The main point I have wanted to make in this series of posts related to my discontinuation of antidepressants is this: It can be done. You will survive. Your body is working with you to recover.
The last days of my third and final taper, nearly two years after I had made the first attempt, ended innocuously. Step by step I was slicing down my tablets until they became too small to slice. At this point I started skipping days: I’d take a sliver on a Monday and not take the next one until Wednesday. I followed through on this rhythm allowing approximately two weeks before skipping another day.
I was taking one sliver every fifth day when, on December 1, I took my last. It had not been my intention to make it my final dose. I simply lost track of the days between. At Day 6 I realized I had forgotten to take the sliver and decided to go another day. At Day 8 I made the decision to keep it going, while closely monitoring myself.
There simply comes a point when you have to step off the plank. The last time I had stopped ingesting SSRIs had been two years prior during my first attempt, which ended badly after eight weeks, when I had to reinstate. In my mind this time, though the symptoms were minimal, I didn’t feel I would be completely free of the meds until I made it past that eight-week crashing stage where it all came apart the first time.
I couldn’t help but carry a hidden dread about the harrowing possibility that my brain my implode at some point. But by this point, I had come so far and had worked so intensively, I imposed upon myself the objective belief that I must proceed in prudent hope, trusting that the miraculous human systems would do their respective parts to keep the ship afloat. The nutrients, supplements, vitamins, and health I had forged through exercise; along with the clarity of mind I had fought to regain all spoke to me trusting assurances that they would steer me aright when the waves rolled me around. All the needed pieces had been adequately addressed. The time had come to trust the body to do its proper work — to hold.
On day 57, after the last dose, having safely navigated the dreaded eight-week mark, I felt the time had come to get on with what was left of my life. My battles would no longer be defined by chemicals. They were soul battles now.
I had been a reasonable candidate to be put on these drugs. I was the daughter of a man who had had a breakdown and at the time when I was prescribed them, I was in a collapsing marriage. Yet somewhere in there, over the years, another invisible line was crossed, a line that moved me from a place of “being held together” by these drugs to a darker scene of being pulled under by them. And so, amid these other struggles, there was yet another battle to fight.
The larger question remains: But are you still depressed?
The answer is: not nearly to the extent I experienced while taking these drugs. The crippling anxiety is gone, the insomnia is gone, the panic attacks are gone. I still have periods of emotional struggle, but I assure you these are quite manageable and innocuous. I can testify that the drugs themselves were ruining my deposition and, being free of them, my life and comportment have returned.
My conclusions are minimal but stark when I think about what happened here:
- First, the pharmaceutical companies knowingly distort test results which carries the devastating effect of destroying people’s lives. (Check out articles here and here.)
- Second, many (not all) doctors are ill-prepared to help their patients deal with discontinuation and some are complicit in keeping them on these drugs. (Pharmacists too have a role to play here.)
- Third, the body (including the brain) wants to heal itself, and will, if we take up the role of its advocate and helper.
So, on the 57th day after the last little bit of Zoloft was given entrance to my bloodstream, I knew now that decisions can be made based upon a greater scheme. Now my choices were free and I could — indeed must — step into them by way of new ground, solid ground.
I wrote a short book in the aftermath of my successful taper, lending helpful aids for anyone who desires to get off these meds. (Purchase a hard copy here.) I do not presume to give medical advice, but encouragement that there are concrete steps you can take that will keep you on a straight road toward the ultimate goal of successful discontinuation. God speed.