Withdrawals

*This is a blog post of my own personal experiences. I am not a doctor or professional in any way.*

Against recommendations, I decided to stop taking my depression medication, cold turkey. I decided to stop taking it for a number of reasons. I didn’t feel I needed it anymore. I am tired of being on so many medications, so I decided to stop taking (one-by-one) the ones I don’t absolutely need to stay alive. Also, I am tired of seeing so many doctors so often, so I decided to stop seeing the ones I don’t absolutely need to see to stay alive. And lastly, I hated the way it made me feel; artificial, numb, separate from myself…and had very poor sleep quality.

The cold turkey part is the part that was against recommendations. I decided to do it this way because I stopped seeing my psychiatrist and she was the one who had to put in my prescriptions for this particular medication.

It is recommended to ween off of this medication and not just stop taking it. Either way you are guaranteed withdrawals of some sort.

Stopping Cymbalta is guaranteed to cause withdrawal symptoms. Depending on how high a dose and for how long you’ve been on it, these withdrawals can be a multitude or few, they can be severe or mild, and they can last two weeks or much longer.

I am only listing here the ones I experienced. I was on 60mg per day at the time I stopped the medication. I experienced several withdrawals that fluctuated in severity and lasted nearly a month.

I fib a bit when I say I stopped cold turkey. At first I went from taking the pill every day to taking it every other day…but then it seemed to not make sense this way so I just stopped taking it at all.

My withdrawal symptoms were as follows:

Short temper/easily frustrated/aggressive personality: This was the first change I noticed. I perpetually felt like I was PMSing super bad. Everything got on my nerves, I was snapping at everything and everyone. I would be doing nothing and suddenly just feel angry out of the blue and want to scream at the top of my lungs just to relieve the frustration!

Brain Zaps: This was probably the most annoying symptom of all. It is not painful. It feels as if a jolt of electricity is shooting through your brain. It is not painful, but it is annoying as all get out! At it’s worst I was getting “zapped” every few minutes all day long!

Suicidal thoughts:  I was not suicidal! But I did think too much about death and dying. And I did have such low emotional points that I thought the world would be a better place without me. I would say I was one step away from becoming suicidal.

Dizziness: I had a few little bouts of dizziness. Annoying.

Nausea: I did have nausea on and off, but it never got so bad that I threw up.

Headache: I had a few headaches, but they were so mild I could just ignore them.

Nightmares: I wouldn’t call them nightmares, but they were disturbing. I am used to having these types of dreams, I have them all the time anyway. But the dreams I had while withdrawing seemed to be extra anxiety inducing. My body was physically reacting to the dreams. This is something that doesn’t usually happen when I have these kinds of dreams.

Confusion: Mild. I would be doing something and get confused for no reason and have to concentrate extra hard to get back on track.

Fatigue: I had chronic fatigue while taking Cymbalta (which is one reason I decided to quit it) but the fatigue was even worse while withdrawing.

Insomnia: I had bouts of insomnia while taking Cymbalta (which is another reason I decided to quit it) but I had even more while withdrawing.

Anxiety: I have anxiety anyway, but while withdrawing it was way worse. I would have physical symptoms for no reason at all. And when I did have reason to be anxious, the symptoms were so very exaggerated!

Blurry Vision: Depending on where you look, this may or may not be a listed withdrawal symptom. I had it. My vision was markedly more blurry while withdrawing.

There are other possible withdrawal symptoms, but these were the ones I experienced.

I am completely withdrawn from Cymbalta now and I have not felt (or slept) this good in probably three years!

If you have trouble with depression to the point that you need medication, then I suggest you take it. More often than not the benefits outweigh the risks. But always be aware of the risks of coming off of a drug…sometimes doctors neglect to warn their patients of this “risk”. Mine did let me know about the withdrawals, and asked me to be sure and work with her if and when I decided to come off this medication.

It was my own personal choice to do it the way I did. That’s me, always choosing the more punishing path…

 

 

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I Dream in Symbolism

…And very, very vividly. There are many a morning when I wake up thinking my dream had actually happened. Or I’ll be remembering something and have to stop and think, “Wait, did that really happen or did I just dream it?” It can really make a person think they’re going crazy! LOL

Well, here is a quick rundown of a recent dream. This one really shows the powerful symbolism of my subconscious.

