Cool to see everyone elses experiences and how different they can be, heres my wall of text
SA/GAD, agoraphobe, ADHD, seasonal atypical depression. Havent worked in 8 years, no friends with the exception of my partner of 18 years and intarnet.
Previous drugs: tegretol, depakote, seroquel, lithium, zoloft, prozac, wellbutrin, valium, klonopin, xanax, ritalin, adderall and probably others.
Ive been using gabapentin for nearly 2 years, generally 400mg 2-3x a day. I discovered early on that if I didnt take breaks (2 days on, 1 day off or longer) that I no longer have any noticeable benefit and do not even feel the drug, and just revert back to my usual state of anxious irritability. If I took this drug every day for a month, I will not benefit from it. BUT if I have no tolerance at all, Ill just feel intoxicated and wobbly, so I try to keep it at my personal sweet spot.
While playing with the schedule, I did not taper and I did not notice any withdrawal symptoms, even at 2.4g+ a day in the beginning. During extended periods off, 4 days to 2 weeks, I have noticed that my mind becomes sharper, so it definitely dumbs me down, but I only perceive it after the fact during the periods of cessation, unlike with benzos, which immediately turn me into an extra from Idiocracy.
It does not impact my appetite, it does not seem to influence sleep in any noticeable way or make me sleepy. It has had no apparent impact on sexual drive or performance. Actually, I think it may increase both slightly(better mood, less anxiety.) I have overall *lost* 60lbs while taking it. I become way more productive and active when Im on it, and my anxiety is almost non existent.
I can: Go *out the front door* and mow the lawn and then after realize 'OMFG did I just go out front? Good job!' The anticipation/apprehension is just not there. Experiencing anticipation is how I know tolerance is building and to take a break for a few days, during which time I find myself in that very familiar rubber room of my mind, anxious and fearful. Very apparent on mood/med charting. But still, more days than not now, I am outside of that room able to work through things.
I can: Spend the entire day in the back yard, even with the neighbors out, and not even think about it. Ill even smile and wave!
I can: Go hiking without having a complete meltdown and running away when a turkey makes a sudden movement in the brush. The *terror* of being outside is just not there. Theres no hiking, or exercising in general, on alcohol/benzos, especially not the 15+ miles I can do easily on gabapentin. I even managed to do 12 miles all by myself once without needing the attachment of my partner. That was a major step for me, being able to be alone outside.
I can: Interact in a pleasant way with family, which I havent been able to do in 30 years since I was a toddler. Gets me out of my room.
I can: Generally enjoy things, it really brightens my mood, I think mood might be the key for me in the above examples. Im just far less of an uptight neurotic dbag. I *want* to talk to people, and Ive always been a pretty shy insecure isolated and introverted guy. The usual barriers arent there. Gets me out of my head.
The benefits are very reminiscent of alcohol to me, or maybe even a super low dose of MDMA. Theres just no way to get them from alcohol without feeling intoxicated + all the other downsides of alcohol.
Of course I should mention that this would be useless without the motivation to improve myself, and tools like CBT mood charting relaxation exercise and meditation. Its just really useful for getting me in to situations of exposure and succeeding, and brightening my mood and therefore my overall motivation.
I should probably mention that I am not taking the gabapentin as directed and you should probably follow your doctors directions. However, If I had not figured out the tolerance thing and only took it as directed, I would have never seen its potential.