I seem to have successfully pulled through a major depression cycle without meds of any kind (except zyrtec, haha) for the first time in two decades. It was hard. Doctors have kept me on and off meds for so many years that I’ve always had *something* to catch me while I was going off something else, even if it was just minor pain pills. This cycle was no worse than any other I’ve been through without meds. Just up to me to handle. Since I’ve been practicing for this, thankfully I was ready. I did it!
I would never dream of telling anyone to go off their meds. It’s actually pretty dangerous if you don’t do it correctly. Besides unexpected personality changes that can escalate self harm or harm to others, there is sometimes risk of life threatening seizures. If you ever want to try going off your meds, do your research FIRST, talk to your doctor NEXT, set up a plan together, and THEN execute. Never just stop your meds thinking you can tough it out. You can’t. I’ve been through a Xanax rescue and I’m the toughest person I know.
Same with alcohol withdrawal. Tell someone. Don’t cold turkey alone, it’s too hard on your liver. I speak from experience. Three months of my liver crashing really sucked. Take it real slow, give your body lots of time to adjust.
Incremental withdrawal is debatable with some medical professionals. Most of those medical professionals have never gone through withdrawal. They don’t know. I’ve gone through some hellish withdrawals, and there is no guarantee your will power will hold up when stuff has ‘washed out of your system’. The kindest thing you can do for yourself is make a plan, make other people aware of your intentions so you’ll have a safety net, and take it slow. If it takes two years, it takes two years. Tiny suck is better than overwhelming monumental suck that lands you in the ER.
The single most important thing you can do is connect with people. Find people you can be honest with, then be honest. Say you need help. Apologize ahead for being a drag and tell them you appreciate them not taking you personally when you suck (and apologize more afterward). Tell them you love them and you hope you don’t hurt them while you go through your inner hell. Whether it’s needing to go on meds (please consider going on meds if you are having problems with relationships because you’re having a hard time controlling anger, depression, and/or anxiety), or needing to change meds (it’s a process, I know it’s a drag, but it’s worth it), or feel like you need to get off meds (sometimes meds just aren’t the answer or you wind up being one of those freaks like me who has reactions to everything), it’s vital that you get other people in on what’s going on with you. Being honest is way more productive in the long run than trying to hide your stuff and thinking when it’s all better everything will be ok between you and whoever.
There is such a stigma still associated with needing ‘head meds’ or counseling that a lot of people never get the help they need. Our heads can get just as upset as a sour stomach. If you’ve ever lived with chronic heartburn, imagine your brain living with chronic chemical imbalance. You stay upset or worried and it resets your fight or flight response to higher and higher defaults until you live your life on adrenaline and glucose and all kinds of chemicals regularly shooting through your brain that wouldn’t be happening if you were calm and relaxed. Resetting your brain chemicals is as difficult for some people as losing weight, you can’t just will power your way through it without first understanding what is really going on.
Drama is a way of life nowadays, isn’t it? Some people are so into drama they can’t seem to live without it, like they’re addicted. Well, they are! They need something to obsessively worry about or get angry over so they can keep pumping those chemicals into their brains. It’s every bit as addictive as alcohol and drugs, considering your brain is a pharmacy itself. Our brains and bodies produce drugs for us all the time, but those are intended to keep us alive when stuff gets hard, like human history used to be. And then we need other chemicals to make us feel better after all that high energy zapping, and that’s where we start self medicating. A lot of people sleep better after they drink coffee, which seems ironic. (Me…) We need a substance to trigger chain reactions to help us control how we feel, because we feel crummy if we don’t.
I tend to get carried away because typing words comes so easy for me, so let’s get back to my main point. Connect with people. Find people who accept YOU and will allow you the freedom to make some changes. If you don’t find these people in ‘real life’, find them on the internet. Twitter has been a godsend to me this year, I kid you not. I have gotten through so much stuff, thanks to friends interacting in real time on twitter. Social media is kind of a joke, but it’s real. There are real people all over this planet that you can reach out and touch now, and we are all resources of love and hope for each other if we do this right.
I’ve been using this song all week to float through the rough stuff. Find something meaningful for you and focus on it. And connect.