Life After Effexor…

It’s amazing the number of visitors that I continue to get to my old post about Effexor–and I know why.  Scores of people  are taking this medication, want to get off of it, but are finding it very difficult.  I can’t begin to tell you how many letters and blogs that I’ve read, written by people trying to rid their lives of Effexor.  If you are one of those people, believe me…I feel your pain!  Because of this, I have decided to share a second post about my experience with Effexor, and my life without it.

I was prescribed Effexor by my rheumatologist about eight years ago–not for depression, but to help in my treatment of fibromyalgia and a “rheumatoid arthritis-like” disease.  Antidepressants can help a person deal with chronic pain more easily, although my doctor actually didn’t present the idea to me in that way…he suggested it might help me lose a little weight…   Little did I know that Effexor is the most addictive antidepressant on the market today! 

In February of this year, after contemplating it,  and discussing it with the doctor,  I made the decision to stop taking Effexor.  I never was  depressed, didn’t have much chronic pain anymore,  hadn’t lost any weight,  and I just  figured eight years  was long enough!  I had begun to question what the medication may be doing to  my body.  Effexor also kills your sex drive, and I was tired of feeling that way. 

I tapered off the drug very slowly, as recommended,  and I took my last dose of Effexor(a half a tablet) a week before Easter.   I didn’t think it would be any big deal to stop taking it…Boy was I wrong!

  By Easter, I was a basket case.  I could not sleep at all.  My emotions were out of control, my stomach was upset, I couldn’t stand  any noise, and my head never stopped aching.  I thought I was going insane.  I had to wear sunglasses inside the house because my eyes were so sensitive to light.  Sometimes I would lay on the couch while these horrible shooting pains went through my body in waves.  Although I’d never been depressed, I became depressed.  I spent the entire month of April in that condition.  It was a living hell…

Even though my head ached, I spent hours on the computer searching for answers.  I was desperate to find a remedy for the withdrawal symptoms that were plaguing me.  I finally found my answer on a site http://www.theroadback.org    I highly recommend this site for anyone suffering from Effexor withdrawal!

Their program uses Omega 3 fish oil capsules, Vitamin E, Biotin, and calming veggie capsules (Montmorency cherry powder)  to relieve the withdrawal symptoms.  There is a link to order these supplements on the site.  The site has directions for taking the supplements and tapering off your prescription drugs.  I was desperate, and didn’t wait to order the Omega 3 fish oil.  I sent my daughter to the  store for some the day I discovered the site.  I already had some Vitamin E.  I ordered the Biotin(didn’t know the drugstore carried it) and the Body Calm capsules.  They arrived in less than a week.

The fish oil brought some immediate relief , but it took  about two weeks of taking all of the supplements to get total relief.  It was a gradual process.  My eyes got less sensitive, I got calmer, and the headaches were less intense.  I’ve been on the supplements for six weeks, and I am doing great!  I have been symptom free for over a month.  I am as good as new!  It’s recommended to take the supplements for 45 days after experiencing the last symptoms, so I have about 2 weeks to go before finishing the program.

Who would have ever thought that fish oil would stop withdrawal headaches?   I had to take the maximum dosage of 4 capsules, twice a day to get total relief, but what a great feeling it was to get relief!  That was a pain that nothing else would even touch!  I hope I never experience anything like that again.

I’m so happy to be free of Effexor, and feeling like myself again.  I have my life back again!   If you have never taken Effexor, please think twice about it before you start…For any of you who take Effexor, and are  happy with it, just tuck this information away in the back of your mind in case you ever need it…you never know.

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Published in: on June 16, 2010 at 10:44 am  Comments (14)  
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This Bear Looks Like I’ve Been Feeling Lately…

"I've fallen...and I can't get up"

 

When I made up my bed this morning–for the first time in a week, I might add–I carelessly threw my giant old teddy bear on the bed.  As a result, he just sprawled out on the bed.  I looked at him and thought–that old bear looks just like I feel! 

