Weaning off Klonopin is the Choice I Make Today


I spent many, many years in a self-imposed isolation. I felt I had no choice because I believed I was severely ill. Having spent over 20 years on the planet crippled by severe panic attacks, anxiety symptoms, and the depression that came along with it, hanging out with friends was something I just couldn’t do. Heck, standing in line at the grocery store was torture. A casual chat at the grocery store? Impossible! I am not kidding when I tell you I used to pray for cancer instead. I am also not being dramatic, this is the truth.

Technically, I was what they call “functional” — modern medicine saw to that! While I am grateful for medication–don’t misunderstand me–without it, I would have been completely agoraphobic. But because doctors didn’t really know much about what was ailing me, more often than not, I was over or under-medicated. Often severely. And even with medication, I had break through panic attacks.

With medication I could socialize, go to work, and be a soccer mom, but it was in a semi-coma, zombie-like state. True, I was having my severe panic attacks only occasionally, but I was pretty much only present in body. The medicine took me far away. I slept 12 dreamless hours a night and took naps every day. This was the side effects of my medication. Also, I was unable to cry. My inability to shed tears hurt actually. I went through the deaths of my 2 beloved grandfathers and could not mourn in the usual way.

I decided to wean off Klonopin

I decided a few months ago that I wanted live a better life.  I wanted my emotions back.  I really wanted to be awake and alert for my loved ones, but more importantly for myself. This is my life after all, not some dress rehearsal. Panic attacks or not, I wanted to start getting off my klonopin withdrawalmedications.  My choice today is to wean off my Klonopin.

I was able to find a primary care physician who listened to me–no easy task ;) — and he supported my decision to wean off my medications under his care.

Medication withdrawal is very serious business, and requires being under a physician’s care.  Over the years, I had tried to wean off my anti-anxiety and depression meds by myself. Big No-No! Two years ago, when I tried to wean off Prozac, I had terrible side effects: I felt like I was being shocked or electrocuted, and I couldn’t stop crying. My sleep was all messed up.  Worst of all, I didn’t realize how badly I was doing until my dear friend pointed it out to me.

She couldn’t believe I went cold turkey on my Prozac after being on it for 18 years.  Certainly I knew better but I wasn’t thinking clearly.  With my history of suffering through my childhood, teenage, and young adult years, I just figured it was my job to endure whatever life handed to me. It was no different with this disturbing Prozac withdrawal. Clearly my self esteem needed some serious adjusting as well– which is something I continue to work on in my 12 Step Recovery Program (I’ve been going to Al-Anon for 10 years).

But let’s fast forward to my most recent medication withdrawal under the care of my doctor. This was the big one for me, my Klonopin.  I have been on Klonopin (I won’t say the dose, but it is very high) since 1988, when I was first diagnosed with panic disorder. My doctor gave me a suggested schedule for weaning off the Klonopin, and stressed that I was free to go as slowly as I needed to, and STOP the weaning at any time. Also I was to call him if I was in any trouble, symptom-wise.

My Klonopin withdrawal symptoms were quite severe, even with the very gradual weaning schedule I was following.  I woke up in literal puddles of cold sweat every night, and had to change my pajamas and lay on towels to “sleep”, if you could call it that.  I didn’t get a sound night’s sleep for over 30 days, often awakening 3 hours after bedtime and then not being able to fall asleep again (this is called terminal insomnia).  Since my body was relearning to fall asleep, I wasn’t allowed to take any sleep medications to help me with that.

I also had a lot of very disturbing thoughts, mostly of a sexual nature. These thoughts were awful and they really plagued me.

The worst side effect of my Klonopin withdrawal was that my severe panic attacks returned. Here is an example of one. Even with all my book knowledge and years of therapy behind me, I was immediately freaked out again, and started to wonder if this was going to be my life again.  Panic attacks are HELL on earth, plain and simple.

One day at a time, I am doing it

With the grace of my God, the care of my doctor, the support of my family and friends, and through living my life by learning to face my fears and wait for the panic to pass without retreating (I am using the Panic Away program, it is wonderful), my life is 50% Klonopin-free today. I see with my own eyes, and it is undistorted. Maybe a little blurry because of time, but it is real life, and it is beautiful. The smells, sounds, and things of this world are truly miraculous to me. I actually think I must sound like I’m a bit loony today because I’m so happy today for the small things. I guess it’s just that I really don’t take much for granted.  Anyone who has lived life on heavy meds and successfully weaned off them knows what I’m talking about. ;)

Yesterday I had lunch and a fun afternoon with my friend. I’ll admit I was nervous at first because I felt naked without the backup pharmacological courage of Klonopin to stave off any panic.  But my friend knows my deal and she was fine with it. I trust and love her tremendously. Eventually I simmered down.  Before I knew it, we had been in the restaurant for 3 hours. It was sober and wonderful, and we thoroughly enjoyed our time together. Thank you Sarah. Oh, and food was delicious too :)

So for today, being off half my usual dose of Klonopin is working for me. This is the choice I make every night before I go to bed. I really like reality and living in the world without that hazy drugged feeling.  I really like sleeping naturally and waking up naturally. My life is a blessing and a constant challenge, and I am truly grateful.

