It feels to me that I’ve been on anti depressants as long as I can remember; this isn’t true for two reasons, 1. I’m on anti anxiety medication and 2. it’s only been since the birth of my twins 5 years ago. For most my life the ever-present anxiety has been a dark cloud, always there, always looming, limiting what I do and clouding my ability to think. Then five years ago a great doctor prescribed me some medication that makes life manageable and often enjoyable… and we all lived happily ever after, right? No! Because I hate it. I hate that I’m on these drugs, and I feel so ashamed. So a couple of months ago I decided it was time to man up and come off them.
I’m on Serdep (sertraline) and planned it religiously; I tapered for a few weeks (first half, then quarter, then every few days) before coming off completely. Here’s the rub, even without going cold turkey the experience of coming off ADs is completely horrific. Once I’d got through the physical symptoms; loss of vision, slurred speech, hot and cold sweats, flu like aches… I was beset by the emotional ones. I could deal with the irrational tears, the paranoia, the anger, the crippling anxiety, then I started shouting at the kids for no reason enough was enough. After two weeks of pain and illness and tears, I popped that little white pill of emotional padding back into my mouth and you know what? It was like coming home.
Sometime after this epic failure, I was talking to a friend and happened to mention the shame I felt about this dependence on drugs. The way I put it was, “I really think that anxiety and depression is a state of mind, we should be able to be strong enough to overcome that through medication, diet and exercise. Surely the point of anti depression/anxiety meds is to get yourself better with a mind to coming off them, rather than to stay on home for life.” He was horrified. “If you were diabetic and needed to take medication for the rest of your life, would you feel the same? Depression and anxiety are not a made up sickness, something you’ve got to just ‘get over’, it’s a biological issue whereby your body isn’t doing something it’s supposed to do. If you need support to get your body functioning the way it should, how is that any different to anyone with a more physically obvious illness.”? You know, I’d never thought about it like that. Imagine a life where I wasn’t constantly trying to wean off these damn meds, where I could go on indefinitely with this support in the form of a tiny white pill and not feel bad about it.
I’m definitely not there yet; the concept is new to me. What if I were actually sick and not just pathetic! Maybe I can ask for help and not feel like a dismal failure! If this were true, what a weight lifted it would be. What a revelation. What a day. What a thought!