I want to pre-face everything I’m about to say by emphasising that I am only talking about my own personal feelings throughout this blog – I am not being passive aggressive towards anyone who choses to celebrate the discontinuation of their meds, in fact, often I love reading these tweets/posts. I’m just sharing why that choice didn’t appeal to me.
Recently, I made the decision to come off my antidepressants. I’ve been on these for a little under 8 years and have spent the majority of my 20’s on them. I’ve been completely antidepressant free for around 2-3 months now and so far all is going well.
I won’t go into the why’s or the how’s as to the decision I made because it was very personal and I am in no way qualified to give any form of advice on how to discontinue medication safely. This blog isn’t about that.
I’ve always thought when I’d come off any medication I’d document it. I live my mental health journey as an open book via my Living Beyond the Borderline social media networks and I fully expected I’d diaries my withdrawal processes.
Surprisingly, I never got the urge to.
Each time I considered it I found myself thinking the same thing…
‘I don’t need to ‘celebrate’ this. I don’t see it as a ‘success’ because the decision to take antidepressants was never a ‘failure’.
For me, the ability to shut out the stigma surrounding medications for your mental health, decide to try them and see if they benefit you is a massive sign of strength. I think this is particularly true for those of us using antidepressants when the world is constantly telling us that we don’t need them, they’re just a ‘quick fix’ or even a display of weakness. To ignore this and commit to doing what works for you is a huge strength. Taking antidepressants, or any medication for that matter, is not a personal failure, it’s a huge sign of courage. It shows that you are valuing your wellbeing and committing to recovery.
As is deciding you may no longer need them, of course. Discontinuing a medication is scary – you will never truly know how it will turn out until you try, and that is an incredibly daunting prospect. Attempting to go without something with no idea what might happen is a brave thing to do.
I think for me one of the biggest fears when I made the decision was ‘what if I fail?’ It took me a long time to realise failure wasn’t even a possibility. If it turns out I don’t cope well without my antidepressants then that is a sign that I wasn’t ready to stop them yet, and that’s okay. I’m a huge believer in listening to what my mind and body tell me I need, and I will always be led by that. Right now, they’re telling me it’s time to try and go it alone without this particular medication.
Another reason I don’t see it as something to celebrate is because I am painfully aware that as someone with BPD I am probably quite likely to need antidepressants and/or another form of psychotropic medication in future (and I continue to take daily antipsychotics). If and when that happens, then I will happily do what’s best for me. I won’t rush to get back off them or see it as some kind of personal failure.
I must admit, I did also worry about those around me. I if sing and dance about coming off my medication, when my family and friends are on them, what’s the message I’m sending to them? I have friends who have only just started their journey with medication, and I don’t want to give the impression that the ultimate goal is to quit them, because it isn’t. It’s to find what works for you, however that looks.
So that’s what I’m trying to do, to find what works for me right now, however that turns out.
So for anyone, at any stage of their medication journey, keep doing you.