However, I am not setting my expectations too high.  If my panic attacks increase in frequency, or I find myself avoiding trigger situations instead of facing them, then I know I need medication again. In short, if my life starts to go back to hell, I’m going back on my meds– no shame, no guilt.

I share this with you because it is my hope that you can learn to live happily too — despite panic disorder, panic attacks, or social anxiety disorder –whether you’re on meds, not on meds, or somewhere in between.  In this blog, I share with you my free anxiety tips that have helped my in coping with panic attacks and all the stuff that goes with it.

Do you have any experience weaning off Klonopin or other medications for anxiety and panic attacks?

I wish you peace,
Jill G.

Want to know how I’m doing so well after suffering for so long? I recommend and use the Panic Away Program. Click on the link to learn more. Get started today and reclaim your life from fear.

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121 Responses to Weaning off Klonopin is the Choice I Make Today

  1. Amol says:

    i was a free bird before my first panic attack. I was almost a strongest by my minds. But dont know why did it found me when i was 19 and took away my life since that day.
    I was extremely frightened , freaked , my heart bounced every millisecond , i felt like it will burst into pieces and take my life away. this feeling freaked me more and i got an extreme sensations in the center of the brain , i felt i am getting sroke or something else. All this ended after 15 minutes, but leaved a strong imprint on my life. I am facing the worst condition of my life and dying everday.

    please let me know if anybody got this strong sensations in the center of the head during the full blown , extreme panic attack.

  2. Kelly says:

    Hi there. I used to frequent this board all of the time (Jill can attest). Let me share that you are not stuck, doomed or any of the doomed thoughts you are feeling. Generally when someone is having a lot of anxiety, it means they have weak adrenal glands. You find out by a saliva test – NOT the blood test in a doctors office. Once my adrenals were healing, my anxiety vanished. Go see a Naturopath doctor or a Functional Medicine doctor. Panic/Anxiety have to do with physical weaknesses in the body – not a ‘mental illness’. I feel it’s a crime what happened to me w/ Klonopin and the medical community – I went through hell. Educate yourself and take your life back.

  3. jessica says:

    I am 20 yrs old and just gave birth to my first son in january. A week after having him i started experiencing horrible anxiety. I mean full blown attacks that lasted hrs. And would happen everyy night. I would stick my head out my window to breathe, thats how bad. Finally i seen my dr and was diagnosed with post partum depression. I was perscribed xanax and lexapro. Xanax just put me to sleep after i took it and the lexapro gave me headaches everyday and also gave me dry mouth. So i got switched to khlonopin and cymbalta. Cymbalta made me worse so now im on prozac. Khlonopin i will say works wonders. I dont know why im always so anxious. Ive had a serious of tests done and everythings came back normal so im sure its just my mindset. I would like to be off all the medications because they are so addicting. But at this point i dont think i could come off of them

    • JillG says:

      Jessica,

      You are still in your post-partum phase. Your hormones are all over the place. Take care of yourself, don’t get freaked out about your medication if you need it. Let it help you – when you are ready to discontinue it, do it slowly and under your doctor’s care.

      Take care

  4. Hey there,
    I’m off Klonopin after 8 years of it! I have been off 5 months. I don’t know where to start with this medication. I went through so much coming off of it. Yeah it’s worth it. You have to be a strong and courageous soul to come off these medications. I’m 5 months out. It is a decision to get your life back. I was so depressed on it the last 2 years I was on it. Good luck to you. ~Billy.

  5. Ken Shaw says:

    Jill: Can you tell me what your klonopin dose was? I have
    been on 2-2.5 mg per day for about a year and would like to
    get off this stuff. I feel disconnected from the world: I am not
    depressed, but neither do I ever feel really happy. I would
    describe it as a neutral feeling. Did you use anything like
    Holy Basil to help you come off the drug? Please answer,
    because you seem to be really knowledgeable about this.
    Thanks in advance. Ken

    • JillG says:

      No I didn’t know about Holy Basil at the time. I didn’t use anything but I made sure to try to eat right and take a multivitamin and stay away from caffeine and alcohol.

