I have been taking medication to help with anxiety for close to two years now. It took a bit of tweaking, but I finally take something that a) helps my mind to process things at a normal pace, b) helps me to not panic for the majority of the day, c) helps me to not feel sick constantly and d) it helps me SLEEP.
I had been feeling pretty good for the last few months. Lots of things have been happening, big decisions have been made and I felt that I was on top of things. I went to see my doctor, discussed my current mental health state and explained how much the delightful side effect of weight gain had been affecting me in a negative way, not only physically, but emotionally and mentally as well. With this in mind, I let my vanity take over. I decided to try to wean off my medication.
I have one word for this experience at this point in my life: Disaster.
Things seemed to be going OK for the first couple of weeks. I started to just take half a tablet per day rather than a full tablet. I noticed I was getting a few headaches and felt dizzy at times, but that was about it. After a few weeks, I started taking a quarter of a tablet. The headaches started to get worse, the vertigo increased and my mood... let's just say it wasn't great. I was determined though. I was so sure I was mentally able to cope without assistance. Mine and Reid's house has finally started being built, I made the decision to start a Masters degree and things at work are constantly up and down. Sounds like possibly the most stupid time to try coming off anti-anxiety medication right? Right.
Unfortunately, my head wasn't really listening to me at that point. I stopped taking the medication completely after about 6 weeks.
I couldn't sleep. I had become accustomed to my 9pm bedtime routine. Sleeping soundly (apart from the odd night-sweat, yet another horrible side effect of my meds - luckily I change our sheets all the time anyway), being able to get through the day without a panic attack or spontaneously bursting into tears, being able to get into my car without shaking, being able to treat my husband with the patience and love he deserves, being able to actually leave my house - all of these things, I'd become quite fond of. My ability to do these things seemed to rapidly disappear as soon as that medication was out of my system. Basically - I completely fell apart. I couldn't go to social events that I'd been looking forward to for weeks, including the engagement party of a dear friend. I could barely make myself go to work. I felt constantly nauseated, scared and dizzy. Bottom line: it was freaking horrible.
This really scares me. After a complete tearful breakdown to my Mum over the phone, I asked my Doctor for a new script and started back on my medication after about three weeks of being off it completely. I had no idea how much it really was helping me. I had no idea how much I really suffered without it. It had all become a blur of butterflies and tension headache memories. Turns out, I need to take a pill to get me through the day. Should I be ashamed of it? To be honest, I kind of am. I try not to be. I try to tell myself it's perfectly fine and I shouldn't be so hard on myself. But far out, it really sucks. I don't want to be reliant on medication. I can't/won't be taking it when Reid and I try to have a baby/when I'm pregnant/breast feeding. Will I be OK? Will I be able to cope? I don't want people to think I'm lazy and unhealthy because I've gained weight since I started taking this. I try so hard to be fit and healthy and still I feel like I am judged. Why do I care? I don't know. I'm only human I guess. I wish I didn't care.
Anxiety is shit. Sorry for swearing, but it really is. I know there are a lot more serious mental health problems out there, but far out, I hate feeling like this.
Silver lining: I'm sleeping again, coping again, smiling again, leaving the house again, driving again - all because of a 20mg pill? I'd like to think it was because of some kind of hidden strength of character, some force inside me that is courageous. I'm not so sure anymore. One day, maybe I will try again and do better. Hopefully one day soon.