I have recently stopped Amitriptyline and reduced my Pregabalin down to 25mg twice daily, which soon I’ll be stopping completely. Whenever I reduce a dose in medication, the side effects hit me hard and I feel very unwell for around five days every day, before I start to see any improvements. I’m getting pretty good at withdrawing from medication now, so I have a little system for whenever this is about to happen.
This is how I do my drug withdrawal week!
Do all your housework/anything important before you start to reduce or stop your medication. I know I can’t function very well when I’m being sick/fatigued/drained from insomnia and the last thing I’ll want to do is hoover up after my cat, so I make sure I do everything I can beforehand. This means I give my kitchen a good clean, clean the bathroom, make sure my living room looks lovely and then I feel relaxed in my nice, tidy home and I don’t have to lie on the sofa thinking, “I really need to put those clothes away”.
Expect the worst. That way, you can only be surprised when it’s not that bad. I pretty much expect to have zero sleep, so I don’t make any plans that will involve me feeling awake and on the ball in the week I’m withdrawing. If I do manage to get more sleep than usual, that’s a bonus, and if I feel like I have enough energy to actually make plans, that’s an even bigger bonus.
Have some easy films recorded on your Sky box, pick up a good magazine and some books you’ve really wanted to read on your Kindle. I always try to go to work, no matter how awful I’m feeling, but I treat the rest of the time like a sick week off work. When I get home from work, I’ll just laze around in front of the telly or with something I really want to read. I get terrible insomnia and this gives me something to occupy my mind.
Have easy foods in. I’ve just been told I’m deficient in folates, so I should be eating plenty of green veggies and pulses, but on my withdrawal week, I’m not doing any of that! I’m eating foods from my freezer, I’m eating pizza, I’m eating things that are easy to shove into the oven and require very little washing up!
Make plans for something to look forward to. Maybe a date with your partner afterwards, maybe a cinema trip with friends, whatever you can look forward to when you know you’ll be feeling up to it. If you’re writing off a week, make something the week after count.
Tell the people it will affect beforehand. I give my partner a heads up that I’m going to be up and down all night, so he doesn’t worry, and I tell my work colleagues so no one has to be concerned when I look like a zombie and keep disappearing to go to the bathroom! It’s so important to keep your support network aware around you, make sure you tell a friend so you’re not alone.
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