Six months ago, I wrote a post all about my journey with antidepressants. It spoke all about how grateful I was for antidepressants but that I was thinking it was time to part ways. And six months later, it has happened!
(Side note – where have those six months gone?!)
For the past three months, I’ve been saying goodbye to antidepressants after around four years. Although I have only been fully off my antidepressants for about two weeks, the journey is beginning.
Coming To This Conclusion
I’ve written quite a lot about how antidepressants saved my life. And they really did. They took me from a barely-functioning, shell of a human being to this….
A girl who moved countries, who has excelled in a job and can cope with anything life throws at her. Now, excuse me whilst I go and have a little sick for bigging myself up so much. I’m honestly so thankful for being able to achieve this much.
Antidepressants were a saviour for me, but I’d been toying with the idea of coming off them for almost a year. You might be thinking ‘Why Hannah? When they’ve helped you out so much?’
When I decided to come off my medication, I was in a really settled period of my life. And if I’m not being a total drama queen, then I still am. I am much more settled and stable now compared I was when I was first diagnosed with depression, and definitely my anxiety.
So after considering it for over a year, I finally decided that it was time to come off my antidepressants. But now that I have, how is it going?
My Brain Wasn’t Happy
Coming off antidepressants is a bloody ride; and definitely not the fun kind.
The first few weeks were fine. It was all going smoothly. I even, stupidly, thought ‘Oh this isn’t half as bad as everyone makes out.’ Then my brain realised it wasn’t getting its daily hit of serotonin and it was not a happy bunny.
When this happened, it honestly felt like my mental health was about to hit rock bottom. I totally panicked. I was absolutely terrified that I’d made a huge mistake and couldn’t cope.
One day at work, I started crying and couldn’t stop. For the whole day. I tried to leave the office for lunch but ended up crying into a bagel. And when I asked my manager if I could go home? Yep, you guessed it, I started crying and she definitely thought someone had died.
So, when all else fails take to Google right? Usually Googling is THE worst idea when it comes to health issues, but for once, it didn’t tell me that I was about to die. I did some research and realised that withdrawal from antidepressants can mimic mental health issues.
After a few weeks, with a couple more moments that involved all of the crying, things slowly started to calm down. And thankfully, there hasn’t been anything else like that!
Aside from that, I did have had a couple of weird side effects from the withdrawal. Mostly just the odd dizzy spell. But when I was on holiday on Italy, there was weird moment. It felt like I was glitching out – kind of like how they describe MK Ultra test subjects (hello to my fellow conspiracy lovers). I can’t explain it but it was like my vision just went sideways. It was the weirdest and totally freaked me out.
How Am I Doing?
Ignoring the side effects, I am doing fine actually.
My mental health still seems really stable. And even when life has thrown be some totally crappy situations recently, I am dealing with those. I feel confident that I’ll be able to deal with most things life will throw at me.
Nobody can predict the future, so I don’t know what will happen with my mental health in the future. However, what I do know is that, right now, I can handle it.
My mental health hasn’t been an issue for a couple of years. And yes, that was mostly thanks to my antidepressants. If life was perfect, my mental health would stay like this for the rest of my life.
One thing that I have noticed is that I feel less ‘numb’ in a way. I’m crying at absolutely everything – happy, sad or anything inbetween. I don’t think this is a bad thing though, it just feels I’m feeling more emotions.
Where Will The Future Lead?
But we all know that life isn’t perfect! Nobody knows what the future will hold.
I’m not naïve enough to believe my mental health will always be this stable. I know there will be difficult patches. There will probably be times where I really struggle with my mental health. That’s just part of life.
My anxiety might pop up to give me a friendly panic attack. Or maybe my depressions will force me to stay in bed sometimes.
That’s just part of suffering with mental health issues. We never know when, or if, our mental health is going to rear its head. Who knows whether we’ll wake up tomorrow and it’ll be a bad day.
When my mental health does become a struggle again, I really hope that I’ll be able to deal with it. I hope that I’ll be able to muddle through with it through the coping mechanisms I’ve got in place.
There Is No Shame
And what happens if I can’t deal with it? Then I will do what is right for my mental health.
If that includes saying hello to my old pal antidepressants again then great. I’m not going to sit here and slam future me if I decide to take antidepressants because I know how life-saving they can be.
There is no shame in going back on antidepressants. It can feel like you’ve failed when your mental health has been stable for so long then does a nose dive.
You aren’t a failure. Mental health isn’t a linear journey. It’s a bloody wobbly line that looks like a two-year-old drew it. There are ups, downs, and all over the place parts to the journey of your mental health.
We have to do what is right, at that specific time. So maybe I will need to take antidepressants again. Maybe I won’t. Who bloody knows? Crazy shit happens in life.
Right now though, I am feeling really stable. My brain is feeling pretty healthy – which sounds like such a weird way to describe it, but it is the same as any other part of your body.
The only thing I can say to you, do what is right for you. If that means staying on antidepressants for six months, six years or the rest of your life – make the decisions that are right for your own journey and mental health.
But if you are thinking that it is time to come of antidepressants, then talk to a doctor and wean yourself off them SLOWLY. I can’t emphasise that enough, but the consequences of not doing it slowly enough are catastrophic, I’ve seen that with other people in my life.