I have fired my psychiatrist! Smart move?! I’m not sure. Do I feel good about it?! YES! I was in crisis last week with the “demon drug” withdrawal. I was a sobbing, panic-stricken mess! I had a scheduled appointment the following afternoon and called to say I couldn’t make it. The receptionist was understanding and put me through to the “person who could help me.” I tearfully explained to this person that I couldn’t drive in my condition and had no one to bring me. She told me to hire a taxi or find a friend to get me there. This brought on more tears as I explained that I had no money or friends at this point. She replied “Well then I don’t know what to tell you!” She told me to call my insurance company and maybe they’d send an ambulance. I still owed my deductible, so that wasn’t even an option. I went on to tell her that I needed a refill on my anxiety meds. Given my current state, I assumed this wouldn’t be a problem. WRONG! No refill without an appointment. No exceptions! I was told to find a way to get there and there would be an additional $40.00 charge for a “bridge” prescription until my next appointment with the doctor. I was crying so hard I doubt she understood when I said forget it! I called my pain management doctor, spoke to his nurse, and a prescription was called in to my pharmacy. Compassion, empathy, common decency, that’s all I wanted. I understand office policy and procedures, but each case is different. They can’t be so rigid as so not to bend for special circumstances. And to top it all off, they billed me $40.00 for a missed appointment! So I’m searching for a new psychiatrist. Fingers crossed! Better days ahead!
So yesterday I finally decided to venture out from these 4 plus walls I’ve been hiding within. I’d been out for mandatory doctor appointments for Mom and myself, but not just for the sake of being out in a long time. The trip started out fine. My daily migraine was at about a three, which for me is not bad. We arrived at the first store and were immediately bombarded by a cacophony of bells, buzzers, intercoms, flashing lights, screaming adults, crying babies, perfumes, colognes, cleaning products, body odors, and too many others to list. I tried my hardest, but less than halfway through, I gave up. After retreating to relative safety of my car, I broke down. I cried for the loss of the “normal” woman who used to go wherever she wanted without any advance planning. She didn’t pack a “migraine emergency kit” or check the weather before leaving the house. Her purse didn’t rattle with pills when she walked. She held her head up high, stared up at the sun and was thankful for a beautiful, cloudless day. She talked to strangers just to meet people and make conversation. She was “normal!” Migraine me hides in the dark, keeps her head down while out to avoid lights, cringes like she’s been shot from noises, covers her nose from smells, doesn’t interact with others because they may be wearing perfume or cologne. She is often teary and frowning. Her pain shows on her face and in her body language. She is not the “me” that I want to be.
I realized it’s been 8 months since I reapplied for Social Security Disability Insurance for the second time. I did it myself the first time and was denied. I reapplied with new information and was denied once again. I hired a lawyer and have been waiting for 8 months now. In Virginia, there is a 12-18 mos wait for an Appeal Hearing in front of a judge. 8 months! 8 months with no source of income because until SSDI is approved, I am not eligible for any state or government assistance (Medicaid, etc.) If approved, I am then eligible for both benefits. But what about now?! For the past almost 4 years I’ve been fighting this ridiculous system! I’m sure it’s jammed with false claims and scammers, but it’s affecting me, and that hurts! I worked for almost 30 years full-time until I had to stop for medical reasons. I was always a loyal employee and loved my jobs. They were not only a means of financial support, but a reason to get up in the morning, to interact with other people, to learn new things, and to be a part of something larger than myself. I would give anything to be able to work again! If nothing else, to get out of this house and ease my rut of depression and anxiety. Having a purpose so I don’t feel so useless and worthless. But my body won’t allow it. I try to get ready to go out and am inundated with symptoms too many to list. Occasionally, my demons let me out for a few pain-free hours of doctor appointments or picking up prescriptions, but rarely to have lunch with one of the few friends that haven’t left me, or to a museum to enjoy the art without perfume, noise, and lights driving me back into the safety of my home. I know that winning my case and getting my benefits isn’t a cure-all, but the relief from my financial burden will ease my depression, anxiety, and panic attacks immensely! Then I can concentrate solely on finding relief and proper treatment for the RA, Fibro, and chronic daily migraines. Fingers crossed. Breath held. Better days ahead.
