In spring of 2016 I was inspired (after reading this forum) to wean myself off of Cymbalta. I had previously thought it would be impossible because I had been on it for so long, but then I learned that I could slowly reduce my dosage, one pebble/bead at a time, and avoid the horrifying side effects that come from rapid withdrawal.
So, in spring of 2016 I purchased some empty gel capsules, a glass funnel, and some other pharmaceutical tools and began the long process of weaning off.
Because I had been on Cymbalta for so long, I wanted to take it SUPER slowly. I mean, I had thought I was going to be on this stuff for the rest of my life, so it didn't really matter to me how long the wean lasted.
Phase 1: 20mg down to 15mg
I began my wean at the lowest available dose of 20mg, and I removed one "pebble" per 1-3 days until I was down to 15mg. That took about 2 months. During that time I felt some depression and anxiety, but it was manageable. I never felt any brain zaps.
I stayed at 15mg for another couple of months - until I felt sure I had stabilized.
Phase 2: 15mg down to 10mg
I repeated the process of removing one additional pebble every couple of days until I was down to 10mg. The depression was a little harsher this time than it had been while going down to 15mg. However, it wasn't so bad that I couldn't stick it out. Again, I never had any of the other scary withdrawal symptoms like brain zaps.
Once again I stayed at this dosage for a couple of months to make sure I was stable / not depressed enough to continue.
Phase 3: 10mg down to 5mg
It was a total of maybe 9 months into the entire process when I started the gradual journey down to 5mg. This took another couple of months. I gotta say, this part was a little tough - I felt some nasty depression. It subsided, though, and was never so acute that I couldn't keep going to work, living my life, etc.
I decided to stay at 5mg indefinitely, until I had several months of mostly uninterrupted non-depression. I stayed at 5mg for about 9 months before I once again began to taper down.
Phase 4: 5mg to 2.5mg
At this point I started going more slowly. I took a couple of months to transition just the 2.5 mg down to 2.5 mg. I just recently hit that milestone.
Now when I divide up one 20mg Cymbalta, it lasts me 8 days. That feels pretty good! I don't know how long I will stay on 2.5mg, or how slowly I'll taper to ZERO, but I'll give a report here when I'm off completely.
Lessons I've learned along the way:
1. I *can* get off Cymbalta even though I was on it for so long.
2. I don't have to experience horrible side effects if I go slowly enough.
3. I can still feel like myself when off of it (I still feel more or less like I have for the last 10 years. I did not return to the anxious & depressed state that I was in before I got on Cymbalta).
4. It feels really good just to make the decision to get off of it! It's empowering. It gave me hope.
You can get off this stuff no matter how long you've been on it. Just take it slowly! You do not have to be a prisoner to this shit anymore.
Thank you to everyone who ever posted their story to this forum. It was only after coming to this forum that I learned it was possible to get off Cymbalta without side effects.