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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.