Following on from my last post which outlined our reason and wishes to withdraw from SSRI, in this post I am going to talk about the plan and how we came to it.
After much studying of the experiences of others who have withdrawn, it became clear that there could be serious issues if not done as slowly as possible, and indeed even if it is done extremely slowly, but the slower the better chance of success. Leaving at least a month before the next taper so that the brain and body can begin to reset and adjust. SSRIs come with a warning to never come off suddenly or quickly, though people have. I have to say that over the 6 months or so that I began delving into the withdrawal stories, it was very depressing and worrying to me. You could say that it is much harder to find the happy and successful stories. Possibly in part that those who have been lucky and stopped with little or no painful consequences are few and far between, or indeed that they have slipped on by without drama and did not feel the need to seek support or write about their experience. Its always the tough ones who sing from the roof tops I guess. Desperate voices asking and looking for help in lonely forums with others who are just as desperate at them. Its tough reading and as a Mother, one just wants to reach out, grab those souls and whisk them off to some kind of dream rehab withdrawal centre in nature, with all the natural and beautiful resources and love that one could find. Unfortunately its not like that and many are suffering alone. Many do not make it.
I also joined some support groups for those starting their SSRI journey’s. All full of hope that the magic pill will be a life turn around. And for some, it is. But from what I could see, those who were coming off, for the most part, had been on for a few years and the issues had crept in over time. I wondered how the enthusiastic ones would be in a few years time, further down the line, more tolerant, possibly with other issues that needed more drugs to combat the side effects that they or their GP probably weren’t linking as caused by the drug. None of these points have ever been discussed by our prescribers. Informed consent doesn’t really exist when one is not in full knowledge of the intricacies and possibilities of long term or short term use. Anyway, I digress.
Our plan was to firstly make sure that my girl was as mentally steady as possible. Having a steady base line has always been really hard for us, so turbulent are her moods and coping abilities. However, with great focus and the support of our natro and homeopath, we achieved good routines, level moods, strong coping abilities, good sleep schedule and lower OCD.
The second stage of the plan was how to cut the tablets in order to make minute cuts as we slowly taper, ensuring an even, accurate dose. It was advised that we switch to a liquid formula. Our brand is in tablet form, so they would have to be crushed and mixed in a suspension liquid. We have a close relationship with our pharmacy and with our Gps agreement, the mixture was formulated at the equivalent dose into ml. The next concern was whether there would be disruption in how the medicine will be absorbed given its different form. We do not know the answer to this, so on asking in the help groups, some reported that it had been difficult, others OK. We know that every body and genetic makeup is different so these are never going to be a one size fits all, something that perhaps people forget when they are told they have a chemical imbalance. With the uncertainty around absorption, we decided to stick with the 75mg / 7,5 ml for a month at least, to iron out any potential risks. The formula only lasts a month in the fridge, so if we need to go to plan b and ditch the liquid plan, we can go to shaving the tablets and weighing them on jewellery scales. It will be easier to administer in liquid form, so, I’m hoping we can proceed and we have a smooth transition.
We are on day 4 and so far, I can report no problems. If anything, she has been better than normal, expressing that she feels happier and more able with less OCD. Just for a rule of thumb, OCD takes up around 50% of her day at the moment with small intervals where its more in the background. It never really goes away, its like another record playing over the top of the main one if that makes sense.
I am diarizing everything and making notes of any changes, sensations, good and bad. Last night she told me she had been having heart palpations through out the day. They weren’t too bothersome and I do know that this is a common side effect. Perhaps the change over isnt hitting the mark? Maybe its a higher or lower hit of the drug? At this point, we can just observe. Food journal also helping to see if we can see any possible triggers in the coming days and weeks. Keeping a diary is not new for us. Though I do tend to only keep them when we are going through bad patches. Over the years they read back a tragic story of worry and heartache. I pray every day that this is our final diary and one of only good news, but we will just have to stay tuned into our real time online diary here to find out how we go. When we had the unknown brand change disaster, her symptoms were nose bleeds, nightmares, suicidal thoughts, rages, and OCD through the roof, off the charts, taking all day and up to 20 hours of rituals at a time. I finally got it recognised and recorded with our med safe agency here in New Zealand, but nothing is ever really done and I was passed from pillar to post when I tried to raise awareness and get answers. Closed doors and denial at every turn. I pray we never have to experience those side effects ever again. I learned a long time ago though, that one has to take full responsibility for ones own health.
As we move through this journey, the plan is to taper over about 7 months to a year and hold each month until settled. With only a years supply, we are limited, but this gives us a bit of a buffer should we need it. We will have to be fluid and adapt as we go along. This will be done with weekly updates to our naturopath and homeopath who work alongside each other too. We also have supplements and remedies to help the changes that will occur with the serotonin and other neurotransmitter adjustments. For anyone interested in more of the science and biology, there are some good videos on Youtube, but I’m not going to cover that side of things in my post, or give any details of our personal supplements as it will be different for everyone, so, seeking out professional help, by people who have had experience and success helping others, is what I would advise. This is our personal journey and opinion, each person will be different and I am sorry if my position offends anyone and they wish to not continue following. Likewise, if you find my blog helpful, so sign up for email notifications.
I will check in a again in a week to update. Thanks for reading.