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Please forgive me if I type too much, I just don't want to forget anything that someone might find helpful.
In 1996, my closest childhood friend killed himself, then a few months later my dad was diagnosed with a brain tumor and he died within a month, in a hospice bed, in our dining room. A few months later I found out my girlfriend of 3 years was messing around with another guy, and that's when I felt the anxiety switch turn on. I physically felt something change in my and it felt like I had been punched. The feeling never went away, and just got worse, and in no time at all I had my first panic attack while driving on a busy freeway in Chicago. I began to get tunnel vision and my hearing became muffled and I thought I was going to lose consciousness, and my friend in the passenger seat had to take the wheel and drive us off to an exit ramp. It was terrifying.
So I went to see the family doctor I had known since I was a child, and he diagnosed me with GAD and PTSD, putting me on Paxil right away. Paxil made me even worse for the first two weeks or so. I couldn't sleep, I didn't want to eat, I would grind my teeth like I was on speed, and my emotions were all over the place. It finally stopped and I felt better, but Paxil's side effects were awful, the worst being no orgasms. For nearly two years, orgasms were impossible. It was depressing. Long story short, I left my old doctor for insisting on getting me on Paxil, and then Ativan, which I became addicted to. He insisted I stop taking Paxil without a taper, so I felt like I was going insane. I started having panic attacks every single day, which is when he put me on Ativan and told me to take as needed, so that's exactly what I did, because he never told me it was addictive. (I just trusted my doctors back then.)
I found a new doctor who helped me immediately. He weaned me off Ativan with a longer-lasting benzo, diazepam, to make it easier to taper. It still took me nearly an entire year. That was hellish. I hadn't slept well in months, and the new doctor told me that the first night I took mirtazapine I would sleep like a baby, and I remember saying, Sure buddy you're crazy. But he was right. Mirtazapine started working on my anxiety the very first day. (Unlike SSRIs which take WEEKS.)
So since I've gone through all that, I wasn't as frightened to quit mirtazapine. Plus I'd done a lot of research on respected websites, not AD forums or anything, because those are usually full of people that go on and on about how the drug they're currently on is awful and "the devil" and they can't believe it's not banned, etc. When in fact, some drugs work for some people, others, not so much. You have to try different ones until you find a good match.
I think some of these forums do more harm than good: they're filled with people that are hurting and have nobody else to turn to, so they unload all of their problems, suspicions, fears and junk science, which scares the newer members and makes them worry that THEY'RE going to have a hard time starting or quitting a med. When you have anxiety, at least when I do, your expect the worst possible outcome, and you worry about everything. And that worry and pessimism feeds on itself and makes the anxiety worse and more difficult to treat. So I think it's important to take a lot of what people complain about with a grain of salt. That doesn't mean these people are not being truthful, but just because that was THEIR experience that doesn't mean it's going to be YOUR experience, too.
I was always unmotivated and tired on mirtazapine. I slept well and it really helped my anxiety, but I never wanted to do anything, and most of the time mirtazapine caused intense brain fog so I couldn't think clearly. It affected my work and my relationships with friends and family. When I stopped taking it last week, I immediately had a rush of energy that I hadn't experienced in years. That brought some anxiety too, but I was determined to get through it, and I'm so glad I kept going. This is a huge step for me because I really didn't think I could do it, but I had to try. I was sick of the brain fog and weight gain and lack of energy so I had to see if my condition would improve off the meds.
So of course I would recommend stopping it cold turkey and just getting it over with, instead of dragging it on and on and being miserable for months. I would not suggest this with benzos or SSRIs, Mirtazapine is a tetracyclic and it affects your brain's receptors differently, so it's not as big of a shock to your system when you stop taking it. Don't get me wrong, it made me feel some de-realization, where you feel really weird like everything is not quite real, but probably only 15% of the intensity that I felt when tapering benzos. And I've been nervous, and the brain fog comes and goes, but overall I have more energy and the aches and pains are beginning to subside.
So now, all I'm really feeling is a general sense of feeling "off", just slightly weird, along with almost-constant, low-grade anxiety, but that improves every day. I haven't had taken any mirtazapine in 7 days, now, and I feel good. I'm currently completely med-free.
I take 150mg of Suntheanine L-theanine on an empty stomach in the morning, which calms more morning anxiety. I’ve cut out all caffeine and vitamins, because both just make my anxiety worse. I take 400mg of magnesium glycinate about two hours before bed, with food. I then take 1-2mg of melatonin about an hour before bed. L-theanine calms the brain without making you tired. It REALLY helps. Magnesium calms me and makes me a little tired, so that's better around bedtime. I usually have a glass or two of red wine in the evenings, which calms my mind a bit as well. (It’s so nice to be able to enjoy wine without feeling exhausted and foggy after the first few sips, like it did when I was on mirtazapine!)
Hope this helps and sorry this was so long guys!
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