Defeated in my quest to be drug free

Yesterday I had to admit defeat and go on new antidepressants. It’s not something I wanted and I feel deeply disappointed that I couldn’t manage without them. So today I have begun another cycle of side effects and dose increases and wondering whether any of it is working.

I stopped taking Mirtazipine at the start of January. Apart from knocking me out for a heavy sleep every night, I couldn’t see the benefits of being on it. And I hated the side effects; drowsiness, hot sweats, vivid dreams, loss of sex drive, carb cravings and massive weight gain.

For a while, I felt better for it. At least I thought I did. Maybe I was just enjoying the sense of achievement I felt when people asked how I was and I could say I’d stopped my antidepressants. It felt like progress. And when recovering from a major breakdown you don’t get to notice progress much; it’s all too tiny and incremental.

I suppose it took a couple of months before things started to really slide. It’s been gradual but obvious. My self-harm has increased and got more severe. I’ve started using alcohol to avoid my feelings, after managing to stay sober for a long while. Therapy has become a thrice-weekly repeat of just sitting in silent, anxious stuckness. The suicidal thoughts have returned and are with me at some point in every day. I’m not eating enough and I’ve lost a lot of weight.

Despite all of this, I was trying to stay the course. But last week I hit an extremely low point. My wife had to call in sick to work on Friday because I was in such a bad state she was scared to leave me alone with myself. I dissociated so badly I lost time.

I didn’t want to give in to all the people pressuring me to try a new antidepressant. I know their pushing comes from a place of care and concern, but it isn’t what I want for myself. I want to know myself and what’s going on for me. I don’t want my thoughts and emotions to be blunted and numbed by drugs.

But it isn’t fair or sustainable for my wife to have to take leave from work because I can’t keep myself safe.

When I walked into the pharmacy yesterday to collect my new Brintellix prescription, I felt like such a failure. I dragged this heavy sense of defeat with me. Waiting in line, I just wanted to cry. I felt like I needed someone with me in that moment, like it would’ve been easier to have someone to speak for me. And I really wanted a hug.

The problem now is that I want to know that if I start to feel better, it’s because I am actually getting better – it’s real and not just synthesised by pharmaceuticals. How will I ever be able to tell when it’s right to stop taking the meds in the future? If they do work and I eventually reduce them, how do I know this isn’t all going to happen again?

I can’t help thinking I’m going to be trapped in this cycle for the rest of my life.


Photo: Chad Cooper, Creative Commons.



14 Comments Add yours

  1. bethanyk says:

    It is just so frustrating!!! This cycle. I know. It is just so frustrating.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Laura says:

      sounds like you’ve been there too!


      1. bethanyk says:

        I am deep in it right now!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Laura says:

        euch I am sorry you’ve got to go through it as well. It’s really crap. Are you switching to a new one?


      3. bethanyk says:

        I can’t seem to tolerate the antidepressants. They either make me manic or more depressed or I throw up constantly. For about 8 months I switched around I’ve tried about 5 now and even at a liquid dose so I could start at a pediatric dose and work up. So benzos. Which have lost their ability to do anything. So now I am left with a betablocker which supposedly is calming. I have a drawer full of medications that have either only temporarily taken the edge off or made me worse. Mirtazapine was the worst for me. I am desperate to feel calm and peaceful which I feel the opposite of right now and yet I am so tired of the medication cycle and the side effects. At this point I would love to wake up not despondent and actually be able to sleep at night.


      4. Laura says:

        that sounds awful. I can’t imagine having to go through that many. I take benzos too, and you’re right that they gradually stop doing much. It’s easy then to become addicted and end up taking ever increasing quantities. I would love for you to sleep well and wake up feeling positive too. I hope it happens sooner rather than later for you.


      5. bethanyk says:

        Today I actually skipped going with my daughter to an appointment and just had my daughter take her and I stayed home to rest. I had no idea I would fall asleep but I slept from 1-3pm. I never nap. I think my body was just exhausted. I’m glad I listened to it and stayed home!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. La Quemada says:

    I’m struggling with getting off Effexor right now. I’m trying to keep an open mind about whether I’ll end up taking other anti-depressants or not. My psych nurse has me taking lots of supplements to get healthier and help my body make its own neurotransmitters. She says her goal would be to get me healthier, have me eating well, exercising moderately, and then, if still needed, taking the lowest possible dose of an anti-depressant to keep myself stable. I think I’ll accept that goal for now. Theoretically, I like the idea of no medication, but it’s more important to be able to live my life, to work, to engage with people.

    It sounds like you’ve been pretty sick. I hope you can find something that will give you some relief without a lot of side effects.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Laura says:

      Sounds like you have an amazing nurse who understands holistic treatment really well. That goal sounds like a good one. I can’t even think about taking care of myself until I am a bit more stable, so I know my only choice at the moment is to try the meds. They’ve all got side effects, but hopefully this one will be more tolerable than the last.


      1. La Quemada says:

        I know exactly what you mean about “can’t even think about taking care of myself until I am a bit more stable…” I told my therapist that goal 1 is getting out of bed and acting alive. Then I can slowly add on the healthy eating, exercise, and whatever else. Right now for you, stability and safety are the goals. Everything else is longer term–but I know you can get there, too. I’m in the midst of a setback, so aggravating, but I still believe I’ll figure it out.


  3. I’m going to echo what Q said about needing to be able to live your life. Whatever your theoretical views or ideal goals as far as not taking antidepressants, if they are what make the difference between eking out a miserable existence and having a life that really feels worth living, then the decision to take them is a healthy compromise and not an admission of failure. It doesn’t have to be forever.

    I can only speak as to my own experience, which is that coming off antidepressants can take a very long time, can be extremely unpleasant, and can be very dangerous as you sink into destructive behaviours. It took me 6-8 months to get down from a single tablet (the lowest commonly prescribed dose) to being off them completely, followed by suicidal depression and emotional instability that took another 6+ months to settle, a second, less severe depression that lasted about 4 months, and I’m still not completely ok, but I have my own reasons for sticking at it. And I did not have a background of self harm or substance abuse to contend with – that would have made it nearly impossible for me for do it, I think.

    I hope you can have faith in yourself and your ability to make your own choices. Your choices are right for you and only you. No-one else’s opinion is more important than yours. You are alive. That is not defeat.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Laura says:

      Thank you for that. What you said is validating for me, and I do struggle to be confident that I can make good choices. I suppose that’s because it’s hard to rely on my thoughts when my brain keeps failing me. Sometimes I have to just go with the consensus of opinions from those who care about me, because often I am not good at going for what is healthy.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. manyofus1980 says:

    I took mortazapine for a while. I hated it. I’m taking Prozac now. Not sure its doing any good. My dr. says its not my mood that’s suffering its just that I am emotionally all over the place. That is true. I hope the new meds work for you. Sending hugs. xx

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s