I am writing this post from Brussels, Belgium where I have come to see a friend who I met in Brazil. The post discusses my my wild experience with Strattera as I came off and then rapidly back on the drug, (highly unrecommended).
After an extremely turbulent 3 months I finally feel like myself again. Or should I say the V2.1 of me since I started medication for ADHD and my experience with Strattera (Atomoxetine).
It was one of my stupidest ideas to date to, “accidentally”, not sort out my medication before I went to Brazil and have to, “figure something out”, for my last 2 weeks there. My life and my mental health were the best they had ever been, I felt completely in control of my actions, and I felt at relative peace.
Why oh why then did my irritatingly morbid curiosity decide to mess with this? I remember saying to some friends that I met in Sao Paulo that when I went back to Barcelona I would be mental for a while. I knew deep down what this would do to me, yet decided to do it anyway – just as some sort of brain experiment?
Here is my Strattera Experience….
If you are reading this article then it means that you are probably already familiar with Strattera, or considering taking it. I don´t advocate taking Strattera. I advocate weighing up your options, speaking with a professional and making your own decision.
I believe that medication can be used as a stepping stone, but before messing with your brain chemistry it is useful to first try and make healthy, natural, lifestyle changes. Take a look at your diet, exercise habits, sleep hygiene, alcohol/drug consumption and the relationships in your life. Medication is a double edged sword and whilst it gives a lot of benefits it also takes away part of your wellbeing.
Withdrawal From Strattera
The final 2 weeks of my trip in Brazil I had to half the dose of my medication and bit by bit I started to feel my brain chemistry change and my body feel different.
Having a long-term prescription drug leave or enter your body is a very strange experience. In the same way that you can feel the come up or come down from recreational drugs, you can feel this on a much slower and “deeper” scale from prescription drugs such as Strattera (Atomoxetine).
My Strattera Experience
I wanted to write my experiences with this as I feel there is not enough information on the internet about this, and when I tried to search for Strattera withdrawal experience on google, the information was sparse. I hope that I can write in a way that resonates with some people.
Recently I have been meeting a lot of people, and getting a lot of questions from people who think they might have ADHD, and so I decided I needed to write some more articles about ADHD specifically.
As I wrote in a previous article, “If You Think You Might Have ADHD – You Probably Do”.
I will try and explain this experience as coherently as possible and give some sort of time frame as a perspective.
Strattera Withdrawal Experience
Week 1+2 (20th July 2019)
I halved the dose of my capsules (100mg Strattera) by opening them up and pouring the powder out onto paper and then separating this (roughly 50mg Strattera).
I was living in a hostel at this time, and so doing this in the morning whilst making my breakfast milkshake got me a lot of strange looks! But following my logic of being so blatant that its subtle worked out fine, and no-one questioned me!
I started to notice that my concentration was falling, I had started a 2 week intensive Portuguese course for 4 hours per day, and so it was very frustrating that I was really struggling to pay attention to what the teacher was saying again.
It was actually laughable that the first time I was back in a, “classroom”, I wasn´t medicated properly. I was actually quite gutted that I didn’t get to experience learning and studying with my “new brain”.
Feeling The Strattera (Atomoxetine) Leaving My Body
This continued to get worse as the weeks progressed and I started to regain the constant urge to butt into the middle of conversations and interrupt people. This is such an annoying symptom of ADHD, and I spent so much time trying to train myself not to do it. I still always have the urge – but I managed to get it way more under control and, “wait my turn”.
Anyone who knows someone with ADHD will probably have experienced the feeling that the person they are talking to is not listening and is just waiting until they can explode with whatever they need to say. I notice it in myself constantly and it annoys me every time I do it.
I also started to notice that I was far more impatient, a lot hungrier, (Strattera represses your appetite), and I started notice that I began to crave alcohol and drugs.
At the end of week 2 I had 2 days where I had no Strattera and I felt all the drug leave my body. I felt incredibly lethargic, miserable, angry, depressed and generally just horrible.
Experience Starting Strattera (Atomoxetine) 100mg
Week 3,4,5 (weeks 1 & 2 with 100mg Strattera)
I started again with a 2/3 (60mg) dose of the 100mg Strattera to taper myself up. I did this for a few days but after a while I decided this was too slow and that I would take the plunge and just go straight on to the 100mg and suffer the side effects, (this is not recommendable), as it had taken me about 5 months before to build up to this dose.
Strattera (Atomoxetine) can take 4-8 weeks to reach maximum effect in the body, with some people experiencing minor reductions in hyperactivity and impulsiveness after 2 weeks
I had lost the ability to read, lost the ability to watch Netflix and concentrate for more than 20 seconds, lost the ability to focus on any one task for more than a few minutes.
For me I noticed a small reduction in both hyperactivity and impulsiveness after the third week. During the third week I felt absolutely crazy. I was walking around craving alcohol and drugs like never before, craving for any sort of stimulation.
I was wanting something to happen, anything – a fight, a car crash, someone to pull a knife on me. For the first time in 2 years I felt like an addict again.
I remember messaging a close friend, who has been suffering with a cocaine addiction and untreated ADHD, explaining that I felt worse than I had ever felt in my life. I explained that I felt like an addict again, like a fiend. I urged him to go and get treated ASAP and better his life for good.
It was the first time in my adult life that my brain had experienced, “sober ADHD”, and it was so unbelievably overwhelming. I remember realising that OF COURSE I wanted to spend every moment drunk and/or drugged up to my eyeballs – it was completely unbearable.
I remember thinking to myself that it was a miracle that I didn’t kill myself. I had thought about it a lot of times and actually laughed to myself thinking that I probably wouldn’t have been capable of organising the logistics of it.