I woke up and my entire body had broken up into pieces. It appeared that every joint had come apart and I just fell to bits all over the floor. I was looking at all the pieces of my disarticulated body from my spirit form, I guess. I was panicking and crying, not knowing how this happened or how to fix it. Then my hubby comes into the room and asks what is the matter. I, at this moment, am holding pieces of my body, trying to puzzle it back together. “I can’t fix myself.” I cry. “I don’t know what to do!” I scream. Hubby looks down at me and says, “Don’t worry, we’ll fix this.” His words do not make me feel any better. I simply feel hopeless.

 

Then I woke up.

Look to Change

My health is good right now. I have a couple of struggles still; keeping my blood sugars down, and my chronic sleepiness.  But most of all I need and want to lose weight!

I’m so huge right now.

I look in the mirror and feel nothing but disgust and shame.

My weight struggle started at puberty. I didn’t know it for many, many years but my doctor and I suspect I developed PCOS at the time I began my journey into womanhood. I was finally diagnosed in my mid thirties!

I’m pretty sure it was at puberty and the development of PCOS that my insulin resistance set in…it is a symptom of PCOS after all.

I also have hypothyroidism which slows down the metabolism and therefore causes easy weight gain and difficult weight-loss. I’m on meds, but they don’t help the weight issue.

I can go on and on finding health issues and other things to blame my obesity on. They aren’t lies, they really do make it too easy to gain and very difficult to lose. But it is also my own fault. I eat too many carbs and calories, and I don’t get enough exercise.

But things may change soon. You see, I have been unemployed for almost three years now. I have kept busy with projects and chores, etc. but living with no real schedule or responsibilities makes it very easy to be lazy, and to eat whenever and whatever, and however much you want.

I may be getting a job soon. If I do, this will be a full-time job. A career! I will have a set schedule which means I will be eating at set times, and active at set times. This, hopefully, will make it much easier for me to eat healthy and less, and loose some weight!

And my hubby is more than willing to do it with me. It always helps to have a partner.

Wish me luck at my interview! I really need and want this new career for so many reasons!

I Want to Sleep Forever

I really don’t have a plan of what this post is about; I just felt like writing.

I got my labs done a few days ago. Thyroid panel, vitamin panel, CBC, cholesterol, etc (no A1c, I already did that last month). The point of all these labs were to check my general health, check how well my thyroid meds are working, check for Hashimoto’s (a thyroid disease), and check to see if there is an obvious reason for my excessive sleepiness.

All, the entire order of labs, came back within normal healthy levels.

I should be happy, right?

Nothing is ever simple with my health…

Yes, I am happy that my labs say I am generally healthy…

Then why am I so damned sleepy all the time!?

I’ve had this problem with excessive sleepiness for about three years now. At first it was attributed to severe depression. Medication and therapy put the depression in it’s place, but I still felt sleepy all the time but in a different way. The depression left me both physically and mentally drained. This chronic sleepiness is only “mental”. It’s like a drowsiness.

When I developed my thyroid issues the symptoms became physical and mental again. Weakness, tiredness, fatigue, and drowsiness. I started thyroid medication and once again the physical symptoms disappeared but the mental remains.

  • I sleep about 12 hours a night and then usually take a 3 hour nap during the day. When I am awake I often feel restless.
  • I sleep ‘normal’ for me (just way more hours). My entire life I have been a toss-and-turner, waking several times a night but falling right back to sleep. I dream extremely vivid. My sleep is restful and usually pleasant.
  • Although I used to be a light sleeper, easily wakened, I recently have on occasion been sleeping so deep it is difficult to wake me. I’m worried about this.
  • No matter what, I am ALWAYS sleepy. If I nap, I can then function despite still feeling sleepy. If I force myself to stay awake I become like a zombie and can not function well at all; the next day I will end up literally sleeping the entire day.
  • When I first wake in the morning my body is stiff and sore and I am unsteady on my feet, but once I start walking I quickly loosen up and get steady. My mind takes much longer to begin to function properly, I don’t think clearly, I don’t feel awake and aware, trouble remembering things. It’s almost like I am still dreaming.
  • I usually fall asleep as soon as my head hits pillow, but about once or twice a month I get insomnia that lasts anywhere from 2 hours to the entire night.

