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I've been on lithium 150 mg 2x a day for 2 days. I saw the pdoc yesterday and she mentioned either lithium or abilify. At the time, like a dumbass, I went with the strongest thing and said lithium would be okay. That was before I realized the umpteen million lab tests i would need done and the fact that I have no one to watch my kids so I cannot go get these tests done regularly at all.

So I called the nurse and told her I'd rather just go with the abilify instead. She said she'd talk to the doctor and call me back. They told me to come back in next week, they don't want to make med changes without seeing me and in the meantime just take the Paxil and Zyprexa (which I'm almost out of) instead.

WHAT? I was just there YESTERDAY! Have I morphed into some strange animal since yesterday? Obviously this is a ploy to make more money off my insurance company.

I've had it with these "no med changes unless you come in" crappy phone calls. I'm taking myself off of everything and giving up. Nothing is working anyway and they told me that they were coming to the end of the line with meds to help my depression anyway. Screw it. It just numbs the feelings anyway and once the pills are gone, you are stuck with the same feelings. Might as well deal with them now instead of later.

I don't have ANYONE to watch my kids so I can go to all these appointments and I have reiterated that five million times to them. GRRRRR!

Not only that but I strictly tell them EVERY SINGLE TIME that I cannot gain anymore weight. I am deathly obese right now and cannot afford to have a heart attack and not be here for my kids and these meds are KILLING ME. I refuse to keep getting fatter while these pills do absolutely NOTHING for me! I've been on Paxil for over 10 years and guess what? I'm STILL DEPRESSED AS EVER. I've tried all the other SSRIs. I've tried the Effexors, Seroquels, Lexapros, all of it... nothing. nothing. nothing.

I'm just one of those people whose depression is untreatable. I have to accept that and figure out other ways to deal with it. This just sucks royally.

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that all sounds so frustrating! it must really suck having docs that don't listen to your life needs (ie can't do all the appointments due to kids). it doesn't make sense they can't at least make some changes over the phone. mine is way more understanding than that. she even let me email her about meds while i was overseas! (although that was just regarding advice to stop my meds, not actually change me to something else).

i personally find it's good to have a med break sometimes, so you can uncover what the real symptoms are, and start afresh and just treat what really needs to be treated since meds can cause so many symtoms of depression anyway. but i've had lots of horrible reactions to meds, and have always been worse on them than off. i also have a very strong support network of therapists, doctors and family, and a lot of other strategies in place to help get me through (all the boring annoying stuff - exercise, healthy eating, sleep routine, meditation, mindfulness and so on). have you tried much of this stuff?

so, do you really think you want to try a break from meds, or is this just a pissed of, frustrated, slightly irrational response to your doctor being a pain in the ass? if you do decide to stop make sure you're really really careful about how you do it. ssri withdrawals suck SERIOUS ass!!! the worst week of my life was coming off them. horrific!

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honestly, I know I'm in for hell but the more I think about it, the more sure i am. For one thing, I've been on this stuff since I was 17 and I'm 30 now. In that time, I've felt more miserable than I've ever felt in my life. I want to know what it feels like to be med-free for at least a month. And over the summer, I was on 13, yes, 13, different medications for my depression over a period of 3-4 months... who knows whats lingering in there!

I have been looking up coping mechanisms... exercise, journaling, talking to friends, distracting myself, things like that... things that I should be doing anyway, that I know will help. I just went through my little mini-crisis and talking to friends helped me so much and it is something that I never really did before. Here it is 3 days later and I don't even think about the fact that 3 days ago I was incredibly hysterical! lol

I did think they had me diagnosed as bipolar but now in reading that the diagnosis is still just major depression, I feel like i need to find ways to cope. If I do go off and feel like garbage, then, hey, at least I tried.

I know I'm in for hell. First of all, I have to wean off the lithium, then the Paxil, and I figure I'll do the benzos last... the Xanax. Cuz that may get me through the Paxil withdrawal, which is going to be hell on earth. Weaning off of Cymbalta, I thought I was going to die.

I'm prepared for it though. I'm positive and remaining positive about the whole thing. If not and I end up vacationing at the lithium baths, then so be it. LOL

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if you've decided to try going off meds, it's always up to you. the order in which you plan to take them away kinda makes sense to me (especially the benzos last, and slowly).

but please, please see a doctor often while you're doing this. please!

i want very badly for you to find the answers to what you really need. keep posting.

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DO see a doctor and go over the plan with them. This way you have a safety net and someone to check in with while you are doing this.

I don't ever advocate going off meds, but I guess if you have to do it and you want to see what happens, I can understand that. I've wanted to do it before.

Is there a chance the Xanax might be contributing to the depression at all? I know benzodiazepines can do that. You may want to consider that possibility.

Would you consider starting fresh again after a little while with medication again?