I couldn´t bear the sober ADHD for too long and so during this time I was using some recreational drugs to occupy myself, (mainly MDMA and Ketamine). I knew that I would only feel like this for a time and so I just had to roll with it and wait for it to pass.
During this time my head was absolutely spinning with ideas and out of this came my idea for the social experiment #curiositividad. Eventually this did pass and I entered into another phase.
Weeks 6,7,8 (weeks 3,4 & 5 with 100mg Strattera)
I decided not to take any drugs during the month of September, (generally I only take drugs at parties or special events as usually I prefer to be sober). But September is the best month in Barcelona as the weather is more bearable and there are non-stop parties.
I decided not to take anything as I wanted to keep my head as clear as possible and try and focus on my life.
Getting anything done was incredibly difficult. I was hours late to meet people every time, some days I would be so distracted that I couldn’t even make it out of the house and hours would pass by with me just vegetating in a state of confusion and drowning with thoughts.
Luckily when my brain chemistry is altered like this, and I can´t focus on the simplest of tasks, I am my most creative. I tried to avoid doing any menial tasks and just focus on creating.
I wrote a ton of letters, started thinking of ideas for future plans and projects, had some crazy dreams which gave me 2 great book ideas and wrote some poems, (for the first time ever), which I was really proud of. It just goes to show that being insane isn’t all bad!
ADHD Processing Speed
Weeks 9,10,11 (weeks 6,7 & 8 with 100mg Strattera)
During these weeks I went to Berlin with some friends from University and had a great time. I was hit with a ton of different realisations and impulsively acted upon a lot of these realisations. I ended some friendships, entered into a new relationship, had a lot of deep conversations with people, delivered some brutal honesty to some people, and received some in return.
My life and everything I felt seemed like it had been flipped upside down – and in some ways it had. I decided I wanted to move to Buenos Aires, then to Berlin and then to stay in Barcelona all within a short period of time.
What people without ADHD don’t quite appreciate is the speed that the thoughts and ideas enter and leave your head. Some decisions or emotions that people mull over for weeks can take hours or even minutes in an ADHD brain.
This can be very distressing for other people close to you. One day I was speaking with my sister saying that I was feeling absolutely awful, so depressed, lonely, isolated etc. and then 24 hours later I was speaking with her again saying that I was incredibly happy and optimistic and I felt amazing.
It is these drastic flips in emotions that makes it very difficult to understand how people with ADHD operate.
My sister explained to me that she was very worried about me and that its not normal to flip that quickly. I explained all the realisations that had hit me, the start of a new relationship, the ending of friendships etc. and explained all the drastic changes that had happened in my life within those 24 hours.
I explained that I had already processed all of these and that’s why I felt happy then. The feeling of having unresolved issues or problems, or not knowing the answer to something drives me insane. I can´t leave a metaphorical book open.
I still do want to move to Berlin but I need to wait for a better time to move. I have too many projects going on in Barcelona, so I can´t just leave now.
It was a very difficult time and I felt so lost, lonely and isolated. I started to feel overwhelmed and hopeless and was really struggling to look at anything positively.
Usually I think I am quite good at looking at the positives of bad situations and keeping level-headed but there was no chance of this now. I was so scared that maybe I would never go back to how I was before I stopped the medication.
I know that a lot of my friends wanted to help but didn’t know how. I know that I was driving them insane talking at 500mph all the time, and absolutely overloading them with information.
Seeing a Therapist
I started to see a therapist which was really helpful. I realised that I couldn’t burden my friends with listening to me fire information at them, and that I should pay a professional.
Its really comforting to talk to a professional that is paid to just sit there and listen and steer your thoughts and keep you on track. I really recommend it to everyone, too many of us sit and suffer in silence. Go and see a professional Therapist / Psychologist!
Returning Back To Normality
Weeks 12,13 & 14 (weeks 9,10 & 11 of 100mg Strattera)
Each day I really started to notice myself feeling a little bit more normal. At first I still wasn’t able to read or watch Netflix, but each day I felt a little more sane.
Impulsiveness and Lack of Patience
I started to analyse my impulsive decisions and the things I had said to people, and although I didn’t regret anything that I had said, I could see that I had acted impulsively instead of rationally and logically.
Since the last few days of October I have really started to feel myself again. I feel so much calmer, so much saner, and I am thinking again with logic and rationality.
Instead of blurting things out, its like I almost have a 1 second block on my brain, which gives me a bit of time to actually think about what I am saying – and choose my words better.
It is now the 3rd of November and I can officially say that I feel myself again! My experience with Strattera has been an insane learning curve, and the power of the drug is absolutely incredible. I really do feel like I have experienced having 2 different brains in my head.
I can honestly say that Strattera has changed my life and I urge anyone that suspects they may have ADHD to go to the doctor ASAP! What do you have to lose?!
I apologise to my friends for being pretty intolerable and selfish recently, and thanks for sticking by!
More Strattera Articles
Read about how Strattera Changed my Life
To read about what it was like fully stopping Strattera read Coming off Strattera
Looking for Free and Confidential Support?
Mad Millennials is a UK based peer support network offering free and confidential sessions with trained volunteers. The sessions are very informal and loosely follow a theme each month – which you can find on the Instagram pages. It is an opportunity for people to talk with other people who are often experiencing similar issues and talk openly in a non-judgemental way. There is no obligation to participate or even talk if you don´t want to.
If you follow the link below you will see a page with more information and if you click on MMM Peer support groups you will be able to contact any of the groups and join a session. If you are unsure which group to join then send an email to email@example.com
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I would love to talk to anyone that has any questions about what I have written. What I have found is that people who are curious about ADHD tend to think that they really are fine because they have never experienced a “normal” brain.
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Please get in contact ASAP, I will always reply and no question is ever stupid or embarrassing!
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