New Blog, amazing story

This young woman has a classic story of being unnecessarily drugged up, but she did escape!! The whole post telling her story is intense and painful and also beautiful and well worth reading. The part that had particular significance for me since I have yet to withdraw from Klonopin and I’m finding the same liberation in feelings and sexual functioning and creativity as I come off of everything else is this:

Over the course of a year I weaned off all of my medications with the exception of Klonopin, which I upped the dose of to counteract the side effects of coming off of so many drugs. My mental clarity improved. My sex drive returned. I rested well at night. I could cry, I could smile, I could love. I started making art and music again, and my writing started to make more sense. By 2004, I was completely off of all psychiatric drugs except for the one that made me high.

That process was perhaps the most difficult… I spent years faking mental illness I didn’t have in order to fill my Klonopin prescription. I would basically walk into any clinic, tell them I lost my prescription for “Wellbutrin with a Klonopin back” and be handed whatever I asked for. After Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans proved to be a difficult place to continue keeping up my scam. I started to wean off of Klonopin, and began the most horrifying detox of my life. I had a heroin stint previous to this, and it was a piece of cake to kick heroin compared to getting off of Klonopin. Heroin withdrawal took about a month – Klonopin took close to 8 months to leave my system completely.

This commentary on Klonopin being worse than heroin to withdraw from is something I’ve been hearing again and again since I entered the withdrawal world. I haven’t doubted it ever and just wanted to share it here.

That being said, I’ve also talked to people who found it harder to get off of neuroleptics than they did benzos or Klonopin. So I hope to be like these latter folks because the Risperdal has been sheer hell and I could use a break once I start withdrawing from the Klonopin. The spectrum of experience regarding psychiatric drug withdrawal never ceases to amaze me.

20 thoughts on “New Blog, amazing story

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  1. I was on 10 mg. of Klonopin some years back. Thank goodness I kept a journal and was able to get all my prescriptions from the pharmacy. It was dozens of pages””’ When I asked the pharmacist what the long time use of psychotropics would do he referred me to Poison Control”” Yes, he did. He wouldn’t look me in the face either when I asked.How scary.

    I was on drug cocktails-at one time seven.I had a whole kitchen cabinet overflowing with pill bottles.Got a picture of it.

    I had to return to the original shrink for meds for tapering-the tranquilizers helped me get off all the others. Ativan was the last one to stop. I still need Dalmane-old time sleeping pill in the benzo class. I take a tiny bit.

    I was a zombie-couldn’t stay awake. What kind of life is that??? Too much kindness by the shrink???

  2. The first time I hear that Klonopin is harder than opiates to withdraw was on 2005 and I think it was in an article by Bruce Levine.
    This drug is so hard to withdraw that a psychiatrist prescribed me other drugs because he didn’t know it was withdrawal symptoms what I was feeling.
    I didn’t know either.
    Hope you are fine Gianna!

  3. I remember a charming old man in the psychiatric ward telling me how he was taking just one drug (Clopixol) when he was admitted. Yet a few months later and he was on eight or ten drugs, each interacting in an adverse way. He was in a terrible mess.

    Some drugs that were forced into him weren’t even psychotropic – they were prescribed simply to counter the toxic side effects of the psychotropics.

    The poor old thing had terrible constipation from the anticholinergics. These had been prescribed to counter his adverse reaction to Haldol.

    The constipation got him dosed up heavily with laxatives, but they left him with diarrhoea and dehydration, so even more pills for that.

    Ain’t psychiatry just great?

    And what was so sad was that the old man really shouldn’t have been there at all.

    Psychiatrists were literally playing God. The man’s mistake had been to speak openly of his belief in re-incarnation.

    And so what?

    But his shrink, an aggressive thug of man, claimed such a belief – for a nominal Christian – was delusional and needed “treating”.

    There really was no “thinking outside the box” in that hell hole.

    I wonder how psychiatry would deal with the “delusional” beliefs of a Hindu or a Sikh, two great religions with reincarnation at their core.

  4. hey naturalgal…
    I’ve heard of people having a really hard time with various trycyclic antidepressants. They don’t have the bad reputation that SSRI’s have for withdrawal, but they indeed cause problems for a lot of people. You’re not alone.

  5. Jane,
    I always thought that bipolar people have what you said:

    “As far as myriad detox side effects go, it does not really seem all that surprising to me that people have different reactions.”

