Absolution

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Absolution

I see the light

Forgiveness

Begets freedom

From the pain

Anger and blame

To myself

To you

Gradually

Without fail

Love always wins

Light shines through

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Prodromal Phase of Major Depression

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This may or may not come as a surprise to you, or if you are anything like me you may be in and out of denial about this, but it is a fact that depressive episodes have a tendency to be recurring. There are some people who will experience only one isolated episode of depression. However, for many people like myself there will be periods of time spent in remission (weeks/months/if your really lucky years) followed by another depressive episode. That is why it is crucial to practice recognizing early signs, the prodromal phase, of depression flaring back up. This requires a great deal of self awareness, and it doesn’t hurt to ask your family and friends to watch out for you as well.

Let’s rewind, back in time to a few months ago. I was feeling fabulous. I was feeling so fabulous in fact that I wholeheartedly believed that I was completely cured of my depression. I told my therapist that I did not believe that I had depression anymore. I told her what I honestly believed at that time, that I was healed and had gotten better. I also told her that I was fairly sure that I didn’t even need to be on any medication anymore and that the doctor had agreed and allowed me to stop taking one of the antidepressants (Cymbalta). That was clearly the go ahead my therapist had been holding her breath for, because she didn’t even need to think twice before jumping on that bandwagon; we terminated therapy that same day.

In hind sight, none of the above decisions were wise ones.  I felt so good on the Cymbalta, that I mistook remission as being completely cured. I had so wanted it to be true that I was healed of my recurrent clinical depression, that I had convinced myself that I would never experience another depressive episode. Just imagine my dismay when within a month of discontinuing the Cymbalta and therapy, the old familiar symptoms of depression started to creep back into my life.

At first I was in denial. I thought that I did not have depression anymore, and therefore whatever symptoms that I am feeling are feelings that everyone deals with and handles in daily life. I struggled, suffered and stubbornly refused to go back to the doctor and get put back on a second antidepressant. All of my efforts were in vain though, as I was only prolonging the inevitable.

So what exactly are these symptoms that prelude the depressive episode? They are a little different for each person but with practice you will begin to see common threads with your depression. For me it usually starts with sleeping for longer hours. I will notice that on weekends I am sleeping for 12+ hours and could still keep on sleeping if I do not force myself to wake up. I feel a general fatigue, like no amount of sleep is ever enough. Then I will gradually start losing interest in social activities. Going out with friends starts to seem like a chore, its nothing personal, it would just require so much effort and energy that I just don’t have. Exercising becomes overwhelming to even imagine, let alone try to muddle through. I begin to withdraw from people, chatting less and less with coworkers. When I start to notice that I am struggling to get through the work day, and calling out because I can’t imagine going to work and struggling through the day, that is a clear sign that I have let it go too far and I need to get to the doctor ASAP. When I start to have difficulty thinking about or imagining my future (hopelessness), that is another blaring red flag.

For me the prodromal phase consists of a gradual building up of symptoms. From practice I know what these early symptoms are. I have the ability to recognize these symptoms as the warning that they are and therefore go see the doctor sooner rather than later. In that sense, these symptoms are actually a blessing in disguise. Noticing them enables me to nip it in the bud by seeking help, avoiding the full blown depressive episode that would eventually follow. Make no mistake, the depressive episode will follow. By the time you are showing those early symptoms, small triggers have likely started accumulating, becoming a heavy backpack. Then it just takes one highly stressful or hurtful event hitting you to send you falling down to the bottom of the well.

My hope is that the wisdom that I have gained from my recent experiences will help others know that they are not alone and to raise awareness of the early warning signs preceding a full blown depressive episode.

Remember…maintenance + diligence = prevention

 

 

Thanksgiving Miracles

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I firmly believe that miracles, no matter how big or small, happen every single day. The universe is always working with us to manifest our thoughts and desires and to help us along our path in the way that is for our highest good. For every bad thing that happens there is always a good thing that happens to balance it out if we are open to receive it. Whether we stop to take notice and appreciate these miracles makes all the difference.

