Super post frog. I especially can identify with the fear of fear!! Hang in there. It will take time to get your confidence and comfort level back.
Withdrawal Getting Worse 3 Weeks In?
Posted 27 May 2021 - 12:46 PM
great post frog. "Essentially I think everything I'm dealing with now is just a consequence of how traumatic the withdrawal was:" it just struck me the other day too how the withdrawal was traumatic in its own right. Even when times are good now, I find myself drifting into fear of feeling like that again. its a level of suffering I had never experienced, and its traumatic and scary to think of falling back into that. when I do feel bad now, its a tiny fraction of the misery I felt then, but my fear that I'm drifting back into that makes me amplify what I'm feeling. I'm working on seeing and feeling things as they are now, and not as signs that I'm going backward. I got to wondering why I never went back on meds when I was so miserable, and my conclusion was that withdrawals were SO terrible it showed me how powerful and terrible psych meds can be. One of my friends who didn't understand what I was going through and had a tendency to belittle it told me the other day that I was strong, and that he doesn't know many people who could endure that level of suffering without going back on meds. I think now that I'm doing better, it highlights the contrast of how I was and makes it easier for him to see. When I told my wife what he said I burst into tears. tears are something I'm grateful for as I never cried or felt powerful emotions on Cymbalta.
Posted 28 May 2021 - 02:28 PM
Thanks FH and yes I think when I used to come here when I was deep in it and I would read your posts saying it could take 6-8 months to get better, I remember thinking OMG I don't think I can suffer like this for that long. I won't make it. And then 6-8 months came and went and I was better but still had so many new issues and I was so defeated thinking that something was wrong with me and I would never be better. But I am realizing now 1.5 years later that the withdrawal itself 6-8 months is the worst part but recovering from the trauma of the withdrawal lingers farrrrrr beyond that.
MX yes your post captures exactly what I mean. I still think everything is a sign that I'm going backwards to that really dark, helpless place and I could be stuck there for a long time and that really rattles me the most. I'm still having a hard time accepting that that will probably never happen again. I may have little bumps in the road now and again but they pass quickly. But the suffering during those months was so tremendous that the fear lives really strongly within me every day. I'm hoping it'll keep fading with time on its own as it becomes more of a distant memory but I also know how powerful things like PTSD can be so I don't know if I should be taking more of an active role in this.
And yes I agree with you, I also feel that through all of this I have learned that we really know so little about these psych meds and how they really affect us (and of course that they affect us all differently).
I went down to 1/2 tablet of Seroquel last night with no issues All the tools I've learned from my CBT-I doc are helping me to self soothe at night and let sleep come. And I'm lucky that once I'm asleep I sleep through the night ok.
And I just booked a flight to San Diego in July with my husband. Dip my toe into the pool with a 1.5ish hour flight and a relaxing long weekend. Hoping the panic before the flight is not too horrible but I was definitely already starting to spiral a little bit even after I bought the tickets...
Posted 29 May 2021 - 05:54 AM
Posted 01 June 2021 - 11:43 AM
Thanks for sharing IUN.
It's interesting because anxiety has been flaring up here and there the past couple of days in preparation for our other small car trip this weekend. And it was frustrating because I kept trying to tease out what it was that I was actually anxious about because I didn't feel like anything specific was coming up at all, just an overall foreboding kind of feeling of dread. Which is super frustrating because it's hard to talk back to your anxiety when you don't even know what you're anxious about. But it occurred to me that I think I'm just anxious about being away from home. This is homebase, security and safety. After withdrawal and spending so much time at home during covid too (as we all have) I think the mental connection between home and safety is really deep right now. So it doesn't even matter if it's driving, flying, walking whatever. Leaving home is just scary. I really hope this feeling eventually passes though. I miss traveling and the holidays will be coming up so I want to spend time with our families across the country again. I just don't want to have an anxious meltdown every time that happens...
Posted 01 June 2021 - 05:55 PM
It definitely takes time and small steps agreed
One thing I find that can make it a bit easier is to focus on the positive or exciting/happy things about whatever it is I'm feeling anxious about going to. It's harder to feel anxious about something you're genuinely looking forward to. Easier said than done though of course. My brain loves to exclusively focus on all the potential dangers and it can be hard to change the channel. But I think that's definitely one of those fake it till you make it things where your attitude just changes over time.
I'm trying to do that with this weekend's trip and remind myself that even though I won't be close to home, it'll be so nice to enjoy some warmth and sun and take a couple days off work to relax and eat some good food and spend some quality time with my husband. All things I normally really like!