    I thought I just reacted differently than most people. I thought this was the root cause of my problems before I ever found out I was “bipolar” and took any psych-drugs. And I still this this is the explanation.

    This really explains why this whole industry is so crazy. Everyone is having problems because they react differently that “most” people. Does that make sense?

    Jazz and Marian, I fell so into the public relations trap that I needed the meds…but my husband could tell, right off the bat, that they weren’t helping.
    It frustrates me so much that I was so successfully brainwashed that I couldn’t even listen to those closest to me.

    I went through hell with imprimine….nobody else did, (and one nurse (whom I liked) didn’t believe me or I should say, my withdrawal reaction surprised her…she is a nice person).
    Just because others didn’t go through withdrawal hell on imprimine doesn’t doesn’t make my withdrawal not valid.

    And just because I came of Klonipin fine, doesn’t negate other’s struggle.

  6. I agree if someone is in the lucky percentage of people who don’t have terrible problems coming off drugs it’s probably better not to know about the potentials of withdrawal. But if you are like many of us, without each other we would never make it.

    So I suppose it’s a really a matter of who you are. But too many people, without information get stuck on drugs forever because the only person they have to give them feedback when they try to withdraw is their psychiatrist who tells them they need the meds and that is why they are having symptoms or reemergent psychosis, which may have nothing at all to do with “underlying problems.”

    It’s risky not knowing this stuff, but I absolutely understand how you both feel. I was coming along very nicely for three years without terrible symptoms and didn’t look for others experience. When the symptoms started I went out looking and thank god I found people who could tell me it was just a long term transient condition I was dealing with.

    Toxic withdrawal.

  7. Gianna and Marian–
    I think that part of the reason we don’t gawk when we end up on a laundry list of drugs is that once we start taking them, we become kind of numbed out and dumbed down, and don’t really have the energy or the volition to question.

    I know that ‘s how it was with me…it took my husband nearly dying of a heart attack and me finally realizing that I couldn’t even cry to get me to stop taking the drugs.

    And as Jane mentioned above, I’m so glad I didn’t know about all the withdrawal stories out there. I would have been terrified, rather than blithely stopping in the space of a couple of weeks.

  8. Gianna, there’s definitely no reason to beat yourself up. Although I throughout all my teens and twenties moved in and was highly influenced by circles, that regarded any chemical substance, prescription drugs very much included, as potentially poisonous, I several times seriously contemplated this “way out” myself, since I felt, I just couldn’t stand it any longer, with the pressure, my therapist put on me not making it exactly easier to resist the temptation. I sometimes gawk at the fact, that I did resist. And I guess, once you’ve started to take one of them, it’s no big deal to also start on another, a third, and a fourth… No matter how intelligent you are.

  9. Coco,
    sorry to get back to you way down here…I just want to tell you there are certainly people who have just as hard of a time coming off antidepressants as any other drug.

    that’s what I’m saying about the whole spectrum being crazy. we simply cannot totally compare one withdrawal to the next regardless of whether it’s the same drug or not…

    what is undeniable is that ALL psych meds are potentially extremely addictive!!

    and then there are those who suffer very little coming off just about anything…

  10. Marian,
    I can’t imagine why in hell I didn’t gawk when it was happening to me! But it happens to all sorts of intelligent people so I try not to beat myself up.

    It’s the true insanity this so-called treatment of mental distress.

  11. I don’t know if you can see it in your imagination, Gianna, but I always sit here literally gawking at listings like yours, of drugs people are put on. What are these so-called “experts” thinking of?? “Oh, you’re feeling sad? Take an SSRI! Oh, the SSRI made you excited? Take a mood-stabilizer! It also made you “psychotic”? Well, here’s a neuroleptic, and a benzo for the neuroleptic-induced anxiety! The neuroleptic also made you feel even more sad? Well then let’s up the dose of your SSRI and/or take another! (and so on, and so on)”

    I recall this episode from The Medicated Child where a little boy is taken to the psychiatrist by his parents who suggest to take him off or at least lower the dose of some of the drugs he’s on. What do they leave the psychiatrist’s office with?? Another prescription! It’s just so SICKening and MADdening!

  12. oh give me space,
    I only briefly got high off xanax which was my intro drug to benzos…it really didn’t last long and I have no attachment whatsoever to Klonopin—hopefully that will make it somewhat easier. It’s true if you crave it it’s harder to give up…

    Nothing like that going on for me…it really does nothing at all for me because I’ve reached tolerance on it…the only thing it does for me now is keep me from going into withdrawals.

