• Rachel Paige

Medication Part 3

Last time, I talked about what it's like to start taking medication for mental illnesses. If you haven't read that post yet, you can do so here. This week, I want to talk about what it's like to go off those meds.

I started to touch on this last time and I mentioned a few reasons why people might want to go off their meds. One is because antidepressants can subdue all emotions and make it hard to feel happy, too. Another is because people feel like they don't need them anymore.

Someone also might go off their meds if they feel like they aren't working anymore or if they're struggling with side effects of them. Maybe they can't afford them. Maybe they have another reason for wanting to be off them.

But here's something important. No matter what the reason you want to stop taking them is, do NOT do it by yourself. Seriously. You need to talk to your doctor. There's a couple reasons for that.

First, someone needs to know you're not taking them anymore. Because if it turns out you were relying on them more than you thought (which is perfectly fine!), you'll want someone checking in. I hope you have someone besides your doctor you can talk to, but you at least need them.

I want to go on a little tangent here: please tell someone other than your doctor that you're going off your meds. You want someone to be calling or visiting or somehow contacting you every so often to make sure you're still doing okay. You'll want someone to remind you that it's okay to go back on them if you need to. I promise, there's someone you can tell. And if you really think there's not, go visit the contact page and tell me.

Second, it's not simple to go off them. Some mental health medications are easier and you can stop taking them without a problem. But others, usually antidepressants, are harder. You'll need to be weaned off them with smaller and smaller doses. If you stop taking them all at once, you'll likely experience withdrawal symptoms.

You'll feel physically sick because your body can't handle that medication disappearing so fast. You need to take your time. That's where your doctor will help you. It's also worth noting that some medications will be harder to get off than others. I was on one that I was able to be off of entirely within two weeks. Another one took me several months because going off it was making me so sick that I had to change the doses very, very gradually.

Here's my final takeaway: it's fine to want to go off your meds. There's a number of reasons you might want to. But you need to get help doing it. Be patient with the process. It might take days or months, but you won't be stuck on it forever.

Finally, remember that there's no shame in going back on them, or for being on them in the first place.

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