Tagged: Zyprexa Withdrawal hell
September 27, 2017 at 1:42 am #114023sebastianaParticipant
First, I want to thank everyone for posting their experiences here. When I decided to come off the Zyprexa, this forum was a literal lifesaver. I was cycling through extreme depression – feeling suicidal at least 10 times a day, utterly hopeless. My doctor in no way prepared me for this, but reading this forum, I learned that these extreme feelings are “normal” and a symptom of withdrawal. It helped me get that crucial, necessary little distance in my psyche between the reality of the moment – which at the time felt like absolute truth – and the actual reality, which was that this was just my brain readjusting and I was going to survive.
I was going to, and I did. I was only on this medication for 6 months, at a dose of 2.5 mg. I am not certain that it was helpful to my recovery from psychosis. I was already doing the work, slowly, to come back to reality, noticing other people’s reactions to things I said or believed and adjusting of my own free will. I respect that this drug can be very helpful for some people but for me I think it was overkill. It made me lethargic, sleeping 12+ hours a day, and cut me off from myself emotionally/creatively/sexually/spiritually/intellectually/physically. The weight gain was also very real. I wanted to eat all the time, ravenously. Even once I learned that this was a side effect of the drug, I could not control it. I knew from day one that it wasn’t good for me, but the doctors were impatient with my recovery, and I didn’t want to jeopardize my support from the health care system by not being compliant or a “good patient.”
The first few days off Zyprexa, I felt great. It was as if my energy returned to me, springing back. I was biking everywhere and feeling social.
Then after about four days, I got hit with the worst feelings of my life. I was enveloped in suicidal feelings/ideas something like ten times a day. I didn’t take action but I was doing risky things like crossing against red lights in front of traffic. Or sometimes I would just stop walking in the middle of the sidewalk and lie down. It was very strange. I was miserable all the time. I felt basically dead already. I didn’t understand how other people lived or did things like read the news or cook themselves meals. Every little thing was a struggle. I was amazed at other people’s ability to do the simplest things. I am struggling to recall the specifics now because my mind really does not want to even recall that place, but I remember feeling like it was the worst I had ever felt and losing hope that I would ever get through it.
I was on this forum all the time, reading and re-reading other people’s experiences just to remind myself that I was not alone and that it would end someday. I had no idea how long it would take but I hoped and prayed that I would not suffer for as long as many people here have suffered. That really intense phase lasted about 3 weeks for me.
Eventually I started getting a little better, enough to reach out to my loved ones for help. I created a group chat where I could easily just send an emoji or just the word “hi” and they would know to reach out. I wish I had done this before coming off the medication but I did not anticipate how bad it would be. They carried me through. Thank God. I was so many times on the verge of doing a lot of self-harm. When the suicidal feelings became less strong, I did other harmful things, like post long things to my Facebook page (where I’m connected to a lot people, including my boss and his boss) that were really just cries for help. I started having weird dreams and I was posting about them. It wasn’t the wisest and I wish that I had made a rule for myself against using social media while going through withdrawals – but in the end people in my community were SO compassionate and loving and their messages helped me see that I was just deep inside my feelings.
After the feelings stopped being so bad, I started getting other symptoms, like nausea and the worst migraines of my life. I’d get sharp pain, often near the top and center of my head, like my brain was splitting in half. I spent a lot of time at work lying on floors in corners of the building where I wouldn’t be seen, waiting for the migraines to pass. I also noticed that, even though I wasn’t sleeping all the time anymore, I WANTED to be. I was almost wishing to go back to the numbness of zyprexa. Had it not been for one or two people who posted here that they were able to make it through, I don’t know that I would have had the courage to keep going. I couldn’t see a light or an end to the tunnel at all. It was awful to feel so alienated in my own body.
Then, after about 6 weeks, I went through a final stage (well, cross my fingers that it’s final!) where I just started having really intense anxiety. I’d shoot awake early in the morning and not be able to go back to sleep because my body was electric in a really unpleasant way. My thoughts were jumpy and I felt caught between really not wanting to be in my life/get up/go to work (e.g. still depressed) and so anxious that the only relief came from activity and movement. I started dragging myself out of bed and trying to convince myself that it was better to just go face whatever was happening than to stay paralyzed with anxiety. Even though I wasn’t suicidal anymore, my first thought upon waking up everyday was, “Being alive is torture.” I felt like I was in a cage in my own mind.
