I’m going to talk about something people hate talking about.

Medication withdrawal.

There’s many reasons why someone may be going off their medication – switching to something else, going off completely because they had circumstantial depression, switching to alternative therapies etc.  Many are reluctant to tell the people around them that they’re going off medications due to fear of judgment or lack of understanding.  Sometimes it feels easier to keep it a secret.  No one will pass judgment, perhaps they won’t notice the difference in mood or at least hoping they won’t, and then there’s the fear someone will notice the physical symptoms of withdrawal and you have to decide whether to tell them the truth or say you’re coming down with something.

We’ve all been there.  I think, anyway.  I sure have.

Last week I decided to go off my anti-depressant.   As I’m typing this I’m feeling fear already – fear of judgement.

“You decided to go off it?” 

“Why would you do that?”

“You made that decision without your doctor?”

Yup.  At this point I’ve been dealing with medications for 6 years and I feel I know myself well enough to do some changes on my own.  I made the decision to wean myself off to try out 5HTP as an alternative.  5HTP is a natural supplement that increases seratonin.  It is also great for Fibromyalgia as it promotes healthy sleep and decreases pain. 

Anyhoo, I cut my Celexa (SSRI – antidepressant) in half.  I should also note that Celexa isn't the only medication I take.  I have Bipolar Disorder so I also take a mood stabilizer and an anti-psychotic.  Sometimes I feel like my bathroom is a pharmacy, but I keep my medications in a Gucci bag so that makes me feel a little better haha.

The first few days were fine.  No biggie.  Around the 4th day I started to feel faint and experienced nausea and excessive sweating. 

There’s the physical symptoms but then there’s also the emotional symptoms.  It’s also normal to have this hope that maybe we won’t experience anything different when off the medication.

Day 4 and the anxiety took over.  Worry and guilt and panic.  I honestly didn’t really feel any depression.  I was more moody than anything.  My fiancé can attest to this haha.  I didn’t tell him I was going off of it for the hope he wouldn’t notice.  An experiment I guess.  But, there was many fights and arguments and I knew I was exaggerating and being extremely over emotional about everything.

I felt guilt but I’ve also been through this long enough to know that even though I’m responsible for my actions, this feeling isn’t my fault.  I have a mental illness and there’s so much shit that comes with it.  Med changes is one of them.

Anyway, after discussing with fiancé, I decided it was in my best interest to go back on it.  We’re going on holidays soon and then getting married right away.  I’m not sure I am (or him) prepared to deal with the symptoms that come with going off medications at this point.

There are a few points to this seemingly pointless story:

  • Medication withdrawal sucks.  You are not alone.
  • We all experience similar feelings and sensations when going through medication changes.  You are not alone.
  • Stigma has made us want to keep things quiet when going through this situation.  You are not alone. 

Basically, you are absolutely not alone.  There's so many shitty things about mental illness, but there's also so much hope.