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This is my story and my truth...I'm sharing this very personal and trying time in my life . Be patient reading this it will make sense as far as the anxiety a little later on in the story! In May of 2006 I was prescribed Lariam (mefloquine is the generic name) for malaria during my travels through Southeast Asia. I decided not to take the pill right away, until a little further in my travels.. I remember sitting in the airport in Jakarta going to Bali then Lombok to backpack, I decided to take the pill about 20 minutes before my flight. Needless to say that one moment in time changed my life forever. I remember walking to the terminal when suddenly I was struck with an extreme bout of vertigo and sickness my whole body gave out I was so disoriented and sick.... In fact I was laying on the floor with people starting to gather and wonder what was wrong with me. I tried with every ounce of energy and thought in my body to sustain myself, but that was an impossible task. I vaguely remember strangers stroking my hair and trying to give me drinks...complete strangers... It was so surreal, I stumbled on the plane and prayed to god that it would just crash. I felt like I was going to die, I had never experienced something like that in my entire life. Not really putting two and two together I continued to take them for a few more times. Then I stopped after 4 pills I just had a feeling it wasn't just adjusting to different food and weather.. it was something else...For the next few months I battled hallucinations, paranoia, extreme anxiety panic disorder, depression and numbness in my extremities, extreme weightloss., vision disturbances.I was so dizzy and I couldn't tell up from down...I couldn't walk more than a block without collapsing. And then I would be fine for a week and then it would start all over again. I spent a lot of time in hospital undergoing many tests for all these symptoms, to avail nothing was ever found! At one point a Doctor told me he thought I had Leukaemia and wanted to bone marrow testing...I was terrified and I felt so hopeless and literally crazy! I finally decided to go back to Canada because I would rather die at home, than in Indonesia. I even remember writing an email to my friends and family saying that I loved them if i didn't make it back. It must have scared them so badly. But at that point I really thought that that would be the end of me as I knew it, and to some extent it has been!
I flew back to Canada and was put into quarantine in VGH for 1 day, they ran a gamete of tests and again nothing. I seemed to be getting a bit better and the bouts were getting fewer and farther between. Jump ahead 2 years I had my baby Sofie, and it was a very hard ordeal, I will spare the details but afterwards I was again prescribed another medication Ciproflaxin.( QUINOLONE ALSO) Within a few days later I was in a mental state that was very very difficult, harsh depression, mood swings, so so sick again, so much pain and anxiety. The Dr thought it was just the baby blues....But I knew it was something different..something very similar to the way I felt in Indonesia, but not as severe but still very difficult. Hallucinations, manic behaviour, vivid nightmares, weakness, nausea on and on...and being a new mother needless to say it was a very trying time in my life. Fast forward 3 more years later. I still had been suffering from vertigo, pain and anxiety, headaches, chest pains. I just never felt the same after Indonesia and the birth of my child. My doctor did a series of ct scans blood tests , allergy testing and everything under the sun . August 4th I had another CT scan with X-ray dye and I actually crashed inside the machine about 1 min after the dye was injected into my body. I barely got my hand up and I was out. They rushed a doctor in and I could barely remember them talking about my pulse or lack of one. After some meds they injected into me and some more time. I was more aware and was waking up shaking uncontrollably and very disoriented. They all looked puzzled and told me to never have X-ray contrast dye again. But it was still a blur. 6 hours afterwards I was in full blown panic disorder, Now if you've never had a panic attack I cannot even describe how terrifying it is...especially if you don't know what they feels like you are dying! I was losing my vision, shaking uncontrollably again and kept passing out....and this didn't stop... not for anything. I couldn't control it at all. I felt completely out of control of my own body and mind... I couldn't function on any level at all. I couldn't go outside, my senses were all amplified by a 100%, I couldn't drive or even to talk was difficult. I went back to the hospital and no one could help me they were puzzled as I was. I was so lost and so sick. Blood test after blood test nothing. After one of my lowest moments and calling my father and begging for his help I told him I wanted to kill myself and I couldn't take this anymore...We finally decided to move back to the Okanagan where I could be closer to friends and father and mom who could be a support system for me. Since my husband works out of town and he his our provider... and I really needed someone at this time more than I've ever needed anyone in my entire life. I got lined up with a wonderful doctor in Vernon who looked at my history and were able to help me finally. Between my research and her patience and mindfulness...We were finally able to piece things together... LARIAM toxicity and derivatives ( being the quinolones) of this pharmaceutical changed my life forever. I now suffer from anxiety and panic disorder. I have been prescribed Effexor XR for the anxiety and panic... mirtazapine for insomnia.
I have felt a little better the panic has subsided but the anxiety very much still here, and will always be from what I can tell. I have since done a lot of investigating with my doctor. Lariam has cost me my life in some ways, it has permanently damaged my brain stem. I have learned that with anxiety comes many symptoms, which all that I have had..I never knew that anxiety could manifest so many physical symptoms but I have learned alot through this whole process, which explains so many of the symptoms I had since 2006 on and off. I do therapies like Somatic, CBT and massage therapy along side of my presciption. I read many books about stress and anxiety and have a anxiety free diet.
I do not consume any stimulants ( caffiene, or even herbal stimulants) I do not consume alcohol. It will take years to get better from this toxcity, and now anxiety is a huge part of my life. I never knew it could be so disabling. I have been on the effexor since Oct 2011 and seen small improvements. I still have major insomnia, I try to exercise so it helps a bit and I take mirtazapine for sleep which used to be helpful but has since waned. I have to say my life is alot better since August. But it is still a daily struggle. I have gained a lot of weight especially around my midsection since the effexor, around 20lbs. I eat well and I exercise daily so this has been very frustrating to me. I'm 5'8 and 150lbs now...its getting me depressed. I have thought about weaning myself off effexor! But I still struggle with the thought of being back there in the midst of all the anxiety. Sometimes I think I can handle all of this with proper diet supplementation and exercise and therapies, in fact I know it is possible...without the meds, but I guess I still have anxiety about that, plus it would be nice to sleep again since the effexor seems to prevent that for me. Any thoughts on this from the community, any experiences you can share that might be encouraging and helpful?

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