Friday, January 1, 2016

Slow Dancing with Life: Stopping Antidepressants

I have suffered with bouts of depression and anxiety ever since I was a child- I would guess that these fits of sadness began sometime in grade school. I have always been a highly sensitive person and feel the sadness of others in a very deep way, often taking it on as a personal burden.  At times, these feelings become overwhelming and I become trapped in a world of deep sadness and anxiety, frightened to even leave my bed.

I was sixteen when I was placed on antidepressants for the first time. I remember the feeling of freedom when the Prozac took effect and I no longer felt the oppression of a constant stream of bleak thoughts that I felt I had no control over. With this freedom also came numbness, an inability to truly feel joy, but I was so grateful for the lifted weight that the numbness seemed a small price to pay.

In the past twenty years I have had three periods in which I was on antidepressants for a short period of time- the most harrowing time of which was the extreme postpartum depression I had after the birth of my second child.  I consider myself lucky to not have to be constantly dependent on medication, but struggle with asking for help when I know that I am in another bout of depression.

Early this year I took the last Lexapro in the bottle and realized that I was out of refills. With a start I realized that I had been on Lexapro for two years- a much longer period of time than I was comfortable with. I had asked the doctor for a prescription when I realized that the latest bout of depression was out of control and I was having trouble sleeping, eating and going about my day-to-day life. However, I had never meant for the antidepressants to be a long-term solution. I knew that it was time to come off of them and learn to manage my life again.

I admit that it is terrifying to live again without antidepressants, when they have helped to manage my emotions for such a long time. I fear the terrible sadness but fear the unreasonable anxiety even more. When my anxiety is at its worst, I cannot sleep and am frightened and jumpy at all times. It can be a living hell.

In the first months without the medication, I am always surprised at the myriad of emotions I experience. I do notice more sadness and anxiety when I am medication-free but I also notice more joy and energy. Anti-depressants leave me feeling a heavy, measured slowness and without that feeling I feel more alive than ever. If I manage my self-care, the days of depression are few and far between.

I find that life comes at me in stops and starts- days of joy punctuated with days of sadness that only envelope me for a short time before releasing me from their sticky grip back into the arms of happiness. When the days of depression are few, I can sink into the feelings and release them when I am though, even finding worth in the days of sadness as my creative soul tends to come alive and I bleed ink onto the page without any laboring.  I dance with the grief and sadness as easily I spin in the arms of joy, the contrast of the two reminding me that every feeling has a purpose.

For today, I will slow dance with life without medication streaming through my veins. I will find the worth in the good days and the bad and care for myself in the same loving way as I care for my beloved children. However, if there comes a day in which it is, again, time to ask unabashedly for help and an antidepressant prescription to manage the darkness, I will do so unashamed.  This life is a blessing and a curse and some days we all need a little help towards the light.


  1. Thank you for sharing your journey. I too am on Antidepresants and have been for about 5 years. I've tried counseling and it helps for a bit, but I still end up struggling with those dark thoughts of depression. But I also understand that I am somewhat numb to some of the feelings. Living with depression is no little matter and not one to be taken lightly. I admire your courage to manage your depression without meds and love that you've shared that journey. Thank you for this window to help me think a bit about my current journey!

    1. Thank you for reading, Abigail! I wish you peace and joy.

  2. I give you so much credit for going without your antidepressants...I have been on them for way longer than I have wanted, but I have been slowly decreasing the amount and hope to be off them soon. I love that you are willing to ask for the help you may need if things get bad. I love your courage at sharing your journey.

  3. What a story. Thank you for sharing this, and I wish you nothing but luck, praying that your journey is as positive as you want it to be!

  4. Thank you for sharing this! I wish you the best of love, support, and courage as you continue on your journey!

  5. It's really hard to move on if you stopped something that you're used to live with. I admire you for being strong. Best of luck!

  6. Thank you for sharing your heart and prayers will be with you!

  7. I was 16 when my journey with those little pills began as well . . . also an off an on relationship. This past few years, mostly on. these days it's Effexor and Xanax that keep me from crawling into the perceived safety of myself. Maybe one day soon my refill will run out and I'll let it. I appreciate this post so much, especially the conclusion - it's okay to ask for help when it gets to be too much on your own ��

  8. " Anti-depressants leave me feeling a heavy, measured slowness and without that feeling I feel more alive than ever." I don't know how much Lexapro pays, but it's the go to 'script for all docs. Lexapro gives this first initial feeling of helping, and then over time makes you feel more depressed or angry. I have found this in MANY and ALL of its users. Zoloft is so much more freeing to me than Lexapro, you said weighs me down. Everyone is different, but I've yet to hear from anyone that Lexapro did not offer a negative effect after a couple of weeks. :/