Simon's Story (Mirtazapine)

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I’ve been on here a few weeks now and contributed to many a post about the drug Mirtazapine and thought it was about time I told my whole story to try and help others.  First thank you to everyone on here who has replied to me or posted their own bits.  It all helps.

 

I’m not sure where to begin or where the beginning actually is to be honest.  Maybe it was back in 1999 when I was having problems and first went on anti depressant’s had counseling and was a mess after being blamed for someone else’s suicide.  I turned to alcohol had two attempts at suicide myself.  They tried me on all sorts of anti depressants and the only one that worked was valium.  I say I got through it then by meeting my now wife.  She gave me more meaning and a reason so live than any drug or therapy session ever did.  However 16 years later I’m back on anti depressants.  Or I was and this is where the story actually begins.

 

Back in March one morning I couldn’t get up I was so tired.  I had no energy and chest pains.  I had been walking to work 3.5 miles everyday but now I was struggling to do 100 yards.  I changed my diet, cut down on crap and booze and still nothing.  Bad chest pains all day long and although I was breathing fine I didn’t feel like I was getting the benefits of oxygen.  So I went to see my local GP.  They first put me in with the head nurse at the practice.  She sent me for blood tests, lung and respiratory tests and what ever else she could think of.  Everything checked out fine.  I had the best lungs they had ever seen!  But still I was tired and struggling with breathing.  So she referred me to the Dr who said I was stressed and carrying the stress in my chest.  He told me to crack on and get over it basically.  Well at least I wasn’t dead so after making more life style changes, this time to my business which I know had been stressing me out I tried to move on.  I even had a hypnotherapy session and stress relieving massages to try and help.  But nothing. 

 

Come September I went back to my Dr and explained I was no better and going on holiday in a weeks time and could he give me something to pep me up for the trip.  He put me on Sertraline a common anti depressant and one the wifes on for her panic attacks.  Four days after taking it I woke in the middle of the night in a right state of panic.  My mind was racing uncontrollably, I was shaking with fear and had no idea what was going off.  It was the worst thing ever and those of you reading this that have experienced it will know what I mean.  I wanted to come off the drugs as I was convinced it was the Sertraline that had caused it as I had not ever had this sort of problem before going on them.  But my wife told me to stay on them as the Sertraline was to stop her having panic attacks.  So I did but they continued every night and on into the morning sometimes lasting hours.  I couldn’t get into see the Dr as it was the weekend and we was going on holiday Sunday night.  I told the wife I couldn’t go.  I was in a right negative place, all I could think about was not being able to get in the taxi, clinging onto the door or freaking out on the plane as soon as they closed the door.  I’m an ex Para so I’ve flown all over the world, jumped out of planes, been shot at, blown up and all sorts of scary sh*it that didn’t bother me till now.  The wife was in a right state.  She was crying and saying we had to go, we wasn’t wasting our money etc.  So I had to man up and begged so valium off a mate to get me on the plane.  I stayed awake all night before we set off and again all night in the hotel at the airport.  The panic attacks only happened at night so I was scarred to sleep.  In the airport I took the valium and calmed down, got on the plane and flew to Las Vegas.  We checked into the hotel and I thought that’s it we are here now, together, safe and the business is shut down for two weeks so no worries.  We went straight to bed and fell asleep.  I woke in the early ours again in a state with the same old song going over and over in my head.  The song was from 1989 called ‘Nothing ever Happens” nothing changes at all, the needle returns to the start of the song and we all sing along as before and we’ll all be lonely tonight and lonely tomorrow.

This and other thoughts where driving me mad.  I went downstairs to the hotel lobby and asked if they had a doctor.  They  didn’t and all they could offer was a first aider.  I needed help and said who I was and where I was from and that I was going to walk out into the road if I didn’t get help.  At that point security grabbed me and to cut a long story short I ended up in a local mental hospital in Las Vegas on a green 72.  Three days on strong drugs that made me just want to sleep.  It was great apart from the food.  I was eventually released into the wifes care and given valium to get me through.  Not enough though as I had to go cold turkey and couldn’t get no more unless I paid $1000 for a doctor to come out an see me and he would have to put me on the next flight home.  So I had to struggle on.  I had already ruined the holiday and didn’t want to make things worse.  It was very hard.  The panic attacks in the night had stopped but I was on edge all the time with anxiety.

