This post may come as a shock to some of my nearest and dearest: Those closest to me haven’t noticed (and I have yet to tell them) that I am no longer taking my anti-depressants.
My parents don’t know. My doctor doesn’t know (yet). Nobody knows. I want to do this on my own – with nobody on my case, constantly checking in, keeping a watchful eye over me – I had to do this by myself. Alone. I did not want a fuss and I still do not. So please, if you’re reading this, be mindful of this as people’s reactions and lamentable advice may be extremely triggering at this point in time. Let me do this my way.
I was on meds for depression and anxiety for just under 4 years. Before I go any further with my story (and my relationship) with medication for mental illness I just want to clarify that what works for me will not necessarily work for you. It is also important that you always talk things over with your doctor before making any rash decisions. Please do not follow in my footsteps. I encourage you all to seek advice from a medical professional before making any sudden changes to your medication or body.
Why did I decide it was time to come off my medication? It just felt like the right time. It was approaching the end of 2018, and I set myself a goal in my head that in 2019 I would no longer rely on meds, I felt they had done what they needed to do at a time when I truly needed them but that I could now cope without them. My body was trying to tell me it was time. Always listen to your body.
Of course it isn’t just that simple. With anti-depressants, it is of paramount importance that you do not just cut them off altogether, it’s a process. Now, if you speak to your doctor they will recommend the best way to do it for you, but I am here today telling you how I did it and what has worked for me.
I began weaning myself off them. Nobody knew, nobody saw me, but every evening when I was taking my meds I would take one less. I was on the highest dosage available so it was going to be a major jump. It would have been extremely foolish off me to just cut the meds altogether, I knew the process was to gradually lower the dosage, until such times your body is able to cope without the medication. After a few weeks of taking one less pill, I began halving the one pill that I was taking, again without telling anyone. I could not have coped at all with people telling me that I was doing the wrong thing, that I should consult my doctor, that I should stay on the meds…
No. I was doing this my way. And that’s what I did.
I weaned myself off them, eventually telling my boyfriend that was the plan, this was to allow someone to keep an eye on me. I knew he would support my choices and respect my decision.
Fast forward to 2019 and I haven’t touched a ‘happy pill’ at all thus far and I feel all the better for it. I’m buzzing off life. I’m smashing my bucket list. I’m much more self-aware. It’s all great. I’m no longer numb; I cried for the first time just last week upon receiving some shattering news. The release was necessary and relevant and it helped me to grieve properly. I think the meds made me numb. I became so cold, all the negative energy was contained inside, and I was unable to release it or express it. It ate away inside of me. Crying is a normal emotion, grief is there to be felt, or how else do we ever recover?
Let me touch on the side-affects off coming off meds, I’m getting carried away here, I don’t want to miss anything out. I’m conscious of this post becoming lengthy but I need to get all of this out of my system. Admittedly, my first week coming off the meds completely was difficult, very difficult. I was up and down like a see-saw. My head was all over the place. My body was fatigued, drained, starved. My mind was rebelling, refusing to cooperate, confused.
I had a serious spot break out. I’ve never suffered with bad breakouts, even as a teenager, it has always just been a random spot here and there and never any cause for concern. Coming off the meds caused me a serious hormone imbalance and BOOM: acne galore. Painful spots to the touch. Swollen. Purple. Not nice. Not pleasant. They were scattered across my cheeks and they were such a nightmare. I just had to ride it out and allow them to fade themselves (which they have done thankfully).
I was a bit of a nippy sweetie for a few days, biting my boyfriend’s head off for the simplest of things, which would then spite him to say “I think you need to think about going back on your meds”. Well, this infuriated me, there was no hope in hell of this happening. I stuck it out. I found ways of coping and preoccupying myself whilst my body got to grips with the changes.
I hit the gym and worked up HUGE sweats. I wrote in my journal more. I had long baths and read good books. I kept my mind busy. I pushed it to the back of my mind as much as I could. And it worked.
I can’t express how much better I’m feeling today than I was towards the end of 2018. I just knew it was time (for me). I knew my body had had enough. I always knew the meds wouldn’t be forever and truth be told: I stayed on them far longer than I ever imagined I would. I’m so glad to be doing this myself now, I’m finding ways to overcome negative thoughts, ways that I can control and that I have a say over. I’m getting used to communicating with my mind again without there being a middle-man. I’m enjoying feeling all the feelings – no longer feeling numb.
Life is precious. And so are you.
Do what works for you. Always.