Drug Free, 12 months on

Recovery is exhausting.

The aim when I was first prescribed antidepressants was to eventually get off them, I never thought for one moment that it would take almost 8 years, but shit happens.

I want to say the transition from being on drugs every single day to going without was easy, but that would be a bold faced lie.

It was hard coming off antidepressants, so much harder than I thought.

depression and me

I’ll admit straight up, I have an addictive personality, that coupled with some debilitating anxiety and coming off drugs was a hard fought slog.

I think this is the harsh reality for most people coming off antidepressants, or any drug for that matter.

For anyone interested or perhaps those considering coming off antidepressants I’ll share how I found those first 12 months, drug free.

It was actually more like 24 months, before I popped that final pill, I’d begun a gradual reduction of drugs, one smidge at a time to give me a chance to get used to the influx of emotions and stave off the worst of withdrawal symptoms. The withdrawal is something I wasn’t expecting, I wasn’t on crack, but on a gp issued drug!

Alas, withdrawal is real, hard, painful and at times too much to bear. I had to up my dosage a few times when I just couldn’t cope with experiencing a range of emotions the headaches and anxiety brought on my the lower dose.

I was in constant contact with my gp throughout this, I know some go cold turkey, but I honestly wouldn’t recommend it.

The early days of being drug free were both exciting and nerve wracking, I’d been building up to this for a long time, yet I was unprepared as to how I was supposed to cope with the barrage of emotions which came flooding in. There is little to no support in this area unless you can go private, a supportive partner or close friend is a godsend. As too are distractions, I’ve upped my exercise and my creative outlets as a way to avoid allowing negative thoughts to take over.

Having been essentially emotionally numb for 6/7 years, I found it hard as to how I was supposed to cope when the kids played up, when something made me laugh or I was simply content. A bout of anger or happiness would have me questioning myself and whether or not I was experiencing a manic episode.

The bafflement as to how to deal with this sent my anxiety in to overdrive, many a time I was tempted to restart the antidepressants so as to avoid what was a complete head fuck of over stimulation of my emotions.

As with depression, there was a good day followed by several bad days, followed by good weeks and bad days. But it was knowing the good days were coming that made the bad ones worth it.

By the 6 month drug free mark, I was beginning to think I could do this, I’d got through winter which is a bad time of year to come off antidepressants, my children were thriving and Spencer was commenting on how nice it was to have “me” back. It was around this time that I experienced one of my worst panic attacks. It happened whilst I was out alone and set me back, even now months on I get that sick feeling in the pit of my stomach at the thought of leaving the house, I get restless and fidgety when I’m convinced something catastrophic is about to happen and the thought of  actually talking to people leaves me a bumbling mess of word vomit. But, I’d take that over the depression fog any day.

The past 12 months have given me pause, I’ve had a chance to start clean, one not everyone with depression & ptsd get. It’s been humbling to reflect on how far I’ve come, from planning my suicide to setting a 5 year plan and working on making the most of what makes me….me.

To wrap up this rambling post, coming off drugs, any drugs is hard. There will be days when you question if it’s worth it and resent not being on them. But it is so so worth it. Having said that, there is no shame in admitting the time isn’t right for you, you can always try again when you feel ready.