 

Back home I managed to see my GP straight away and told him the story.  I had stopped taking the Sertraline whilst I was over there so he put me on Amitriptyline.  The next day I went into a violent shaking fit.  I was on my own and couldn’t even open the door to get help for some time.  Eventually I got help and the Dr said I was one of the unlucky people who have bad reactions to the SSRI family of drugs.  So they put me on Mirtrazapine.  This was supposed to help me sleep and calm me down and stop the anxiety.  I couldn’t sleep, was having suicidal thoughts and was feeling no better but was told by a friend who was on it to stick with it as it could take four weeks to kick in.  So I stuck it out till week five when I was to see a NHS shrink.  By now I was feeling worse than ever with anxiety.  I was anxious all day and after a crap nights sleep as soon as I woke up I had to get straight up and occupy my mind or I would lay in bed and destroy myself mentally.  In the whole five weeks I only had one good day when I went out and had a laugh and a joke with the lads, but later that night sitting watching TV within seconds I was a total wreck.  Nothing was working and the Mirt seemed to just make things worse.  I saw the NHS shrink and he put me on Venlafaxine but I had to have tests before I could go on that as theres a strong history of heart problems in my family.  I came off the Mirt and tried the Venlafaxine.  Only took the one tablet and that led to worse than ever side effects with me struggling to breath as my throat was swollen shut.  So the Drs told me to stick with the Mirt and double my dose to one 15mg tablet in the morning and one at night.  I was also told I had GAD general anxiety disorder and that’s what I was being treated for.  This was by the HNS shrink that spent twenty minute with me and didn’t even want to talk about medication.  So I tried the double dose and next day felt so crap all day I missed my mornings dose.  (Footnote, I’m feeling ill as I type this now just thinking about it all).  So that night instead of taking a 15mg Mirt I halved my dose to see what that would do.  For the next few days I felt wonderfull.  Really great and back to my old self.  Then I started to feel anxious through the day again so I decided to quit the Mirt all together.  Again for a few days I felt great.  Then I started to feel sick in the morning and anxious as the day went on.  This always eased by about mid afternoon.  I had by now a good supply of valium and fell back onto it a couple of times.  One day I took two 5mg tablets just to get me through.  I was having up and down days with the morning being bad and afternoons tolerable.  By day eight I was still feeling sh*t and tried another drug they prescribed me Trazodone 50mg.  I think they put horses down with this stuff.  I hated it and the next day I was having the worse suicidal thoughts ever.  Planning to the last detail how to do it but finding fault with every method.  I’ve tried every option on the NHS to get therapy or some sort of counseling but the earliest date I have is the 13th April.  By which time I could be dead.  So I went to see a private shrink a few days ago.  She sat and talked for 2 hours as a free assessment and has diagnosed me as having had a mental break down.  Shes going to work with me without drugs to get better. Fingers crossed.  Today is day 14 off the Mirt.  This morning I woke up feeling fine and went down hill, then ok and then down hill again.  The last three days have really been mixed and a struggle.  I’m at my whits end now and trying so hard to stay off any medication and just telling myself its “JUST IN MY MIND” (JIMM).  This does help but only when I’m busy.  That’s one of the reasons for typing all this up, to stay busy. I’m not sure how much is the withdrawal symptoms of coming off Mirt or even one of the other many drugs I’ve been on.  My last valium was 28 hours ago so maybe its that and not the Mirt.  I’m told by my pharmacist that Mirt only stays in your system for a couple of days and as I was only on it for five weeks it cant be withdrawal symptoms still.  I’m haning in there but only just.

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  • Posted

    Thank you for posting your story.

    Hang in there, it is just the withdrawal and you have to just ride it out. I didn't have withdrawal for a few weeks after I stopped cold turkey and it lasted for a couple of months after I stopped. Your pharmacist is talking utter rubbish.

    It is really hard to remember that it is only the withdrawal, but believe me it is. I had days where I felt completely fine only for the next day to be the worst I had experienced. It is a rollercoaster but eventually you will feel better. 

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    • Posted

      Hi Sandy,

      Did you take anything to help you through the bad days? I have valium which I have taken before as a muscle relaxant when I did my back in and wonder if that will help?

      I've also read some very interesting posts on nervous breakdowns. Which I will post later. But basically its saying only a small percentage of people diagnosed with depression have actual depression the rest have had a mental breakdown and taking ADs only makes things worse as they get all the bad side effects with none of the help from these drugs.

