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How long do withdrawal side effects last?


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#1 Pink Fluff

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Posted 02 March 2006 - 02:25 AM

I can't find a guide anywhere to how long I might expect to suffer from withdrawal side effects - can anyone help?

I was on 10mg Citalopram for 4 weeks, then 20mg for 8 weeks, then reduced to 10mg because I was suffering major side effects from the ADs; I was on 10mg again for just 10 days before I was rushed to hospital with severe side effects (uncontrollable shaking seizure-like episodes had been happening intermittently for 5 weeks, but this one included crushing chest pain and pain in left arm...). I stopped taking the ADs immediately, and so have been off them for 3 weeks now. No return of the shaking, QED.

Since then, however, I've had most of the withdrawal side effects listed on the "Stopping Citalopram (Celexa, Cipramil, Seropram) © Discontinuation Effects or Withdrawal Symptoms" posting, not surprisingly. So my question is - how long can I expect to keep experiencing them? I still have a numb face, tingling lips, painful neck, sharp pains in my head (as well as the zaps), chills, anxiety, plus of course the depression... I think they are reducing in severity very slightly with each week, (apart from the depression) but will this go on for months, or weeks? The hospital told me "days" - ha, shows how much they know.

I'm not going to take any chemical anti-depressant ever again, so support drugs aren't on the agenda for me. Instead, I'm now tackling my depression with acupuncture, yoga, swimming, aromatherapy, homeopathy and flower remedies! It's a battle some days not to curl up and die, but other days aren't so bad. All advice gratefully received!

Pink Fluff
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#2 lizard

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Posted 02 March 2006 - 12:01 PM

Everyone responds differently, so there's just no way to tell how long it will take for all the symptoms to fade - sorry you're going through this! Please keep posting for support...
Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is that little voice at the end of the day that says: "I'll try again tomorrow."
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#3 Pink Fluff

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Posted 02 March 2006 - 02:49 PM

Thanks Lizard. Just wish I knew how long I'll have to be like this. Is it related to how long you were on the ADs in the first place? I'd have thought I'd have a shorter time after just 12 weeks on than someone else who'd taken them for a year? Or does my extreme reaction to them indicate that i will also have more side effects than others?
Surely it won't last longer than the three months I was taking them (please!).
Clutching my throbbing head,
Pink Fluff

#4 Viviane

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Posted 03 March 2006 - 08:49 AM

Its more do do with the half life of the drug than how long you have been on the drugs (once you have been on it long enough to reach a theraputic dose)

the half life of the drug is to do with the chemical breakdown and is different for each chemical
I dont know the half life of Lexapro - this is why in most cases we are told to taper off the drugs - although some of us have to do sudden withdrawal for medical reasons

#5 Pink Fluff

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Posted 03 March 2006 - 10:40 AM

The half life of Citalopram is 35 hours, therefore the drug should theoretically have been out of my system after 6-8 days. However, I'm concerned that the brain must surely need some further time to adjust to NOT having the chemicals so readily available, and so will take time to reach equilibrium again? (Which, considering you're depressed in the first place, it probably can't do anyway...)

But I have read some reports on various websites of people who've experienced withdrawal side effects for several months. And I can't help wondering why, if it takes 4-6 weeks to build up sufficiently in the first place, a mere 6-8 days is theoretically enough for it all to be gone again. Surely there must be a link there? 4-6 weeks in would surely also mean 4-6 weeks out?

Or am i being simple?!!

Pink Fluff

#6 Pink Fluff

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Posted 14 March 2006 - 05:38 AM

Update: 4 weeks on, am finally beginning to see the side effects of withdrawal edging away. The headaches were the worst, followed closely by the vertigo and numb face. Odd, hot feelings in my brain very hard to put into words, still occurring, usually at 3am.

Am now struggling with a major depression drug-free. Yoga, aromatherapy and swimming all help on a daily basis (I mean that it makes me feel better on that day).

Can see how meds are necessary to get through this, but i can't face another repeat of this year's reactions. Have finally got acupuncture appointment for next friday - let's hope that makes a difference.

Pink Fluff

#7 Viviane

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Posted 14 March 2006 - 01:44 PM

Update: 4 weeks on, am finally beginning to see the side effects of withdrawal edging away. The headaches were the worst, followed closely by the vertigo and numb face. Odd, hot feelings in my brain very hard to put into words, still occurring, usually at 3am.