It’s now the fourth week since I stopped taking that Effexor.  I can’t believe that I am still trying to get back to normal after taking that crap.  Just when I think things are getting normal(maybe for a couple of days…) wham!  Something else pops up!  This is “I hate everything week”!  The least little thing makes me mad.  Things that I normally shrug off, are getting under my skin!  The best way I can describe it is “It feels like a HUGE hormone imbalance.”  I know most ladies understand that term… no fun! 

I’ve been trying to stay busy doing all sorts of projects around the house…anything to keep my mind off how crappy my body is feeling.  Some days keeping busy works–some days it doesn’t.  On Friday, I stayed busy and felt pretty good.  Saturday was good also, but I should’ve known that things were about to go downhill again on Saturday night when I didn’t sleep well… 

Sunday morning I woke up with another of those horrible migraine headaches, plus I was nauseated.  Now bear in mind, I NEVER had a migraine before taking Effexor…Since getting off, I’ve had at least a half a dozen of the awful things.  I didn’t make it to church, obviously, and I wasn’t even able to finish cooking lunch.  I spent the entire afternoon on the couch–in the dark– with a blinding headache, and pains shooting through my entire body.  What a day! 

Monday I woke up feeling lousy, and mad because I was feeling that way…again!  My husband had taken a vacation day off–a rare occasion–and I was feeling lousy!  I tried to busy myself in a few projects, but I just didn’t feel like doing much. I did manage to paint the bird bath, paint the back porch door,  and finish painting the front porch–in spite of feeling lousy.  

Meanwhile, instead of helping me get something accomplished, or better yet,  just spending  sometime with me, my hubby was working like some madman painting his “manhouse”–which has been unpainted for an entire year!  I was pissed off the entire day.  Now don’t get me wrong…I didn’t complain when he spent the entire day  Saturday painting that stupid “manhouse”, but I was not hoping for more if the same on Monday…I mean, it’s been unpainted for a year–what’s the rush?  Normally, I would’ve shrugged this off, but this week I was mad! 

I don’t know how much of what I am experiencing is due to Effexor withdrawal, and how much is due to the fibromyalgia…I suspect it’s a 50/50 thing.  I’m just ready to get back to feeling  normal and enjoy life again.   I have come to loathe the day that I ever heard the word Effexor.  I was normal before I took that crap, but at this point, I am beginning to wonder if I will ever feel normal again…  

The good news is this…I am getting a lot accomplished while trying to stay busy–in between migraine headaches, nightmares, body aches and sleepless nights–Here’s a picture of one of my projects.  Maybe something good is coming out of this misery… 

porch chairs...before

 

new tables, planters, and porch chairs…after

Yes, I painted those ugly brown chairs black!  My granddaughter, Madison had stepped on a rocker to one of them and broke it.  Ed repaired the rocker, so the chair had to be painted…The newly painted chairs looked lonely, so I decided to add some side tables and planters.  In addition, I painted the porch banisters,  the deck boards, and washed down the front of the house…Now you know why I feel like the Teddy Bear looks….Thanks for letting me vent.  I feel better now…I still have one more painting project awaiting my attention! 

Published in: on April 22, 2010 at 9:02 am  Comments (5)  
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Think Twice About Filling That Prescription…


Happy Friday, and welcome to Friday Follow AND My Friday Giveaway. I am doing dual duties this week, as I try to make more blogging friends. I love Friday Follow, and have met some great new friends. Please see the explanation of how to participate at the end of this post.

Before I begin my story, just know that I debated long and hard about writing it. It’s of a personal nature, and I like to keep some things private. Once it’s out in cyberspace, it’s there. However, I decided if my story can help just one poor soul from suffering my fate, then the story is worth telling.

My regular readers know that I suffer from a couple of chronic ailments.  One is a “rheumatoid arthritis” like disease, the other is a strange disease called fibromyalgia.  Both have been a part of my life for 16 years, and counting…

My rheumatologist is always on the “cutting edge” of new treatments for the diseases that he specializes in.  Thanks to his expertise, trial and error, and a lot of prayers,  he was able to find the correct medications to put my diseases in remission, for the most  part.  The down side of this scenario is having to try the different drugs to see what works to alleviate symptoms and improve quality of life.