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    • Posted

      Omega 3 seemed to help and passionflower tea was really good for the anxiety. The thing that helped me most was weed though lol wink
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    • Posted

      Hi Sandy.  I asked my GP about medical weed and she said it would turn me psychotic for sure.  Thats one less thing I needed to deal with.
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  • Posted

    Hi si

    thank you so much for sharing your story. I needed this today! I can relate to it so very well. I had never had an illness before that couldn't be cured by a neurofen or antibiotic! In May 2015 I was diagnosed with depression after spending a couple of days facing the wall..wishing for death! I had been through a series of misfortunes and think a breakdown was unavoidable. I was on cit for six months...was still ill and looked like a skeleton by then! I have been on mirtazipine for 5 weeks, first two weeks fantastic + made me eat like a horse so gained some weight . The past three weeks not good. .rages, crying and spent last two day's in bed wanting to wallow in my despair! Doctor last week prescribed floxetine (prozac) I haven't taken it yet, but reduced mirt to 7.5 just in case I do start the new one. I'm laying here tthinking should I bite the bullet and stop antidepressants altogether. I am very keen to hear your progress ♥

    God bless xx

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    • Posted

      Hi Lorraine,

      I would say stay of Mirt.  From what I read on here it takes some getting over.  But first I would look at your life events and see a professional to see if it is depression or a breakdown.  Also google "is depression the same as a nervous breakdown" that comes up with some very interesting reading indeed. I have posted one but its waiting the moderators approval before its shown.  We tell kids all the time "DON'T DO DRUGS" yet we are all to quick to be perscribed drugs that seem far worse than illegal ones to get off!

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    • Posted

      Thanks si ♥

      It's the rage and crying that bothers me. I will continue the mirt for a couple more weeks and see if I balance out. People have said I could still be suffering from citalopram withdrawal as it's only been three weeks since stopping that one completely. It's a minefield for sure!

      Look forward to you updates

      xxxx

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  • Posted

    Thanks Si for sharing your story - I have been on Mirt for a month now prescribed for anxiety and depression.  I really don't think  the drug is helping but my doc still says it is early days and is thinking of increasing my dose from 15 to 30mg.  Your experience has convinced me not to up the dose but like you what does one do as an alternative if one has lost faith in the medication. The problem is I read on these forums about the problems with Mirt and especially withdrawal. It would be good to see some other views from people who have found that Mirt was really beneficial and coming off it was not a nightmare.  I share your pain and also hanging on! Keep posting on your progress 
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  • Posted

    Hi Si, your story is a classic tale of how very bad it can go with these drugs.  You've really been taken on a wild ride, and not at all a fun one.  

    We've all been hammered by the commercials for these drugs that hold them out to be The Cure to the human condition.  No one tells us, though, about the fact that they aren't as benign as taking an aspirn that will be metabolized away and be gone if we stop.  These drugs cause REMODELING OF THE BRAIN!  If on them for any length of time, the brain physically changes to take the drug's action into account, because it wants homeostasis and these drugs actually cause an IMBALANCE of brain chemicals.  Think about that for a minute; you could actually cause it brain damage!  If any of us knew that our brains would physically be changed by a drug, would we have taken it to begin with?!!  Informed consent should be mandatory.  Problem is, when we are suffering, we don't listen to such things as the side effects - we just reach for the promise that it will change us for the better.

    Si, I would love to know about your earlier experience with ADs.  What were you on, for how long?  I'm assuming you came off, and if so how did you do it and how long ago was that?

    I think the answer to everything going south with your most recent experience with drugs lies in your past history with them.  Things go very paradoxical with these drugs when a person has been on, come off, and gone on again.  The nervous system becomes very sensitized to any changes in chemistry from these drugs.

    I agree with Sandy, that the answer now lies in not adding any more drugs into the picture.  Your nervous system has been completely confused by all of this and is trying to find its way back to level.  Adding anything to that will only cause more disturbances.  

    The unfortunate thing about withdrawal is that there is nothing to cure it but time.  It is what it is, and will take as long as it takes.  I know that isn't fun to hear, but that is the conesequence of all the polypharmacology and the dust has got to settle.  

    I am glad that you found this shrink who is willing to work with you without drugs!  For once, a doc who isn't hell bent to prescribe!   Seems they all think the answer is to write another script!

    As for the valium, beware - it is a benzo and getting off benzos is hell.  You may already be addicted as it doesn't take long at all.  In that case, hopefully your shrink is working on tapering you off of that.  You may have to sit with taking it for awhile to let your system settle; it's hard to know because we usually don't advocate tapering while still in the midst of withdrawal symptoms.

