Paxil Free

A personal record of Paxil withdrawal.

Archive for the 'Vitamin supplements and herbal remedies' Category


#12: Fatigue and Nausea

March 27th, 2001. (Basic Facts – continued)

The nausea, along with unpleasant digestive problems (those are fun), is usually accompanied by the seizures that are #1 on this list. Most of the time it seems to happen when someone has tried going off Paxil cold turkey. By weaning slowly, though, one’s appetite might get all out of whack, but the nausea apart from the seizures and dizziness usually isn’t a huge problem.

The fatigue, though, is a problem. Paroxetine withdrawal is an exhausting experience. Every single second of it is exhausting — especially while the seizures are happening. It’s been nine months since my Paxil withdrawal experience began, almost four months since I last took any Paxil, and my energy level, physically, emotionally and cognitively, is still far from being 100%. Things are slowly getting better, but what can I tell you? This experience stole away a huge chunk of my life and robbed me of my health of which I am still trying to recover. So sue me if the bounce in my step isn’t as bouncy as it used to be. I’m feeling a little worn, a little bit tired, and maybe it shows. But I am alive, and that’s an accomplishment. Believe me, it is.

* * *

And so that’s about it in terms of the basic facts of Paxil withdrawal. It may not look like a pretty picture — that’s because it isn’t. But remember to keep in mind that most of what I’ve listed here is the worst of it all. Everyone is different and the chances of you experiencing everything on this list are slim. If you take care of yourself with daily exercise, avoid stressful situations, take some vitamin supplements and wean slowly at your own pace, you might not experience any of these things. Imagine that. That’d be great.

For some people, the transition from Paxil to being Paxil free is a relatively smooth ride. I happen to have been a bit sensitive to all the crap my withdrawal experience laid on me, but the #1 rule to remember is that everyone is different. Everyone can survive the withdrawal, but at their own pace and in their own way.

P.S. (Sept. 2006): These are the Paxil withdrawal effects I’ve had some experience with. But everyone is different, so I’d guess there’s at least another dozen or so withdrawal effects that aren’t on this list. Here are some of them:

#13: Depersonalization.
#14: Verbal and cognitive difficulties such stuttering, stammering, poor concentration, word-retrieval problems and loss of memory.
#15: Sleep disturbances such as nightmares and vivid and unusual dreams.
#16: Depression and so-called relapse.
#17: Digestive problems like diarrhea.
#18: Feeling scared most of the time.

You know, fun stuff!

Check out paxilprogress.org’s FAQ page for more info.

(I’ve also posted a Paxil withdrawal guide from the original Paxil Free website. It’s the actual page from the old site, untouched since it I first posted it.)

The Brain Zaps

Saturday, July 8th, 2000.

I began taking Paxil last year after experiencing a series of traumatic events which left my spirit drained, less humorous, less alive, less caring about living, etc. I wasn’t severely depressed, but it was beginning to interfere with my responsibilities at work, my social relationships, my personal relationships, everything. I eventually took the Paxil at 20mg/day, and it did help.

Meanwhile back on the farm…

I got on a Paxil-withdrawal website a few days ago because I was experiencing “brain zaps” after my third day off Paxil cold turkey (doctor’s orders), and I knew I had to do something. For anyone who doesn’t know what “brain zaps” are: It feels like a mild (if there’s such a thing) electric current going through the front of your head, except it’s inside your head. It occurs in fairly regular intervals (for me it was about once every 10 or 20 seconds) — and it kicked in whenever I tried to go sleep on the third day of going cold turkey. It’s not really a “zap” though, more like a surge of electricity, like a thunder storm building up over the horizon, except it’s inside your head and it surges up from zero to overload in about 2 seconds and wipes you out.
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4th Day Back on Paxil

Tuesday, July 11th, 2000 (continued).

Today’s my 4th day back on the Paxil and all of my withdrawal symptoms are gone completely.

I’ve been writing a lot. I don’t know what that means, but I’m not complaining because I love writing. I’m still feeling tired like I could use a cup of coffee every half hour — but I’m not drinking any caffeine or anything at all that I could experience withdrawal from; I’ve been on that boat and I’m never jumping back on, I don’t care how big or small it is.