My depression has me in it’s grip right now. It’s like I’m on the outside looking in. I see a terrified woman curled up in a ball, sobbing uncontrollably. She’s in a dark room with no door. No windows. No way out! Trying so hard to catch a breath or form a thought. How long has she been in there?! Can’t anyone see or hear her?! Where are her family and friends?! Do they even know she’s there?! She’s not loud. It’s like she’s trying to hide the pain and anguish. Trying to make herself as small as possible. What could make her so scared, so sad, so utterly alone?! I can feel her hopelessness, her loneliness, her complete agony and fear. I don’t see any blood or broken bones. Where is she hurt?! There’s nothing visible. It must all be on the inside. How much pain and suffering suffering must a body have endured to become this! This poor woman in the dark. I pray she makes it back into the light.
Finally coming up for air after the past few weeks of tapering off the “demon drug” I have been taking for several months now. I am feeling a lot of emotions now as my brain is a bit clearer. I am angry, upset, scared, let down, betrayed, etc. I’ll long story short the situation. I told my psychiatrist that I didn’t feel the Prozac I had been taking for almost 30 years was working well enough to cover me as my medical issues had worsened. He first added Elavil. I Googled side effects and had taken it years ago. No change in symptoms. Discontinued. Dr. recommended Abilify. I Googled side effects and respectfully declined, knowing my drug sensitivities. On a side note, I’m confused about this trend of adding to an existing medication with a new drug. I don’t want to take more, I want to be on as few as possible. Anyway, next visit, Cymbalta was mentioned. I told doctor Psych that I had seen the commercials (Chuck knows we all have!) and heard the three hours of warnings, including death. Now I don’t know about y’all, but death is not a side effect that I want to experience. I was not myself during this visit, uncontrollably crying, laughing, no restorative sleep for days, dizziness, etc. Needless to say, I was desperate, in pain, exhausted, and vulnerable. I’m not saying I was coerced, but when I told Dr. Psych I’d do my Googling, he strongly suggested I shouldn’t. I took the written prescription to the pharmacy and had it filled waited 2 days, during which my symptoms worsened, and I went ahead and took one 60mg pill. The orders were to take 60mg two times a day. I took another that night. After 1 month, I had another visit with Dr. Psych. I told him I didn’t feel any better on the Cymbalta (hereafter referred to as DD, for Demon Drug). He asked if I had side effects, but between the RA, Fibro, chronic daily migraines,depression, anxiety, and panic attacks and all of the other meds in my system, I really couldn’t say. He recommended we up the dose to 120mg daily. I asked if that was a high dose and he said not really. Another 2 months of never changing symptoms. Sampan management doctor and explained my symptoms to him. He said that research showed that going higher than 60mg of DD did not improve symptoms better than 60mg. I was at double the recommended highest dose. Dr. Pain is not a fan of DD. He suggested I taper and go back on Prozac. So began my “Cymbalta Discontinuation Syndrome” nightmare. I recall several paragraphs ago, I said “long story short!” Sorry! TBC
Many websites document Cymbalta withdrawal trauma
anecdotally (1,000’s of Entries)
• What Winners Do:
• Point of Return:
– Third party withdrawal assistance
• Why should a consumer need to pay to discontinue?
• Depression Hurts, Cymbalta Hurts More!
• Youtube video
• Concise (2:30) description of the trauma and its effects
– (Not Lily sponsored) drug rep page – The reps are aware of the issue
• If the reps know, why don’t the physicians know?
My personal symptoms include, but are not limited to: brain electrical volts, hot flashes, cold flashes, extreme sweating, motion sickness, nausea, increased appetite, spontaneous crying and/or laughing, moments of anger, tiredness, fatigue, blurred vision, nightmares, insomnia, agitation, restlessness, vertigo, stumbling, loss of coordination, falls, uncontrolled limb twitching and jerking, tremor, shaking, panic attacks, thoughts of self harm and many more.
Patients are not informed by their doctors because the doctors weren’t informed by the pharmaceutical reps, who, in turn, were not informed by the drug manufacturer Eli Lilly. Why is Eli Lilly not being held responsible for their silence on the effects of withdrawal from this horrific drug. The side effects and difficulty of stopping are not included in the patient information packet included with the drug. Eli Lilly’s advice to patients is to continue or even increase the dose of Cymbalta if they are experiencing issues. This way the patient continues to pay for the drug that they cannot break away from, and Lilly continues to make millions of dollars from those of us in chronic pain.