    What you are experiencing emotionally right now is due to the chemical upset.  Horrible as it feels, the good news is that it is not permanent.  We call them neuro emotions, ones that are caused by the upheaval of withdrawal, and they feel mighty bad, but they aren't "real," or that is they aren't caused by mental illness.  They are extreme, worse than anything you had experienced before, I'm sure.   

    I may have suggested this to you before, but you might want to put your story on Surviving Antidepressants if you haven't already, because the mods are so experienced in helping people navigate their way back from the polydrugging.  This is really uncharered waters as far as the medical establishment is concerned.  It might be good to bounce your shrink's approach off of them to see if they agree with what she is having you do.  And if they agree, they will add her to their list of approved help!  They've seen it all there.

    Thanks for letting us know what became of you; many of us who saw your earlier posts were worried about you!

     

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    • Posted

      Betsy Very interesting post but it doesn't help those of us who are suffering the hell of anxiety and depression and have recently been prescribed Mirt. to read that these drugs could physically alter the brain and cause damage. Is there really evidence for this?  We cling to the hope that the drugs will buy us some time to address our problems so it would be good to hear from people who have benefitted from Mirt and was able to withdraw without much trouble.
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    • Posted

      Hi betsy

      love you responses as always. This one in particular, I will hang on to for inspirational purposes! I spoke to a gp today as couldn't wait until 14th. for my appointment. Crying buckets (enough for a small pond lol!) No reason just crying! Then the anger and tremors. ..then in bed with my diazepam! So low. Doctor has told me to stop taking mirt immediately and not to start floxetine either! So nothing for two weeks at all, then I will be reassessed and a plan will be formulated for any treatment. This doctor has said my body needs a rest from the antidepressants as to have yet another antidepressant (floxetine) will not benefit me whilst I could still have citalopram WD and mirt settling in. So as of today no mirtazipine. ..no nothing! Well I can take diazepam only if it's essential! So bracing myself and holding on tight to your post! Will read and reread as and when things get a little rough xx god bless

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    • Posted

      Hi

      i think betsy was taking about the impact of stopping antidepressants abruptly without sufficient tapering off. People like me who are being made to stop abruptly need to hear this from betsy.

      When your well enough and ready to come off, if you taper slowly it won't be too difficult. Evergreen is currently doing this and appears to be doing very well. Try not to worry about coming off..just work on getting your sunshine back. ♥

      Wishing you a better tomorrow

      god bless x

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    • Posted

      Lorraine - really appreciate your reply and to hear other peoples experiences. Many thanks - withdrawal is for the future and just another hill I have yet to climb.
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    • Posted

      Bless you, I felt like mirtazipine gave me my life back! I'm heartbroken to be coming off of it only after five weeks. I think you are going to do really well on it. Look forward to seeing your progress through your posts

      xx xx

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    • Posted

      Elaine, I'll be thinking of you and it warms my heart to know that my words have helped!  Please keep us posted!  I know going into this have awareness will help tremendously!  Kind of scary being taken off everything.  Just listen to your body and communicate with your doc!  And it's ok to say no if your instincts tell you that something he wants to do doesn't feel right to you.  You are the driver!
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    • Posted

      There actually is evidence that the nervous system up-regulates in response to the action of the drugs.  Do a web search of  "Things your doctor should tell you about antidepressants" and you will find an article that sums it up.  There are scientific articles documenting the changes that take place in the brain to push back against the action of the drugs, which is usally to block re-uptake of serotonin and other neurotransmitters. 

      I'm sorry if the message isn't one of hope for using these meds, but people really need to know this before taking drugs that actually change their brains, making it much harder to come off them if ever.  It's called "Informed Consent."

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    • Posted

      Thanks so much betsy ♥

      With my gp practice I get a different doctor with different views each time. Although I'm scared a bit, what this doctor is saying that he wants to get me well, but needs to assess are my rages withdrawal or the mirt introduction. He has promised to ring me on Monday to see how I'm coping. My gut tells me he is actually interested in getting me well. In the meantime i will cling to your post ♥♥

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    • Posted

      Hi Betsy, It was back in 1999 when I was first perscribed ADs.  Its a bit vague as I lost my memory probably because of what I was going through.  I was admited to a mental hospital 3 times for a few weeks and tried on various drugs which i can remember didnt work and just made me sick and sleepy.  I think I ended up on Prozac I do know that.
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