Celexa Tapering Diaries
I think that I need to give myself a break. During the first three weeks of a my antidepressant tapers (or in this case my being off them all together) I cannot allow myself to get caught up in anything more than a simple task.
Anything that gets even the slightest bit complicated sparks a raging fury that is followed by helpless tears and I can’t control it once it starts.
I learned this last night when I had to replace my credit card number on all the places I have it stored. Netflix and Hulu were a snap but Itunes was giving me fits. I realize today that I probably need to update to the newest version…whenever it’s outdated it gives me trouble trying to get to the most simple screen.
I ended up changing it on my phone, but not before damn near overturning my desk and everything on it from sheer anger. I wasted way to much time and put myself in a crap of a mood for no good reason. I just needed to walk away.
That is not an easy thing for a person as stubborn as me to do. So I ended up going bed in an upset state, sleeping poorly and having horrible rage filled dreams.
I just need to NOT.
To give myself some time and walk away when things start to get even the slightest bit difficult. It’s not a permanent thing. In a couple of weeks everything should start evening out and I can go back to being hard on myself if I have to.
Not now. Now is the time to practice self care. Time to crawl into bed and pull the covers over my head at 6:30 in the evening if I have to. This is not forever.
This will pass and life will get back to normal again. I just need to take it easy on myself until it does.
On that note, I will probably be journaling more to get this shit off my chest. It isn’t fair to my husband for him to be my only emotional punching bag right?
He’s being amazing. So great that every time he comes back with a supportive comment when I’m a seething bitch I feel horrible and dissolve into tears.
I mean, it would be easier if he was being a dick back…I’d at least feel justified.
I totally don’t mean that by the way.
I guess I should talk about the issues that he is going through right now.
About three or four months ago he started getting these random but pretty severe pains. They would travel from his shoulder for two days to his wrist for another two days to his knee to his elbow to his fingers and so on and so forth.
At first I was convinced it was due to the injectible cholesterol meds that his doc had put him on. He had been on them for a few months but one of the side effects was muscle pain. After much nagging on my part he got permission from his cardiologist to stop them for a couple of months to see. It seemed to get better for a small amount of time and then it got much worse.
When the pain traveled to his wrists and fingers he went to his GP, we suspected carpel tunnel and it was all but confirmed by the doc. He told him to get wrist braces and sent him for blood work.
The wrist braces helped a lot but he was still in a lot of pain and it would still move from one random body part to the other.
The blood work came back and the doc told him that he needed to go see a rheumatoid arthritis specialist and gave him a referral.
It took a week to get a hold of the specialist only to be told that he would have to fill out some forms to see if he would be accepted as a patient.
I’m sorry, what??
How does that even work? If you are in the business of helping people you shouldn’t be able to pick and choose who you help. I get it if your practice is full, but that wasn’t the case.
Three weeks later he was rejected as a patient with no reason given.
It turns out that getting into this kind of specialist in our area is not an easy task. It has been almost three months and he still hasn’t been able to get in to anyone yet. The man is in agony 70% of the time but apparently that isn’t a big deal to anyone by he and I.
He is missing work and when he IS at work he is so far behind on his load because he is in too much pain to get it all done.
He is popping Advil like candy and now I’m working about his stomach lining and kidneys because of it.
The worst part of it is because he can’t get seen, there is no light at the end of the tunnel. He is just in pain all the time and knows that there is no end in sight.
It’s really putting a strain on everything. His patience is gone and I don’t blame him. He’s gotten better, but he can still be quite snappy when his pain is severe. It’s in my nature to want to try and help and it aggravates him when I keep asking if he is okay or how I can help.
It bothers me a lot to see him in pain all the time and know there is nothing I can do at all to make it go away or even alleviate it a little.
I just want to make everything better for him.
I guess that is what he wants to do for me with my withdrawals too.
Our household is a hot mess right now, but we will get through it.
We will celebrate 19 years married and 20 years together on the 26th of this month.
