I tried to come off my mental health medication and failed – here’s how I accepted that it’s OK

Jo Irwin

 

So there I sit, the girl who’s been blogging, campaigning and wittering on about mental health for quite some time.

The point I always make? That we should all be treating it the same way we treat physical health, because, well, we should.

But there I also sat nine weeks ago, adamant that I wanted to stop taking the medication I’m on to control my anxiety and lift my depression.

See, I was first prescribed mirtazapine last October.

It had been a particularly bad patch in the sense that the dark cloud had well and truly descended. I was unable to even pick up some milk without getting a feeling similar to the one you get the morning of a job interview.

I hit an all time low and, after a very frank chat with my GP, I took the decision to start taking something to help.

Not for long, mind. That was always my caveat.

While I’d come to terms with being a person who suffered with mental health issues, I wasn’t ready to be someone who needed tablets all the time to feel better.

Six months I said. I’ll give myself six months on them.

They helped. More than I could have ever really wished for.

calm

(Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

My sleep came easily, I no longer laid awake till 4am having panic attacks or getting anxious about emails, Facebook posts and unanswered texts.

My sleep wasn’t broken. It wasn’t as interrupted as it used to be by dark dreams and cold sweats.

And the knot that I’d carried in my stomach for six years dissipated. I hadn’t realised it had been there because feeling nervous to me just felt normal.

Until it went away, and I rested, and then I actually felt normal again.

The old me, or the me that had never really had a chance underneath the nerves and exhaustion, came out. And amazing things started to happen.

My confidence grew, my energy was through the roof and I didn’t feel scared for scared sake anymore.

But my six months had been had gone.

Yes, it crossed my mind in April to do as I said and come off the tablets but I wasn’t ready. I wasn’t ready to take the risk that I might never feel this good again; I didn’t want the good things that had come to disappear. It wasn’t time.

metro illustrations

(Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

But my reliance scared me.

Then nine months crept round, and all of a sudden mirtazapine and I were heading for our one year anniversary. And that I couldn’t handle.

Never in a million years could I take these for one whole year. I wasn’t that bad. I wasn’t one of those people.

And let’s be real. Things were going great.

I got a new job I loved, a boyfriend I felt similarly about, and the worries and concerns that had surrounded my family the year before were now a distant memory.

If I couldn’t feel happy now, then when could I?

Yes, I was bored with falling asleep early every night. And yes, I’d noticed an increase in my weight since starting on the tablets.

I sought some advice – half your dosage for the first few weeks, then skip every day and then finally off you come. So I did.

At first, I put the returning butterflies down to new job nerves. I put the odd nightmare down to drinking coffee too late. I put the excessive sleep down to being on holiday and ‘needing the rest’.

But when sat on a sun lounger on a beautiful beach, with a great book, next to my Mr, it hit me.

I didn’t feel happy. I should have been so happy. I was going home to an amazing job. Me and him had spoken about plans to live together. I had the sun on my face, and a cocktail in my hand.

And yet, all I felt was grey. Uninspired, unhappy and un-me. Again.

lonely

(Picture: Mmuffin for Metro.co.uk)

I was jumping out of my skin, tearful and the overwhelming desire to run away from all of the good things was taking over.

It’s transition. This happens. You don’t need the meds. The excuses kept on.

But while having a lunchtime drink before we went home, my boyfriend simply said something that stopped me in my tracks.

‘Why do you want to come off them? If you had to take a tablet for your thyroid everyday, you wouldn’t wake up one Monday and just decide to stop.’

Why did I want to? Partly, I didn’t want to be reliant on them.

 

But mainly, even after all this time, I still just wanted my mental health to be circumstantial.

I wanted to be anxious because of work or sad because someone I loved was ill.

I didn’t want to still feel this low even when everything around me was amazing, because that meant that it was real. That the way I felt was not circumstantial, and not down to one particular event – it’s the way I am.

If I had a thyroid problem, yes, I would take the tablets I needed to make me feel better.

So perhaps it was time to read my own blogs, listen to my own advice and treat what I have as what it is: A medical problem, a chemical inbalance, my very own version of a thyroid problem.

And maybe in the new year, or in two years, I can try again to go it alone. But for now, it’s just a tiny little tablet, and certainly nothing to be ashamed of.

Source:Metro.co.uk

 

 

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