Posted 03 June 2021 - 05:38 AM
I have found a means of easing my way back, which may or may not be useful to others;
1) Spend a few minutes outside, either walking near to home, or driving within a 3mile/5km radius
2) Increase the amount of time outside incrementally whilst maintaining the distance from the home
3) Then move the distance boundaries a little perhaps 5mile/8km and start again - just a quick trip to pick something up perhaps
4) Increase that time again - maybe a shopping trip whilst staying close to the car
5) The car then becomes an extension of the home
6) Then increase the distance from the car - maybe a walk around a mile or so radius
7) Increase the distance further and continue...
8) You will reach a "saturation" point where the distance is no longer a factor
I am at point 6! I have got to do a 300 mile journey shortly. I am toying with the idea of doing it in one day and returning home, or whether to take the plunge and do an overnight in a travel tavern or similar. If I think about it I will for sure get anxious like you say Frog, but that is par for the course, otherwise we wouldn't have these steps to follow
Will be thinking of you as your trip approaches.
Posted 07 June 2021 - 02:43 PM
These are great!
We just got back from our roadtrip down the coast (a bit over 300 miles) and stayed at a hotel there for 3 nights. Overall it wasn't too bad but I had an issue on the last night and the day we needed to go back. The last night we went to a fancy multicourse dinner but all of a sudden while at dinner I took a bite and got SO woozy I thought I was going to faint right there at the table. My husband thinks I may have gotten dehydrated. I hadn't been drinking much water on the trip, it's true and he's probably right about the cause. But of course given the events of a year ago it was hard to not get freaked out that I was still being haunted by withdrawal. But by far the worst part was dealing with my IBS. Or more accurately dealing with the FEAR of the IBS. Depending on how my bowels are feeling any given morning, some days I feel good and relatively carefree about it (like the day we left on Thursday) and then other days I feel like diarrhea could strike at any moment and getting into a car for a long drive is the scariest thing I could possibly do (like yesterday when it was time to drive home). I think a lot of this is mental and most likely if I could stop obsessing over my bowels nothing that bad will happen but wow is that easier said than done when you're faced with the potential consequence of urgently needing a bathroom and not being able to access one. It drives me crazy to be honest. I feel like I'm spending way too much mental energy worrying about where and if there will be a bathroom everywhere I'm going or keeping mental tabs on how far away I am from one at any given time. I never thought about this stuff before.
Does anyone with IBS have any tips? I know there's Imodium but it does tend to constipate me even taking part of a pill so I'm worried that it might just be kicking the can down the road if I take it one day but not another.
Posted 09 June 2021 - 05:30 PM
New thought... well not really new but a RENEWED thought. I don't think I have IBS? Or at least I don't right now. I think I'm having irrational gut related fears that are making me anxious and panicked and making me perceive that something is wrong. It's like a self fulfilling terrible prophecy. I worry about my gut and endlessly scrutinize every sensation. Occasionally my assessment is correct which perpetuates the supposed need to keep worrying about it. But like.. 95% of the time there's no ACTUAL danger and it's the 5% of the time that's keeping me imprisoned to this irrational fear that came out of some bad experiences that happened when I was going through withdrawal. Normal people get bad diarrhea sometimes too but they're able to ignore it as a one off situation and move on. I can't seem to move on and I feel like I'm developing really bad mental habits and phobias around this topic including scrutinizing what and when I eat, rejecting certain activities based on worries about being trapped without a bathroom, the list goes on. I think I gave my brain permission to worry about my gut when I was going through withdrawal and now it's just taken on a life of its own and I can't turn it off and I feel like a prisoner in my own damn mind.
The good news is I think step 1 is starting to recognize when our fears are completely irrational when they feel SO real. As we speak I'm looking for a therapist that specializes in CBT for IBS. I want to use the same approach that helped me move past the insomnia I thought I had (turns out I didn't really... I just needed to reframe my mentality around sleep and learn a couple of tricks). I have a LOT more panic and fear around my gut than I did with sleep so I imagine this will be much harder but I feel like I'm still early enough into it that I can break this habit before it becomes a full blown phobia.
Wondering if anyone here has had much experience with CBT for anything similar? I'm guessing it's somewhat similar to CBT for sleep: keeping a daily log for tracking, learning how and why the mind is working this way, learning some strategies on how to interrupt and reframe negative thoughts, putting it into practice/exposure (scariest part).
