I have suffered from generalized anxiety disorder most of my life. I was always so resistant to get on antidepressants and would always tell my psychiatrist, “I’m not depressed.” He would tell me that they work great for anxiety and he would leave that option open for me to make my own decision.
My anxiety was through the roof and every day was a struggle. I got anxious doing everyday tasks such as going to school, going to the grocery store, and checking the mail. I constantly felt like I was going to throw up and had an overwhelming sense of fear. Sitting on the couch alone in my thoughts was uncomfortable but also being out in public was uncomfortable. I looked forward to going to sleep each night and praying that the next day I would be free from anxiety.
I couldn’t understand why I felt this way. I was working out almost every day, hiking, eating healthy, meditating, and getting enough sleep. I was doing all the things people say will make you mentally healthy. But I was still an anxious wreck.
I finally gave in and told my psychiatrist I would take antidepressants. There was a lot of shame involved because I felt like I had failed at life and needed a crutch. I was weak.
It took a couple of months to start working. And I continued with all my other healthy activities. One day, I was driving and I thought to myself, I’m not anxious. It was a miracle. I had not felt more at peace with my life in years. I started to notice small changes at first and then it became my new normal. I was content and happy.
Fast forward four years. Life had been going great and I rarely got anxiety. I had not gotten a panic attack or felt that pit in my stomach for years. I thought to myself, maybe it’s time to come off of them. I can’t possibly be on these “happy pills” for the rest of my life. Other people seem to live without them so I should be able to as well.
I also read a lot of articles and watched documentaries about how people can heal themselves from anxiety and not have to be dependent on antidepressants. The plan was to follow in these strong individual’s paths.
I talked it over with my psychiatrist, family, and friends. It was not a spur of the moment decision. I then started to taper off. About a week completely off them things started to get bad again. I noticed my anxiety creeping back and it was the same feeling I had before I started taking them. I thought it would pass but then a couple of months went by and I was miserable. The littlest things would irritate me and I felt like I was on the verge of a breakdown.
I judged myself and would constantly have the battle in my head if I should go back on the antidepressants or not. Every day, almost all day, I would think about it. Would going back on them make me seem weak and “sick”? Why did I need a crutch to live life? I could probably live life without them but I would be miserable. Why did I want to try to tough it out?
I finally told a friend I was thinking about going back on them. She said, “You are not being weak. You are smart. Smart meaning you tried it and have a feeling it’s not quite time to come off them.”
I cried when she said this. Someone understood and supported my decision even though I didn’t fully support it myself.
I then made the call to my psychiatrist and got in for an appointment that day. Walking back into his office, I felt shame & like a failure. I also felt relief. Relief because I knew I would start feeling better soon.
I am grateful that I had the courage to make the decision to go back on them. I am also lucky enough to know my body and ask for help when needed. I realize that some people need to be on them long term and there is nothing wrong with that. I try to not compare myself to others and listen to my body.
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