After experiencing a relapse in my depression and anxiety, I made the decision to stop taking my "Happy Pills." I no longer want to battle my anxiety and depression with medication. I haven't shared this news with anyone yet; I still don't know if it was the right thing to do. But, I felt the need to share my struggle with antidepressants.
My ten month journey on antidepressants was a roller coaster. There were many highs and lows; but mostly lows. I went through three different medications before finding one that worked with my body (or so I thought). Even with medication, I eventually ended up back in the dark hole of depression. I felt like a zombie; I was numb to all emotions. My mental and physical health were declining. I started to question if the antidepressants were even helping my anxiety and depression.
I made an appointment with my psychiatrist to figure out what was going on. His solution was to up my dose of Prozac from 20mg to 40mg. I left the doctor’s office feeling lost. I filled my prescription that day, got home, and starred at the bottle. A million things were running through my mind. I kept asking myself, "Why are you going to continue to put something into you body that's making you feel like crap?" I made the decision that very second to stop taking my medication. It was such a liberating feeling. Antidepressants became chains that were holding me back.
I decided to stop taking my medication without my doctor's knowledge. This is a big NO-NO. I do not recommend this, especially if you are on a very high dose of medication. I knew there would be consequences by stopping my pills abruptly. But, I figured it would be an easy transition since Prozac is one of the SSRI's that is the "easiest" to stop cold turkey due to its longer half-life. Even so, I still experienced withdrawals for weeks: "Electric" headaches, fatigue, loss of balance, blurred vision, confusion, memory loss, night sweats, and tremors in my hands. Those weeks were the hardest. I felt good mentally, I was in good spirits; but my body was fighting the battle. Every day I would come home after work and go straight to bed. The toll the withdrawals took on my body was horrible.
I've been antidepressant free for two months now. Although the physical withdrawals are gone, mentally I am struggling. My emotions are all over the place, I have a break down at least once a day. I'm at war with myself; fighting with the thoughts in my head that just won't quit. It's difficult to deal with these feelings that my antidepressants once masked. Some days are worse than others, but I'm pulling through. Do I regret my decision? At this very moment I do not regret it. But, ask me on a bad day and the answer will differ.
I've dedicated this past year to heal myself. I'm in a better situation in my life now than I was a year ago. I have a great job, an amazing support system, and I feel like I'm on the right track. With weekly therapy, I've learned how to manage my depression and anxiety on my own. I am hopeful that I can get through my daily life without antidepressants.
My journey is to be continued....
(For more information about my journey check out my Happy Pills post as well as my post featured on Worth Living about my relapse)