      Suffice it to say my dose was higher than yours and it was for 20 years of daily use. If I can wean off, you can too. As i have stated the best way to come off the drug is to go slowly- very very very gradually and then go slower than that. Give yourself a year and do it ever so gradually. Then you wont have bad side effects. You can do it I promise you:

      A. if you really want to and
      B. if you don’t go too fast.

  6. Hey there,
    I’ve been on Klonopin for 14 years. My mother has agoraphobia and panic disorder, and I would say I have GAD with panic attacks in the sense that I get so dizzy and feel such terror that I have to run out of a store (driving was the worst, so I quit doing it! lol…I bike now), but it’s really the dizziness that plagues me. I also used to have what I’ve self diagnosed as “seizures”…felt like little bolts of lightening in my head. So, 2mgs of Klonopin all these years has helped slightly in functioning but it has stolen my interest in anything. I used to be very creative…writing, art, etc…and now I don’t really care about much. So, I’ve been weaning myself off. (I’m planning on going from 2mgs to 1 and staying 1 until I figure out something else). I have to say, I’m a week into it and I don’t have any withdrawal symptoms. It surprises me to see all the horror stories about that. I went from 4mgs to 2mgs quite quickly a few years ago with no problems either. I’m also a hypochondriac, so it has shocked me that this is so easy. I just take it .5mgs at a time and stay at that number for about 2 months or until I feel ready to take off another .5. Ah well, I guess we’re all different. I’m curious if anyone else has had no real problems lowering their dose? I’m hypersensitive to every sensation in my body, so it’s strange.

    • JillG says:

      I’m glad this is not hard for you. I am guessing the majority of the people who read this post do have trouble weaning off Klonopin. How much varies from person to person and takes in numerous factors- age, dosage, time on the drug, metabolism, genetics, etc. You are right, we are all different.

  7. Hana says:

    Hi..

    I just recently weaned off of klonopin. I have been off of it for two weeks. The problem I am having is sleep. I feel tired all the time. It’s at the point, sleep meds dont help me anymore. When I was weaning my doctor told me it was ok for me to take sleep meds to help me sleep. I would wean down, but still take the sleep meds. So at the time, I wasn’t losing any sleep. Now two weeks in, I am not sleeping well at all. The first two days emotionally were not good for me, however because it took me six months to wean down, I did not feel any of the physical withdrawals which was awesome!! I tried to wean off three times before and failed. I has been a long road to get here, and I decided to wean for myself and my husband. We are trying to have a baby. So I did not want this medication in my system . Two weeks… I can’t believe I am writing that. I was just wondering if anyone can give me advice on getting some rest.

    Thanks !

  8. Lizzy says:

    Hi
    I stopped taking klonopin Aug 1 and I had the most severe withdraw symptoms Aug 14. I know now that it would have been much better if I did it gradually but I was desperate to change something in my life. What makes me sad is that apparently I need to be sedated on klonopin to talk to anyone but I am forcing myself through it. I decided to accept the fact that I look like a weirdo. Has anyone been or is in the same boat as me?

  9. April Ramirez says:

    Hi,

    I started 3 months ago weaning off of 4 major drugs, including Klonopin. I was taking 2mg/daily and just last week am now off. I had the other symptoms mentioned before but since this last drop of .25 mg/daily I have had severe migraine-like headaches and nausea. Has anyone experienced these two symptoms as well? The nausea is concerning me the most.

    Good luck everyone. This hasn’t been easy and I was on klonopin for 5 yrs. I know it isn’t easy for all of you either but I commend your efforts to be healthier.

    April

    • Lisa says:

