Psychiatric drug withdrawal, again!

Well this constant talk of my withdrawals might be getting old, but it’s really central to my existence right now. I’m down to 3/16th of a mg of Risperdal. Tonight I will be on 1/8th of a mg. I guess that means I will be off of it in three days cutting it down my 1/16 of a mg a day. WOW! This will be amazing. I started Risperdal in 1992 or 1993. Before that I was on Thorazine since sometime in the 80’s. I will be neuroleptic free for the fist time in almost 20 years. It’s mind boggling and the fact that it’s looking like I’m actually going to get there without losing it really makes me want to sue my doctor! 11 mg of Risperdal down to nothing—what the heck? And it’s been a hell of a time getting off it and apparently I don’t need it!! What a crock.

I’ve cut down faster than I was going to. The fallout has been sleeping every other night. One night I sleep only 2 – 3 hours, but the next night in my exhaustion I sleep 9 or 10. I panic each time I only get a couple of hours as I’m afraid that it will become a pattern and I could have a “relapse.” Though it’s clear now that any “relapse” would only be a symptom of withdrawal. I guess I would just up my dose and wait a bit. So I shouldn’t worry.

John Breeding in a piece I post of his says fear is one of the major things one must deal with preferably before withdrawal begins. But it makes sense that you might revisit it the whole time you’re withdrawing:

I would venture to say that fear is the one greatest obstacle to successful withdrawal from psychiatric drugs. There is the fear of losing control, of going mad, that they might be right about me, that I’ll lose my job, that I won’t be able to function, that I’ll end up back in the hospital, etc. This list goes on and on; the fear is enormous. My strong recommendation is that, if at all possible, you counsel extensively on your fear as a first step in making and acting on the decision to withdraw from psychiatric drugs. The next few paragraphs will help clarify why I so strongly advise you to do this.

It’s good for me to look over that entire essay from time to time. It’s good advice all around about the psychological dimensions one must go through in withdrawal.

The reason I say the withdrawal is central to my existence is because I have no life. My chronic fatigue and intermittent sleeping leave me unreliable so I don’t make plans. God I want this to be over. Most of the time I’m on the internet and I’ve become isolated from real people. I want to get out and be with people–I’m incredibly social by nature. I want this to be over so that I can reliably make commitments again.

Right now I’m hoping it will be another 6 months to be off the drugs. Then I imagine it will be at least a year or two to truly recover, but hopefully I can start having a life in that time.

16 thoughts on “Psychiatric drug withdrawal, again!

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  1. I have been on respirdal for a short time and in the process
    of weaning off.I have started neurontin which seems to be
    helping somewhat .I didt know when i started weaning off
    that it would be that difficult.I experienced a bunch of side effects that were mild and 1 shaking episode which lasted for a short time with some nervousness,muscle stiffness and weakness.I almost called 911 for some medical help and instead took my neurontin which did help me through the
    episode.Now that I know how potent respirdal is, it is not
    a good idea to taper or stop too fast.1 reason I took this med was to help me get off the klonopin then I started to have too many side effects.Its not easy to cope without the meds or
    even with them due to being med sensitive.

  2. I can’t say I was entirely unemotional no….but the full range of emotion was blunted and certainly I have not felt passion like I used to before I was on meds. I think your desire to get your feelings back is very healthy. The only thing is if you choose to go off of Risperdal you have to do it carefully, preferably with help from someone professional. The trick to that is many doctors don’t know the first thing about withdrawal and if they agree to help you, they may encourage you to go much too quickly.

    As I found out going off the last mg of Risperdal I’m on is not easy. It could take you a few months to do it safely. The general recommendation is cutting 10% of each new current dose every two weeks, but slowing down if need be. The longer one has been on a neuroleptic the longer it might take.

    That being said we are all different.

    For dietary and lifestyle suggestions that can help with withdrawal see my “About” page at the top of the blog.

  3. Did Risperdal cause you to feel very unemotional. I kind of feel like I don’t have any stress and some stress can be good. I don’t feel passionate about things anymore. I just want to get these feelings back.

  4. Hi Mike,
    Risperdal is a very potent drug and 1 mg is not a particularly small dose. In my opinion it can certainly mute and blunt feelings.

    Risperdal comes in pills as small as 1/4 mg. That means that 1/4 of what you are taking is all that some people use and it still has an effect.

    I didn’t start feeling intense feelings of love and connection with my husband again until I got down below 1 mg. I’m not sure exactly when it was because I was titrating relatively quickly.

    I haven’t gotten off all my drugs yet so I don’t know how completely full my feelings will get, so I can’t answer your last question as to whether or not it takes time after you are completely off meds.

    Good luck on your journey, whatever it may be!

  5. Hello to you all. I have just been reading about your experience and wondered if in your opinion, could 1mg of Risperdal still be effecting my emotions. I have reduced the dose but still don’t fully feel my emotions. Has anyone found that it takes some even after your totally off the medication.

