brick wall and the overwhelming existence we call life came crashing down on me. I hated my job (not what I did but where I do it, yes do as in present tense), I was lonely, I had passed up the opportunity to get my daughter back because of my demanding hours at work, and it was this dreadful time of year once again, Christmas. I hated the holiday for many reasons but mostly for the memories of my childhood that it brought back.
The week before Christmas the guy who had broke my heart wanted to get back together but I was reluctant and refused even after he came to my house crying. I attempted seeing someone else but this was a no go for I still loved that guy even after what he had put me through. Christmas eve I called him in New York and broke down crying and accepted him back. The Winter following, January and February 2010 was a nightmare for my mental state. I was drinking again but to a level that i THOUGHT I could handle and became very suicidal and had no will to get out of bed for days on end. Finally in February I decided enough was enough and did not want to be this person anymore (I am "normally" a happy go lucky person with a big heart) So I got my butt out of bed one day after seeing a commercial for Cymbalta which spoke directly to me about the aches and pains associated with depression and the overall sense of not wanting to function. I made an appointment with my doctor and told her what was going on and she suggested all the anti-depressants that I had already been on. I told her that I wanted something NEW and was tired of taking medications, which worked for a few months, and the dosage continuing to be increased until I was topped out and stuck looking for another one to take its place. She was kinda hesitant on prescribing me the Cymbalta but I can be very persuasive and with my knowledge of the medical field she caved. I started out on the 30mg for 7 days went back to the doctor for a checkup and told her that a lot of my attitude on life had changed so she upped it to 60mg's. After a month of taking the 60mg's life was back to being good again, I even found ways to enjoy my job even through its horror. Cymbalta WAS the miracle drug, so I thought!!
In June of 2010 things were seeming to be looking up. I had a new attitude and a new way of approaching life, things were great! Well, that didn't last long, I was into my 4th month of taking the celebrated medication and hit which would be my final wall. One of my best friends that I hadn't talked to all winter (except to come see her new baby in January) due to my depressed condition, lost that new baby at the age of 5 months in a horrible accident. We reconnected and I did everything that I could to be there for her during this time. We hung out quite a bit talking about life. I found out that she had tried Cymbalta and when I told her that I was on it she said exactly "I pray for you and the day that you decided to come off that horrible drug produced by the devil himself". I was confused and wondered what in the world she was talking about cause I have been on many many other similar drugs and never had a problem coming off of them. Timed passed and the more we talked the more I started to realize, my whole entire life I had not been suffering from generalized anxiety disorder but in fact ADHD (the one type of medication that I had always been against). I was still skeptical but willing to find an end to my madness or at least a reason so I went back to the doctor and suggested that I get ADHD tested. They were willing to do this but I had to be seen by a psychiatrist specialized in ADD/ADHD testing. They gave me a referral and a prescription for 30mg Cymbalta to start the weaning process.
I didn't have much trouble dropping from the 60mg to the 30mg, a little discomfort and increased anxiety (but I had just as many severe anxiety attacks on the 60mg, hence another reason for me to think that this medicine and all the others weren't "right" for me). I tried to get an appointment through my insurance (gotta love HMO's) but they only had one person that did this type of testing and he was booked until October. I was freaking out (probably because of the decrease of Cymbalta now that I look back at it) so my friend I had been talking to knew a good psychotherapist but I was going to have to pay out of pocket. After doing extensive research on ADHD and having everyone that knew me take the questionnaire on my behalf with the outcome from everyone of them being the same, 97% ADHD, I decided to call this person and setup an appointment with him. I went to one visit with him on August 8th at the cost of $150, which proved to be a wise investment cause I was diagnosed with full blown ADHD (actually off the charts). Everything started to make sense and I finally after 33 and a half years of life understood the answer to the biggest question in my life, WHY. Relief, sorta, I still had the Cymbalta issue to overcome. At this time I had gotten down to taking the 30mg every other day and on my days off felt like s*** (sorry but the only word that truly describes it!)!!! I decided to go cold turkey as I thought this would be the best way to get this crap out of my body so that I could begin adderall xr. HA!! Thought WRONG!! There is NO way to get this stuff out of your system without suffering!! Even weaning down leaves you sick and unable to function.