I feel somewhat depressed (or maybe I’m just still upset and shaken from the trauma of the withdrawal), but I’m going to get moving today regardless.

I’ve had to fight off the sleepiness I’ve experienced since going back on the Paxil (with — never forget — the intention of weaning myself off it once things have settled back to normal). I had to fight off the sleepiness during the day so I’d be tired at night and get my rhythms back on track. It seems to be working.
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Initial Effects of Paxil

Thursday, July 13th, 2000 (continued). In response to a comment on left on a Paxil-withdrawal website that I have since misplaced:

I didn’t have dilated pupils when I went on Paxil. The main thing I felt was a bit of numbness is my hands and a slight lethargy, kinda dragging myself around a little. Which at the time was exactly what I needed because I was going through too much stuff at once and my nervous system was on overload. Feeling the numbing effects of the Paxil gave me something to fight against. Seeing how everything else in my life was out of control and I was beginning to lose my determination, fighting against a little pill was a synch.
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The Weaning Begins (Day 4)

Saturday, September 9th, 2000.

Today is my 4th day of weaning myself off Paxil, but this time I’m doing it slowly. The first time I stopped was cold turkey because my doctor said it was okay to do that. That was a few months ago, and I haven’t been the same since.

It took me this long to get my courage back up to give it another try. Outwardly, I appear pleasant and calm, but inside I’m scared and have been at least for the past month anticipating getting off the Paxil again. As well informed as I’ve become since the hell of my initial withdrawal experience, I’m still scared. Everything I went through during my withdrawal has definitely left an impression on me, and one that I’d much rather have done without.
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Day 13 of Weaning

Monday, September 18th, 2000.

Today is my 13th day of weaning off Paxil. One week of alternating between 20mg and 15mg, then one week of just 15mg. I’m beginning to think I should have alternated for more than a week. I was going to begin alternating between 15mg and 10mg this Wednesday, but I’m having second thoughts; I may wait a little longer.

I’ve been having headaches for the past few days, I was extremely tired one day, and when I stand up fast I get dizzy. It’s a regular dizziness that doesn’t even compare to the dizziness of cold turkey withdrawal. My spirits aren’t nearly as positive as they were during the first week of weaning.

But what I’m feeling right now feels like a precursor to more severe symptoms. It feels like the worse is about to come. And I’ve begun to feel a little uneasy again, a little worried. I have a feeling the “weepiness” is going to hit me soon. And I hate this not having control of my life. Again, what I’m experiencing now is nothing compared to my cold turkey withdrawal from a few months ago, but that doesn’t give me much comfort.
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Day 15: Having to go Back on Paxil?

Wednesday, September 20th, 2000. From a Paxil-withdrawal forum similar to paxilprogress.org:

Colin said:

I can’t believe I’m going to do this. After almost a month, I caved in and called my doctor. I get a Paxil refill this afternoon. I’m scared to go back on it but I’m also scared to be off of it. Can anyone help me?

You may have mentioned before how you went off the Paxil, but I lose track of who says what around here, so forgive me if you’ve outlined how you went about it. If I were to take a guess, though, I’d say you got off the Paxil cold turkey — and if not cold turkey then way too fast. That’s my best guess.

I went cold turkey a few months ago, lasted 6 days and on the 7th day I had go back on the Paxil. I felt suicidal a few weeks later. Losing control like that — and not having control like that — just doesn’t jive well with me. I’m much better now, but it was definitely one experience I could have done without.
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Havoc on the Immune System

Thursday, September 21st, 2000 (continued). Responding to a concern someone had about a weird lump in their throat:

From my own experience of cold turkey withdrawal from Paxil (which lasted six days before I had to go back on it); from what I’ve read online; and from what I’ve been able to read in the medical literature, Paxil — and withdrawing from it — plays havoc with your immune system.

Almost everyone (especially those who go cold turkey) seems to come down with flu symptoms while they’re trying to get off Paxil — but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

When I tried getting off Paxil, besides coming down with the worst flu of my life, the brain zaps and blurred vision, I also had cancerous-like growths show up inside my mouth, particularly under my tongue. Eventually these painfully large growths seemed to fill with blood and begin to bleed whenever I ate something that rubbed against them. I had one particular tumour that didn’t go away for a month, then disappeared for a week and then came back. Several times I thought of going to the doctor because I was sure I had some kind of cancer, but some days the tumour was there and some days it wasn’t. Eventually it went away.