  6. i want to testify to the fact that terror passes. even terror one thought would last forever because it had all the hallmarks of permanence. i have lived with terror for 9 months and it’s now passing. i don’t even mind the 9 months. i thought it would never pass. i feel enormously grateful.

    i also want to testify to the fact that bad nights are followed by good nights and sometimes a stretch of shitty nights turns on a dime and you find yourself having slept 10 hours straight and not knowing what saint took up your cause in heaven.

    i want to testify to the fact that bad nights can be all right, that some bad night, meaning not sleeping, can be fun and enjoyable.

    and i want to testify to the fact that bouts of crippling fatigue pass and one day you wake up and tell yourself, i think today i’ll do the laundry, and you can, you do 5 loads of laundry, and after doing the laundry you go for a walk and at some point you break into a run and suddenly you know that YOU ARE BACK.

    (i’ll read this comment next time i feel desperate!)

  7. Sara,
    I think about telling my doctor all the time. I did at one point send him an email and told him what was going on at the very beginning. I had gotten off about 4 mg of the 11 mg I had been on of the Risperdal and off all the Seroquel and the anti-depressant. His response was a one liner, “glad you’re doing well.” He had no idea what I was going thru and I was angry as his dismissive one-liner.

    Once it’s all done I do indeed intend to write to him. I intend to slaughter him, but I will do it with compassion. I want him to know how he poisoned me but I want him to listen. It will take quite a lot of thought to write something appropriate.

    He cared a lot for me and if I can record my story the right way, I think he may take a look at himself. When I’m not infuriated with him I still remember the fun we had together. It’s a painful memory–my time with him. I write about our relationship here:

    My Old Psychiatrist

    I also have fantasies of suing him!! He’s got me on 3 mg of Klonopin which in the literature that they are supposed to be reading clearly says should never be used more than 2 weeks.

  8. Wonderful news about the Risperdal. I’m so glad you have that horrible drug nearly behind you now. Sharing your journey of withdrawal has been an empowering experience. I know you are giving many people inspiration and courage to join you in this enormous step to break free of the psychiatric establishment. Each person who starts down this path and shares details of the experience is providing help and support for those who follow after them. (I’m curious whether you’ve ever written your original doctor to tell him about your blog!) I wish some medical professionals would take heed. You have documented many aspects of your journey with clarity, intelligence, and sensitivity. It is a wealth of information for those who choose to use it. Thank you.

  9. Jayme,
    thank you, but I’m not sure you realize I’m only a bit past half way. I still have 3 mg of Klonopin to go and 200 mg Lamictal. I was at one point on 7 meds.

    I’m not so sure I see the light at the end of the tunnel. Sometimes I see glimmers, but sometimes it still looks black.

    Some people have a nightmare time getting off of benzos. I’m not expecting that and am hoping I’ll be one of those people who do it relatively painlessly, but it could conceivably be a couple of more years!

    I’m hoping 6 months myself.

    I’ll be around sharing my journey for a while.

  10. This is incredible news, Gianna! I’m so happy you can see the light at the end of the tunnel. You will be back out there socializing and being more of who you really are, and I can tell that you are at a place to believe it now. Your “dark night of the soul” is fading away and your new life will begin soon.

    I’m glad you included us in your journey. It’s been an honor.

  11. Yes, you’re real. there are many wonderful real people out here in the blogosphere. You’re quite right. I just want to get out of the house more often. I know you understand, but you’re right that I should appreciate the accessible community I do have.

  12. We’re real, GK. We may not be able to physically hold your hand, you may not hear the timbre of our voices, but we are real. It’s not like you’re staring in a mirror or at a TV all day. It’s a least a LITTLE better, eh?

    Know what you mean, though. It would be nice to be able to volunteer, or take a class, or do ANYTHING that requires us to be reliable. It’s just not possible right now.

    You’re doing great. You’re inspiring! You go!


  13. Guilt and shame—the two ugliest psychological monsters out there and I deal with both big time too!

    If they only come occasionally during “fragile” times I will be happy. I live with them daily most of the time.

    This emotional stuff is really hard to get a handle on, but medicalizing it seems insane. These are feelings we have as a result of lived experiences in our lives. I don’t get the making it into a disease. I don’t know how I ever bought it.

  14. Wow. Three more days! Great work, Giana.

    As you so eloquently put it ‘the psychological dimentions of withdrawal’ have been the most difficult aspect of my c/t recovery off klonopin. Many of the old issues I thought I had resolved years ago came rushing to the surface. Worse, was the stuff that happened years ago that I never once thought twice about. I have learned that things surface in our minds for a reason, but this ‘stuff’ just didn’t make any sense whatsoever. Nonetheless, they dominated the early part of my w/d, and to this day, they are still revisting me druing more fragile moments. It is guilt and shame ridden and I can’t make sense of it! Once I realized I wasn’t going to die from w/d (which felt very real), this really has been the most fearful and perhaps most uncomfortable part of my entire recovery process.

    You are making huge strides, Giana!

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