It sounds like you are being reasonable about this and thinking it through. I wish you all the luck in the world. Remember we're here for you for support.


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Thanks for your replies. Yes, if I start to feel miserable without the meds, you can best believe I'd be amenable to going back on them, I'm no dummy. But, for instance, today I slept until 5 pm. When you have 2 children that are 3 and 1, you can't DO that. You can't. I NEED energy and when I suggested Provigil or Wellbutrin, I got rebuffed and told it was my working hours that needed changing.. well duh but in the real world I can't just demand that.

I go to a county hospital that isn't exactly sensitive to it's patients needs. The University hospital where I would like to go actually has a waiting list to see a psychiatrist because they are so full and I'm on it and they'll "call me when something opens up." So as for finding a new pdoc, of course I"m working on that. However, the pdoc I was seeing is actually a professor in psychiatry at that very university and named a top doc here in my city for psychiatry. I despise her and she's awful. She told me to go to the ER because I was sleepless. They were PISSED when I got there and told them she referred me there for that 'behavioral emergency' and asked why she couldn't just prescribe something over the phone.

So, actually, I trust myself more than I trust the healthcare system right now. People have always said my drug is my problem. Who knows, maybe they are right. When the side effects are 'weight gain' 'fatigue' 'anxiety' or 'depression' then what exactly are we treating? I feel like quite possibly this stuff is making me sick.

Who knows, maybe I'm paranoid right now and belong inpatient but I'm just at the end of my rope, tired of trying med after med with no answers, and being fat and tired! Something has gotta give!

I will keep you updated. Thanks, Lysergia, for being so incredibly sweet to me on here all the time!

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Luna -

You know I've considered that possibility and now am wondering if weaning off of the benzos first may be a better thing to do just to see... but it's kind of a catch-22, you know? Cuz the Paxil withdrawal is going to be hell on earth!

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well i can't help but think if you've been 13 years on meds and still feeling like shit, that having a break from meds isn't really just throwing your hands in the air and "giving up". simple fact is some docs do overmedicate - especially if they're throwing 13 different meds at you in 3-4 months!! and sometimes you can't know what meds you should be taking if you don't know what your real symptoms are, because, like i said, many of the side effects are depression, anxiety, insomnia, psychosis, mania and so on.

it was actually my pdoc that made me have a med holiday (i'd been thinking it was a good idea and was happy when she agreed). i had two other docs saying 'no no no, you can't be free from meds when you have such a serious mental illness', but my pdoc, who i think is really very smart with meds, said 'you've put up with feeling crappy for this long, you'll manage a little longer, and we need to see what is really going on here'. she said it takes at least a month for everything to really clear out of your system, and made me have about a 3 month break. i kept mood diaries the whole time so we could really track my symptoms. that way, we hope to find the minimum amount of meds needed, with minimum side effects.

but i really do think it's a much better idea to talk to a doctor about how to ween of these meds and what order to do it in, rather than do it alone. you really do need someone to talk to and keep an eye on you. it's pretty serious shit to just fuck around with. just be careful, sensible and patient.

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thanks, I agree. I've been medicated on one thing or another since I was 17 years old and I'm 30 now. I don't even know HOW I'd feel off of meds because I've never been off of them! I'd like to know what the symptoms really are too.

I mean, I literally have a huge bag full of 'samples' of things they gave me to try over the summer. You name it, I've got it. Here's a little sample:



















That's just a sample of what I've been on over the past summer. I mean COME ON! I think the worst was the Effexor withdrawal and Cymbalta just made me homicidal. No thanks!

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As far as the lithium goes, the blood tests are really quick and easy. It's literally 10 minutes from the time you walk in there til the time you walk out - they're just sucking a vial of blood out of you. It really is no big deal. The tests would be more frequent while you're finding a dose that's ideal for you, but thereafter they just need to happen approx once every three months or so.

That said, I completely understand the impulse of wanting to go off your meds. It sounds like you've been through an exceptionally difficult time, and my jaw dropped open when I saw the list of drugs that have been thrown at you. Obviously you need to have a pdoc who's prepared to listen and consider your case carefully rather than fling more meds at you. As has already been said in this thread, psych meds need to be given a decent trial period before being tossed out and switching to a new one, and it certainly doesn't sound as though you've been guided to do that. I've regularly been told by my own pdoc that I am a "difficult case" because it's been so hard for them to find a med combo that works. I still haven't reached that point, but at least I pretty much have faith that I'm in good hands. I do despair like you are doing now, and want to throw up my hands and say "fuckit", but I'm too scared to find out what would happen if I did.

I agree with Luna in saying that if you do go ahead with this, it should be according to a fixed plan with a pdoc you trust. That really is the ideal in this kind of situation, so my advice would be to stall complete med withdrawal until you've located such a doc.