Am now struggling with a major depression drug-free. Yoga, aromatherapy and swimming all help on a daily basis (I mean that it makes me feel better on that day).

Can see how meds are necessary to get through this, but i can't face another repeat of this year's reactions. Have finally got acupuncture appointment for next friday - let's hope that makes a difference.

Pink Fluff


that hot feeling in your brain sounds pretty horrendous - and there is me moaning about jaw clenching

I am glad that you are starting to see an end to the side effects

good luck with your alternative route-I really really hope it works for you
please keep us updated on that as I am very interested in seeing what helps you and maybe try that route myself
I had a very bad reaction to webutrin (zyban) now the side effects with the Lex so am seriously thinging of a med free route - BUT the lex is working well on the depression and means I can cope with 'normal' life so although I am in pain with the side effects I am loathe to give it up :))

#8 theguy

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Posted 26 April 2006 - 05:43 PM

I find this topic interesting as I have had some experience going off of celexa and then back on again. Currently I am on 10mg since March 29th so it has not been a month yet on this dosage and I have been getting neck pain, vertigo, head pain, semi numb face mostly on the right side of my head and I get various head tension in the temples. I am going to stay at 10mg until the effects subside somewhat. I feel I am one of those who are very sensitive to these meds and need to come off slowly. So 10mg is good enough for now. I might just stay on for another few months then decrease again. Also, I experience a state where I just feel really dumb as my thinking is slow and I just can't think straight. Nice meds eh? I hope to get through this myself and if I do I will do my best not to take these meds again but to deal with any anxiety I have or depression alternative ways.
The Guy. - Love is patient, love is kind, love never fails.

#9 lizard

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Posted 27 April 2006 - 01:11 AM

Sorry you get hit with all these SEs - some of us are just more sensitive than others.
:hearts:
Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is that little voice at the end of the day that says: "I'll try again tomorrow."
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#10 lymom3

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Posted 27 April 2006 - 09:12 AM

It is odd how we all respond differently and even how each of us respond to different ad's. Effexor and Cymbalta were drugs from h*ll for me...while taking them and especially getting off of them. Brain zaps, crying incessantly, hostile etc. My pdoc has weaned me off of Lexapro and I start the Emsam patch next week. I have no side effects at all. He weaned me from 20 mg of Lexapro to none in 7 days and I'm ok. I am tired but none of the other bad stuff like the other drugs...just odd, but my mom always told me that it takes all kinds to make the world go round...
Never give up on yourself. Tomorrow is always another day and with another day there is hope.

#11 FutureMrs.T

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Posted 28 April 2006 - 09:21 PM

OMG, I'm scared of what I may encounter now coming off of this. I'm on Wellbutrin as well, but my doctor has told me to stop the celexa and now I'm afraid of what's going to come. I've felt like I've had the flu the last couple days and it seems to be getting worse. How long does it last?

#12 lizard

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Posted 28 April 2006 - 11:31 PM

If the discontinuation effects are more intense than you want to handle, talk to your doc about tapering off more slowly. That usually helps. It's difficult to know just how long it will take, as everyone is different.
My own experience with discontinuing Celexa: a few mildly uncomfortable days, and then I really had no problem. I hope it goes easy for you!
Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is that little voice at the end of the day that says: "I'll try again tomorrow."
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#13 Viviane

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Posted 29 April 2006 - 05:31 AM

Definately talk to your doctor about tapering off slowly

when I came off AD's I planned my own program took it to my doc and discussed it - although she said it was slower than what most docs recommend she understood and helped me with my program

in the end it took me three months to reduce my dose of trazadone to the point I felt comfy coming off
I also took one step too quickly and got bad effects so put it back up for a while and took the step slower

it is possible to bring yourself off meds with no effects at all

but of course the timing of reducing and stopping meds could have many variables and would also depend on your reason for stopping it
another I had to stop due to an allergy and so had no choice but to stop cold turkey :)

#14 KeepingAwake

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Posted 29 April 2006 - 09:18 AM

Future Mrs. T, I'd definitely talk to your doc, as others have recommended. Unless you were having an extreme adverse reaction to the drug, you should be able to taper off it.

