8 weeks off of Effexor ( Venlafaxine XR 75 mg)

I can’t believe I’ve been off of it for 8 weeks already! I’m still down 30 lbs- I’ve seemed to have hit a plateau. That’s ok, I’ll be making some changes I will describe below that should get things back on track.

Symptoms? Yes. Still.

Only things I’m really dealing with (and I say dealing loosely because it’s debilitating at times ) MIGRAINES! Never in my life did I deal with chronic headaches but I tell you, I can’t seem to go one day without them now. These migraines are accompanied by auras (trails and or colors in peripheral vision) and the weirdest freaking feelings in my head that sky rocket my anxiety into thinking I’m having a stroke or something awful.

For example- the other day I was sitting on my couch and it felt like rain drops were falling on my head and dropping down my scalp so it’s like a static-y feeling sometimes it runs across like a shooting star- other times it’s a localized spot that experiences pulsating feelings.

Since I have done an MRI and MRA and both came back fine by doctor says these feelings must be stress/anxiety related. Unfortunately anxiety can be so scary because our minds are so powerful. So so powerful. The more I focus on my headache the worse it gets. The more attention I give to the static sensations the more they come.

So my advice? Relax. Yes, I am with you. I know the side effects are real… Even after 56 days in still getting them. The dizziness, occasional nausea and headaches. I know. I deal with it daily but it’s getting better and I know it will be done soon.

so here is my focus

I need to be as healthy as possible! We all do! So make a lifestyle change. As of now, I am replacing one meal with home made juices or smoothies. I use vegetables such as carrots, kale, cucumber and accompany them with some fruits like apples and strawberries… Do research and find the recipe that works best for you.

Don’t forget to add chia seeds, flax seeds and other great accoutrement that will add health benefits as well as curb your appetite.

I’m also attempting to exercise daily even if it’s just a 30 minute walk.

What are you doing to put the withdrawal at bay?

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6 weeks off of Effexor

First and foremost Id like to congratulate myself on making it this far… And if you are even two days sans effexor/venlafaxine you should pat yourself on the back too. The withdrawal of this drug is no laughing matter. It will bring the strongest to their knees. So don’t give up and keep chugging forward.

So let’s see 6 weeks is 42 days right? Well I’ve lost 30 lbs, that in and of itself, is reason enough for me to continue even though at times I want to give up.

This has been so hard. So mentally and physically exhausting.

After reading my past posts I would say I am doing much much better in a lot of ways. Night terrors are almost nonexistent- brain zaps are gone and my anxiety attacks have diminished.

I am left with crippling migraines (they do not come as often as they used to) and terrifying health anxiety. To be frank, I have become an extreme hypochondriac. I fear death and all life threatening ailments.

Here’s the important part. I accept that I have developed this problem and know that I have developed it because of my frightening side effects from withdrawing. So I hope that just like these side effects are slowing going away this anxiety will to.

Let me show you the extent of crazy I have gone as far as health is concerned… Since getting off I have had the following tests:

BRAIN MRI
two ECHOCARDIOGRAMS
BREAST ULTRASOUND
PELVIC ULTRASOUND
relentless BLOOD TESTS
URINE LAB
… And constant questions to my doctor about how I’m feeling…

Exhausting! Needless to say all tests came back fine with minor hiccups here and there none of them life threatening in the least bit. And yet, I still question the tests and whether it has changed just days after. Vicious cycle. I’ll do a separate post about these tests and why I did them.

Bottom line is, things are getting better. Day to day I get weird feelings in my head, very fatigued- at nightI just pass out my body literally shuts down, occasional debilitating migraines and constant worrying thoughts.

BUT it’s better and I’ll take it and most people say by week 9 I should be almost completely back to normal.

Remember! Everyone deals with withdrawal differently. There are no text book answers. Wondering if something your experiencing is typical? Ask me, I’ve become quite the expert on anxiety and the withdrawal of this poison.

3 weeks off of Effexor.

Yesterday marked three weeks sans Effexor. I am feeling better than I did a couple of weeks ago but still dealing with some side effects.

The more I’ve thought about it the more sense it makes. I had these chemicals in my body for 9 years! It has to take more than a couple of days to get it out of my system… I’m trying to be more patient and realistic.

Since my last post my tinnitus (ringing in the ears) has subsided but it is still here and noticeable more at night than any other time.

I have lost 16 lbs in the 21 days I’ve been off of effexor, which is great. It’s literally like someone poked a hole in my balloon and all of the fat is airing out.

After the whole “I have an aneurysm/brain tumor/ stroke” episode I decided to end it by going to get a brain MRI.

“But how did you let them put you in that little tube!?” I know. It sucked but my wanting to know the truth was more powerful then my panic. (Who am I kidding? I was shaking the entire time lol) Low and behold I got the results the same day and NOTHING! So that drama slowly left my mind. Thank God.