The trouble is that the majority of the time, most people (including myself) only take notice of the bad things that happen to them. When we are sad, mad, scared, upset, or in any way low from a life event or thought; we notice. However, when good things happen and the opportunity arises to feel joy, love, connectedness, etc., we tend to feel and notice them to a much lesser extent.

Lucky for us, simply bringing this knowledge to our awareness can begin to change things. Making this one adjustment to the way you view and approach life can be life altering. The more you notice and appreciate the good things and miracles that come into your life, the more good things and miracles you will manifest into your life.

The way that my husband and I go about doing this is kind of silly, which in my opinion makes it more fun. Whenever a good thing seems to randomly happen, be gifted to us by chance, or a good event that had seemed unlikely manifests we acknowledge  it as being a:  “(insert closest holiday on the calendar) miracle!”  After making that statement we happily add that that holiday’s miracles must be in season. It is a little thing that we do, but it causes us to pause and really appreciate and be grateful for the good thing that has happened for us in that moment.

There is an additional skill that can be built on top of this appreciation, I myself am constantly striving to learn to make this a habit. That is, to really feel the joy, love, or connection as it comes up and relish in it. Regardless of the vulnerability that arises,  I want to soak up and enjoy those fabulous feelings for all that they are and for as long as they last. Those little moments, those feelings of pure elation and appreciation, are the real miracles. Live it up.

I am so thankful for all of the “thanksgiving miracles” that have come to me this week and for those that are yet to come. I feel blessed.

 

 

 

 

Dead End Therapy Road

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Dead End Therapy Road

All at once

The all powerful

Relentless grip

Of my obsession

Is released

I flail

I weep

Afraid of change

I fight to hold on

To your chains

The illusion of you

They have bound me

For some time

The truth

Comes to light

Painfully obvious

That you don’t care

Perhaps you never did…

Regretfully

I blindly trusted you

In my darkest times

With my biggest secrets

Ever believing I was safe

You lie and deny

You cause hurt and damage

A destroyer

Deliberately knocking me down

Only rubble in your wake

As if ethically your job

Is not to help

And avoid or rectify harm

Alas I grieve

The ending of our relationship

I had cherished

Given too much faith to

As despair subsides

I begin to see

The silver lining

A shining example

Of what never to do

The wisdom

That at last I am free

The Tears I Won’t Let You See

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Have you ever hurt so bad that you just didn’t care, let go of all resistance, and just cried and cried and cried? Closed yourself in some place where you could be alone and cried hysterically like a small child? Did it feel like you were irreparably ripped apart inside?  Did you feel like stone walls came crashing down over you, burying you completely in the heavy rubble? Have you ever cried so inconsolably that you did not know if you would ever be able to stop? Have you ever cried so hard that you thought you might die and maybe that would be ok?

Last night, I cried so hard for such a long span of time, that time lost all meaning. Seconds flowed into minutes flowed into hours and nothing else mattered. I was gone. Should I have let go of my pride, reached out to a friend, and showed my vulnerability by allowing someone to be there for me? Absolutely. Did I? No. There was the pain of my demons and there was me, we were faced off and that was it. I could not escape the pain and I could not escape myself, there was no where to run or hide. Talk about fear. More like panic.

Last night I cried so much that I thought I was going to throw up. This morning, I woke up with the equivalent of a hangover. I look like hell. My eyes are so red and puffy that I had to cake them in eye makeup to try to disguise the swelling as a poor makeup job. My head is throbbing. My stomach feels ripped up. I hurt all over. There is a lingering lump of discomfort in my throat and a knot of tightness in my chest, both of which are reminders that I could be reduced back to hysterics at any time. I feel like a ticking time bomb with a hair pin trigger.  Perhaps most notably, my mind feels emotionally and mentally numb. I am like a zombie, like death warmed over today. My mind is functioning in the slowest of slow motion.