These symptoms do not coincide with any medications I am taking, so I don’t think this is a side effect of any of them. Also, my doctors do not seem to think this is a symptom or result of any of my illnesses.

I have been tested for sleep apnea and do not have it. I am wondering if it might be Idiopathic Hypersomnia or Narcolepsy, but I really need to see a sleep specialist to figure it out…if it is a sleep disorder and not caused by something else.

Why do I always get all the chronic illnesses that breed so many other problems?

The Hound of Diabetes Hell

I really like my general practitioner. I only see her maybe twice a year, but I’m glad to have her. She is easy going in personality, she’ll joke and chit-chat with you. She is very well educated and knows her stuff. And she is thorough…and she takes the time to listen!

I have been getting monthly B12 shots because I am deficient. The nurse does them so I do not have to see my doctor and pay a co-pay. The doctor’s office usually schedules the appointments a month or two in advance, but this month they didn’t. Of course I called to inquire about this. The nurse on the line told me my doctor would like to see me to touch base since it has been six months since I started the shots.

OK, I set up the appointment.

Now, let me let you in on my anxiety and frustration about this office. The following rant does not in any way change how I feel about my general practitioner, it’s not her fault, really.

My general practitioner orders yearly labs for me. All the normal stuff, including A1c. Well, even though my endocrinologist orders A1c tests every three months (and the doctor’s share info on patients), there is still the yearly order from my general practitioner.  Whenever I get the lab done that is ordered by my GP, if it is above 7 her diabetes nurse calls me to discuss it.

She calls, and calls, and calls, and sends e-mails, and sends snail mails. And then when I go in to see my doctor, or get my B12 shot, or for any reason, the diabetes nurse will jump in to talk to me. I have told her that I do not want to or need to talk with anyone except my endocrinologist regarding my diabetes. I do not need or want any other hands in my diabetes pot! I work very closely with my endo on my diabetes care, we know what’s up, we need no help on this.

I’ve been a type 1 since 1987, I think I know all there is to know about my care. I’m not perfect, but I know what I am doing!  When people (anyone) hounds me about my diabetes care it crushes my spirit. I’m not non-compliant! I’m not stupid! I’m not untrustworthy! I know what I’m doing and I don’t need or want your help!

OK, so I got my labs done a few weeks ago and the nurse was hounding me again because my A1c went up significantly. I know why it went up and myself and my endo have been working on it. I have thyroid issues and this was making my BG’s impossible to get and keep down. As soon as I started thyroid meds (just after my labs were done) my BG’s plummeted to where they belong.

So, in the back of my mind I was thinking one of the reasons my GP wanted to see me was because of the A1c…

So I went into this appointment a bit aggravated. I kept going over my responses in my head if the diabetes nurse came in to talk to me.

Don’t blame me if I punch her….

The appointment was a normal visit. Weight first – It came up too high, as usual, but a good 12 lbs lower than I was expecting, so I was mildly happy with that. My blood pressure was 127/65. My temperature was normal.

The doctor came in and she was her normal sunny, pleasant self.

“Oh, I love your hair! The style is the same but you changed the color.When did you do that?”

“I just dyed it like two days ago.” I smiled.

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“I haven’t seen your husband in awhile, how is he doing?”

I was pleasantly surprised that she remembered my husband and that we’re a couple (who I go to most of his appointments with). This is one reason I love my GP so much. I told her he’s doing well.

She listened to my heart, looked in my ears, and felt my neck.

She asked me how I’ve been feeling, do I still have B12 deficiency symptoms? I told her the dizzy spells are gone and I feel great except that I am super sleepy all the time, I sleep an average of 15 hours a day… but I think that may be due to my thyroid issues.

We talked about my thyroid, and all my vitamin (B12, D, Iron) deficiencies… and, yes, we talked about my BG’s. She was very understanding about my A1c going up, she knew it was because of my thyroid issues.

“Well, your endo has thyroid labs ordered, so I’ll just add on some other tests as well. We’ll figure out the cause of your sleepiness and get it fixed.”