Posted 10 June 2021 - 03:36 PM
CBT is actually considered very effective in alleviating IBS overall: https://www.ncbi.nlm...les/PMC5530860/
I thought some parts of this were very interesting, particularly the role of brain and pain perception for people who are diagnosed with IBS:
Visceral hypersensitivity is one of the hallmark features of IBS and refers to an increased tendency to experience pain or discomfort in response to clinically normal bowel functions. This has been demonstrated in research studies during which IBS patients have much lower pain tolerance for rectal balloon distension than healthy controls.13,14 Nerves of the enteric nervous system in patients with IBS send amplified pain signals to the brain in response to normal GI functioning. This is why normal amounts of gas in the intestines or muscle contractions of the colon can be perceived as highly painful for someone with IBS.
This visceral pain sensitivity reported in patients with IBS is attributed in part to abnormal pain processing in the central nervous system.15,16 Recent research utilizing brain imaging techniques has identified abnormalities in central sensory processing among IBS patients. Namely, patients with IBS demonstrate greater activation of emotional arousal networks than healthy controls in response to visceral stimulation. Furthermore, during these studies, healthy controls activate brain regions responsible for downregulating pain (medial prefrontal cortex), whereas patients with IBS do not.16 These central processing differences contribute to symptom severity in patients with IBS.
The GI tract is highly susceptible to the effects of stress, and stress is a significant contributor to brain–gut dysregulation in IBS. Research has shown that stress is associated with the onset of IBS and with more severe symptoms.17,18 Stress can influence visceral pain perceptions and directly influence gut motility.19 Furthermore, research indicates that patients with IBS may have abnormalities in autonomic nervous system functioning, which can contribute to disruptions in brain–gut pathways.20,21
Posted Yesterday, 03:12 PM
woof it's been a rocky couple of weeks. Anxiety has been back with a vengeance. It hasn't been this bad for this long in many months and starting to get to me, you know the usual spiraling thoughts about how it's never going to get better again etc which, wouldn't you know it, just makes the anxiety even worse!
I'm experiencing a lot of phobic thoughts and behavior related to gut issues/IBS and they're really feeding the anxiety monster. It's getting harder to leave the house because to do so I have to analyze every square inch of my digestive system and make sure I know where all the possible bathrooms might be along the way, at the location, etc., judging distances from one to the next so I'm never too far, constantly on the verge of fight or flight. I think this is pretty common defensive response for what I went through, but it is still maddening. I can literally be watching a TV show where people are stuck in traffic or out in nature (big fears for me right now) and I immediately start to get those pangs of anxiety. I don't like leaving my house because I feel the most relaxed here and going out means varying levels of anxiety or even panic
I had a consultation this morning with a CBT trained doc who deals frequently with patients with various chronic health issues, often related to the gut. It felt a lot more emotional than when I talked to the Insomnia doc, so I guess I'm on the right track as far as the source of all of this anxiety. I'm willing to give it at least a few sessions to see if I see even a hint of change/improvement in my thinking because even now I can recognize that the anxiety is coming from a place of real fear that needs to be addressed directly.
But if I'm not getting anywhere with that, I'm ready to go on Prozac or something as plan B. I feel like I've wasted so much time being anxious and imposing all these limitations on myself over the past 19 months and it's time to reclaim some joie de vivre otherwise what's the point?
Posted Today, 01:11 PM
I've been doing much better, but I'm still so easily knocked off track into fear and anxiety that I've considered going on something too. as of now, I'm still seeing enough improvement I'm not going to do it yet. I've had the same thoughts about missed time. my kids went from 3 and 5 to 5 and 7 while I was dealing with this crap and I was essentially unable to enjoy them. that makes me cry every time I think about it. thats a big transition, and those young years are special. they went from toddlers who think dads the best to independent kids, which is what I want for them, but the lost time is tough to accept. now with the continued struggle, I'm worried how much more time I'll potentially miss, especially with our baby.
are your digestive issues a real concern, or are your fears somewhat irrational and based and past experiences?
I thought I was doing well, and in the scheme of things I really am, but I had a recent stressful event in my business and it triggered a whole episode of overreaction and anxiety. it was nothing big, its something to be expected, but it brought on all sorts of worries about uncertainty. its not fun to think little setbacks in life can throw you back into panic and terror. I feel like I used to be a very resilient person, and now I'm fragile. part of the process is learning to trust that I may not be resilient yet, I'm probably not as fragile as I think. I almost always feel like the world is a scary uncertain place where bad things can happen at any moment. while that may be true, it would be nice to find some peace and acceptance as well. I am curious how I would be on a regular antidepressant too. I wonder if it would help my sleep and my stress tolerance.
