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Thursday, May 10, 2012

Bye Bye Happy Pills

Part of being human means to feel human emotions. Each, whether they be positive,  negative or neutral, is a gift to be appreciated, no matter how difficult some may be to feel. I am thankful to be able to experience a full range of emotions from extreme, violent rage and utterly depressive sadness to joyously delightful excitement and sheer happiness (preferably not all at once nor in immediate succession).
Today marks a big day for me- over the past two months, I have taken it upon myself to finally taper off an antidepressant I had been on since my early teenage years. Despite my mother’s pleads not to, I innately felt it was the right thing to do; ten years is long enough to have this chemical in my body.
I went about this pragmatically and cautiously. I gradually decreased the dosage a week or two at a time and paid very close attention to my body and mind. Initially, I felt waves of anxiety come and go and as a knee jerk reaction, I thought it must be an adverse reaction. I feared that my body had become so dependent on this chemical that my brain would never be able to functionally create its own serotonin balance.
“Breathe!” - I demanded to myself (something everyone could do more of). I realized I had been psyching myself out and creating a self-fulfilling prophecy by expecting the worst to happen. I noticed that I was so afraid of feeling anxious that I was, in turn, creating more anxiety within myself! I was cyclically damning myself and if I ever wanted to successfully be free of taking those daily pills, I would have to trust that my able body and mind would be just fine without them!
Long story short, today was the first day completely off of the antidepressant. Over the past few weeks, my smile never left me and my anxiety never crippled me. It may be the reverse-placebo effect of knowing the medicine is not in my body, but I feel like I am thinking clearer, feeling stronger and laughing harder.
I think back to when I was first adjusting to the highest dose of the “happy-pills” I was put on and hated the numbness it made me feel. I remember hating that I couldn’t cry if I wanted to, couldn’t act on my anger if it was necessary, couldn’t feel the whole range of happiness/sadness/frustration/rage.
Sure, the depression was gone and I am thankful that the medicine did its job, but the anti-emotional side effects were something I was not willing to accept for the rest of my life. I want tears to stream down my face when I watch a sad movie, I want to be so excited about a new opportunity that I leap in the air, I want to feel.
It’s often said that you don’t know what you have until it’s gone. For ten years my emotions were suppressed in favor of a clinically stabilized state-today I reclaim my right to my ups, my downs, my smiles, my frowns, and everything in between.
**Disclaimer: I am NOT a physician and would highly recommend anyone who is thinking about discontinuing medications to consult with their physician/psychiatrist as there are adverse side effects that may occur if not done correctly**

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