That next week I called my doctor, one to make sure that they got the diagnosis papers and two to tell them that I was going through what has proven the worst withdraw hell of my life. They pushed me to the side and didn't tell my doctors that I had called and the only thing they would tell me was that my doctor was out of town and I needed to call her the following week. I had worked that Tuesday (day 3 of no Cymbalta) but came home from work very ill that night. I drank a glass of alcohol thinking that it would ease some of the pain that I was experiencing but to no avail, it actually made me more sick. I slept on and off through Wednesday and continued to call the doctor (they probably though I was completely insane, which in a way I WAS). No one seemed to care. I had Thursday off as well, which I spent with the worst migraine that I have ever experienced (and I used to be on a daily suppressive for migraines so I know how bad they can get). I managed to get out of the house long enough to have my boyfriend take me to the Good Foods Co-op. There I got Bio-freeze for the migraine, some natural sinus meds, and blueberry juice which has tons of antioxidants. Friday I was suppose to return to work, but that didn't happen. I woke up at 7am to get my stepson ready for school, at this time I didn't feel good but the migraine was gone. Once my boyfriend got home from taking him to school I had started to go back down hill. I called my work and asked if I could come in at 2 instead of 10 and they were willing to let me do that as oppose to calling in. Relieved, I laid back down in bed but started feeling worse by the moment. I BROKE, by this I mean I decided to dump some of the micro beads out of a 30mg Cymbalta capsule and take about 1/2 which equaled about 15mg's in thinking that this amount would allow me to go to work, WRONG!!! I took a nap after taking it for about 2 hours. I woke up feeling icky, to put it mildly, so I got in the shower thinking that it would help....NOPE!! I fell into a severe panic-attack and lost it. I called the doctor once more to only get ignored once more. Feeling as though I had no choice, I called the FMLA office and asked them how I went about filing for FMLA. They were helpful but the bigger task was at hand....getting my work place to believe that felt so bad that it had to come down to FMLA (which it was, and with the place that I worked, the only way from losing my job). I called my boss in the middle of the panic-attack and told her what was going on and that I had no choice but to take FMLA indefinitely , event though I know she was p***** she still understood after I explained my situation. The only reason that this was possible was due to the fact that I had talked about it at work openly and even got so sick the week before that I had to call my boyfriend to bring me one to work so that I could make it through the remainder of the day (that in itself is scary!!).
I finally calmed down that evening, to some degree at least, and started thinking about my next move, if any at all, considering I was barley able to walk from the bed to the couch. Saturday was a little better, but not much,but better due to the fact that I had taken some Cymbalta the day before, but I knew that this was going to be short lived. Cymbalta only has a half life of about 12hrs this is why I always remembered to take my dose every night or better yet my mind and body reminded me not the other way by just simply remembering (this being scary too)!! Did I mention that during this two week episode of taking it and then not, that I also had muscle aches, severe diarrhea, nausea, "brain-zapps", fever, malaise, night terrors (so extreme that i woke myself up in cold sweats reluctant to go back to sleep for fear of dreaming again), and an over all sense of detachment from my mind and body?? So, add the migraines into the mix and you get one screwed up non-functioning individual. They say that it is equivalent to the withdraw from illegal drug!! But the funny thing is that narcotic withdraw lasts anywhere from 4-7 days and the physical part is over, not with cymbalta, the withdraw can last at minimum 2 weeks up to and sometimes longer than 2months!! ARE YOU SERIOUS?!??!