      Hi April,
      That is what is happening to me I’ve been getting Migraine like headaches. But no one even my primary doesn’t seem to know if its because of the klonopin wean down or not. A year ago I went to a pain clinic and the doctor told me to stop the diazepam my primary had been giving me for about 5 yrs due to muscle spasms. This landed me in the hospital due to Withdrawals, although i couldn’t get anyone to believe me that It was Withdrawals. Anyways upon my release the doctor at the hospital put me on Klonopin to taper because i was still getting really bad headaches when i got out of the hospital. He felt the diazepam was still playing a part and possibly withdrawing from the Phenabarbitol they had been giving me in the hospital to wean down. He started me at 3.5mg a day on klonopin and i was to wean down 1/2mg every 8 wks or so. As of to date I just weaned down 4 days ago from 1mg to .75..i was afraid to go the whole 1/2mg cuz i noticed as i’m getting lower the headaches are lasting and coming more. I dont know if its because of the klonopin but I’m assuming. Am I doing the right thing by going just .25 mg now till i get to 0 do you think? I’m trying to minimize these headaches they are so awful and tylenol doesn’t even help. The do have me on 40mg a day of methadone though to manage my back pain…I’ve never EVER abused any of my meds also. But because the doctor had me on the diazepam so long my body became dependant but i didnt even know what a benzo was, Until that quack at the pain clinic mistakenly stopped me cold turkey. How long before the headaches stop…I’m shooting for in 8wks to go down another .25mg then .25mg again then the last .25 and i will be done….Is 8 wks enough do you think so the withdrawals won’t be bad? I sleep fine, I was never prescribed this for anxiety or panic it was to wean from the phenababitol they gave me in the hospital to wean from the diazepam they gave me for muscle spasms over a period of 5 yrs. I hope this wasn’t too confusing. Thanks Lisa

  10. dj says:

    hi, – i cant say how much I appreciated reading your post. It was very re-assuring to me to hear from someone who still has to take the medication, but was able to adjust the dosage to something manageable. I began taking Klonopin 6 years ago, I started at 4mg and went up to 6mg daily. I began weaning / tapering off of it 2 years ago, and went from 6 to .5 over a 2 year period (also with the aid of gabapentin) . My concern was that once I reached the low dosage of .5 , my body would not let me wean any further. I believe this is due to my natural anxiety. I fear I may never be able to fully stop taking this. I feel I am at a level that is easy to manage but at the same time feeling guilty for not fully removing the medication. has anyone else with panic disorder experienced this? thank you again.

  11. Sarah says:

    I am on 5mg for 11 years. I was totally uneducated about this med when i first started , it was giving me short term memory loss and when i asked my doctor he told me it can give abnesia, if i spelled it correctly. I was so scared that i did reserached and ended up taking fish oil pills religiously and it really helped and restored that short term memory loss. I should take it all of the time but i sometimes get off the regimen just because of other things in life.
    I have other ailments that are very disturbing including the fact that i am in a wheelchair. Initially since i was not educated with klonopin I took myself off and experienced what felt like a heart attack. When i told my doctor he then started telling me how that was impossible.He said if i wanted off i needed to check myself into the hospital for a few days and he would help me but because the severity of my panic disorder i should stay with it for now. That was 11 years ago.
    throughout the years i took chances and weaned myself off of higher doses and now i am at 4mg’s . It is definately not easy and i know i have to work through my fear. I also have seizures since using this med so once in a blue i will have to take it earlier to calm a mild seizure.
    With this said i still feel that i would be beter off without it and i will pray and be encouraged by finding this thread and continue to take myself off when i am ready very slowly.
    research is very imporatant and supplements are as well. you should research the natural things that our bodys need in order to feel balanced and have your doctors check u for deficiencys. Make sure your vitamin b12 , d, and calcium levels are not deficient and if they are have them suplemented immediately by your doctor. Also chack your thyroid and have them check it often.
    follow others stories as well, because u may find similiarities in yours. reserach things mike magnesium and many other things that your body need anyway. For woemn, remember that you will feel more anxious around your cycle so when you treat the symtomes that your cycle brings , you will feel more relaxed. When u have panic attacks and u are a woman, that cycle thing can really be a pain in the rear.
    I want to thank Jill for placing this up. I only placed my dosage because i see that people are suffering and they feel discouraged. I have been on higher dosage than i have placed here and i have been able to ween off.
    I am looking forward to one day being kolonopin free. I am going to look up adrenal gland thing and see what is going on with that in my body.
    I pray that all of you find a healthy solution and know that all things are possible with our Lord God almighty. I go through so many symtoms and it is terryfying at times but the Lord is my strength and i have faith that this can be done , so be encouraged and be safe.
    May God bless you all and thank your Jill, You are very brave and congratulations and your new dosage . Any ampunt you can come off of is a tremendous accomplishment and u have the right attitude about it. If you ever need more dont feel ashamed , i been there on and off and still feel like i can get off of it someday. Keep researching and i will be praying for all of you.

  12. Sarah says:

    Sorry about all of the typos, i was writing to fast and didn’t proof read my entry. I hope that you can still understand what i wrote.

  13. kendrahopkins says:

    hey. i was klonopin for 10yrs. i made the decision to start my weaning process one year ago. i did switching to diazapam. it was a really hard and long process but today is the 4th day without anything at all. my head feels very strange. like a pressure feeling. my blood pressure it also low. is this normal?? i don’t know what to do. please help.

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