I had all I could do to get out of bed this morning and show up to work. I wanted to hide under my covers and not get out of bed for the day, or days, or if I could swing it, maybe even the rest of the WEEK. I can see that I have grown though because I recognized those thoughts for exactly what they are. Avoidance. So I got up, dressed up, and showed up for work despite the depression I feel today. I give myself a lot of credit for that. Similarly, although the temptation is definitely still there to dull the pain and escape my feelings and myself, I have NOT acted on that impulse. I am proud of myself for that. Lastly, as bad as it hurts and as drained as a feel, I have NOT abandoned myself. As fearful as I felt, I still plowed through and stayed with myself by allowing myself to be 100% present with my feelings. Last night, during one of my darkest moments, I was the same compassionate friend to myself that I am to others. That is a BIG step for me. So although I may not be better today, I can see that a little at a time I AM getting better. That, my friends, is the silver lining. Progress.

Looking Fear in the Eye

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Looking Fear in the Eye

Reluctance

Avoidance

Resistance

Unwillingness

To try something new

Or make a change

Triggers

Chest tightens

A knot

Heaviness

Weighted down

Words cease

Heart races

Thoughts

More thoughts

An endless train

Panic

Don’t

You can’t

What if it hurts?

Heartache?!

RUN

As you do

Never, ever look back

Chances

Potential

Growth

Missed opportunities

Should of

Could of

Would of

If only

Abandonment

Melancholy

Depression

Self loathing

Let go

Choose different

Empowerment

Courage

Chance rapids

Dance

Love

Laugh

Cry

Trust

Joy

Feel everything

Immerse completely

Fill your life

Ask

What if fear hurts more?

Don’t look back

If I Were Honest

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I used to believe that I was honest. Lately I have become aware of how reluctant I am to admit certain feelings or thoughts to myself and others. I may say something, fully believing I am telling the truth or expressing my feelings correctly. However if I pay attention to how I really feel I would notice that it is not congruent with how I am saying I feel. Most times I am doing this unintentionally. I do not even realize that I have not been speaking my truth at first. Then when I reflect back later on why I am feeling so bad, what exactly happened, or why I feel misunderstood/unheard, I am able to see that there is a disconnect. It is very frustrating and difficult for me to accept this about myself. However if I am really being honest, I would admit to you that I often am not really honest. With that aside, there are several other things I would like to express honestly related to therapists (past and present) and myself (future). Bare in mind, if I were honest in the moment, there would be no need to do so. Honesty often requires vulnerability, and historically I have been terrible at allowing this vulnerability to manifest.

To the ghost of therapist past. If I were honest I would tell you that I am really angry at you. Often times I felt like a cornered dog when I was in a therapy session with you. You badgered me and pressured me with your questions, long after I told you that I felt uncomfortable. I was so anxious and overwhelmed by this that I was often rendered speechless, but you were relentless and did not care. You are a bully. It is YOUR job to recognize transference for what it is as it comes up and to help me take a look at it, learn from it, and grow from it. Instead you chewed me up and spit me out. I wanted you to care about me and you told me that you did. That felt so good.You encouraged me to contact you between sessions, and willingly participated, you built me up, and then months later you ripped that away and hoped I wouldn’t notice. You did not acknowledge the transference for what it was, you did not help me work through those issues, and again, that was YOUR job. Instead this was a huge missed opportunity to work through MY stuff, and I am so pissed about that! I went through all of this pain for nothing. Worse yet, now I will have to go through it AGAIN in therapy so that the issues can actually be worked out. You judged me and reprimanded me as if I am an unruly child. You told me that you were frustrated with me a few times. You also told me that you were disappointed with me. When you told me these things it was like a slap in the face; I felt like I wanted to die, but instead I chose to harm myself. I frequently left your office feeling battered, bruised and much worse than when I arrived, and yet I was very attached so I could not muster the strength to just let go and leave. Your boundaries are blurry, and that’s being generous. It was YOUR job to make therapy a safe place for me to express all  of my feelings and thoughts and you failed miserably. Instead, I had to worry about your feelings, thoughts, and judgments. I was made to feel as if I was the reason there were blurred boundaries. You are unable to take any criticism or feedback without becoming defensive. You are unwilling to accept or admit any of your mistakes or shortcomings. The blame is always on me. Instead of always keeping my best interests in sight, you sucked me up into the whirlwind of your own insecurities then let me believe it was all my fault. This may come as a shock to you but DENIAL ain’t just a river in Egypt! Your therapy is destructive. You built me up just to tear me down and then you kicked around the rubble. Where there should have been help, there is just hurt. Because of you I find it difficult to trust my present therapist, for fear that she will begin treating me the way that you did. How is it that the wound of therapist past can still be so raw and painful?! Why does it still hurt so bad? All of this of course, if I were honest.

