Whenever someone weans off a medication, there are side effects to the process. Whether they are mental or physical, going from taking any medication consistently (or daily) to not taking any at all will come with different outcomes. Part one of this post spoke to the physical side-effects I’ve noticed most – mainly, that my energy levels are different and I am much more tired than I used to be. Now I’m here to talk about the mental aspect.
Even though I’m not on medication anymore, I still get depressed. I am anxious constantly. Negative self-talk and other thought processes are prevalent throughout the day. All of the things that have been part of my life for years are still there. That sounds bad, right? I mean I’ll be honest, it doesn’t sound good. But while those things have not changed, my outlook has. And that’s the difference.
One thing I’ve learned in this process is that medication affects everyone differently, and your experience with it is unique. For instance, depression and anxiety affect me in a very physical way and since I was prioritizing being happy over being healthy, I was ignoring a massive impact of my health. Becoming more focused on the physical aspects of my mental health has made a lot of things better, but my mental state hasn’t changed much. However, my perspective on my mental state has changed drastically, and that’s played a major role in how this was all able to happen.
I used to look at my mental health in a linear way, and it hurt me. Every step back felt like a hundred, and I disqualified any progress because I knew regression was coming. I thought my negative thoughts and feelings were something to solve or get rid of. The idea of coexisting with any of it seemed impossible. But I knew that if I was ever going to be off medication, I was going to have to coexist with these thoughts and feelings. I’m planning to go back to therapy, but that’s a process. In the meantime, I was going to have to live with it. And I have.
One of my big mistakes early on was thinking that I could ‘cure’ my depression. Mental health can drastically improve and symptoms can come and go, but searching for a one-off solution can end up being fruitless and a waste of time. For me, the difference between meds like mine and the ones you take for a physical illness are not the same. I wasn’t taking meds to get back to 100% health; I was taking them to keep my head above water. And now, I think I can stay afloat without them (though a combination of physical wellness and therapy will both be key).
Medication is a tool in my chest for fighting depression and anxiety. Right now, it goes back in the chest. Should I need it again, I won’t hesitate to explore options and see what needs to be done. But it isn’t the only tool you can use; there are so many aspects of wellness that can affect your mental state. I plan to use as many of these ‘tools’ as I can in the future, and I believe you should explore them too.
(P.S. I sincerely hope I wasn’t trying to simplify the role that meds can play in battling mental illness. They have helped me in a million ways and I truly don’t know where I’d be if I hadn’t found something that worked for me. I know people who will likely have to be on medication for a long time or the rest of their life, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Much love to you all.)
You are wise beyond your apparent years and seem to have experienced life changing challenges from an early age. Depression affects so many, and has through history. Today we have the SSRIs to reach for, which I did for the past 7 years. I just began my tapering off, finally, after dreading the process. Your attitude that happiness is not an ultimate constant state to seek, but rather it is good health to strive for, is freeing. I can feel my brain sorting through the clutter even on my 3rd day of med reduction. The physical results are uncomfortable, but you have helped reinforce why I am taking this on!
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The physical results can sometimes lead to lackluster results, but I’m glad they’ve reinforced that feeling. Something else I made sure I knew before I tapered off was that if it doesn’t work long-term, that doesn’t mean I failed. Everyone needs to find what works for them! I’ve been following your blog – sending you good vibes through the process!
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“I wasn’t taking meds to get back to 100% health; I was taking them to keep my head above water. ”
Thank you so much for that statement. It helped me put a frame around my struggle with taking meds.
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Glad that helped you! And I wish you the best on your mental health journey 😀