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Seven weeks ago I quit all my psychiatric medications cold turkey. I’d been on four, definitely over-medicated. I was starting to feel disillusioned and was tired of relying on chemistry to function. I was feeling blunted, unable to feel much of anything at all. On top of that, I’d been medicated for the past six years straight. I simply didn’t remember what it was like to be un-medicated, or why I was on medication in the first place.

So I made a rash and irresponsible decision. I woke up one morning and skipped my pills. One morning turned into two which turned into a week. Within the week I was experiencing serious withdrawal symptoms. Shaking, sweating, restlessness, anxiety. My emotions were roller-coasting out of control and I admittedly used negative behaviors to cope. The withdrawal symptoms waned after a week and my emotions started to stabilize.

It was really great at first. I could actually feel. I could be happy and sad and excited and disappointed. I was laughing freely and crying at every little thing. For a few days I could really focus and was ultra-productive. It was so liberating, to let my emotions regulate themselves. For the first time in a long time I felt like I was truly living. But then the depression hit.

I didn’t really see it coming, though I guess I should have. It just snuck up on me. The first time the cloud engulfed me I attributed it to maybe just a lack of sleep or a bad day. But soon that bad day had turned into a bad week. I hardly noticed the change, but soon I was spending every free moment of the day in bed either sleeping or distracting myself with Netflix. My days became consumed with fighting the thoughts that suggested suicide as an answer to all my problems. Any time I made a mistake or simply opened myself up to the world by speaking, I immediately ran to the comfort that suicide would bring. I was never really in danger of doing anything, it simply wasn’t an option. But that didn’t stop the thoughts. So I drowned them out with my favorite TV shows and loud music. I stopped doing my homework and only left my house for mandatory events like class and dance practice. My future dissolved before my eyes. All my plans became gray and unappealing. I’d lost interest in even having a future at all.

It wasn’t until week five that I realized my little experiment was coming to an end. It was the second time in a row that I showed up to my therapy appointment with tears in my eyes. It was becoming apparent that this episode wasn’t going to pass. I’d been hoping that I was just in a slump and everything would resolve itself with time and I’d be able to lead a normal life. The reality was that I am, indeed, mentally ill. I wasn’t faking it, I didn’t grow out of it. I do actually have a problem, one that makes it nearly impossible to function without some sort of chemical support.

Seven weeks after I skipped my first pill, I agreed to start medication again. To be honest I’m scared of losing my emotions. But I’m also desperate for any relief from this stifling depression.

It may seem like my decision to quit medication worked out OK for me. In the grand scheme of things it did, but these are seven weeks I can’t get back. I can’t change the bad grades I got on exams because I was too depressed to study. I can’t change the new scars on my wrist from my inability to cope. While my decision did allow me to restart medication on a low dose and on my own terms, it was also incredibly irresponsible and dangerous. I in no way condone my own behavior. If you’re concerned about the side effects of your meds, please talk to your psychiatrist. Make your decisions with them, not on your own. It’s safer that way, and it’s what I should have done.


Comments

8
  • Kat

    Kat Kat

    Reply Author

    I’m glad you wrote this and I’m glad I read it. I’m on a medicine that I wanted to stop taking. It seems that it has physical side effects. I will call my doc and try to trust their opinion.

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  • Caty

    Caty Caty

    Reply Author

    I just wanted to tell you I LOVE your blog, I love how real it is! I get so frustrated with all the surface level stuff. Mental illness is not something talked about, I have it as well, and yes I have a ton of medicine. Thank you for blog and bringing light to mental illness, a serious topic no one talks about!???? You can always email me!????

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  • Harper

    Harper Harper

    Reply Author

    Why I stopped taking MY medications:

    I was compliant with my medications for my entire life. I believed, with some reason, that I was indeed mentally ill. Earlier this year, my body began to reject my medications. I had an unprofessional prescriber who refused to listen to my therapist and medical treatment team, who had attempted to contact her repeatedly for months before I even broached the subject with her.
    After months of therapy and searching for a new prescriber, it turns out that I had PTSD, a mental condition that is currently not recommended to be treated with medication, as it prevents the recovery of traumatic memories, which can worsen the condition. A very disrespectful man took advantage of this, and I am now undergoing testing and counseling for a very real possibility of hepatitis B, C, and AIDS. This happened when I was having a bad reaction to a prescribed medication that made me suggestible and vulnerable to revictimization.
    If I could take pills for my pain, anxiety, and depression as a result of this, I would. What has helped me is my faith. I began to explore Buddhism during this time. Now, my diet, exercise, calmness, happiness, and outlook have improved.
    The man who did this, if what he posted on the Internet is true, went through an experience so horrific that led to where he is today? I feel sorry for him. I forgive him. It in no way excuses his actions, but I understand his pain. I am living with only a fraction of the pain and fear he must have gone through, and I have found it maddening at times. I wish him no harm. I hope he finds a way to love himself as I love myself now.
    If you are having symptoms of a mental illness, talk to a friend you trust, and find a therapist. If a professional advises you to take medication, by all means try it, but make sure you trust your prescriber. Don’t forget that nobody will ever know you as well as yourself, even if they have your best interest in their heart.
    When you see a red flag, get out. Get out safely and cautiously, but get out. I don’t care what kind of relationship it is. A boyfriend, a parent, a boss, a friend, a doctor, a lawyer, a child, a neighbor, a blogger, a criminal… Even a policeman. We are all people, and we all make mistakes. If you dropped your phone into a lion’s cage, no matter how important that phone call, I doubt you would get it. However, if you have chosen to get it, and got mauled in the process, and you are reading this, forgive yourself, too. We all make mistakes, including trusting the wrong people.
    Above all, your health and safety is what matters. I am a staunch promoter of this helpline, whether you believe in psychiatry or not.
    Live long and prosper.

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  • Beth

    Beth Beth

    Reply Author

    Thank you so much for writing this.

    I don’t know how you tapped into my mind but I’m having almost the exact same problem right now. I quit all my meds cold turkey without asking.. I was over medicated and it was just bogging me down, I thought. I felt worse on meds, I thought. I dropped out even. For two months or so I felt great and then.. Depression. Really sad. I didn’t realize it at first it kinda hit me all at once just recently. And again I dropped out so I sit at home all day on a regular basis, and that doesn’t help anything. Anyways, yeah. Currently I’m so conflicted, sad, and disappointed that this didn’t work out. I felt great but now it’s just.. Not worth it anymore. After reading your article I’ve agreed to go back to the doctor and get help, slowly.

    Thanks again,

    Beth

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    • You Matter

      Hi Beth,

      We’re glad that this piece resonated with you. You matter. If you’d like to speak with someone for support, please do not hesitate to call 1-800-273-TALK.

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  • Alline Ramires

    Good site! I truly love how it is simple on my eyes and the data are well written. I’m wondering how I could be notified when a new post has been made. I have subscribed to your feed which must do the trick! Have a great day!

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  • Jolee G Waddle

    I personally have been on Seroquel 50 mg twice a day Seroquel 300 mg at night
    Ativan 1 mg daily
    Buspirone 15 mg three times a day
    Celexa 10 mg in the morning for almost 19 years started at age 12.
    I love my medications. I actually feel human. I have Borderline personality disorder, Generalized anxiety disorder
    Bipolar 2
    Some of us need our meds to stop the obsessive thoughts and speeding brain.
    The anxiety can be debilitating.
    Obviously if you can function on less then that’s good.

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    • You Matter

      Thank you Jolee for reaching out to our blog- If you ever in a tough spot and need some extra support the Lifeline is here for you any time day or night, 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

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