To the ghost of therapist present. If I were honest I would tell you that I am scared. I am afraid of showing my feelings. Often times I still don’t even know what feeling I am feeling. That alone is scary and incredibly frustrating to me. I have been in therapy for over a year and a half, between my previous therapist and you, and I still can’t even recognize or feel my own feelings. How can that be?! When I do feel my feelings they are frequently unbearable which makes me fearful of talking about anything that might bring those feelings back up. When I told you I was mad this week, what I really felt was overwhelming sadness. It was easier to be mad though, I could allow that anger and not cry. If I had admitted to being sad the flood gates would have opened, I could feel the deep sadness bubbling right under the surface. I felt the lump in the back of my throat. I could feel the tears ready to fall from my eyes. I just couldn’t do it. I feel uncomfortable crying. Although I wish that wasn’t true. I so wish I could cry to you, it would feel so much better than resistance. However if I were to cry I would want you to hug me, or at the very least comfort me, and I am not so sure that you would do that. If I was not comforted I might feel rejected or abandoned, triggering me to feel even worse. That is a chance that I just haven’t felt comfortable taking. If I were honest, I would let go of my pride and tell you that you were right and I was wrong, when you said that being friends with my other therapist would end up hurting me and you were worried. I would tell you that the feeling of wanting to run DID come up, after therapy, in relation to what we talked about. This morning there was a moment of panic in my mind, when I thought of all the things I told you last night. I felt like because you know these things about me now you will think less of me or won’t like me anymore. Not only that, even if you do not like me anymore or think less of me, I would never know because you would never come out and tell me and therefore I am left wondering. It bothers me tremendously that I am so mistrustful. It goes deeply against my soul and it feels bad. I wasn’t always so mistrustful. I trusted my previous therapist, my only other therapist, and it destroyed me. I know that you are not her though and I promise I am letting go of that distorted thinking. Slowly, with your continued unconditional positive responses and love, I can feel myself loosening my grip and letting go of my resistance and fear.  I’d tell you all of this during our sessions, if I were honest.

To the ghost of my future self. Going forward, if I were honest, I would listen to my soul’s intuition. I would appropriately say what I really think or feel instead of holding back out of fear. I won’t say that I am mad because that is the more comfortable emotion for me to be with, when really I am very sad. It is detrimental and hurts ME when I chain my feelings down. It is ok to cry openly when I am hurt and let people who love me be there for me. If people can not be there for me, that’s ok too, I am always there for me with open arms of unconditional love. Its ok to be vulnerable sometimes, it means your authentic and sincere, its how relationships gain intimacy and strength. It is also ok to be in close relationships with people and trust that they wont destroy you. No matter what I will be ok, my soul will remain unchanged, I bounce back, I always have and I always will. I can and should trust myself to know what is right for me and what is my truth. Therapy is meant to help ME and it is supposed to be about ME and that really is ok. Therapists do NOT judge me, reject me, accept me conditionally or berate me. If a therapist ever acts in any of these ways and is unable to own up to their mistakes, that is NOT ok, and I give you permission to RUN. I can rest assured knowing that my therapist does work hard to make sure her office is a safe place for me to share, she has my back, she is on my side and she always keeps my best interests and well being in mind. This can often be difficult for me to believe or accept because I am used to love being conditional. Knowing that this is my bias can help me to realize, in the moment, when my mind is distorting things. I will freely tell people how much I love them and what I admire about them. In the face of such openness, I don’t need to worry about how I make the other person feel and whether my love will scare people off because IF it does, that says an awful lot about THEM and it is for them to work out with themselves. My self worth has nothing to do with other peoples’ perceptions of me or their ability to love me. I am in awe of how much I don’t know that I really do know, when I am honest with myself. If only I were honest.