Yesterday was Tuesday the 14th of September and I had an appointment, FINALLY, with my doctors. I walked in the room after being called back and it was only 2 minutes before the doctor was in the room!! She was full of apologies for the week prior and was not even told that I had tried to contact them the week before, not once but everyday. She said that her and my main doctor had done some research the day before, on Monday, and to their amazement and total lack of knowledge had no idea the extent of the withdraw and the damage that it can cause to someones life. She said that herself and the other doctor where taking serious consideration of NEVER prescribing this medication again. I told her that I would consider forgiving them of the past few weeks and the ones that lay ahead of hell if they agreed not to prescribe it anymore. I felt some comfort that my experience, although a living nightmare, would save another from this horrible hell. I knew what was coming next...after reading my diagnosis papers she looked at me and said well...you are well over the full blown level of ADHD. I replied yes I know. She suggested that I get on my adderall for the ADHD which i agreed to then came the "I think we also need to put you on a taper-down" I interrupted and said "I refuse to be put back on Cymbalta!!!" She calmed me down and said that she understood, and I told her no she didn't cause even with the tedious counting of the micro-breads one still experiences awful side effects and I want to just be done with this and get better instead of prolonging the inevitable withdraw (which is what these drug companies want you to do)!! Then she suggested a taper-down method involving Prozac, mind you I have been on it before and did not like it, but even though my heart, mind, and soul are against anything that Eli Lily produce's I agreed for the simple fact that I don't want to live the next 3-4 weeks in the dark loneliness of my basement and bedroom. I want my kids and stepkid to see the mom that they once knew and not this wretched skeleton incapable of functioning, I want to be able to go back to work, I want to be able to walk in the sunshine, and most important I want to FEEL again.
My ever so supportive boyfriend/fiance, took me to my doctor appointment and to the store to my NEW meds even though he had worked all night the night before. I got the meds and was utterly exhausted from everything so to the point I just wanted to sleep when we got home. I took my 20mg of Prozac and 20mg of Adderall and laid down in bed. I fell asleep for about an hour and woke up to my surprise feeling somewhat better. I stayed in bed for about an half an hour for fear of getting up may ruin this new feeling and things return to where they were before. But to my dismay I got out of bed and realized that I no longer had the vertigo and dizziness that once plagued me. My head still hurt a bit but this was only a slight annoying yet able to overcome feeling when compared to the weeks before. I did not push it but, instead sat up on the couch for a while, which was amazing in itself, and then ventured outside. Sacred of the sun, which in days past found so profound and evil piercing through my eyes like a thousand tiny needles, walked out the door and nothing...the sun was not my enemy today and it felt great!! I sat outside for a while enjoying the warmth that we take for granted. I was able to go to the tanning bed for the first time in 3 weeks and pick my son up from school, hugging and kissing him. Although I only felt about 50% human and still have some of the other aches and pains from the withdraw, this in its self was enough.
Today is Wednesday September 15, I woke up today and got out of bed at 6:30 am (big big step), took my son to school, came home, and started writing this blog. I'm still FINE, Frustrated, Insecure, Neurotic, and Emotional, but at least the unbearable migraines, vertigo, and dizziness are gone. I am doing my best to stay focused and take each day as it comes. I am fearful that at the end of the Prozac taper-down that some of this will return, but from others that I have read about it seems to have worked and none of the prior symptoms returned. I am by no means "better" but the light at the end of the tunnel has come back, although very small, its back. I still have nausea and occasional diarrhea, minor muscle aches, and some sleep issues, all of which are controllable with over the counter medication. My anxiety is still elevated and am prone to attacks if provoked and sometimes not provoked. I have other issues in my life that are causing these conditions as well as the withdraw. All in all, I'm glad to be functioning to some degree again with the help of the medication and most importantly my family, friends, and bosses (you know who you are :) ) I see a new improved version of who I once was to arise from this. Not that I am happy in the least to have/and still experience this but I have a goal and something to look forward to... ME!!!
Thank you for taking the time to read this and share my experience (even though a nightmarish one). I hope that those of you that are going through the same thing or have been trough it pass it on and share it with others so that they may avoid Cymabalta and all the things that it can NOT give you and all the unwanted things that it does give you! I am still scared that one day I am going to wake up and see a commercial on TV about a law suite against Eli Lily for the permanent damage it causes, but I try to tell myself to not worry about such things, just to worry about getting better. Also, my diet at the moment, in the am: 20mg of adderall, 250mg of magnesium supplement, 1000mg of L-Lysine supplement, 1 ensure (to "ensure" I get my nutrients), and lots of WATER...in the pm: try to eat dinner, 20mg of Prozac, more WATER, and if necessary an all natural sleep aide consisting of melatonin and chamomile. This seems to be working for me thus far and hope that it continues.
lovebeesknees and Scholar6 like this