So how am I feeling lately? Well… I’m better. I still have an overwhelming lightheadedness throughout the day. I see stars if I sit or stand or lay too quickly. Brain zaps have diminished although I still experience them every now and again.

I do carry a lot of tension in my chest the last two weeks. There’s a soreness under my right breast. The doctor says it’s mental… So I’m trying to ignore it and not let it blow up into anything bigger.

Here’s my advice for you. OCCUPY YOUR MIND. This is hard at times as I could be doing a million things and still make way for anxious thoughts but I’ve found that if I keep my mind busy… Cleaning, reading.. Anything- I don’t dwell on negativity or anxiousness and I feel much better overall.

Also- Do NOT google your symptoms. 90% of anxiety symptoms resemble those of heart attack, stroke, cancer or other life threatening diseases. But I assure you it’s not.

Needless to say if you truly feel your experiencing a medical emergency, seek help to be sure. It’s always better safe than sorry.

My general rule of thumb is- if you have time to google what you’re feeling… You’re not dying lol.

Have a good one. Stay positive. I’ll keep you posted… I just want to feel good and I know it’s coming soon.

So, shit hit the fan- but I’m gonna be ok.

The title pretty much sums it up.

Good/Bad news… I’m officially off effexor!

It was a long three month tapering process but I have not taken it at all in 4 days.

I had been doing the 3 days off prior to stopping completely so you’d think id at least have 3 easy days, right? WRONG! Thursday morning I woke up and had an overall uneasy feeling. I couldn’t get comfortable all day. I later find out that a kid I went to high school died in his sleep unexpectedly no cause and I freaked the F out. Lost it completely. I immediately started panicking and obsessing over the fact that this can happen to me too at any moment. I started overanalyzing the fact that I am at a higher risk of heart attack and stroke due to being about 30 lbs overweight…

Fast forward to the next day. I called my sister, who always helps me out of an attack, and she did her thing and helped soothed me until she said “if there’s anything to worry about it’s the possibility of a brain aneurysm” (our great grandmother died of this)…. Well great— Friday was spent obsessing over the possibility of that happening. I read so many articles online I’m seriously an expert now on aneurysms. In fact I gave myself a migraine and the pressure in my head was that of being deep down in the ocean just completely incapacitating.

That’s what anxiety is… Incapacitating.

That night whilst trying to go to sleep I couldn’t help but notice an incessant ringing in my ears. In fact it’s been two days and my ears are still ringing. During the day I don’t notice it so much but at night it’s overwhelming. After doing much googling I found that it is called tinnitus… Tinnitus is not dangerous it’s just a common condition that actually goes hand in hand with anxiety.

In fact, this may have just developed as a side effect of my extreme stress. Those are my hopes. I can’t live with this ringing it’s unbearable. It’s as if I was at a concert with blaring music… You know that muffling ring you get afterwards? Yea that’s me right now 24:7

After a day from hell and side effects up the wazoo I was able to relax. I decided to drive up to Orlando with my son and my Mother to visit my sisters in an attempt to get my mind off everything. It’s certainly helped a bit. I feel more in control and had time away from the stressors at home to focus on feeling ok.

I’m in the car on the way home now and I know this week will potentially bring new troubles since I refuse to take another capsule of effexor but I NEED to remember that I’m ok, that this is a part of the process. I’m not dying from some crazy disease. This will all be over soon and I’ll live a happy controlled effexor free- anxiety free (God willing) life.

PS I lost 5 lbs since Thursday as I refuse to put a piece of chocolate in my mouth. I won’t be able to fear heart attacks etc if I get to my healthy weight.

Clarity to Calamity in .2 seconds

I want to start by apologizing because some of my posts may seem redundant but I find it easier to write when I’m in “the moment” Because it helps me observe my feelings from an objective stand point.

This whole tapering process has been quite the roller coaster. I have my smooth sailing “up” days and occasionally my downers.

What I’ve been experiencing this weekend is very common and basically sums up why people have anxiety. As you all probably know 90% of anxiety attacks happen because your afraid of having one lol. A vicious, sick little cycle if you ask me… WELL because of these newly inherited Vivid night terrors- I have most of my attacks late at night or very very early in the morning like 5 am… What has helped me is having my husband there. I just have him hold me or talk to me to occupy the brain before it goes overboard and I’m usually able to fall back asleep.

My husband and I own a gym and with that comes early morning classes- 6 am. So he or I have to leave the house around 530. Because of this there have been a few attacks I haven’t been able to control because they have happened to hit me after he leaves so my initial thoughts are the following… “Omg, it’s coming… I’m alone… If I get scared I’ll wake up our baby, I don’t want to do that… My neighbors are probably sleeping… No one will be able to help me…” And so on and so forth. You know the downward spiral… These intrusive and unforgiving thoughts send me into sheer panic. To avoid this situation I’ve been doing ALL of our morning classes lol. I literally picked one poison over another. This did help the problem. I was out of the house- occupied- around people… I avoided it completely but I also feel that this avoidance is just the problem.

