Wednesday, 13 January 2010

On SSRIs and their absence

I haven't taken anti-depressants for, what, 2 months now? Wow. After 4 years, I didn't think this day would ever come. I remember telling my sister with great assurance only a year or so ago that they would "have to prise them out of my cold, dead hands". I truly believed I wasn't quite a whole person without them.

Let us be clear. I love anti-depressants like a family member and am very much in favour of prescription medication. I am not of the hippy, twig chewing school of medicine. No, I would not like a tincture of arnica for my broken leg, thank you. Anti-depressants - I have already said this, but it bears saying again - got me my degree. I was barely functioning without them. With them, I could sit still and calm for three hours and scrape the recesses of my memory for any shreds of 18th century history that might have lodged there during the previous year of weeping in corridors and sleeping 16 hours a day. More importantly, in 2005 when I was completely flipping out, they allowed me to look after my children, to communicate with those around me and to manage emotions that were really frightening me. The effect was dramatic, and salutory.

Clearly it is your right on a public weblog to weigh in and tell me that anti-depressants are a really bad trip, man and what I really needed was herbs and exercise and B vitamins. I promise not to mock. In any case, I will be too busy chopping myself up a little cocktail of Belgian pain medication to snort off the weepette's buttocks (Needs must. Sinclair has not yet made himself available to me for these purposes despite being top of my New Year's resolutions list. I am mystified by this oversight).

But. After accidentally running out again, and dealing with all the amusing side effects, I realised I wasn't feeling particularly compelled to start taking them again. So I haven't. And really, I can't say I have particularly noticed the difference. Possibly the short patches of time when I feel like I can't cope are marginally more intense? Maybe I am slightly more impatient? Hard to tell, I am still madly impatient at the best of times presently; everything has to happen yesterday. But there has been nothing frightening, or unmanageable. This is absolutely not the story of my triumph over psychotropic medication. I feel relatively sure there will be times in the future when I will need it again and when I do, I will take it with no sense of failure. But it has challenged my long-held belief that I am a nicer, more socially capable, more articulate person with anti-depressants. So far, I haven't morphed into a socially paralysed hermit. Any residual awkwardness is easily overcome with alcohol anyway! Marvellous.

I will not say anymore for fear of waking up tomorrow in black, sobbing despair, unable to speak or move, but it seemed like something worth noting.


jen hit the roof said...

That's great, I stopped taking my anti-depressants for a month and my Doctor has put me back on them. Well done you, and long may it last.

katyboo1 said...

Brilliant news, and lovey, if you want to start sniffing petrol and eating boll weevils to get you through the day, more power to your elbow. Do whatever works to make your world saner, nicer and a generally more waffly place to be.
Still, hooray for you.xx

Anonymous said...

I've taken Zoloft and thought it was really great. Pretty much got me through my degree too... A bad trip??, even with a.d.s I still ruminate on stupid mistakes I've made (including unintentionally redonculous blog comments...eeeep). As for natural, the only thing that ever worked really well for me was 5HTP...

Chantal said...

Firstly, ha! Am laughing at Katyboo's comment...

Secondly, my father would quite simply not be alive without antidepressants. But the one he takes is a Big Controversial One, and I get that for some people it would make them worse. The point is everyone's so different when it comes to mental mental health; there's no right way, there's just what works for you.

I think the important thing is to live a life that's more than just tolerable, and whatever way you do this (excluding axe-muder, naturally. Well, under most circumstances anyway) is the best way. And if you can do this without the pills, then I say hooray for you too xx

Top Bird @ Wee Birdy said...

So great you're doing well, Waffle. All I can say is, thank baby Nathan (in Waffle-speak) for modern medicine and SSRIs. xx

screamish said...

this is good news, very good news. i tried them once and after a couple of... regrettable.... incidents realized they were incompatible with red wine so i took myself off them.

yes eat boll weevils, wine and canned cassoulet got me thru the transition period nicely....

Ami said...

Very happy for you that you made it through the tingly side effects and find yourself coping during an incredibly trying time without them. I'm all in favor of using the tools/drugs available to make life a happier, calmer, saner place, but you should be proud of yourself for managing through this. Go Waffle!

Anna said...

Impressed with your ability to drop the pills sanely and cold turkey. My mom recently stopped taking hers and is only regaining normalcy after about three months(no longer constantly talking and creating problems that don't exist).

Me, I am just about to embark on the weird and winding road to SSRI land....though I am considering giving 5HTP a shot, which someone else mentioned up there. Anyway, congrats to you. Not an easy thing.

Helen Brocklebank said...

