Raise your hand if you’ve ever been personally victimized by any of the following symptoms:
- Intense mood swings
- Suicidal thoughts
- Frequent crying spells
- Frequent rage spells
- Brain zaps
Great, now raise your hand if you’ve ever experienced all of these at once. Yeah, withdrawal is an absolute bitch, to say the least. You think you can understand something that you’ve never gone through. “Oh, that person’s experiencing withdrawal from heroin? Too bad for them, suck it up and get over it!” Girlfriend, let me just tell you right now, that is a shit attitude to have. Have you ever experienced it?
I can only imagine if this is everything that I’m going through withdrawing from a controlled substance, it’s got to be mild compared to something like heroin. Stop your judgement right now, because the fact that they’re still trying makes them a superstar in my books.
My Journey with Anti-Depressants
Two years ago, I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Social Anxiety, and Panic Disorder. Along with that, I also experienced depressive symptoms, though they weren’t enough to be classified as clinical depression and were most likely tied to my anxiety disorders. I’ve been anxious my whole life. I’ve tried every coping mechanism for it out there. At that point in my life, nothing else was working anymore.
I did copious amounts of research before deciding to go on medication. I read about all of the benefits and side effects. Withdrawal came up in my research, but it wasn’t really something I thought much about. For one thing, I didn’t know how long I would be on this medication. I also just figured that doctors would stop that from happening to me.
The Beginning Stages
I started out with a brand of anti-depressant called Cipralex. I remember having a really difficult first couple of days adjusting to it, but that was to be expected. After that it worked wonders – for a while, at least. Then my quarter life crisis came along. Nothing on planet earth could have helped my anxiety during that time. I thought the drug was just no longer working, so I went to my psychiatrist. We both agreed that if I was suffering it might not be the right medication for me. The Cipralex also caused me to gain weight, which wasn’t something I wanted to continue doing.
I ended up switching to Cymbalta after a year of being on Cipralex. The main advantage to Cymbalta for me was that there was no mention of it causing weight gain in the side effects. That being said, it also doesn’t make weight loss any easier. As for its effectiveness, it did actually help with my anxiety most of the time. The problem was that it contributed to my frequent migraines and made me extremely drowsy.
The Transition Out of Medication
I’ve been in a much better place in my life as of late. I’m finally working towards the career path I want and I have the best group of people in my life I could ever ask for. When I met with my psychiatrist, I told him that I was interested in starting the process of going off anti-depressants. I had been taking 60mg for almost a year, so a weaning-off plan was made. I went down to 30mg for three weeks and then I could stop all together.
Because this was coming from a doctor’s mouth, of course I thought this plan would work and there wouldn’t be too many repercussions. The first phase of dropping down to 30mg went smoothly, no issues there. The problems arose a few days after stopping the medication all together and have been consistently awful since.
The most frustrating thing about this entire process has been people not understanding the physical and emotional torture that I’m going through. I’m not saying this to get attention or have people feel sorry for me, that’s the last thing I want. What I do want is for people to get off my case about trying to just make myself feel better. Don’t you think that if I could then I would? I’m not choosing to change my mood every five minutes. I’m not choosing to get angry with people that I care about. I definitely am not choosing to have these hella annoying brain zaps that I have to deal with that aggravate me to no end.
I’ve had to miss school this week because I know I get anxious in crowds in the city on a good day. I know my body better than anyone else, and when I say I’m going to have a panic attack in the middle of the street if I go to school, believe me and don’t try to push me. I’ve made a great group of friends in my program who have been so supportive in helping me to not fall behind this week and my profs so far have been just as wonderful. I can take care of myself from the safety of my own home while I attempt to recover.
With regards to my online presence over the next couple of weeks, things may be somewhat sporadic. I’m so grateful to everyone who has been submitting guest posts (check out the recent guest posts Better with Friends – Benefits of Working Out with Other People and The Must-Have List of Workplace Fashion for Millennial Women). Especially during times like these, it really helps me to keep giving high quality content to you, my amazing community, while allowing myself time to recover. It will be worth it in the end, we just have to get through the darkness first. And if you’re someone who’s experiencing something similar, know that you’re not alone. Withdrawal is a bitch, but she has nothing on us!
Have you ever gone through withdrawal symptoms from going off anti-depressants? How did you cope and how long did your symptoms last for? If you’re looking for something else mental health related to read, you can learn more about my journey with anxiety.