Coming off anti depressants. Don’t rush it!
I previously wrote about my experiences with anxiety and depression, and made a huge deal of how anti-depressants can be amazing for some people, sung their praises and said that nobody should be made to feel ashamed for taking them. I still stand by that, but recently I made the decision to come off my anti-depressants.
I’d finished uni, got myself into a full time job and moved back home. I felt like I had stability and routine, which has always been a massive help with my depression; without a routine, I feel a bit all over the place, and it does tend to affect my mental health. Back at home where I am surrounded by family and friends, and was generally having a pretty good time, I was starting to feel less and less like I needed to be taking them anymore. I decided that I’d be fine without them, and that if I wasn’t, it was no big deal, I could just go straight back on them should I have to.
I made the massive mistake of just abandoning them, one day I didn’t take my daily tablet, and that was it – I stopped taking them full stop. Doctors make a huge deal out of how if you need to come off anti-depressants, you need consultations and a gradual decrease in dosage – definitely not to just go cold turkey, and they’re absolutely right. I felt great for about a month or so, which hugely boosted my confidence. I thought I’d conquered my depression, and that I was completely fine, back to how I used to be before it all started. Then after a few weeks, I started to notice I felt a bit empty, like I did with the run up to getting diagnosed with depression in the first place. I just put it down to hormones, getting bored, a lot of late nights or an illness – basically anything other than what it actually was. It wasn’t until I was sat at work one day that it hit me again. I felt it creeping up the back of my neck just like I did last time, and I realised I was definitely going back to where I started, and should probably get myself down to the doctors ASAP.
It wasn’t just the familiar feeling that made me feel awful. It was the loss of this confidence I’d suddenly got and the realisation that I wasn’t miraculously better, along with feeling completely stupid that I’d just come off them when I was fully aware of how you were supposed to tackle the situation. I felt really terrible for a while, but just hoped it would go away and it took me a while to book an appointment and get myself a prescription again. Not only did my depression get worse, but it also made my anxiety worse from constantly worrying about how I felt, and it was just generally a bit of a train-wreck. But eventually I sorted myself out, got myself to the doctors, and got back to how I usually am when nobody would ever suspect that I suffer with anxiety or depression.
So, if you feel like you’re ready to come off anti-depressants, that’s amazing and you should definitely give it a go if you feel up to it. But don’t make the mistake that I did, and just quit without speaking to a doctor. They say it for a reason, and I realised that the hard way. If you’re not ready, like I wasn’t, there is absolutely no shame in having to get them represcribed – which I now realise now I’m back to myself. I’m on them for a reason, and if I’m not ready to be not taking them yet, then I’d rather have them to hand than spend my days feeling miserable.