Well, after 3 years and 3 different types of anti-anxiety / anti depression medication (Lexapro / Effexor / Mirtazapine) I am on my first week of being medication free. Initially, when I began to consider this process, I contacted my GP who asked me who I preferred to help with the tapering of the medication. I thought that the person who advised me to go onto the most recent medication would be the best to lead, and my GP advised that I go back and speak to them within the Northeastern Mental Health Board based at St. Davnet’s Hospital. That was October 2014. I have heard nothing from the Mental Health Board since then. It says a lot about the state of the Health Board when a person may not have the time or resources to contact someone who was is their care for 6 months.
With a bit of research, I found out that the best folks to talk to are the CITAP (Council for Information on Tranquillisers, Antidepressants and Pain Killers) , based in Liverpool, UK. Within a week of sending an email, I received a hand typed email from one of the volunteers that work within the organisation whom specifically deals with anti depression medication tapering and weaning. He also apologised about not being able to phone me directly as would be the case if I was a UK citizen. I was able to communicate with him over the next few weeks to discuss a plan and potential problems that may arise over the next few months. Roll on almost 15 months, and I now find myself wrestling with the old beast called anxiety. No matter how you wean off the medication, there may be side effects, especially for someone who has been on them continuously in various guises for the past 3 years or so.
If was to be totally honest, its not just the medication that causes the anxiety. There is also the mind games that come along with the withdrawal process. I find myself worrying about going back to the dark and lonely place I endured in NZ, the lack of sleep, the negative thinking, the social / generalised anxiety and ultimately fear of depression. It is these thoughts that ramp up the worry levels. I tell myself to open up to people because it will make me feel more connected, but other than my family and one or two close friends, this is the first attempt I have made in 2 weeks to talk openly about it. When feeling this way, you would do anything not to be judged by others, not to feel under pressure to smile and carry on as if nothing is affecting you. But, the old answers of ‘I’m fine’ and ‘nothing’s bothering me’ find their way into my staged responses so that no one would really know how I truly felt inside, and how i truly feel is … lackluster, unmotivated, anxious, bored, tired and SHIT. LOL. I feel shit. I thought for quite a while about whether I would write anything like this and I have come to the conclusion that honesty about how I am feeling and how it affects me, should be written and openly talked about. Only then will people’s preconceived ideas about who gets anxious/depressed and the stigma that goes with it, will get broken down. It can affect anyone, at any time.
So, what are you going to do about the level of shitness you are feeling D? Well, I’m going to get taking some supplements to help ease the withdrawals – Magnesium, Fish Oil, Vitamin B12 to name a few. I’m out walking once the rain stops, getting regular reiki sessions, practicing mindfulness 20mins twice per day instead of once, playing my guitar and generally doing more of the things that I enjoy doing (using my wellness toolbox as they say in the WRAP programme). I may also go back to talk to a counsellor / spiritual healer in the next few weeks if I need the support, and I am writing more as I feel it is good to get things down on paper and out of my head. I’m back in the gym in earnest, doing three weights sessions and three cardio sessions per week (one of which is in Rossmore Park, nature always helps to ground me). So all in all, I’m planning on being pretty busy over the next few weeks until the anxiety passes. If its one thing about feeling shit – you will do anything in your power not to feel that way…Pretty motivational if you ask me.
Until next time,
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