A good friend wrote to me after my last post and was worried I would be upset with his response to my last post – that he just finds it hard to picture me as being depressed. Far from being upset with him, I felt very touched by his words, and supported, and it just proved to me how far I’ve come. That’s also how I felt when reading people’s comments on my last post, either here on the blog or in messages sent to me. I think when you share parts of yourself, people know when you’re being real and when you’re not. I hope to be able to do that here on this blog as I wean myself off my anti-depressants. Btw, I take two – Wellbutrin and Prozac. I also take Prozac for anxiety, so that will be the second one I will try to go off of. I’m too scared to try both of them at the same time, and they do different things for you, anyway. So, I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who reached out. It means a lot to me.
I currently take 60 mg of Prozac, which I understand is on the higher end. I used to take 80 mg but that dosage had the effect of making me feel very “blah.” I really didn’t care about much. Enter Wellbutrin, as we chopped the Prozac back to 60 mg. It took us a little while to get the dosage right, so I’ve been taking 100 mg of the extended release (or so I thought. I just looked at my prescription tonight and I think it’s actually Sustained Release, which I consider to be a positive.)
So here is what has happened to me in the past when I tried to stop taking Prozac. I was seeing a psychiatrist, who, while she was very smart, didn’t always have the best, shall we say, bedside manner? We tried cutting down my medication to 40 mg, and after a few days, I felt as depressed as I did before I started taking them. I was dating someone long distance then, and remember having a difficult time trying to describe to him how I felt. I was afraid I was going to go back to the person I was a few years before then, and of course wondered, would he still love me?
Sounds irrational, right? You see, this is how coming off of anti-depressants can feel to some. You can feel just as depressed as you were originally, if not more so. Your thoughts start to run together all in a jumble, and it’s very hard to put a stop to them. Everything I ever felt insecure about, well, it all came rushing in at me. When I tried to talk to the psychiatrist about how I was feeling, I remember her saying, in a very snappish sort of tone, “well, Prozac has a long shelf life so if you’re already feeling that way, then no, you’re not ready to come off of them!” I remember feeling like I was a failure. Yes, I was still damaged goods in my mind, I thought. I’m a weak person that can’t be happy without a little help of medication.
Earlier this year, I tried to cut down on my wellbutrin and asthma medication at the same time. I was and am worried about what these medications will cost when the time may come that I don’t have great health insurance. I called my pharmacy to ask what these would each cost if I didn’t have health insurance. Well, Wellbutrin was around $50/month, Prozac was about $15/month, and I forget how much Singulaire is, but I know it was steep. Great, I thought, just one more stress or monthly bill to worry about. So I tried. Unfortunately, I then caught a cold and if you’ve ever taken asthma medication or have been diagnosed, you know how quickly an innocent cold can go into your chest, and how hard it can then be to get rid of it.
Did I also mention that when I tried decreasing my medications, Boston was also have its worst winter, as in EVER?? And that I also suffer from SAD (you know, seasonal affective disorder which a lot of folks get in northern climates where we are always vitamin D deficient.) Yep, not a smart time to try coming off of any mood-changing medications. I just didn’t like how I was feeling. And that made me feel, again, that there was something wrong about me, something was lacking, because I couldn’t seem to steer past these feelings. Now, I do understand that if you have had two or more depressive episodes in your life, you are that much more likely to suffer a third, or that sometimes you stay on them as maintenance medication. So I gave in to thinking that, that they would be to me as high blood pressure medication is to others. And who knows, maybe I do need them as maintenance medication, but then again, maybe I’ve not tried hard enough in the past. Maybe I really wasn’t ready then, but am ready now.
I’ve been reading up a lot about what to expect as potential withdrawal symptoms, I found this article to be helpful in laying it all out there where coming off of Prozac is concerned. This article about coming off of Wellbutrin was also helpful.
Why do I think this time might be different, you ask? Well, it’s summer, and I always get a mood boost when the days are longer. I’m starting to read a lot about how the foods you eat can really affect how you feel both inside and out. My diet is cleaner now than it was in the past, with no dairy or meat. I have these several weeks off for recovery from my surgery, and I know that part of that healing is physical but there’s also a mental component to it. This gives me time to really get in tune with myself and my feelings, and I’m able to spend all day with my furballs, who always make me feel better. I’ve got the reservoir out back that I can go sit at when I need to think, or just be around people (one reason I’ve loved my evening walks lately.)
I thought about all of this a lot tonight as I sat on a bench at the reservoir and just watched the daytime slip away and darkness’ approach. I listened to the wind in the trees, and the water lapping up on the shore, with the occasional runner or walker passing by me. I felt more at peace than I have in a while. I know I’m NOT damaged goods anymore. I know I’m in a better place. I know that I’ve got dreams now and am not just sleepwalking my way through life. And I know I’ve got people who love and support me and care for me, both online and off. I know that some of you reading this may have gone through this before, or something similar and I know that some of you will understand. It’s ok if you don’t comment, as it just helps me to get these things out there. And I now know that some of what I might eventually feel is just my brain and body resetting itself. I know now that it will be temporary and not a statement about who I am, and will be, permanently.
Those of you who are runners will understand that it’s like when you’re a runner, and the weather suddenly starts to get disgustingly hot or humid and all of a sudden, your runs all turn to complete crap. You know it’s only temporary and that it’ll suck while you are slogging through it, but eventually your body and mind adjusts and you push through it. You know that eventually the cooler temps will return, and then you’re simply gonna FLY!
A complete stranger told me the other day (as I helped her get a baby turtle off the running path and to the safety of a rock near the water) that I had good energy around me. I choose to take that as a sign.
As always, thank you for reading and if this has helped you out, or you think it might help someone else, please feel free to share it. Thank you, and have a great start to the work week.