About eight years ago–halfway through my journey with these diseases–a new drug called Effexor, came on the market.  I was doing fairly well at the time, but my rheumatologist thought I could be doing a bit better.  He suggested that I try this new drug.  He gave me some samples, told me to try it for a while and see how things went.

What happened was this… I began to feel  much better than I had been feeling!  I had more energy, I lost that “anxious feeling”,  and I was a happy, energetic person.  When I did have those bad days, I found that the pain didn’t bother me as much–I tolerated it better.  

I recently made the choice to stop taking Effexor–for good.  I’ve stopped taking it for brief periods of time before, but always go back on it because I’d end up feeling so crappy… I never got the connection until now… 

Times and circumstances have changed.  I no longer work, live a very low-key life style, and have no stressors. I was thinking–I’ll have one less prescription to pay for– one less drug going through my liver.  However, this time,  I got a little more than I bargained for in the process of getting off Effexor.

At my last appointment, I told Dr. M that I was planning to get off of the Effexor, and he said that it was fine.  He did say that I might experience more pain when I stopped taking it.  I asked what to do in case that happened, to which he replied “get back on it”.  That should’ve been a RED FLAG!

To say that I’ve experienced more pain since coming off would be an understatement!  Everything  has been hurting lately.  My head aches, my body is sore to the touch, my joints ache, I usually can’t  sleep at night.  Every noise still  seems to be magnified ten times.  My little granddaughter’s voice nearly sends me into orbit.  I’m as ill as a hornet–just ask my hubby, bless his heart…  I’m on an emotional roller coaster, and I want to get off!   My digestive system is messed up.  I could go on and on…I thought my arthritis and fibromyalgia were attacking me in full force, because a lot of the symptoms are the same–and I am sure some of this is the disease, but still…  After a few days, I decided to do some research, and…

 I googled withdrawal side effects of Effexor a list of over 75 different symptoms came up!  I nearly fell off my computer chair!  There are many articles about  how difficult it is to “get off” this drug.  There is even a website called “join-in-the-fun” (oh please…)which refers you to a book that someone has written as a guide on how to “get your life back” after discontinuing Effexor.  The site states that only one other drug is harder to discontinue than Effexor–that is Paxil–I can’t imagine!  I’ve been suffering withdrawl, and didn’t even realize what was happening!

Perhaps the most appalling thing that I found in my research was a petition with 22, 095 signatures demanding that the company that manufactures Effexor issue stronger warnings about the side effects of taking/discontinuing this drug That is twenty-two thousand, ninety-five people who have taken this drug, and had major side effects upon discontinuing use of this drug–myself included! 

It’s taken me two months to gradually wean off that medication.  I’ve been off of the medication for two weeks now, and although the smptoms are getting better, I am far from normal.  My prayer at this time is that I will ever be normal again.  I would NEVER tried Effexor had anyone warned me of these side effects of getting off of it.  Now I’d like to punch Dr. M for suggesting this drug in the first place…he and I are going to have a LONG talk in July!

 People beware, do your homework before filling that Effexor prescription…  and by the way, I never took the full recommended dosage of this medication– which was 150 mg per day…I found that I felt just great taking 112mg, so I never increased the dosage to the recommended amount.  I’ve since learned that some patients take as much as 400mg.  I can’t even begin to imagine the withdrawl torture from that amount…..

***Update…  After writing this post, I discovered a solution to the Effexor withdrawal symptoms.  I’ve written a post about it called “Life After Effexor”.   You can read about it at this link  http://www.edshunnybunny.wordpress.com/2010/06/16/life-after-effexor/

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Now that I have warned you of the pitfals of starting and discontinuing Effexor…Let’s get on with the cash giveaway!  I will be giving away $20.00 in cash on April 30.  To be eligible for the drawing, just leave me a comment telling me to enter your name or that you would like to win.  That’s it!  No limit to the amount of times that you can enter.  Come back tomorrow and enter again, Sunday, too if you like.  I don’t have a lot of entries, so your chances are good…

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog.  I hope you’ll come again soon, ya’ hear?

  

 

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Published in: on April 9, 2010 at 9:32 am  Comments (12)  
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