Sorry to hear that you aren't feeling well at the moment. :hearts:

KA
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#15 theguy

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Posted 05 May 2006 - 05:58 PM

pink fluff, how are you doing? I have come down from 20mg to 10 mg and I am still get dosage change withdrawals, lethargy, tiredness, fatigue, lazy, no or very little libido, neck and head tension, mostly on my right side, sometimes a little dizzy, can't think straight sometimes. I have been on Celexa (on and off a few times) for about 4 years so my body needs more time to adjust to the med change. I am unsure if I can mention a book here but I just bought a book called :

The Antidepressant Solution - A step by step guide to safely overcoming antidepressant withdrawal, dependence, and "Addiction"

It might help you. I have just started to read it.

Tomorrow I go for a full body massage so hopefully I will fall asleep into La La land. :hearts:
The Guy. - Love is patient, love is kind, love never fails.

#16 lizard

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Posted 05 May 2006 - 11:35 PM

theguy, I'm sorry that you are so sensitive to discontinuing the Celexa. I'm glad you've found a good resource for yourself, and that you're nurturing yourself with that massage!
Thanks for sharing your experience.
Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is that little voice at the end of the day that says: "I'll try again tomorrow."
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#17 Pink Fluff

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Posted 09 May 2006 - 12:41 PM

pink fluff, how are you doing? I have come down from 20mg to 10 mg and I am still get dosage change withdrawals, lethargy, tiredness, fatigue, lazy, no or very little libido, neck and head tension, mostly on my right side, sometimes a little dizzy, can't think straight sometimes. I have been on Celexa (on and off a few times) for about 4 years so my body needs more time to adjust to the med change. I am unsure if I can mention a book here but I just bought a book called :

The Antidepressant Solution - A step by step guide to safely overcoming antidepressant withdrawal, dependence, and "Addiction"

It might help you. I have just started to read it.

Tomorrow I go for a full body massage so hopefully I will fall asleep into La La land. :hearts:


Thanks for asking about me - I'm now three months on from having to stop the Ciprimil abruptly. It's still hard to say what are side effects and what are ongoing medical issues. I still have pins and needles in my arms and legs, a numb face, stabbing pains in my head, neck pain, fatigue, headaches, dizziness - and i can't add up any more! GP says these can't be side effects and referred me to a Neuro, but MRI & EEG are all clear and I'm still none the wiser. My gut feeling is that the Ciprimil (which is Celexa in US) triggered a chemical imbalance in my body which hasn't been able to right itself. Whether it ever will is a worry. No doubt the drug manufacturers would deny this was possible, too. But some individuals are more sensitive to minor chemical disturbances than others, and certainly my hormones have been affected, which backs that theory up.
Still have very down days. But my GP has discovered I'm iron deficient, which could certainly have caused some of the depression in the first place (it's one of the physiological reactions to lack of iron, I've learned). It would be good if such tests were done BEFORE they put you on the drug-dependency route, wouldn't it? Some may be avoidable that way.
I've found aromatherapy (massage) REALLY helpful, and have been having acupuncture too. I'm going to a specialist headache clinic next, to see if there are any neck/disk/posture problems which might be causing my numbness and pins and needles. If that's all negative, it can ONLY be the Ciprimil which has caused it.
Hope your massage was as relaxing as you'd wished for...!

#18 theguy

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Posted 21 May 2006 - 05:05 PM

The massage was nice but it didn't solve my issues.

Pink Fluff: The symptoms you describe sound close to mine. Neck pain, fatigue, headaches, and dizziness have been my issues too. The celexa I take still at 10mg seems to increase the neck pain/tighten the musles on the right side of my neck and head. I believe the celexa is what has caused this and I am afraid to go completely off it now unless the symptoms subside but I also feel that the drug is causing the issues I am having. I am interested in knowing the results of your trip to the headache clinic. My doctor has ordered a bunch of blood tests for me. My hormones are also no balanced, my libido is practically nil and my focus is low as well. I hope that all these issues go away as they are difficult to live with. Take care and talk you soon.
The Guy. - Love is patient, love is kind, love never fails.

#19 surgeon2006

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Posted 21 May 2006 - 10:22 PM

Wow sounds like you have really had a rough time with citalopram,not good at all.

I have just been weaned off it because i was experiencing many side effects as well...however im guessing that the docs just stopped you and this is why your experiencing the whole with drawal thing.

When i was on them i went on holiday for a week and left them at home...so started to go thru the with drawal process.