I love that man with everything I have.
Today marks 9 days off of my antidepressant Celexa or rather it’s generic Citalopram.
As stated in previous entries, I have been on this drug for over 20 years…possible 25. It’s been so long that I don’t even remember but I know it was before I met my husband and that was 20 years ago this month.
When I first embarked on this journey, I didn’t think it would take over a year. And truth be told I wasn’t even sure the goal was to get off them completely.
The question I was asked most often when I tell people I am getting off my meds is: “What makes you think you should get off of them?”
The simple answer is that I don’t think that they are working like they did when I first got on them.
The more complicated answer is that ever since I found out how my body has become dependent on them, I have felt the need to not take them.
It’s not an addiction as such. When I smoked, and I quit or was forced to be without cigs for any length of time, I would CRAVE a smoke. I would NEED a smoke. When I couldn’t have one, I would become irritable.
My body does not CRAVE the antidepressant in that way. I never once sat here and thought “Man, I just gotta take that pill. I NEED to take that pill!” What I do have is the mental and physical withdrawals from the medicine that my body had gotten used to after 20 + years of taking it.
As the chemicals in my brain have to learn to function on their own for the first time in two decades, they are letting me know their displeasure.
The symptoms are not really any different than when I had been reducing each dosage in my tapering.
I started this journey at the max dosage of 40mg. On July 12 2018 I took the first step by reducing my dosage to 30mg.
Per my doctor 6 weeks was a good amount for a taper. She said that if anything were to go wrong, it would be during that time frame.
I honestly don’t remember how severe the symptoms were at that point because I wasn’t logging them, but I know I stayed on that dosage for seven weeks just to be safe.
On August 30th I reduced the dosage yet again, this time to 20mg. Again, I didn’t log my symptoms but I know my anxiety was really high on this taper and I stayed on it for 9 weeks before reducing to 10mg on November 1st.
This is the taper I started keeping notes on and talked about them all in a previous entry. Mostly it was like PMS on steroids. Angry and filled with rage followed by uncontrollable sobbing and tears.
Other more minor issues were stomach discomfort, feeling tired, a general feeling of disconnect, some dizziness and just a overall feeling of Meh.
Read the other entry for more in depth details on the symptoms.
Due to a very high stress environment and my anxiety, I stayed at the 10mg taper the longest.
This brings up the question: “Kelz, if you were feeling very stressed and anxious, how do you know it wasn’t being on a reduced dosage that was causing these feelings?”
The answer is that I don’t for sure know that…however I can tell you that there were circumstances that made my life very stressful during that time. If those factors had not been in my life, I am positive that I wouldn’t have felt nearly as bad.
I knew that my withdrawals typically lasted for 3 weeks at their worst and there just never seemed to be a good time to start another taper knowing everything that was on the horizon with me.
I said before that when I first started this, I didn’t know if I wanted to come off the meds completely or just reduce my dosage, but at this point I wanted off! Knowing what my body and mind was going through coming off these pills made me hate the fact that I was even on them in the first place.
Don’t get me wrong, they helped me when I was first put on them. A lot. But at no point was it ever explained to me by any of the many doctors that prescribed these to me over the years that I could ever get off the meds. Nor was I told that the mindfuck that happened to me when I forgot to take a pill or two was withdrawals from the meds. I just thought that it meant I clearly needed to be on these pills. If that was what my personality was like without them, I must need them. Never knowing that it was a temporary thing and it would eventually go away.
Now that I had that knowledge and was quite frankly pissed off that I could have been medication free for years had I known, I was determined to get off the stuff.
I attempted to taper down to 5mg after 12 weeks but after two days and an increase in a stressful environment I went back up to 10 and stayed there for another 21 weeks.
Eventually, I knew there was a 2 week break coming from my major source of stress so I started the 5mg taper on June 24th of this year (2019).
