Coming off antidepressants, making a plan

Depression is such an individual experience, so to is the recovery process, what works for one may not work for another.

IT’S A JOURNEY NOT A RACE

single chair

It is so worth remembering that recovery from depression and anxiety can’t be rushed, as much as I wanted to be free from it all I knew for a long time I was neither mentally nor emotionally ready to attempt coming off my antidepressants.

Whilst my approach wont necessarily work for everyone, here is how I approached stopping taking antidepressants after 7 years on them.

Being Patient

Many times over the years I wanted to stop taking antidepressants, several times I went cold turkey with disastrous results, the side effects are horrendous if not managed properly. In time I realised that it was best for me to stay on them and wait until I felt stable enough on both an emotional and mental level to cope with stressful situations, parenting and life in general, I also waited until our family life was relatively settled.

Making a plan

I began by reducing the dosage every few months, from 270mg to 35mg. I then started to prolong the time between doses until I was taking one every 4 days, which most likely did nothing for me but was part of the process I needed to follow for my own benefit.

I was advised to not attempt coming off antidepressants in either autumn or winter, the shorter darker days can have a negative impact on moods. Spring therefore seemed the perfect time to give this a proper chance.

Getting active

It was important to me that I not dwell on what I was attempting to do, over thinking things is a big anxiety trigger for me. I therefore kept myself busy with my woodturning and making the most of the summer break with the twins. As important as it is to keep busy, it was equally important that I took time out for myself, learning to handle my moods and emotions could at times be exhausting and hard to process. Recognising that I was actually feeling emotions was an odd adjustment.

Finding support

I kept up with my regular GP appointments, often times bouncing in to their office with a beaming smile as I exclaimed how happy I was! It made a novel change to my earlier GP appointments. I made sure to be as honest as possible as to how I was coping on reduced medication.

I also made sure to talk to Spencer, he was best placed to see how I was coping and if any immediate intervention was needed. Besides, it wouldn’t have been fair to put my family through this without some preparation.

Final appointment

I plan to make another GP appointment once I have been off antidepressants for one month, to ensure there are no discontinuation symptoms nor signs of depression that I may be missing.

And hopefully that will be that.

antidepressants and my coffee

I don’t for one moment expect life to be hunky dory from now on, I will most likely flirt with depression again, but next time I feel I’ll be better able to not only accept it but manage it.

One of the things I learnt was that it’s okay if it takes a few attempts to come antidepressants, there no shame in admitting you need more time.

In the shadows

After the crazy that was the summer break I’m enjoying the peaceful moments that I get when I head out to see the sunrise. I’m always amazed at how delicate the pier looks in shadow.

in shadows

Photalife

Drug free

Relying on any drug is terrifying.

Will you become dependant on them, will they even work, will you be able to get your next fix, what kind of side effects will there be and will you ever be able to come off them?

These were all thoughts and concerns which plagued me throughout my dependency on antidepressants and antianxiety medications. I knew I needed them, I knew they were helping, but from the first tablet I took I wanted to come off them.

There was and is no shame in needing medication to balance yourself out.

Yet, even knowing this, I still felt like an abject failure as both a person and a mother.

Being able to function, even at a basic level was only made possible by the strict daily regimen of pill popping, so despite my own messed up view on medication, I will forever be thankful that these tiny pills enabled me to function enough that I was able to see that life was worth living.

a lone leaf

It took months of horrendous lows and numerous drug changes to find the one which worked for me. It was no fun for anyone whilst I tried to find the drugs which would eventually help balance me out, it was imperative that I found the one that worked.

Now, years later, it’s 2 weeks and 2 days since I took my last antidepressant.

It’s a strange feeling. Knowing that my mood now is my real mood, my emotions are m. There is no barrier between me, the darkness and the rest of the world. What you see is what you get.

I wont lie and say its all peaches and cream, you don’t come off drugs after 7 years and not expect to experience some kind of turbulent period.

The good news is, I haven’t flipped, my anger hasn’t caused me to launch a chair across the room, I’ve not shouted at the kids and Spencer is very much still with me.

But there is a slight difference in me, I can feel things more on an emotional level. Perhaps I’m just more aware of my moods as I know they are true and not suppressed at all.

For now, it’s going well.

I’m happy, truly happy for the first time in years, which is both a sad and wonderful thing to be able to say.

I realise there will be ups and downs as life carries on, there may come a time when I need the security that only antidepressants can provide, but for now I’m finally at peace.

Beneath the pier

This is just one of the reasons I love Daylight Saving time, sunrise at a reasonable hour!

sunrise beneath the pier

Photalife

Seeds & Stuff

I can’t tell if things are slowing down or speeding up as we bask in the last few days of summer.

Gardens, our own included are once again doing their own thing; in some cases ignoring the seasons and having a second run of blooming or sprouting months early.

One thing for certain is that there are seeds aplenty. Over the past few weeks the boys and I have been gathering and deseeding flowers from the garden and from roadside verges.

I knew all those little bowls and dishes I turned would come in handy!

bowls of seeds

seeds and pinecone

seeds and grass

seeds

I’m always amazed at how many seeds are packed in to the pods.

seed pod

Even with the lack of flowers in our garden, there’s still plenty of colour to be found whilst we are out and about

autumn colours autumn carpet

 

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