That’s just my little story.

If you don’t take vitamin supplements already (e.g., B-Complex, at least 50mg a day), then start now. Extra doses of Vitamin C and Calcium/Magnesium wouldn’t hurt either.

But my feeling is that you don’t have anything wrong with your throat. Once the Paxil and everything else is flushed out of your system, that lump in your throat will go away. By now you probably think you have throat cancer (and I know how convincing the experience can be), but I think when everything is over done with, you’ll be fine.

Weaning Slowly

Tuesday, September 25th, 2000 (continued). In response to a post from a Paxil-withdrawal forum:

According to what I’ve been reading, if you took at least 20mg of Paxil for more than 4 months, then it will take you at least two months to wean yourself to zero without experiencing any major withdrawal symptoms.

I know that everyone is different, and I’ve read of people who managed to go from 20mg to zero is less then a month. Whippee for them, but I’m more inclined to think that that’s the exception, not the rule.

The rule is: GO SLOW. Everyone, it seems, who does not wean slowly, usually experiences more severe and prolonged withdrawal symptoms.

I don’t think you’re going crazy. You just may have gone off the Paxil too fast. And you may have to go back to a comfortable dose and then gradually wean yourself off the Paxil — slowly.
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Anger and Feeling Terrified (Day 41)

Tuesday, October 17th, 2000.

Angela wrote [on a forum similar to paxil progress.org/forums]:

It has been three weeks since I have been off of Paxil. I’m terrified.

Every now and then I feel some withdrawal symptoms, nausea, severe headaches and total lack of focus and concentration. But what scares me most is the way my mind is working.

I have been so angry lately, I lash out at my friends, I already lost one, and almost lost my best friend because of the horrible things I was saying. I just spoke to my boyfriend, and hung up feeling terrible, because I keep having mood swings. One second I want to hurt someone, I want to punch, kick scream, anything — the next, I am sorry for feeling this way, and sorry for acting the way I do. Is this a result of a chemical imbalance created by the Paxil? Wow. I wonder if the chemistry of my brain is going to remain in this “schizophrenic” trance.

While I am no longer feeling depressed, I feel trapped. Like I’m in a jail, and I want to break through the walls that surround me. I want to kill myself because I am afraid of what I might do, who I might hurt, that I am a truly horrible person and that I do not deserve to live. I don’t know what to do, or think, or say.

Susan wrote:

My advice is not to be alone too much, and not to let your thoughts dwell on dying. You are not a terrible person — keep reminding yourself what you are going through, that it’s the Paxil withdrawal, not you.

I haven’t quit yet — I just lowered my dose from 10mg to 5mg every other day. About a month ago, I lowered my dose to 10mg and I noticed the ANGER more than anything. I don’t think I have any more anger inside me than the average person, and possibly less, but I felt furious for about a week or two. And I noticed that the worst seemed to be that time before my period. (The Paxil may have been buffering my emotions during that time.)

My boyfriend was over one evening, not feeling well himself, and said something that I normally could have handled, and I slammed the door behind him when he left. We tried to talk a few days later, but it didn’t go well — then we didn’t talk for nearly two weeks, but are now back on track.

My point is, I’m sure the change in my neurochemistry had a lot to do with it. I was so upset one evening, I got into the word processor on my computer and wrote down, “I am angry…” and then a list of all I was angry about. I came up with 23 things, and intended to come back to it. And a lot of the things were not concrete things that had been done or said, but my perceptions about what others thought about me, and the INJUSTICE of it all! I really felt vulnerable. (I am a little nervous about this upcoming week of my cycle.)

Please be kind to yourself, even if you are having a hard time feeling kindly towards others right now. If you had a daughter and she were experiencing what you are experiencing, how would you want her to think about herself? Try to be a kind parent to yourself. Take care.