    That’s why you see peoples doses going up an up and up. I took as much as 6 mg a day at one time but was careful not to do it daily…I knew it was addictive, but I didn’t know that three mg was a ton of it in any case.

    But for any therapeutic effect I did need to increase up over the 3 mg because of the tolerance. So basically I’m living as though I’m not taking Klonopin now as far as dealing with the reality people take it to numb out. The bad thing is it’s a depressant, so getting off it should make me feel better in lots of ways.

    But I like you have tons of experience with feelings already that i was cut off from coming back as a result of getting off so much of the drugs I was on.

    any way, again, good for you!!

  13. thanks for your well wishes gmstr. I’m on 3 mg of K. Still working on the last .45 mg of Risperdal, down from 11mg! and 125 mg of Lamictal, down from 400 mg. Also already went off Seroquel an SSRI and Concerta.

    As far as being aware of horror stories…I don’t think it matters. I’m in benzo withdrawal email groups and most people find us because they naively try to go off and have no expectation whatsoever of the hell they end up encountering.

    It’s not in our minds.

    And Jane, not to minimize the hell you went through but several months to a couple of years on drugs when you are very young is a whole different ball game than 20 years on drugs when you’re 43. I don’t think you can make any sort of comparison.

    Again why I emphasize the great variation of people’s experience across the board…some very broad generalizations can be made, but ultimately none of them hold true all the time or even most of the time

    I’ve heard of people having to taper off a benzo after being on it only 2 weeks and needing a YEAR to get off…these people had not fore knowledge of it going to be a problem—their doctors say they’re crazy—if it wasn’t for the internet and people sharing stories some of these people would never be freed at all. They would believe their doctor telling them they’re crazy.

    I praise god for the internet—horror stories and all.

    Information is a blessing.

  14. Thanks for your kind words. I really do wish you the best in your detox, and I hope yours is easier than mine. I have heard of people having a fairly easy time coming off of Klonopin…. sometimes I think the worst part of it was the fact that I really liked the way I felt when I took it. I don’t know if you have the same experience with it. My daily dose was 5 MG per day.

    Some things that helped me along the way: beer (and I’m not a drinker at all, but it did take the edge off), kava kava extract (I used the tincture, but some people use the pill form and have good results), and lots of chamomile tea.

    Again, I wish you the best in your escape from all of this. I’ve been off of all psychiatrics drugs since 2005 and so much has changed! My most noteable change is that I can tell when different things are happening to my body – I recognize things like ovulation, PMS, the beginnings of colds, and even healthy stress. I guess it probably sounds silly to be excited about those things, but I feel like I never really knew my body until these drugs were out of me.

  15. Last weekend we saw the documentary “Bigger, Stronger, Faster” re: the great steroid controversy… However, it contained a segment about the suicide of a young baseball player which his father blames on STEROIDS, but I cringed when I heard of how he had been placed on Lexapro a short time before his death. [I certainly felt like crap on Lexapro.]
    [Aren’t I clever for posting those links?!?]
    More food for thought from Val…

  16. Thanks for the tip Gianna, I read her post. It was very moving. I am glad she got out.

    In a way, I am glad I had no advanced notice about the psyche med WD when I did it. I had no preconceived notions, had read no anecdotes I was not anxious or anticipating any effects at all.

    Had I had access to some of the miserable wd stories that are around they would have scared the crap out of me.

    As far as myriad detox side effects go, it does not really seem all that surprising to me that people have different reactions.

    People are different. I think the very fact that some folks can say,

    “well drugs x,y,z are what kept me alive and got me back on track”

    compared with

    “well drugs were a toxic nightmare that only added to my problems and did not really help at all”

    says it all.

    Psych meds, like any other drugs are going to be experienced differently for some, similar for others.

    Unfortunately the drug trials are paltry at best and the real drug testing and trials are being done on everyone that shows up for MH services.

  17. Wow, I guess I am lucky I never had problems withdrawing from Klonopin. I did have a hellish withdrawal of Imprimine, an I haven’t heard that this drug has been hard for anyone else.

  18. Wow… it amazes me too. I thought Effexor was hard. Although I must say that as I continue by gradual (VERY gradual) taper, I’m noticing similar effects. I’m feeling much more ‘alive’. Or is it just a particularly good phase of hypomania? Hard to say. Honestly, I think both are contributing. Thanks for the link to this girl, I’ll check it out 🙂

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