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Age : 39
Time on Mirt: 10 months April '17 til Feb '18
Time off Mirt: 7 MONTHS! And counting
Dosage: 30 mg most of the time, then 45 for one month, back to 30 for a while and then progressively less until nothing.
Reason for going on Mirt: Sudden onset of insomnia and anxiety/ depression due to failed business project
Feel better now?: Hell yeah
Previous medication: 1 year on Citalopram in 2012
Disclaimer: I could sleep fine before I had a sudden onset of Insomnia that wouldn't shift. I was put on Mirtazapine only so there were no side effects from other meds. Once off Mirt, exercise, meditating 10 mins a day, Vitamin D tablets and believing there was a hopeful future for me was instrumental to getting me feeling as good as I do now. There are still down periods but not for long as the brain gets used to thinking proactively and I can bounce back. Now read on:
I am writing this to help Mirtazapine users who want to get off it. I immediately felt increased anxiety and dread when starting Mirt, comparable to nothing I'd ever felt before. There was not enough caution from my Doctor in recommending it to me for my insomnia and anxiety symptoms. It was like using a sledgehammer to kill an ant . In a 'funny' coincidence the same doctor recommended it to a female work colleague of mine, who then had a panic attack at work and immediately got off it. She told me about it in confidence when we were talking about antidepressants one day. Another person I know felt like driving into oncoming traffic once on Mirt. It made me realise I wasn’t the only one who felt so bad on it. My experience was 3 weeks of extreme unease followed by 2 weeks of calm x the whole time I was on it. The doctor's answer to my worry over Mirt's roller coaster effects was to bump up the dose. This didn't work. My answer to this was to change to a kinder doctor who listened and didn't discourage my efforts to get off it. On the bad stretches there was churning stomach action most of the time, diarrhoea, weight loss, paranoia, feeling of the world moving too fast, worthlessness, no self esteem, suicidal ideation, low level tinnitus after starting Mirt (and I still have it now), fear and dread of getting through work another day, weird envy and inferiority issues,and social anxiety that cut me off from my friends. ( Some 'friends' are not helpful because they put pressure on you to explain yourself in the guise of being a do-gooder. In my desperate state I didn't have the capability to assert myself and tell them to give me space. ) Facebook was a minefield with its inferior comparisons with other people's lives. Memory and concentration were shot and I was certain I'd never get them back. I would describe myself as a sad, scared zombie who couldn't cope with day to day life. So why stay on this crap? Well It was the only thing helping me sleep- what if I stopped it, I would be screwed? Secondly It was often said in the forums that Mirt was harder to get off than crack, i.e practically impossible and would take multiple years.This was a supposed fact I accepted. Don't believe it. We are stronger than we know. I took me 4 months not years and I was on 30 mg. Maybe this is too fast for most people but you have to push yourself. So how to get off? According to the forums it was a pretty convoluted process with dilutions of liquid Mirt being mentioned and sometimes scales. Well all I used was my trusty Equadose pill cutter.
I used the marks on the pill as a reference where to cut each day.The first month I cut off microscopic amounts with the thought I was committing to years of pill cutting. This gave me some bad side effects, though similar to my normal bad days on it. I read someones post on this forum saying don’t waste years of your life - try to get off it quicker. I was angry at how bad Mirt made me feel and thought ‘to hell with it’ so that is what I did. Cut more off. I had nothing to lose. It just sped up the roller coaster so instead of such long stretches feeling like crap, they passed quicker. Wow you'd feel it if the cut was slightly too big. Man it was a tedious exercise. I had crappy oblong pills so the cutting wasn't extremely accurate -it wasn’t easy. But that's all I could do. When I finally got down to small enough amounts I'd order the next dose down from my understanding doc. 30 mg was the smallest dose of Mirt I could buy here so there was lots of cutting ahead of me. My doc said do I want some Quitiepine to help calm me down while reducing Mirt? Um no thanks Doc. One addiction is quite enough for me at the mo. I have never spent so much on Doctors bills than during this time. Anyway back to cutting.. I ended up with a pile of little cut off pill ends, but hey it has to be done. Getting off this s*** was worth the inconvenience. I was sure I'd end up in a psych ward or dead well before getting off this garbage. But trusting that Mirt was causing me pain and not wanting to permanently feel like a vegetable spurred me on.
As for the insomnia (which started basically overnight after I had bad news about my business. 2-3 hours of broken sleep a night feeling the minutes crawl by or 5 hours on a good night) I first went through 3 doctors who gave me assorted sleeping pills: Phenergan, Melatonin, Zopiclones. Not good long term solutions. My lack of sleep gave me paranoia and anxiety so in desperation I tried Mirtazapine. Immediately I felt the dread but it gave me hours more sleep- in the good stretches that is. Fast forward until I took the step to get off Mirt. They have a sleep clinic at my health centre which I first thought was a joke but actually probably saved me.There I wrote down my (lack of) sleeping patterns and here is what they suggested that helped me to sleep: blackout curtains, earplugs, eye mask, no tea/coffee only chamomile tea with milk,no screens past 7pm, blue light filter on phone, blue light blocking glasses, sleep hygiene, Melatonin tablets, 150 mg magnesium tablets before bed, also cheese and / or drinking chocolate made with hot milk before bed for the tryptophan which keeps you asleep for longer. In no way did this work suddenly. It's only a gradual process where you need a higher faith that it will all work out. sometimes you can't see improvements at all, but as sure as day follows night they will come. Its good to keep a diary saying how many hours sleep you had, how your mood is on a scale of 10 and trigger issues/thoughts that may be affecting your mood. Then you have concrete proof you are improving over time or not. Gradually your sick days from work get less and less. I am forgetting the single biggest thing to help give you peace and make you relax: a belief in a better future for yourself. So try counselling, make plans to get out of any rut and brainstorm like crazy in your good times. The past is the past so make a new future for yourself now.
When I needed hope I wanted to know how long had people been off Mirt (but couldn't find many examples) and what are their experiences once off it- never more than a few months off and usually they were not having a great time. So I hope this convinces someone there is hope eventually. Thanks
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