I slowly weaned myself off my antidepressant. It took me 32 days. The reason it took me 32 days is because of a little thing called, “SSRI Discontinuation Syndrome.”
That’s a lovely euphemism put forth by drug companies that means “this shit will kick your ass with withdrawal symptoms.”
Drug companies like to try to take the stigma of what amounts to an addiction [albeit only when you try to go off them] from their little droplets of gold.
The irony here is that antidepressants are only slightly more effective than a placebo, and in many studies, not at all. So they’re no more effective than a sugar pill, but cost an arm and a leg, and if you try to go off them, you have withdrawal symptoms.
A perfect money maker, don’t you think? I mean think about it. The withdrawal symptoms alone are often enough to keep people taking their meds.
So although it was a little scary, since some of the withdrawal symptoms include anxiety, twitchiness, and irritability, I decided that a $40 a month [that’s the copay. Actual drug cost is about $200] placebo was bullshit.
I can meditate, pray, and ride motorcycles for cheaper than that, and it’s more effective!
The fourth week was the most difficult for some reason, but I’m off of it, and I feel pretty damn good.
Next is the mood stabilizer. I know what you’re thinking, “Oh hell, here goes the crazy person going off her meds.” Except that I’m not actually crazy. I definitely qualify as Bipolar 2, but I think maybe I’m not actually mentally ill.
Here’s what I mean. When I can keep my stress levels manageable and have a strong support system, I function just fine. So what my meds actually accomplish is they enable me to endure a situation that is incompatible with my temperament.
Sometimes that’s necessary. If you’re stuck in a situation you can’t get out of or improve, I’m all for medicating in order to survive it. But I think it should only be a stopgap measure until you figure out a way to change things.
I ended up in a situation that I didn’t want, but couldn’t see a way to avoid. I knew taking care of Jeremi would be a nightmare, but I couldn’t bear the thought of leaving my parents to do it alone, or of allowing J to go to a nursing home or die.
I knew it would be bad, but I didn’t expect that I would be completely unable to function. Enter medication. It numbed the pain and allowed me a little extra time to figure out that this is not something I am able or willing to do for the rest of my life.
Unfortunately, even with meds, I’ve reached a point of burnout so complete that there’s no way I’m going to be able to keep this up.
Now, the reason I decided to go ahead and stop my meds even though J still lives here is that although the meds definitely numb the emotional pain of living in a situation that is diametrically opposed to what I need to thrive, it has also taken away my most treasured gift: my creativity.
The need to write disappeared, and with it, one of the things I like best about me. With the dulling of my senses and emotions, the well of my creative soul dried up.
I won’t live half a life. I won’t sacrifice my connection to the universe in order to survive diminished.
I have no way of knowing how long I’ll be on this planet. I refuse to put off living the life I was created to live until tomorrow, next year, twenty years from now.
So I’m going off my meds, and already I feel the urge to create, to write, to return to me.
It’s good to be back.