I’m not sure if it was because the dosage reduction was half of what it normally was or the fact that I had been on the last taper so long, but I didn’t feel like the withdrawals were as bad this time around. I was also very gentle with myself and after the first week took a weekend to myself in a hotel room just for the sole purpose of relaxing.
I did have rage, tears, all of that but I felt like it was on a much smaller scale and lasted less of a time than the other tapers.
After six weeks on that taper, on August 5th 2019 I stopped taking my meds altogether.
The first part of the week was fine. Great, in fact. I think it had a lot to do with how proud I was of myself for finally getting off the pills.
On Day 5 I felt my emotions let go and I spewed forth with all the anger and crying for no reason.
This weekend was pretty bad with me crying a lot without knowing why other than it was the damn withdrawals.
Yesterday was pretty good and today hasn’t been that bad…I’m hoping I’m over the worst of it right now but I’m not going to hold my breath.
The things I’ve noticed most the last day and a half is that I am totally scatterbrained. Like total ditz mode and it is really bothering me because I am so NOT that way.
The one great and shining light in all of this is my husband. He has been beyond supportive and he is going through his own personal hell right now. He hasn’t been officially diagnosed because he can’t get into a damn specialist, but they think he has rheumatoid arthritis. He has been in pretty severe pain every day for the last ten or so weeks.
I will blog about that later, because that is a whole ‘nother ball of wax. The reason I mention it is because even when he is in agony, he has been an amazing source of support for me during this tapering thing.
He has never liked the idea of me being on the medication in the first place and when we first got together he tried to get me to consider getting off of them. I did for a week or so but of course had the withdrawals and went right back on. I didn’t know that was what it was, I just assumed my depression was raging again without the meds so I MUST still need to be on them…so many years and money wasted on these damn things.
So needless to say he has been my biggest cheerleader during the last year. That is saying a lot when you consider that he is the one that gets the brunt of all my anger and tears when they show up.
This weekend as he was holding me while I was sobbing he told me: “You are doing a great job…you don’t think you are, but you are doing amazing.” and that meant so effing much to me. Of course it made me cry even harder, but that isn’t the point.
He is being so beyond fantastic with me when I am snapping at him for no reason. Especially when he’s in pain and is being snappy himself. I cannot praise him enough right now.
So what have I been doing in place of the meds?
I do a half a tincture of CBD oil every morning upon waking. I will usually skip this if it’s a weekend and I know I’m not leaving the house.
I do one 200mg of L-Theanine in the morning and one before bed. <—I’m going to do a seperate blog about this amazing supplement a little alter.
The electrolytes and Min-Tran are as needed.
ETA: Tonight the rage and tears have come back. I cry even more because I wonder if I will ever feel normal again, but I think that every single taper…
Please see my previous entry for the background on this one.
So it turns out that the 10 mg taper has been a lot more difficult than my prior two tapers. I have been a roaring bitch for most of the last two and a half weeks. Also, crying. Weepy for no reason whatsoever out of the blue.
While this was felt to varying degrees on the previous tapers, it feels like it was mild compared to my current situation.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m fully functioning. I haven’t missed any work and I’ve even been doing a bit of evening socializing(something I rarely do), but I never know when the bitch switch is going to flip so I would prefer to just curl up in bed with a book.
Now some of this could be due to the time change and the fact that it feels like midnight when I get home from work at night. That alone makes me feel like I’m not doing anything for myself as I only have about an hour or two at night after work before I retire to bed.
The reason I even entertain that is the fact that I took myself shopping on Saturday. I let myself spend a leisurly four hours at the mall. I got some Starbucks, I got a haircut and I got a bunch of new clothes. On Sunday I did practically nothing. I laid in bed and read and played games on my phone. After the weekend, I felt recharged.
I’m still irritable and weepy and I am absolutely dreading when PMS is going to hit this weekend, but I feel better I think than I have the last two weeks.
Having said that, I give you the notes that I have made for my symptoms on this taper:
Flushing – my face has been red and warm for no real reason. (more towards the beginning of the taper) My face tends towards rosacea anyway, but this is noticable when there are no trigger factors involved.