I am happy to report that I am doing so, so much better now. The last 2 weeks I was on an upped dose of lorazepam (3 x 0.5mg a day) and my doctor gave me propranolol to take at bedtime. It seemed to help, and it got me through a very stressful deadline at work. The last several days I’ve been able to go back to 0 or 0.5 mg of the lorazepam with no noticeable withdrawal symptoms. I’m still taking the propranolol at night but feel like I’m recovering.
I know everyone’s situation is different and that this is an ongoing struggle. My situation may be uncommon; I don’t know. Jury’s still out as to whether this was a one-time psychosis or whether I have bipolar disorder. I just know that I am never going back on this medication again. It was horrible from the beginning and even worse to come off of.
I wanted to post this so that people reading this forum know that there is life after withdrawals. Coming off this drug can really be horrible, but it is worth it. You will survive. If you’re reading this and feeling suicidal and hopeless, know that this is temporary. Your brain is a miraculous and very plastic thing. It can repair itself from the damage done by this drug. Do not give up. I am so, so glad that I kept going, and someday you will be, too!
With love.January 13, 2018 at 2:00 am #148429Jonathan77Participant
niceJanuary 15, 2018 at 7:42 pm #149430sebastianaParticipant
Hi! Just an update now that it’s been almost four months. I am doing so well and so glad I stuck with it. Coming off Zyprexa is the best thing I did during my recovery. I replaced it with yoga and meditation and have built up my capacity to manage my thoughts and feelings like never before in my life. I am a much more aware and capable person post-psychosis and disagree strongly with modern medicine’s approach to this experience. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. I am SO glad I did not give up and go back on it. It was painful, but the freedom I have now makes it all have been worth it.July 4, 2018 at 2:41 am #160256Mad HatterParticipant
I was prescibed olanzpine after being involved in a car accident whilst in a drug induced psychosis, which resulted in the death of another man. Following the accident, my psychosis in hospital was severe enough that I was accusing the doctors and surgeons of causing my injuries, not being able to even register that I was involved in a car accident. After two weeks of being on olanzapine in hospital, my mind began to return to normal, and my psychosis went away gradually. I was being prescibed 10mg in the morning, and 10mg at night. I kept on this regime for the following 8 months, according to the doctors, as a precaution to ensure the psychosis didn’t return, and due to the serious and criminal nature of my accident.
Being on this drug, I found the experience to be like I had not slept properly every night. There was brain fog during the day, total loss of libido, feeling tired most of the time, loss of interest in normal activities in my life. As my psychiatrist quite aptly explained to me, olanzapine basically slows down your entire brain. Admittedly it did solve my psychosis, however this occured 2 weeks after starting to take it, so I question why I was kept on it for 8 months. What I really felt I needed at this stage in my life was an antidepressant, not a mood stabilizer.
So they put me on Agomelatine, which gave me some of the best sleep of my life, but did nothing for my depression. Next they tried Lamotrigine for my depression, which appeared to have some effect, and I continue to use it on a dose of 100mg per day.
Recently I told my psychiatrist that I wanted to give Olanzapine the flick. My psychiatrist seemed rather reticent and was inclined to keep me on a mood stabilizer whilst I was on a regime of anti-depressants. I resisted and told her that I wanted off Olanzapine. She gave me the whole talk about tapering off gradually, maybe start going down to 5mg in the morning, and 10mg at night for a couple of weeks. This was not good enough for me, I thought to myself that this tapering off process is going to take months. No way was I going for that. Further to my reasoning was the horribly “dumbed down” way that I felt while I was on olanzapine, plus my highly increased cholesterol and significant weight gain (25kg) whilst I was on olanzapine. There was also the directly linked risk of developing full blown diabetes due to the way olanzapine mucks around with your whole metabolism. I wasn’t going to have that at all, I could not stand the idea of it.
In my mind I wanted to get off this drug as quickly as possible. I decided to only take a nightly dose of 10mg, and skip my morning dose. I continued this regime for about a week. Then I proceeded to 0mg. It is now day 3. Around day 2, I noticed significant hyperthermia. I was red hot, and sweating excessively, mainly my palms were very clammy. It seemed like my palms were seeping out the shit that was in Olanzapine all over everything I touched, turning it all sticky. I was also noticing increased depressive symptoms. Day 2 sleeping was horrible. It felt like the soles of my feet were on fire, along with the rest of my torso. I had manic thoughts lying in bed awake over a period of 6 hours straight. I also noticed a sense of melancholy in these thoughts. By the end of this horrible period of lying in bed with my thoughts torturing me, I had an extended period of suicidal idealation, quite knowingly and willingly working out how I was going to hang myself the next day. Somehow I got to sleep eventually.