My response:

Experiencing irritability problems? Kind of feeling like killing someone else or killing yourself? At this moment in time, I think I can relate…

The number one thing to do right now is not kill yourself. I’ve been weaning myself off Paxil for 41 days now (I’m almost down to 5mg), and that’s 41 days of my life not being mine. I’ve been smiling patiently the whole time, but I am so sick of it that I am ready blow, I am ready to lash out, and I have days where it seems that the most reasonable thing to do would be to kill myself. The clarity of this thought when it’s there is — how do I describe it? Talk about a mind trip. The only thing that keeps me going is the knowledge that everything I’m experiencing is being caused by the Paxil withdrawal, and that eventually the withdrawal itself will withdraw. I don’t know when, but for now I know that what I’m feeling isn’t my fault, and that I’m not crazy.

At the same time, while I know that I’ll be enduring this for some time to come (and I hate it that my life isn’t mine while this is happening, that I can’t even begin to live my life the way want to while this junk is making me into a zombie) — at the same time I know what I have to look forward to (it’s going to get worse before it gets better). On top of the frustration I naturally feel from having my life made unproductive, uncreative and useless by this wonderful little pill, I’m beginning to experience the irritability that comes from withdrawal — and it’s the kind of irritability where I don’t even want to look at some people, I don’t want them to look at me, I don’t want to listen to them open their mouth and say something stupid that I don’t have the energy for. I have become one big ball of sunshine. I have moments where I feel I could grab some people by the head and break their neck, or just punch them in the face and knock them unconscious so I won’t have to deal with them.

Kinda scary, isn’t it? Everybody thinks I’m handling this situation with ease. They don’t know the half of it. If it’s disturbing to read what I’m saying here, it’s a hell of a lot more disturbing being the one living it, believe me.

Right now I would like to live in a log cabin in the woods and be left alone. Not so that I can go off by myself and blow my brains out, but because I know that the more people I have to deal with everyday (especially stupid people, as well meaning as they may be), the more likely I am to punch somebody in the face or tell them to f*** off…

Well aware that this is where I am right now, I do everything I can to avoid people. This isn’t anti-social; at the moment it’s just a matter of survival. I would like to lock myself away until the worst of this is over with. Goddam Paxil.

But the point is, you’re not alone with the mood swings, with the extreme surges of anger, etc. — and after everything you’ve been through because of our little friend, Paxil, who the hell wouldn’t be? I’m ready to commit violence on some people because they have no idea how debilitating this experience has been — they have no idea what a challenge it has been for me to maintain my civility throughout all this.

I haven’t lost any friends yet, mainly because I’m staying clear of everyone as much as possible. I think most of us going through this have experienced some kind of personal loss due to the Paxil withdrawal. That’s doesn’t include the loss of the quality of our lives while we’re being put through this shit, the loss of our living. Regardless of the physiological effects of Paxil withdrawal (which are extremely unpleasant and often debilitating), the psychological effects aren’t exactly a walk in the park either. Let’s not forget this.

My own personal prediction of how my withdrawal will go is that all the feelings I would have normally experienced while I was taking the Paxil but were numbed out by the Paxil — every single one of them is going to come back with a vengeance. It doesn’t mean a relapse into a depression or anxiety; it means that all the feelings that the Paxil didn’t allow me to feel are going to be felt now. So regardless of the physical symptoms of withdrawal, of living without Paxil, the psychological experience itself will be a motherload. When I get off the Paxil, I don’t expect to bounce back to my good old self right away. It’s going to take time. That’s just a theory, my own speculations based on my previous experience of cold turkey withdrawal.

This Paxil withdrawal experience has affected everything in my life since it first happened in early July. I’ve been living a useless life ever since. That’s how it feels anyway. And now that I’m almost down to 5mg, I’ve got the mood swings, the sudden burst of anger, irritability on a level which is off the scale, insomnia, occasional suicidal feelings, dizziness, gastric disturbances (to put it kindly) — the works. The only thing that keeps me going right now is that I know it isn’t going to last. I don’t know how long it will last, but I know it will pass as long as I do everything in the meantime to keep myself healthy (vitamin supplements, exercise, staying away from annoying stupid people, etc.).

The other thing I’ve had to do recently is to tell the people who know that I’m going through withdrawal that I have reached the stage where I am extremely irritable and that they shouldn’t take my unfriendliness personally, and that the best thing they can do is to not push themselves on me. It other words, I’ve politely told them to get out of my face. While I’m going through the irritability stage, something as simple as that has made a difference.