I didn’t solve my fear. I simply found an alibi and that’s not good. It’s a short term fix and I am in here for the long haul. So we decided that this week my husband would do all morning classes. NOW- having known this all weekend it’s all I could think about, the nasty what if. So instead of fully enjoying my weekend I have had mini panic attacks fearing for this scenario. Useless. Why can’t I stop that?

So what are the facts here. This book I’m reading says a very helpful guide is to write all your fears and then write what the worst case scenario from that fear would be hence making it no reason to fret over… So let’s try

Fear: If I wake up and see I’m alone I will have a panic attack.
*Truth: I don’t need to panic. And if I do wake up and see I’m alone I should take a sigh of relief and enjoy some more sleep until my son wakes up.

Fear: If I have a panic attack I won’t have anyone to help distract me and make it go away.
*Truth: i know how to stop the panic attack by deep breathing and simply relaxing. If I can’t stop the attack I know that I can call my parents or sisters and they will help me control it until I’m able to go back to sleep. I can avoid the attack myself and will be ok.

Fear: what if I pass out from the attack and no one can save me and cristiano (my son) is alone.
*Truth: although I always feel faint I have never passed out from a panic attack. Why would this one be different. I need to recognize that feeling is irrational. If I did pass out- my body would automatically wake myself back up and I can take care of it from there. No one has ever died from a panic attack.

… Those are just a couple of examples I’ll use to help myself tonight although I’m sure we could come up with more. My point here is you’d think by now I would laugh off an impending panic attack because they always come and they ALWAYS go but they still get me hyped up… It makes me sad but IT’S OK. I’m going to learn to stop this destructive way of thinking and behaving completely and until then I’ll deal with it.

This has been a long post- I’ll spare you… Tomorrow I want to address some of these intrusive thoughts I’ve been dealing with and how common they actually are… And all of them- irrational. But how do we stop them?

Good night. Keep me in your prayers/thoughts, if you pray, and i look forward to telling you all about how I successfully faced this fear instead of running away to the gym tomorrow.

– Alexandra

The grass is getting greener.

I think I’ve focused so much on the lows of this roller coaster ride that I’ve failed to see that slowly but surely things are changing for the better. I’m barely having side effects from tapering.

My doctor wants me to start doing Y N N N … So basically ‘yes’ taking it day 1 and then ‘no’ not taking it for 3 days. Not sure what effect this will have. I’ll of course keep you updated. Whoever you are and IF anyone “hears” me but I’ll tell you these posts are very therapeutic and do wonders for me as far as seeing my ordeal from an observers standpoint. It forces me to analyze what I’m really going through and feeling.

I still can’t shake the night terrors which freaking suck but my panic attacks are really few and far between if at all. Living a life free of anxiety medication seems possible. Seems like an option for the first time in a long time.

Here are some changes I’ve noticed overall:
– I can feel again. What I mean by this is I feel all sorts of emotions- happier, sadder… You name it I’m regaining control over my emotions that I didn’t even knew I had lost for a time being.

-weight loss. I don’t know why or how but I’ll take it, lol.

-mental clarity. I feel less confused. I’m able to focus a lot more on anything and everything.

-increase in sex drive. I didn’t think my sex life was lacking but being off effexor has changed things significantly.

I’m sure there are more but I have to get to bed.

I want to tell you about this book that is helping me tremendously. Google it for now… ‘When Panic Attacks’ by Dr. Burns… Wow it’s awesome. Must read if you’re suffering similarly.

Take your fish oil and have a good day/night. (Never thought id be a fish oil advocate… After all I hate seafood)

Claustrophobic in my own skin?

The side effects from tapering are quickly diminishing. It’s getting easier to feel “normal” on the days I don’t take Effexor. I rarely even notice any side effects until late at night and it’s usually very minor like tingling lips and fingers, nothing too serious. I do tend to feel brain shocks but I’m telling you fish oil makes that go away within minutes- miracle.

The only “feeling” I can’t quite shake is this overwhelming feeling of being claustrophobic in my own body. I googled it and see it’s common but I hate reading those threads because I always take on others people fears lol.

It’s not consuming… Eventually I’m able to think about something else but when it does pop up it’s petrifying.

Basically I feel like I’m suffocating under my breasts, and skin. It’s like a compulsion to cut off my breasts and break free from my skin (even though I would NEVER act on these intrusive thoughts it’s annoying to have them at all).

To me it sounds like what someone who has an eating disorder might experience … This feeling seems like a precursor to anorexia. That won’t be a problem for me though- I just need to find a solution to these horrible intrusive thoughts and remind myself that I’m obviously not going to suffocate myself.

Ugh… Frustrating to say the least. Anyone feel this ever?