Making Peace With Myself

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So there’s this pattern of behavior I’ve had for quite some time now. I’m not talking months, more like for YEARS, of this repetitive situation that I keep finding myself in! I have loathed myself for falling into this rabbit hole, of being triggered and feeling victimized in my relationships, time and again. Yet as much as it hurts, and as bad as it feels, I keep unconsciously launching myself into these types of relationships that are triggering for me. Why?!? And more importantly, how do I make that hated part of myself go away?

For those of you who are as confused as I am, here’s a little more clarity on what exactly I am speaking of in the first paragraph. Over the course of my life so far I have found myself repeatedly in relationships (mainly friendships) that do not seem to be mutually loving. By that I mean, when I express how much I care it often goes unacknowledged (not even a thank you!) and/or the love seems to never be reciprocated in those particular relationships.

These relationships, that I perceive as being heavily one sided a majority of the time, are very problematic for me because they really trigger my insecurities. The less love that is reciprocated in these relationships the harder that I try to: be better, work harder, give more. On some level I guess I believe that if I just tried a little bit harder I would be good enough to receive this persons love, affection and approval. This spells trouble. The rejection sensitivity trigger I have puts a lot of power over me into the other person’s hands.When I’ve been triggered by these relationships, I tend to feel really bad about myself over the perceived rejection. If I get stuck in the loop of one of these relationships it can easily slide me into a depressive episode before long. Again, WHY?!? Why do I keep getting sucked into these types of relationships? How do I make it go away?

Lucky for me I have a fantastically connected therapist who was able to offer me some clarity! She said “You CAN’T hate that part of yourself, or remove a part of yourself, you just can’t.”  She told me that my whole soul is love and so I can’t hate part of it because you can’t hate love, it will always feel bad because it is always wrong. So according to her, I would have to let go of that thought,make peace with that part of myself and accept it; that is the only way to start feeling better. “Not only that”, she said “You wouldn’t want to get rid of that part of yourself anyway.” I was like uhhhhh, but I do! She said “No you don’t, because that’s actually also the best part of yourself.” I was told that I feel deeply and love deeply, I am passionate and that is a beautiful gift. You can’t have one side of that and not the other though. There are always going to be people who are unable to love back and that is on THEM. It doesn’t mean that I am damaged or weird or unlovable or even necessarily rejected, it means that the person is not able to love in that way.

So what does that mean for me in my life? What should I do? How does this solve my dilemma? It doesn’t really solve anything. I can’t change people, I can’t control people. However, having this knowledge from my therapist, in many ways, is enough. What I can do is find a way to unconditionally love these friends anyway and let go of any expectations of reciprocation. I can figure out how to love them from a distance that is comfortable for me so that I do not get triggered or sucked into the loop. I can ditch the victim mentality and empower myself by taking back the control over my life and by doing what is best for me AND most true to my soul.