First response:

Reading your message is like reliving my own nightmare. You have so very eloquently expressed feelings what I and many others have had as we journeyed through our withdrawals. I still have a lot of anger over the experience, but in our society you’ve got to be careful who you express those feelings to! You’ve done so much for us on this board in letting us know that our experiences weren’t out of the ordinary or unique — unless you’ve taken Paxil.

THANK YOU for sharing. It really means a lot to me to know that others have felt similar emotions.

Second response:

Thanks for being so candid and sharing your story. I’m gonna risk getting my neck broken here, but the rush of emotions that you will feel again when you complete withdrawal may not be as bad as you’re expecting. I’ve been reading posts here since July 2nd, and I’ve never read any that make it sound hard to deal with. On the contrary, most have said that it felt great to be able to cry again, etc. Tapering can be rough and the days after your final dose may be rough, but at that point, you know that the end is in sight. Your anger should subside. Hang in there, you’re probably in the worst of it right now. When you’re out of this, I hope you can spread the word about what Paxil did to you and prevent others from suffering. I sure have sympathy for you. Let us know how you’re doing.

Third response:

Thank you for your post. I felt myself choking up reading it and reliving the experiences you have described.

I, too, have been down that road. I have never been prone to angry outbursts, so it was really hard for me. I have felt so much shame for acting the way I have toward family (strangely I didn’t feel anger toward others). Many times they would just look at me “stunned” at what they were hearing come from little ole docile me! My rage was mostly ranting and raving. Thank God I didn’t feel suicidal or want to physically hurt anyone. My words were bad enough and I am sure they caused pain to others.

I have been off Paxil for 6 weeks after taking it for 6 years and can tell you that it will get better. My anger lasted for 2 weeks past my last pill and then went away. Some days it wasn’t too bad and others… well… let’s just say I wasn’t too much fun to be around.

I started taking St. Johns Wort about 3 weeks after my last Paxil and just quit taking it a week ago. I have been going through the anger period again just in the last week. I really think and hope it is from discontinuing St. Johns Wort. I am hopeful that I will get past this last bump too.

“Social Anxiety” Sells (Day 42)

Wednesday, October 18th, 2000. Responding to something, though I don’t remember what:

Paxil should be an absolute last resort. Communicative therapy (a.k.a. talking) should be tried first. Then there are dietary changes that can make a difference to all kinds of anxiety. You can take vitamin supplements like B-complex to begin with. If you drink caffeine, stop now. Alcohol and cigarettes don’t help with anxiety either (but if you smoke, don’t try quitting while you’re trying to quit something else; trying to quit two things at once will wreck anyone). Making sure to get daily moderate exercise can make a difference. Try a herbal remedy. Listen to good music. Breathe fresh air. Get out in the sunshine.

Speaking from experience, these are basic things that can make a huge difference.

But it’s easier to pop a little pink pill than it is to actually make any real effort to take care of oneself (hence, we have close to two billion dollars in sales of Paxil last year).

It’s easier to take a pill than it is to actually face the fears underlying the social anxiety.

No offense to anyone suffering from panic disorder, but “social anxiety” sound like another made-up term by drug companies. I’ve been shy my whole life. I know what it’s like to be anxious around people and or large crowds. But that doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with me. I consider it a natural reaction to the madness of crowds.
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Don’t Just Sit on Your Butt

Wednesday, October 18th, 2000 (continued).

Doug said to a previous message:

This is an excellent response. I agree. However, I must state that I took Paxil for almost 3 years and it seemingly worked wonders for me… for a while.

The people I know personally (not through email or through paxilprogress.org) who took Paxil for extreme anxiety and panic attacks — every single one of them ended up taking on that “sedated” look I mentioned before. And there’s no way that can be good. All of them say they couldn’t live without Paxil, regardless of the weight gain and the sexual dysfunction it causes them. But neither have any of them done anything else except take Paxil to take care of themselves. They’re still living off coffee and cigarettes like they’ve always done. So, in a way, they got what they deserved. Nothing gets better in the absence of a willingness to change. Taking a little pink pill only delays the inevitable.