Day 3 has been more complex. Severe depression on getting up. But somehow felt slightly manic at the same time. I have no appetite either. Took 5mg diazepam to help with the mood, as I was also feeling rather agitated. Diazepam helped for about 2 hours, then slumped into an extremely aggressive and agitated mood. I put on some energetic music as a form of sensory modulation, to try and lift my spirits. It helped a bit. Now I am slightly manic again, and needing to put all my thoughts down, which is why I am writing this article. It seems therapeutic so far.
I worked out why olanzapine is so difficult to withdraw from. Despite the fact that it acts on several neurotrasmitters in your brain, and therefore wreaks more havoc for your brain when it has to deal with restabilizing itself on cessation. The drug itself has a horrendously long half life of 33 hours! This means that it takes 33 hours for half of the drug to come out of your blood plasma levels. In other words you still have half the medication in your system after 33 hours. That’s almost 1.5 days! The table below is a nice summary of how long it will take before this drug is almost completely eradicated from your system to non therapeutic levels.
33 hrs 1/2 left (10mg)
66 hrs 1/4 left (5mg)
99 hrs 1/8 left (2.5mg)
132 hrs 1/16 left (1.25mg)
165 hrs 1/32 left (0.625mg)
198 hrs 1/64 left (0.3125mg)
231 hrs 1/128 left (0.15625mg)
264 hrs 1/256 left (0.078125mg)
297 hrs 1/512 left (0.0390625mg)
330 hrs 1/1024 left (0.01953125mg) = ~14 days, 2 weeks after cessation.
I wish everyone the very best in coming off this serious anti-psychotic medication. It’s not an easy road, but I have faith that I can get through it, and that you can too.
Mad Hatter.January 13, 2019 at 2:39 pm #172874justnutsParticipant
This is an older thread, but here goes. These threads were here waiting to help me when I needed it, so I thought I’d share my story.
I’m really sorry to hear of the problems many of you have experienced. My journey has been no cake-walk but it seems as though I’ve come out the other side with relative success. I joined this forum to share my “not so horrible” experience as a small source of encouragement to others and I’ll be posting this in more than one thread out there in case you see it more than once.
First, Z worked for me when nothing else did. It served its purpose. But after gaining 50+ lbs and becoming borderline diabetic, I stopped taking the 10 mg dose I’d been taking for over 4 years. Mentally, I was becoming a shell of my former self and was almost too numb to care. My blood pressure and cholesterol were also out of bounds so I simply had to quit. I dropped the dose by 5 mg for 1 month before quitting the last 5. Had I read up on this beforehand, I would have tapered far less aggressively. Worth mention: I gave up heavy drinking (~30 drinks/week) a couple months or so before the taper. I’m not sure whether or not this had any effect on my experience.
I had 3 weeks of extreme insomnia and constant, moderate headaches. As someone else wrote, my body just didn’t seem like it was supposed to sleep. By the end of week 4, I began getting an hour or 2 of sleep each night and the headaches were dissipating. At this point, things became bearable and I could see daylight. I desperately wanted to go back to Z during those first few weeks but thankfully I was able to get through it. At 6 weeks all symptoms were seemingly gone. It’s hard to distinguish between Z withdrawal and the recurrence of one’s original symptoms, but I do know that this is the closest I’ve felt to what I think “normal” actually is in many years. I’m at 12 weeks now. My mind is clear and getting clearer. Creativity and abstract thoughts are coming back and I’m starting to enjoy my former hobbies and interests a little more. My hunger is a fraction of what it was and I’m down 20 lbs without trying all that hard. There were waves of good and horrible emotions along the way and some days are still better than others. I’m using thought-stopping and exercise to cope with my anxiety and paranoia. I still take Lamictal and Prozac but added no sleeping aids or replacement antipsychotics.
I’m not suggesting that clean living and positive thinking is all it takes to kick this stuff. Not at all. Withdrawal from Z is very real and it’s clearly different for everyone. My heart especially goes out to those who must hold down a job while coming off of this stuff. Pseudo-retirement and a supportive wife are advantages I have not taken for granted.
Godspeed to everyone reading this thread. I wish you the best.
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