Barriers to Love: The Ultimate Kill-Joy

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I can still hear the words of my therapist echoing in my mind:  “I want you to think about why it is that you are so resistant to hearing and accepting love.” My immediate reaction was that of denial. My inner dialogue went something like: “I am not resistant to love!”,  “That’s what I want so much is to feel love, to give and receive love…” I feebly attempted to argue that statement. I said that the tone of the words she was saying were not congruent with the feeling she was trying to convey and so there was a disconnect between us. AAANNNNTTTT! Denied! She threw it right back at me and I was stuffed. She said that she was willing to take responsibility for her part of it but I needed to take responsibility for my end as well. She told me that although she had been telling me what she really loves about me and acting lovingly, I was unable to hear or accept the love. Instead I had become fixated on something else that I insisted was missing and continuously overlooked and denied the love that was right in front of me. How truly sad.

So as promised I have been pondering my end of “the disconnect”. Why is it that I was subconsciously resistant to hearing and receiving the love my therapist was giving me? I have come up with two plausible causes. 1) At times I still abandon myself and do not love myself and perhaps consequently I deem myself as unworthy of love. 2) It is possible I am afraid of immersing myself in the vulnerability of love by being fully open to receive.

Lets take a look at the first possibility. When I am feeling poor emotionally or when I am triggered by something I tend to unintentionally abandon myself. Instead of showing myself love and compassion, my mind starts going and I start beating myself up with my inner dialogue. I realize logically that this is destructive behavior and I assure you that a majority of the time I do not have a negative inner dialogue anymore. However, when things go sour I tend to default back to old self loathing and emotionally hurtful behavior and patterns until I catch myself and climb back out of that dark well. Therefore when I am down in that well, and I do not love myself as a result, it is difficult (if not impossible) for me to believe and accept that other people may still love me even when I perceive myself as not very lovable. It continues to be a challenge for me to learn and trust that people don’t only love me when I am happy, agreeable and good.

Now for the second possibility. Could it be that I am actually afraid to be fully receptive and open to love? Perhaps I unconsciously keep a piece of my heart separate and sheltered for fear of being completely shattered by the loss that love will always ultimately entail. This was difficult for me to admit to myself. However upon some introspection I realized that I still have a lot of fears related to loss of love. It is scary enough to hand over the illusion of control and trust that a person will openly love you back without walking away and leaving you burned. It is even scarier to know that no love is safe because everyone goes away sooner or later, after all, everyone dies. So even if I share a very open, fulfilling, mutual and loving relationship with them it is on borrowed time. Some day I am going to lose them in one way or another unless they lose me first. So even when I do love someone I am always aware in the back of my mind that it is inevitable that eventually I am going to be hurt as a result of the relationship and this causes me to recoil. After all, and I know I can’t be alone in my thoughts, this fact is absolutely terrifying and bewildering! I am ashamed to admit that in the past I have considered suicide as an alternative to having to deal with the loss of love that comes when people disappear from my life. My reasoning was that if I die first I will not have to deal with the devastation and heartbreak of family and friends leaving me behind. Do not fret, I no longer consider this an option. I mean, how awful is it to cause that kind of havoc in the lives of the people that I love just so that I do not have to handle it in my own life? It eats me up to think of the possibility of bringing so much hurt to the people I care about so much.

After careful examination it seems most likely that both of these possibilities most definitely played a role in my inability to accept the loving words of my therapist. Another troubling realization is that if this issue is manifesting in therapy, it is most definitely a big player in the rest of my relationships. I am not thrilled with the idea of this. I have felt love and I know in my heart that it is one of the ultimate joys and fulfillment of life. Therefore I see it as essential that I figure out how to remove the blocks, and release the grip of my fears, that are keeping me from experiencing love fully in my daily life. It is not possible to shield myself from the pain and emptiness of hurt without also shielding myself from the joy and fulfillment of love.

I thought I would end with this quote that I think is very appropriate. Part of loving and caring for people is opening yourself to receiving and accepting love in return. We need realize that acting lovingly is participating fully, on both the giving and receiving ends of love, in our relationships. ❤

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Antidepressants’ Double Edged Sword: Withdrawal

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I would like to start by saying that antidepressants have been a savior to me on several occasions. I do believe that they have the potential to be a great help in the healing process. I do not believe that antidepressants alone are ever the answer to healing mental illness. If you are struggling with mental illness, there should be no shame in getting the help you need and taking medication to pull you out from the doldrums. Antidepressants helped me feel better than I could remember feeling in years and I am so grateful for that.