Meh – I had two or three days where I just didn’t feel anything. No anger, no sadness, no happiness. I was basically just putting one foot in front of the other and going through the motions.
Stomach – I’ve had some random stomach issues. Some gastritis, also weird random stomach pains. Not often but a few times. Could be completely unrelated, but I was noting everything that I was feeling.
Disconnected – This kind of goes along with the Meh one. I’m not even sure how to describe it other than I just felt disconnected from things around me. I had no real interaction with things or people and when I had to I was completely faking it.
Heart palpitations – To be fair, I have had these ongoing for a while now because of the Keto diet and my magnesium deficiency, but I felt they have been elevated since I started tapering from the Celexa. Of course like a lot of these symptoms, I never associated them with the withdrawal until recently.
Dizziness – This has been rare and so slight when it happens, that I hesitate to mention it at all. However, I said I would document everything so last week I did have a couple of episodes where I felt a little dizzy upon standing.
Tired – SO TIRED. Again this could be the time change, but I’m just really tired all the time. I take the magnesium and CBD oil to get to sleep and once I’m there I get a really restful sleep, I just still feel tired the next day. It seems to be better this week, but last week was almost unbearable. Just pure physical and mental exaustion.
Emotional (Cranky and Weepy) – This has been the worst so far. It is also the very thing that kept me on the antidepressant for so long. Whenever I would accidently miss a dose I would be hit with such waves of rage and misdirected anger the day after that I just assumed the drug was clearly needed. It never occured to me that it could just be a withdrawal symptom.
I’ve been out of control cranky this taper – but I’ve been warning all my co-workers and my husband and they seem to be taking it okay. My husband has been beyond supportive of my efforts to get off the Celexa. He’s just been amazing and I can’t be thankful enough for this fact.
I get ragey mad over stupid little things like not being able to find my pen on my desk or getting my ring caught in my hair. And then I cry because I know I’m out of control and I think I will never be normal again.
I cry when my husband is supportive. I cry when my dog puts her chin on my arm. I cry when my Amazon order doesn’t come on time. I’m a hot mess.
Eating the world – I have wanted to do nothing but eat of control the last couple of weeks. I’m trying really hard to stay on my diet, but even when I do I’m over eating. Constantly grazing and snacking and eating full meals and not getting full. And then when I am full, having to physically restrain myself from eating more because I just want to stuff my damn face. So much for losing the weight the Celexa makes you gain…
Restless legs – I have never had RLS before and when I started getting it a few weeks ago, I didn’t associate it with the taper. I just figured that it was because I was so tired and well, life after 40 is full of tricky little suprises so this must just be the latest fun thing happening to me. And that could still be the truth, but here I am documenting just in case. I have been using a magnesium spray on my legs at night when I get it and it hasn’t been that bad, but it is there nonetheless.
Neck/Jaw stiffness – I have TMJ and I have for all of my adult life. It has never caused me any real pain, just an annoying click every time I open or close my jaw. It’s one of those things that I figured I would get around to correcting “sometime” but it was never a really high priority.
This is another thing that has been happening that I never associated with the withdrawal. I just figured my TMJ was starting to progress and that could be the case, but I’ve been having a some more ear pains and neck/jaw stiffness lately.
Vivid/Strange Dreams – Holy cow, have my dreams been incredibly lucid and real. Especially if I have had any amount of alcohol in my body. I had wine the other night with my friend at dinner and I woke up in a full on panic at the climax of a strange dream where I was running away from something. My heart was hammering.
My dreams without alcohol are still vivid and freaky, but haven’t seemed as anxious and hard to wake up.
The regular dreams are full of espionage and aliens taking over the planet, and they seem so REAL!!
I’m just shocked and amazed that coming off of Celexa can have this amount of withdrawal symptoms and no one ever told me. It’s a shame. People tout the wonders of going on antidepressants, but never tell you the bad stuff when coming off of them.