Great post. hear hear. Prozac saved my life in 2000 when I was in a million different pieces - I haven't needed to take it since, but I'm not ruling it out. But whilst we're totally on the same page as far as drugs are concerned, I'm also really thrilled that you've felt up to giving it a whirl without them, and that the experiment has proved a success - I think this means that you're kicking up, and given the journey you've had over the past year, that ain't bad.
I'd still like some of that Wnek stuff though....

Sewmouse said...

I find it so interesting that people who would not give a second thought to taking insulin if they were diabetic - or drugs to increase calcium in their bodies if they had osteoporosis, or iron capusles if they were anemic, get so oogie about taking SSRI's even if their body clearly isn't handling their seratonin properly.

I've been on and off a few times. Seems I get my life sorted well enough when on them to last for quite a while without before I start sliding back into that vortex of black cryingness.

Do what you need to do to keep YOU happy and focused.

I find copious amounts of cocolate can be the answer often.

The Spicers said...

Glad to hear you're doing so well after what was by any definition a rough year.

Anonymous said...

Well done! I don't think there is anything wrong with taking happy pills, but then again I would always prefer my body to be able to do what the drugs manage if at all possible!
Currently I am clambering back off of the wagon having forgotton to take anything for about 7-9 months... but now I need them again, my chemicals are unbalanced, and I need fixing. Nowt wrong with that!

the polish chick said...

um, do you know that dogs don't have buttocks, right? you might need to rethink your non-drug stance, if the hallucinations are that strong. just sayin'.

Anonymous said...

Well done, Weepette's Mummy.
Obviously living in the Salmon Palace suits you.
And if you need them again - so what?
I've never taken these sort of pills, but I think my life would have been easier if I had - got any of your prescription left?

Anonymous said...

Well said. I am on anti depressants now and have been for the last 2 years and I have absolutely no intention of giving them up. They allow me to function normally. Hoorah!

frau antje said...

I was always afraid anti-depressants would take my self, as if I could give it away.

If you need anything waffle, I'm nearby. No, no trouble, not doing anything but making sure there are no water spots on the wood counters.
Dogs don't have buttocks?

Anonymous said...

I am resolutely made up of 'tree-hugging, licorice munching, life-embracing, long-drop toilet' avoiding stock.
That said, my dear sister is in the throes of qualifying as an acupuncturist. After one weeks treatment, it turned my life around (with actual physiological proof to boot) and my long-suffering sister-in-law is now practically ME free as a result. I may start hammering on my tambourine from the highest tree-tops to make people (re?) consider this as a viable alternative to western pharmaceuticals. For it really does work, honest.
But more importantly, well done you and long may this last. You have been through so much this year. Long may this last.

Z said...

Dogs may not have buttocks, but thin-legged dogs have impressive thunder thighs that are just as good.

I've never taken anti-depressants, although there was a time I'd have been put on them if I'd asked (you look back and think blimey), so know nothin' about nothin'. but I have friends on long-term medication who think that, when they get anxious or stressed, the drugs aren't working any more. It's always when they're going through such shit that only a truly sane person can't cope.

Lisa-Marie said...

Waffle, my mum, before she died, was on anti-depressants. She had Chronic Agoraphobia. They got her through most days, and stopped her locking herself in a room because she was terrified of panic attacks, and worried about scaring her children. If anyone hippies it up, I'll tell them to fuck off for you.

Oh, and if anyone tells you to 'take herbs', tell them that's what 90% of proper, controlled, tested medication is... they do not like it!

Seriously well done. To leave the thing that has been your 'balance' for a while, and still be relatively balanced is brilliant!

the polish chick said...

take herbs, indeed, waffle.
they say british columbia grows the best - come on down!

WV: busnefug - a feeling of public transit inspired blues, germanic version

HelenSparkles said...

I had exact same experience, was on 2 drugs, stopped taking one and then the next. I didn't just run out (had been through those side effects a few times when I had tho') then I'd just stopped taking them, after having never thought I would. I was relieved, but would go back to them in a nano second if I felt I needed to, was nearly begging for a prescription yesterday. Fortunately that day passed but that one of the many things to loathe about depression, a really low day, & I am blinking terrified it is on its sneaky way back. You, because this comment should be more about you, are doing remarkably given what is going on so probably indicates you took control and made some good decisions. Even if they aren't always easy ones to live with. x

justmeagain said...

Whatever gets you through the days and night is ok by me.
If you are not needing the drugs right now, that is good.
If you do again, take them.
Alcohol is nice too!
Also, chocolate.

She Wore It Well said...

I've been trying very hard to deal with my issues without "help", but I don't know how long I'll last...

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