Because i went straight back on them unlike you my symptoms only lasted 3-4 days.

Because of the severity of your side effects and with drlwal symptoms i would say that they may last a few weeks...hopefully for your sake it wont be that long.

Sorry to hear what you had to go through.
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Forget about the ones who don't.
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#20 Pink Fluff

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Posted 22 May 2006 - 11:22 AM

The massage was nice but it didn't solve my issues.

Pink Fluff: The symptoms you describe sound close to mine. Neck pain, fatigue, headaches, and dizziness have been my issues too. The celexa I take still at 10mg seems to increase the neck pain/tighten the musles on the right side of my neck and head. I believe the celexa is what has caused this and I am afraid to go completely off it now unless the symptoms subside but I also feel that the drug is causing the issues I am having. I am interested in knowing the results of your trip to the headache clinic. My doctor has ordered a bunch of blood tests for me. My hormones are also no balanced, my libido is practically nil and my focus is low as well. I hope that all these issues go away as they are difficult to live with. Take care and talk you soon.


Yes, very similar! Which is bad of course but also encouraging that I'm NOT imagining it all, and that I'm not the only one experiencing this. Headache Clinic was great - really lovely people who listened to me properly. They are chiropractors, and had a good, thorough inspection of my neck and head and back, and took xrays too. They were shocked at how tense and bunched up and painful my neck was, but said they could help alleviate the neck and scalp pain, the stabbing pains in head, the tremor, the numbness and the pins and needles, by manipulating my neck over a few treatments. They couldn't explain the explosions in my head, the racing heart that came with it, or the uncontrollable shaking, but said they were fairly sure they sounded like adverse drug reactions. Am going back for the xray results tomorrow, and will start the treatment soon. I feel so much better already knowing something is being done at last, but it's such a shame this treatment isn't available on the NHS (it's a private clinic and I have to pay for it which I can't afford). NHS consultants regard such things with disdain!
HAven't had my hormones tested yet but was going to ask my GP about that when I saw her this week.
I'd be inclined to think about coming off now you're down to 10mg, as the side effects of coming off for me where exactly the same as the side effects of being on them! Only took the ADs for three months, it's already longer than three months since I stopped and it's still affecting me; so I imagine the longer you're on it, the longer it'll take for your body to readjust afterwards? (I'm no expert though.)
Good luck!
xxx

#21 Pink Fluff

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Posted 24 May 2006 - 02:42 AM

FAO Theguy: can you find a chirpractor near where you live? I had my first treatment yesterday and it has made a huge difference to my neck - I can turn it sideways now without pain!! He said it will also help the headaches and dizziness, as the muscles at the back of the neck surround a lot of nerve endings which can affect large areas of the head and scalp. I recommend it, even if the drugs are causing the initial neck spasms, the stronger your neck is, the better it can cope witht he spasms...
Hope things are improving for you.
Pink Fluff

#22 theguy

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Posted 24 May 2006 - 07:36 AM

Hey Pink Fluff:

Thanks for the reply. It is very encouraging. I was thinking of decreasing the dosage of celexa from 10 to 7.5 then to 5 then to 2.5 then to 0 over 2-3 months for each dosage change. I think the celexa does cause muscle issues with me especially in my tmj (right side mostly) Even as I speak I am not anxious or tense at all but there is a pull in my tmj by my right ear kinda near the temples. It really hurts but it goes down sometimes. I believe the tightness there has caused me to get some deep sinus infections because I have been spitting up some yellow stuff lately. I keep up with oregano oil and garlic to help this but I am also going to see my natural path today at 3:30pm so she should be able to help with it. I am also taking magnesium to help relax the muscles right now as I have been told so many times that this helps as well for tmj. Let me know how the exrays go. I got a thermalgraph done from my chiropractor about 8 months ago and the neck on the right side of me was very time. It is better now, not perfect mind you, but the muscle tension and stress this med has caused me has been a battle I will never forget.
The Guy. - Love is patient, love is kind, love never fails.

#23 theguy

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Posted 26 May 2006 - 12:51 AM

Here's my update. Went to my Naturalpath and told her about my pains and she gave me B12 shots in the tight spots along my neck. That night it hurt but today I feel really good. I don't have any pain right now. I have also started to take sublingual B12 3 times a day at 1000ug each. This includes some B6 and Folic Acid too. Anyway I decreased my dosage from 10mg to 7.5mg as well. So that is the good news. The bad news at this point is that I am tired but restless so I can't get to sleep. bye for now.
The Guy. - Love is patient, love is kind, love never fails.

