As most of you know, in January I made the difficult decision to stop ALL mental health medication. This means no medication, whatsoever. No mental health medication. No anti depressives, no anti psychotics, no sedatives, no mood stabilisers, no sleeping pills, etc. None. These types of psychiatric drugs should be withdrawn slowly to prevent regression, relapse and withdrawal symptoms. My decision to come off them was swift and within 2 days I went from being on medication to absolutely nothing (I don’t recommend this, not the best idea if I say so myself).
Now, there is a lot of speculation on whether psychiatric drugs are effective, safe and addictive. Sure, all psychiatric medication could cause withdrawal reactions. Psychiatric drugs can cause a wide range of symptoms when taking the drug. When first being taken off this medication, the person can feel markedly worse. This is due to a withdrawal reaction. I personally think that all medication works differently for everybody. Some people may get withdrawal symptoms, some may not. One drug may work for someone else but not for me or vice versa.
It’s been a struggle. A roller-coaster, even. Month 1, as I stated before, was horrendous. It was a month of adjustment, a month of no longer setting alarms to take meds, a month of feeling absolutely horrendous. Within days of being off medication my mood became vulnerable. Suicidal thoughts and behaviours increased, I was irritable, constantly crying and my anxiety always sat in my stomach. However, coming off the medication gave me more energy. Psychiatric drugs have been noted to cause drowsiness and increased fatigue and when I came off medication I felt so much more energised. I was actually able to sit on the sofa without falling asleep. I was able to leave the house without being overwhelmingly filled with tiredness.
Month 2 and 3 have been a blur. My memory, on the best of days, is awful, so trying to remember the adjustment of each month is beyond my comprehension. It hasn’t been easy, that much I can assure. Why would it be easy? Coming off medication does not mean that your illnesses are gone, it means that you are no longer controlling them by medication. When I was on medication, I was so set in believing that it wasn’t working. I was still feeling suicidal and down on medication but it wasn’t until I came off it that I noticed how much it actually worked. Medication doesn’t take your mental illnesses away. How awesome would medication be if it did that. If medication took your mental illnesses away, I’ve realised, it would also take your personality, your ability to wake up and breathe everyday. It would take you. Medication numbs your mental illnesses to the point where you can function. That’s how I explain it.
It’s been 3 months of balancing my mood, my anxieties and my pain all whilst trying to live and succeed at university. After month 3, I can honestly say that being off medication will not likely be a permanent thing and someday in the near future it will introduce itself to me again. What I can also say is that medication is not the answer to everything and even if I feel like I can no longer go on, God blesses me with a new day every time I open my eyes, and for that I’m always thankful.
Please do your research before stopping any psychiatric medications. If you feel ready, organise an appointment or two to thoroughly discuss your options with your doctor. If you feel like you need medication for your mental health disorders, please do not be afraid to discuss this with your doctor also- they will listen to your views and come up with a plan. Medication is not for everyone but some people need it to function, and that’s perfectly fine.
Be safe, I love you.