I’m so happy she is thorough.

After the visit, I got my B12 shot and then headed home.

It was a good, happy, visit after all.  🙂

 

 

 

We Have Such Complications to Show You

Thyroid issues are pretty common in type 1 diabetics (and type 2). They are both endocrine issues, they are hormone problems. Also, type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease, and some thyroid diseases are autoimmune as well. So there are a number of links between diabetes and thyroid issues.

I for one have apparently (not 100% clear, yet) have a thyroid issue that is a fairly common complication of diabetes. I have developed permanent (also not 100% sure, yet) hypothyroidism due to a bought of general thyroiditis.

Thyroiditis can present in many different ways depending on what is causing it. Mine went like this: Really bad pain from the shoulders to the top of the head (migraine), swollen lymph nodes in the neck, hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) -excessive sweating, weight loss, muscle weakness, tiredness, physical hunger, fast heart rate, anxiety, moodiness, goiter, insomnia, high BG -. Then the hyperthyroid turns into hypothyroid (under-active thyroid) – Always cold, weight gain, overwhelming sleepiness, depression, joint pain, dry skin, hair loss, acne, fuzzy thinking, high BG.

Usually after a few months the thyroid will return to normal function, but something like 5% of people end up stuck with permanent hypothyroidism.  Apparently I am one of the few…

What I mean by the type of thyroiditis I had being a complication of diabetes is that when the body’s blood-sugar is too high too often this causes widespread inflammation throughout the body, including the thyroid gland. When the thyroid gland is “abused” in this manner it can become very angry…or sick…or sad…or hurt…(pick whichever flowery word you’d like here) this is called thyroiditis. As I said, this is usually a temporary condition that resolves itself over several months…but it can become chronic, come and go; or you can develop permanent hypothyroidism from it.

So, for those type 1 (and type2) diabetics out there who have been constantly berated and warned of losing your legs, going blind, having heart attacks and such, due to your uncontrolled diabetes, just be aware that there’s even more out there to be afraid of. Diabetes has “such sights to show you…”

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Diabetes is a living horror flick that we are trapped in. But we can survive. I like to imagine myself as the heroine, the one who goes through all the shit, pain, suffering, and tragedy, but comes out of it by defeating the monsters, and stands bloody and sore, but alive and strong!

So try your best, OK? Please? It’s not easy, I know first hand, and diabetes will never be willing to cooperate. But give it your best fight and never stop trying.

One Little Pill

Well, it has been a week since I started on 75 mcg a day of Levothyroxine. I must point out that I started to feel a lessening of symptoms within the first 24 hours. I also should report that I suffered with nausea for the first 4 days and threw up once. But now that it has been a week I woke up this morning feeling really good.

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I just about feel human again.

For those of you who don’t know what I am talking about, I just started treatment for hypothyroidism.

The symptoms I had were:

Thinning hair (mild)

Acne (moderate)

Weight gain and difficulty losing (severe)

Sleepiness (severe)

Depression (moderate – severe)

Muscle and joint pain (mild)

Sensitivity to cold (mild – moderate)

Dry skin (mild)

Memory/concentration issues (moderate)

Stubborn high BG’s (severe)

I won’t bore you with the background story, but I am now on medication and it started working right away. I did have one side effect which was the nausea I mentioned. Apparently it was just a matter of my body getting used to the medication and changing hormone levels.

I’m sure my hair will thicken up again over time. The acne started to clear up immediately, it was shockingly fast! I hope I will lose some weight, but I’m not holding my breath on that one because a couple people I know who are on this medication said it didn’t help there. The sleepiness has lessened a lot, but I still feel overwhelmingly sleepy on a off during the day and I still sleep around 12 hours a night. The depression melted away and is now just about gone. I no longer have any muscle or joint pain. I still feel a bit more cold than I should, but it’s better. My skin is still dry. My brain is no longer foggy, it’s like the sun finally came up! My BG’s are better but still high, but I think it’s just now due to me being bad about my diabetes care this past week.

I’m feeling good. 🙂

I see my endo in a few days and we’ll see what she has to say. I get my thyroid labs at the beginning of April so we’ll see then how well the Levo is working.