The calm that Paxil may provide can offer one the opportunity to work on the anxiety, but the anxiety will come back if one doesn’t actually work on it. This is something I see happening with many people, as well as having lived through it myself. It doesn’t take much to figure this one out.

I agree with you that Paxil can and often does make a difference at first. I have no doubt about it that Paxil did help me at one point; it helped me get through an extreme crisis situation, extreme stress, extreme anxiety, all during a time when my coping skills were not so good. For the duration I was on Paxil, I did everything I could to get my act together — and now, except for the anxiety related to the withdrawal, I do have it together (I hope). When I think of how I was, say two years ago, I am amazed at how far I’ve come, how effectively I deal with anxiety and stressful situations when they come up. I’m not 100% all the time, but who the hell is? (Nobody.)
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Day 53: Feeling Better

Monday, October 30th, 2000. A journal entry:

I’m feeling better today. I was going to say much better, but that’s probably pushing it. I got up at 7:30 this morning to help a friend move some things into a new office. I haven’t been sleeping lately, so I was expecting to be tired, grumpy and out of sorts when I got up, and I was. Never too hungry that early in the morning, I had a slice of toast with honey, my usual handful of vitamin supplements, a bottle of water and off I went — hit the road in the pickup truck (someone else driving).

I immediately got dizzy and off balance lifting things and walking up and down the stairs. I wasn’t long popping my first Xanax (electrical sensations were beginning to stir behind my eyes). It took a couple hours to do the work, then I had soup and a bun from doughnut shop. By the time I got home about an hour or so later, I felt good. Not nearly as lousy as I’ve been feeling for the past few weeks, on-and-off suicidal and all that.

This wanting to live stuff is tricky business.

Eye Problems (Day 80)

Saturday, November 25th, 2000 (25th day off Paxil).

Someone said, “It is the pressure in my head and behind my eyes that gets me down. I feel as if I must force myself to focus.”

I should have had those words stamped to my forehead for the past 80 days since I’ve been weaning off the Paxil.

Because I’ve taken multivitamins up the gazoo, I haven’t experienced the Paxil Flu. But right now I seem to have the body aches, and I’m in a mood. I don’t know what kind of mood, but it’s a mood alright.

Anyway, that’s just me. Trying to walk it off. No major brain zaps anymore, but the pressure behind the eyes is still there. That’s the one constant throughout all of this.

This is a serious impairment on my brain function.

There is not a curse loud and long enough to express my anger and frustration.

P.S. (Sept. 2006): The pressure behind the eyes mentioned in this post is part of the brain zaps or electrical surges that, for me, began in my eyes and then went through my head and the rest of my body. There was always that weird pressure inside my eyes that made it feel like a brain zap was about to hit me any second. I’m sure the hypersensitivity to light was connected this insane electrical pressure in my eyes. (I just added Vision / Eye Problems as a category, though for the most part eye problems will be convered by the categories for the electrical surges and hypersensitivity to light and sound.)

Suicidal Feelings Again

Friday, December 1st, 2000 (continued). Responding to a post on paxilprogress.org:

I’ve always been able to deal with the emotional symptoms (e.g., the suicidal feelings) easier than the other symptoms (e.g., the electrical surges). The electrical sensations just about drive me insane. More than any of the other symptoms, they’ve made it impossible to be me and to do what I love to do.

I have felt on-and-off suicidal since my first cold turkey experience in early July. I still haven’t completely shaken the feeling, but I can tell you that it subsides to the point where it’s just a faint echo of what you’re feeling now. You’ll remember it, and in a sense it’ll still be there, but you won’t feel any urge to go through with it.

The only way to get through now it is don’t kill yourself (simple, right?). Your body and your brain are going through one serious motherload of a neurochemical adaptation. You have to give yourself a chance to get through it and to go through it. As you know, there are some sudden benefits to getting off the Paxil — I’d say focus on those right now and enjoy them as much as you can. And the next thing you know, you’ll be feeling crappy, but you won’t be feeling suicidal. And that’s progress. And gradually everything gets better. That’s the only thing I can say with some confidence.

It’s been a long dragged out experience, but a little tiny bit at a time, I’ve gotten better. So don’t kill yourself and you will too. And don’t forget to take plenty of B Complex.
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