#24 theguy

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Posted 29 May 2006 - 07:54 PM

pick fluff: any update with your treatment?
The Guy. - Love is patient, love is kind, love never fails.

#25 Pink Fluff

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Posted 30 May 2006 - 01:52 AM

pick fluff: any update with your treatment?

Yup - the chiropractor is really helping. The xrays showed that I have a straight neck (=bad, causes strain) due to disintegrating cartilage between the vertebrae. This must have been ongoing for years, but the neck spasms caused by the ADs exacerbated it. I also have bony spurs developing on the vertebrae, which are irritating the nerves because they're on the spinal column side, and the chiropractor said that could be causing the tremors, facial numbness, pins and needles and shaky limbs. Anyway, he's giving me a course of treatment of manipulation of the neck bones to relieve the pressure, relieve the muscle spasm, and improve my posture. So far it's helped a lot - neck pain has improved significantly.
Had another very mild "explosion" in my head last night (the sort that cause the severe uncontrollable shaking) but it was much, much weaker, and I didn't shake very much at all. I think the side effects from the ADs are finally wearing off at last, and am more and more convinced as time goes by that my worst symptoms were caused by them, despite what the medical people say. They might be the experts in neurology. but I'm the expert in my body and I know what I have been through!
Have been a bit down again recently, and am thinking about whether to start on St John's Wort again; didn't help last year, but maybe I didn't take it for long enough. I'm not going down the ADs route again, that's for sure.
Hope things are improving with you?
Pink Fluff

#26 theguy

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Posted 30 May 2006 - 07:35 PM

I am glad you are finding relief in Chiropractic Care. I had a xray some time ago and I too have a straight neck. Maybe I will go there again. I do believe I am still suffering the side effects of the medication though. I generally or mostly get musle tension in my neck and temples, and cheeks. I don't feel like doing much these day as I don't have much energy. I can't seem to focus. I think I am going throught withdrawal right now as my hormones feel off too as I haven't much of a libido but two days ago it was crazy. My moods go up and down but I am getting by one day at a time. Oh my motivation is not very high either. I have energy to relax ...LOL.
The Guy. - Love is patient, love is kind, love never fails.

#27 tularula

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Posted 31 May 2006 - 01:04 PM

I don't agree with anti-depressants if you have to put up with such bad side effects.
Forme , the side effects outweighed the good.
Not to be too pedantic, but I'm not understanding why, if these drugs are so good, why are so many people still needing another source of help.
As for the illegal drug ridicule, I did not take any until Prozac (shouldn't give it a capital leter), mest up my whole body and I needed something to relieve such horrific spasms and pain.

I only took it for a short while-until my chiropractic had brutally straightened my body.
As for thiking you know where I'm coming from, you don't.
I have chronic pain.
My family do not understand depression.
I have been left to struggle alone.
I have been vulnerable, had terrible problems with dealing with people, had a neighbour who wouldn't stop harrasing me, that is after I was homeless and got a flat and ended up a victim-I shouldn't have been homeless in the first place-then I had a guy keeeping me awake all night and throwing stones at my window, and hitting me-I couldn't prove the damage until the police threw him to the groun as he smashed my flat in and threatened to **** me.
He is still there, I had to see a solicitoe and go elsewhere.
In the mean time, my dog got run over and I tried to **** myself.
Saw a therapist who told me it was my fault my dog was killed-never mind the car was speeding and I was telling him not to worry about it as these things 'happen'-who's the best therapist.?
I landed up in a flat of disrepair and have been struggling ever since.
I do not trust pyschotherapists as I think I can analise myself. I do not take any drugs apart from anti-inflammatory's-yes I drink now and then, but there is nothing for me to do due to mty health.
All I wish to know and why I came to this site-IS THERE ANYTHING OTHER THAN RELIANCE ON ANTI_DEPRESSANTS that you can think about?
So far, it's all I hear, I' on this and......how long will it take to wear off'
IT DON'T.
You take those things at your own risk and the feeling can become invariably worse if not suicidal for some and I don't care How many people rely on them-that prooves my point-you may aswell be on hard drugs.




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