I have been anxious & depressed on and off since I was a preteen. More on than off, really. After a few stints on several different antidepressants, I decided that I had enough of medication and that I needed to deal with my anxiety in a different way.

Why I Kicked My Antidepressants to the Curb for Good

 

Disclosure: I am not a doctor. This is my account of my personal choices and should not, in any way, be taken for medical advice. Every individual is different and every situation is unique.

 

I have been anxious & depressed on and off since I was a preteen. More on than off, really.

 

As a teenager, I was in psychotherapy for a handful of sessions until my family couldn’t afford it anymore. Most things were like that for us – ballet, yoga, therapy, go for a few times and then it was deemed too expensive.

 

Anyway, that was my first experience with antidepressants. The therapist put me on a few kinds of meds and I eventually had to stop taking them when my prescriptions ran out. It was fine. Nothing to write home about.

 

Fast forward 15 years, to back half of 2012. I was a ball of nerves with a high-stress career after a relocation for work and my ten year old niece coming to live with us. My anxiety levels went through the roof. I was having panic attacks nearly every week. Something  had to be done, so I made an appointment to see my doctor.

 

During my appointment, the Doc walked into the room and asked how I was. I burst into tears without even getting a word out first. Not pretty tears either. I went full-blown into the ugly cry.

 

Thus began my last stint on meds. My doctor cycled me through several different ones in the never-ending quest to find a happy medium between curbing the anxiety and stoning me out.

 

Why I Kicked My Antidepressants to the Curb for Good v1 Pin - The Art of BetterAbout two years later, the swings in my moods and hormones caused by the medications led me to just stop taking the one I was on at the time. Cold turkey. Um, ya, don’t do that. It felt like my head was going to explode. The brain zingers were crippling for weeks until I finally broke down and called my doctor. I now know that you can’t just stop taking psychoactive medication; you have to wean off it.

 

Towards early 2015, I was on the maximum dose of one antidepressant/anti-anxiety medication with a chaser dose of a second. I would constantly contemplate whether my thoughts, moods and feelings were actually my own or just a byproduct of the pharmaceuticals pumping through my system. I sometimes thought I was legit losing it. I was also gaining weight at an alarming rate as a side effect of the main medication.

 

Even worse than the confusing mental state and weight gain, though, were the intense hot flashes. At least eight times a day, I would randomly break out into a serious hot flash. We’re talking dripping sweat for at least fifteen minutes at a time. It was hell, not to mention incredibly embarrassing.

 

It was literally painful to get out of bed and my general disposition was “fuck it”.

 

I decided that I had enough of medication and that I needed to deal with my anxiety in a different way.

 

My first step was learning transcendental meditation. Although there are many different types of meditation out there, I felt this was the best one for me based on my personality, strengths and  shortcomings. I love it and do it twice daily for twenty minutes a session. The practice has allowed me to dip into a place of calm that I never knew existed.

 

My Weight Gain Does Not Make Me A Failure - The Art of Better

Secondly, I had to commit to treating myself well again. It was [and still is] so easy to be my own worst enemy. Depression and serious weight gain does not generally lead to good things like exercising and eating well, but the main medication I was on had me packing on the pounds rapidly. All of these factors have left my body fifty pounds heavier than I’ve ever been before. I had to remember that my weight gain does not make me a failure and I still deserve good things.

 

In September of 2015 I went to see my doctor and kicked my antidepressants to the curb for good. She set a schedule for weaning off that took about a month.

 

It’s now been a little over four months since I’ve been medication free and I can say that I’ve learned many things. That’s a post for another day, but the main thing is this- I’d rather be clear-headed and have to confront my anxiety head on than be numb.

 

The weight gain stopped when I got off the meds. The hot flashes stopped about six weeks later. Although I’m still working on getting my outside back to where I like it, at least my inside is my own again. I’m clear, rational and I no longer have to wonder if my thoughts & feelings are due to the medication. I still have anxiety, but so do most people. I work hard to acknowledge it and keep it in check on a daily basis. The trade-off is worth it.

 

Have you ever been on antidepressants or anti-anxiety medication? Did it work well for you?