Posted Today, 02:53 PM
Nice to hear from you MXpro. I feel like we've had a very parallel experience over the past nearly 2 years. I think you def nailed it, it's like you're riding a RAZR scooter along a road. If the road is smooth and even, you're going along ok and you start to feel comfortable cruising and then suddenly a small rock appears and you go over the handlebars. I feel like before Cymbalta and even during it I would get anxiety about some very specific social situations that I probably could have worked through over time with a therapist and resolved. But NOW my anxiety has become so broad in scope that I'm basically scared of leaving the house because I'm afraid of being stricken with a gut issue and the resulting panic that settles over me when that happens. I guess I have to assume that the intensity of my anxiety is probably directly tied to the intensity of fear I feel over possibly finding myself in one of these situations. So maybe that's why I don't remember my anxiety ever feeling this physically overwhelming before, I probably just wasn't THAT worried about whatever things used to give me anxiety. On the flip side after experiencing what you and I did during withdrawal, I'm naturally terrified of reliving something like that. Ironically it's probably the anxiety about the anxiety that's the cause of the entire anxiety (wow what a sentence). Like if I could somehow stop myself from being scared of panic and anxiety then the panic and anxiety would probably never appear in the first place.
The CBT doc told me about a recent patient who was having a really difficult time with constant severe nausea that she was medicating but wanted to stop taking medication. After ONE session together, this person had a heart to heart with her friends and openly explained to them the fear she had and that she may have to throw up sometimes when she's with them. Apparently they were SO accepting and supportive that it made her feel at peace about her personal worst case scenario and completely cured her nausea? Like she was nauseous because of the anxiety she had over being nauseous in public? Crazy stuff but makes sense.
I would say my digestive issues are mostly irrational anxiety based on past experiences as well as like.. a fear of the consequences? To put it simply... I'm terrified of pooping my pants in public. That sounds like the worst most mortifying thing that could possibly happen to me. When my gut was really bad about a year ago I had a bunch of CLOSE calls so I think my brain has made the connection that I have to be vigilant otherwise that worst thing will happen. What are the actual odds of that happening? Hard to say. The connection between the gut and brain is so strong that having anxiety about diarrhea quite literally gives you diarrhea. But yeah I feel like I've lost the ability to accurately interpret different gut sensations and place them appropriately on the scale of not relevant to possible emergency. Instead everything feels like a potential emergency. If I have a few glasses of wine I can generally calm down enough to stop paying attention but that doesn't seem like a long term solution especially because alcohol also messes up your stomach. LOL.
I think if it weren't for the fact that I'm still on the fence about having kids, I would say screw it and get a prescription tomorrow and give myself a break. On the other hand I don't think being an insane ball of stress and anxiety during pregnancy is healthy either so it's a tough and confusing choice.
Posted Today, 03:26 PM
yeah, it used to take a particular stressor to get me going. now EVERYTHING feels terrifying if I let my thoughts run free. I've been working on not falling into the trap of seeking certainty where none can exist, and its helping, but its hard to imagine ever feeling safe and content. I'm starting to get some positive emotions at times, but I'm mostly lacking any future oriented rewards or motivation. I have short periods of clarity where my worries are in perspective and don't dominate my thoughts, and I feel alive and optimistic to a degree not possible when I was on meds. mostly I've transitioned from constant overwhelming anxiety, terror, and depression to mostly neutral until something negative happens. when the anxiety is triggered, its a reminder of how I used to feel all the time only stronger. real depression is mostly gone now. its just a sense of vulnerability and lack of ability to ever have a sense of safety and well being. the sleep issues are still persistent even when my anxiety is low. I just can't stay asleep. overall, life is becoming easier and less dominated by a constant struggle. I will feel bad if I compare how I feel now to how a normal person should feel. I feel OK if I compare how I feel now compared to how I felt during the worst of the withdrawal. its hard not to become impatient, and to not question if things are going to keep improving. I really can't believe its taken this long.
Posted Today, 04:20 PM
"I will feel bad if I compare how I feel now to how a normal person should feel. I feel OK if I compare how I feel now compared to how I felt during the worst of the withdrawal."
I really do believe that what's taking so long (at least speaking for myself) is that I've developed a hair trigger anxiety about anxiety. I never used to really understand how people developed severe anxiety or phobias or panic attacks that didn't resolve. But I truly get it now. Some event takes place in your life and it makes SUCH a negative impact on you that your brain develops a set of mechanisms to try to prevent experiencing further trauma. Unfortunately in most cases the mechanisms are harmful more than helpful because the actual danger is long gone but you continue to live your life looking for it around every corner reducing your ability to feel joy please or happiness because you're stuck in fight or flight instead. That's how I feel about myself. I feel like I have PTSD from the withdrawal so I'm no longer living with withdrawal but instead living with PTSD. Maybe the CBT will help enough but otherwise I think the best way may be to just take an SSRI and get a break from all of this. I don't really think there's any shame in it I just wish there was more convincing research on whether it's harmful during pregnancy
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