If you’ve ever been on anti-depressants, or anti-anxiety medication you’ll know that the first thing they tell you is to make sure you come off your meds slowly. Your gradual withdrawal should be supervised in case something goes wrong.
I always though, ‘yeah, yeah, who would be dumb enough to come off their meds alone? Probs the same IDIOTS who don’t finish the entire pack of antibiotics..’ Well, you guessed it – I came off my meds.
WARNING: family members, you might not want to read on. I’m about to discuss my mental health, sleep patterns aaaand my sex drive. Continue at your own risk.
So, one of the main symptoms of anti-anxiety medication, (often used to treat OCD as well, hence I’m on a high dosage of Sertraline for GAD and OCD), is a reduction or lack of sexual arousal. There’s not much the GP can do for you, since pretty much every version of anti-anxiety medications do this to you. You’re told, basically, to choose between a healthy sex life and your mental health. Easy choice? Yeah, at first. But nearly two years of complete numbness? Fucking hell, I can’t even put it into words. My boyfriend has never once complained (because he’s a decent human being lol) but it has, obviously, put a strain on that side of our relationship. Some guys might be okay with their partner not feeling satisfied, but my guy is pretty great and I know it was killing him. It was a physical and physiological side effect of medication – but even if you know and understand that, it fucks with your head. I thought I was broken. I sobbed in my GP’s office (oh god, sorry Dr Singh) and was convinced I was actually broken. Fuck that.
It’s not just the lack of sex drive. My meds do calm my obsessive, invasive thoughts, and they balance my anxiety. But, a side effect of this calming nature is complete and utter exhaustion. There’s no win for this. If you have OCD, you’re awake all the time because of your thoughts (that’s what it’s like for me anyway), and if you go onto meds, you sleep all the time. Either way, you’re exhausted.
But, coming off my meds has made me realise how much time I was wasting sleeping. I was falling asleep at about 10pm, waking up at 8am, and then needing two naps during the day. This was briefly fixed by replenishing my iron stores with Ferrous Fumarate tablets (iron pills, basically). But after six months of taking the tablets, the immediate effects had worn off. I’m not convinced they actually fixed anything, more likely it was a placebo effect.
So, on my meds: I’m sleeping all the time because I’m so exhausted, I have no interest in anything sexual whatsoever, I can’t write or focus on tasks because I’m feeling so drowsy and dopey. But worst of all, I’m not feeling anything.
I didn’t notice this, really, until I came off my meds – but, I didn’t cry anymore. At first, I thought it was great that I wasn’t so ’emotional’ all the time and that I wasn’t crying randomly. Before I went onto my meds I think I would cry every day, genuinely. But my medication stopped that – woohoo, right? No! I wasn’t crying at random things, but I wasn’t excited about anything either! For anyone who knows me, that’s fucked up. I’m the most extra person in existence, I feel everything three times more powerfully than the average person, and I was entirely numb. I guess it’s because Sertraline works as an antidepressant, as well, but I’m not here for that. I like my emotions. I don’t think my emotions make me weak, quite the opposite, and I’m not cool with losing them.
This isn’t a long-term solution. I still have OCD, I still probably have GAD, I will return to medication within the year most likely. The best GP I have every had lives and works in Norwich, and I don’t anymore. So, when my last batch of pills ran out and I was in Derby this decision sort of thrust itself upon me. I’ve had such disgusting experiences with the GP and a branded pharmacy in Derby (a whole different story for another time) I don’t trust them to have my best interests at heart. I don’t trust them.
Plus, I move to Glasgow in less than a month so it doesn’t make sense to start a new relationship with a GP and start fannying around with trying new meds etc. My GP in Norwich actually recommended waiting to start new trials until I was settled in Glasgow. He did not recommend me stopping my meds until then – that’s all on me.
I know my decision is potentially harmful and potentially incredibly dangerous, but I know my own mental health. I have always treated my mental health much more seriously than my physical health. I’m not being thick. I’ve told the people close to me. I researched the withdrawal effects so I knew what to expect.
Please understand that I am not recommending going cold turkey to anyone. Do not do it. But, for me, I want people to know that this is my decision. It’s my body, my brain, and my mental health.
Feel free to leave comments, but don’t you dare reprimand me. Ta. I’m being smart about a very stupid decision. It’s my decision, and it was mine to make.