Many, many of us here understand the kind of thoughts you're having - we're just concerned about you not having a safety net. Keep talking to us!

best wishes,


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FWIW, I never had withdrawal symptoms from being pulled off of Paxil cold turkey. Nor did I suffer withdrawals from any other meds. But maybe I'm just a freak. Not everyone goes through withdrawal symptoms. (Paxil was at 60 mg a day and I was on it for 6 months at that dose)

Having typed that, I still agree with what the others have written regarding not dropping off your meds without help if that's possible. But that's only my opinion.

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Well I started to wonder about the Xanax giving me more depression so I started to wean that and last night dropped down to 1.5 mg instead of 2 mg and, naturally, couldn't fall asleep but fought through it and finally fell asleep around 4 a.m. I still took 150 mg of lithium, 20 mg of Paxil. Tonight I remove the lithium altogether and do 1.5 mg of Xanax again.

I've been more tired than ever since starting the lithium and literally sleep 10-12 hours a day. I slept until 5 o'clock this evening after falling asleep last night. My house was a mess from the kids tearing it up. They were literally jumping on top of me to wake me up and I barely budged. If anything I'm hoping coming off some of this will give me more energy to deal with my kids.

That said, I'm in a black hole of depression right now and AM very terrified about what I'm doing. The past 2 nights I've felt like going to the hospital and here I am trying to self wean off this stuff. Smart? Probably not. But I don't know if I could feel any worse. I am going to call the pdoc tomorrow morning and tell them that I've decided to self-wean because I can't afford to keep coming in. That'll light a fire under their asses. We'll see what happens.

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if you're used to using meds to help you sleep you're likely to have a few unquiet nights while you get used to having to fall asleep yourself. not to mention just the withdrawal shit. argh, i remember that. my first few nights were horrible.

you could try being mindful of sleep hygiene for the next few weeks - in particular getting up at the same time each day no matter how much you absolutely hate the thought of it - even if it means just staring at the loungeroom wall for a couple of hours feeling depressed as shit. after a few days you'll start falling asleep on your own.

well, at least, that worked for me.

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I gave in. I tossed and turned again and couldn't sleep so I woke up around 3 a.m. and took another mg of Xanax. I couldn't wake up this morning to save my life.

On the other hand, I decided to give lithium a shot after reading that Unquiet Mind book. lol! I went and had baseline labs drawn and will go back in 2 weeks and have a lithium level done... hopefully that will be enough for awhile.

I don't doubt the Xanax is contributing to my depression and that it is the offender making me extra tired in the morning. I just gotta get myself off the stuff at night. I have some Klonopin and wonder if I should take that an hour before bed instead of taking the Xanax to wean myself off or if I'll get the same effect in the morning.

But yeah, I decided to for now wean the Xanax and hopefully when I go back to the pdoc, talk about weaning off the Paxil and just being on lithium. We'll see...

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That's a shit load of meds! I can understand why you're wanting to come off them. I'd be wondering if they were helping or a hindrance after that many and what it was like to be me - who was me?

Anyway as people have said it is best to get advice from your pdoc and maybe this time they'll sit up and take notice of you.

Here's hoping you get some balance back in your life


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Yeah I have a Wal-Mart bag full of the 'samples' they had me on over the past summer. I plan on taking the bag in with me next time if I don't feel any better and asking where we go next. Once they see that bag full of meds.... maybe that'll make them see that yeah, something is wrong here.

But it's so crazy because the new pdoc would say, "well what about Lexapro?" "what about Seroquel?" I felt like saying "have you even looked at my CHART?" Done it, done it, done it. Then she says we are coming to the end of the line with meds. When I tell her that's depressing, she says "no no there are other options." ?? Well which is it?!

Anyway, this unrelenting, black hole of hellish depression does not let up. I feel like my life is an endless downward spiral of the same old shit different day and it's a miserable way to feel. But people have to understand, my mom died, my sister died, and my husband left me all within 2-3 years of each other. I think anyone would be depressed. It's situational. What the hell to do, ya know?

So many nights I lay awake in bed and wonder if I should voluntarily lock myself up for awhile, get stable... God that would be nice. The idea of stability feels like a freakin dream.

Damn Lamictal for not working for me.

And why not give me Topamax so I can at least lose some freakin weight? Wellbutrin? Nope, too activating for my anxiety. Well then give me something to COUNTERACT it! But I can't do the weight gain thing anymore. That's making me more depressed than everything else combined. I've gained 80 pounds since last May when I started this rollercoaster. That's a lot of weight!

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But oh yeah.... I do wonder who ME is. That's another reason why a med holiday seems so interesting to me... who will I find beneath the med induced haze? The real me? Maybe the real me isn't so bad? If this lithium shit doesn't kick in by the time I go back with some sort of difference, I'm gonna introduce the med holiday idea and see how it goes.

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