So it’s been a little while since my last post. I’ve done some traveling, made some changes to my diet and fitness routines, and generally have been busy with the 9 to 5 grind.
Before I get into the content, I’d like to thank everyone that asked about the blog and when the next post was coming. If this is your first time reading, please feel free to check out the other posts.
If I had to pick a different title for this post it would probably be “Why I Stopped Taking Medication For My Depression”, or something similar.
Now before we get into the “why”, I want to be clear. I’m not giving up, ever. My choice to end medication as a form of treatment for depression didn’t come overnight, nor was it an easy one to make. I do think, however, that I made the right choice. What follows next is the shortlist of why I decided to stop.
My regular side effects never really went away. While they did get easier to handle over time, there was never a long stretch of time where I didn’t feel some sort of effect from the medication. These included constant fatigue, the occasional numb feelings, weight gain, and libido changes. It really hurt my productivity, and I never really fully felt like myself. I didn’t want to continue feeling that way without any sign of it getting better long term.
The meds would eventually stop “working”. While I do feel like the medication did help in stints, there were a few occasions where I felt like they stopped doing their job. I’m not sure if my body had adjusted to the dosage, or if they simply weren’t effective anymore, but there were periods of time where I felt worse than before I was on medication. My doctor and I agreed to increase the dosage each time, but eventually I would experience the same issues. I did not want to continue taking high doses of a prescription med, and I didn’t want to try a new/different medication (complete with new and possibly worse side effects).
I sometimes felt “that” feeling. I’ll talk about this more in another post, but on occasion (especially the time following a dosage change), I felt like I wanted to check out. I had never really had suicidal thoughts or feelings before, especially before I decided to take medication. Eventually, I decided that the risk was too high for me to continue. I wanted to live.
It’s important for me to note that I didn’t (and one shouldn’t) go cold turkey. I spoke to my doctor about stopping, and we agreed to slowly and gradually reduce the dosage. Even this process was difficult for me, as I felt like the symptoms got worse during this time. I was constantly dizzy, felt light-headed, and very, very irritable. My depression felt worse at points, as well. Eventually though, things got better and now I’m doing very well. Minus a few recent (and minor) hiccups, I’ve been maintaining a pretty stable mindset for the past several months and – save for the occasional joint (more on that later) – have been drug-free.
In conclusion, I’ve always considered medication to be an aid, and not a fix-all solution to treating my depression. Over time, I slowly began to replace meds with other things. These include more physical activity, more regular sessions with my therapist, and being more mindful of my sleep and what I put into my body – including food. I still have the occasional “off” day, and I know it will be a while before I’m completely symptom-free (if ever), but I plan to stick this out the usual way I do – one day at a time.