That being said, I am learning the hard way that antidepressants are very much a double edged sword. I highly doubt that most people begin taking antidepressants with the intent to be on them for the rest of life and I am included in that majority. Don’t get me wrong, if you need to be on medication for the rest of your life that does not make you any less of a person, nor does it make you weak or any other negative judgement that one might apply to your situation. For me though, I have always known that my intention and goal is to use the antidepressants as a crutch in my healing and eventually get back off of the antidepressants. So after being on a cocktail of two antidepressants for the past year, and working through a load of baggage, my Dr. and I made the decision that the time has come to attempt moving back down to one antidepressant. Easier said than done!

Let me just tell you that discontinuing antidepressants, in my case Cymbalta, is no picnic; it’s more so complete and utter hell. I have tried once before (unsuccessfully) to get off of my second antidepressant a year ago, at that time it was Pristiq, it was awful then and its equally horrendous now! When it came to getting off of Pristiq, my psychiatrist tried to tell me that there would be no withdrawal symptoms whatsoever; he lied. At least I can say he warned me that there would be some withdrawal side effects attached to discontinuing Cymbalta. He laughed a little as he said, “Getting off of Pristiq is a breeze compared to Cymbalta.” Needless to say, I did not find this fact to be nearly as amusing as he did.

I tapered my medication down a little at a time over a two week period and then stopped taking it all together. The first day or two without Cymbalta I was noticeably less patient than usually and stemming from that I was more short tempered and irritable and there were some vivid dreams and disturbing nightmares but nothing too horrific. I thought, hmm..ok…maybe this is it, maybe tapering worked so well that I am not going to get any other withdrawal symptoms, good..this is manageable. WRONG! By the third day the nausea began, headache, brain fog was thick and mental concentration and focus were minimal at best, added on top of the limited patience, short temper and irritability, vivid dreams and nightmares. By today, the fourth day, add on top of all of the previous symptoms: old friend brain zaps, extreme dizziness, lightheadedness, fatigue, body ache, chills, glassy eyes, stomach ache, palpitations, and anxiety.

How am I remaining level headed and coping with all of these symptoms you might wonder? I’ll admit, it isn’t easy. However I have picked up a few strategies that have been working for me so far in getting through what I hope is the worst of it. 1. I told a few trusted friends ahead of time that I would be discontinuing Cymbalta and would likely be going through a tough period of withdrawal within the next few days. This gave me a support network, right out of the starting gate, of people who love me that want me to win and are there cheering me on and helping me up. 2. I made a clear vision of my goal and lined up my reasons for wanting to achieve that goal on the day before I stopped taking the medication, so I was clear minded and had a positive outlook at the time that I acknowledged and noted those goals. This way if I begin to feel overwhelmed or frightened about all of the discontinuation symptoms that I am battling I can look back at my goal and remind myself of that finish line, there is always a light at the end of the tunnel, I can see my way through this pain. 3. I never lose sight of the fact that this withdrawal is temporary. It will pass. Although at times it may feel overwhelming, scary, or like it is too much for me to bare, I can remind myself that my brain is healing and resetting itself. A cut doesn’t heal itself over night and neither does the brain. It is a process, it is going to take time, but it WILL pass.

For any one out there at the crossroads of discontinuation of an antidepressant I caution you, it is not a decision that should be made lightly. When and if you decide to discontinue an antidepressant you should do so under the supervision of your Dr. as there can be a relapse of the initial illness and even suicidal thoughts. I am giving this my best shot and I truly believe that I will be successful this time around.  I am now well equipped with the knowledge, skills and resources that I need to win this battle and I won’t go down without a fight.