• All About Fern
  • Quitting the Meds

    I was so prepared.

    I read everything. I watched everything. I spent hundreds of dollars on vitamins and minerals and supplements. I knew everything there was to know about quitting the meds.

    I was so prepared.

    Exactly three weeks after I swallowed my last prozac the physical withdrawals hit.
    They’re not withdrawals, taking antidepressants is not an addiction. It’s your body adjusting to living without the medicine.

    They are withdrawals.

    I was so prepared.

    It started with a headache, dizziness, feeling like my brain had transformed itself into a week-old helium balloon. That part was kind of fun. I knew what was happening and I was ready.

    I was so prepared.

    The next morning I didn’t want to get up. My head pounding, my stomach churning, I stayed in bed and hoped like hell my husband would intervene if the kids got too wild. They’d been awake for four hours before I emerged from my bedroom, stumbled to the kitchen and downed some paracetamol. It was just the headache bothering me, really. I was going to be fine.

    I was so prepared.

    Now the next morning is yesterday. Today is three weeks plus three days without prozac. I ate half a toasted sandwich for lunch, a banana and a glass of milk for dinner. 20 minutes later, propped up on pillows with my legs crossed beneath me, I sat in my bed and vomited into a white plastic bowl. The force and violence of the heaving waves overtook me, overtook my bladder, and everything was wet. My body had nothing left.

    I was so prepared.

    My mother told me a couple of months ago about an article she’d read a while back. Its author argued that antidepressants were not the answer, and that they definitely shouldn’t be a long-term solution, because swallowing pills isn’t addressing the problem. The problem exists for a reason and the problem needs to be solved.

    At the time I didn’t want to hear it, because there I was, two years into my life with fluoxetine, and I wanted to believe it was my solution. Who would want to admit they’d been wearing a band-aid all this time? But it makes sense to me now, it does. Because it’s been three weeks and three days and physically I’m suffering, but mentally I am strong.

    I truly am prepared.

    For too long I have used antidepressants as a crutch. Starting my day with a medicine I knew little about, and telling myself that my moods and emotions are controlled by that. Never mind that I wasn’t getting enough exercise, spending enough time outside, eating well, drinking plenty of water, talking about my feelings, sharing my struggles, charting my cycles, practicing mindfulness, being honest with myself… Why bother with any of that when I can take a little pill?

    The first time I started thinking about quitting the meds is the first time I looked into prozac’s side-effects. I have never once doubted my doctor, and I still don’t. I trust her implicitly and think she is knowledgeable, trustworthy, and damn good at her job. But holy hell, I wish I’d known about the side-effects. The common, the less common, the rare… I’ve experienced some from each category, most of which I hadn’t even realised were being caused by the one thing I thought was meant to be helping me.

    I have no idea how long this physical illness is going to last, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t afraid of what’s to come. But with time, with intent, with trust in myself, I’ll be whole again.

    I am prepared.

    For all the details of why I’ve made this decision and how I’ve prepared myself, check out this video.

     

    Yes, I have spoken to my doctor about this.
    No, you should not quit your meds just because you read this post. If you have concerns or want to quit then you should consult with a health professional.