Saturday, 30 March 2013

Weaning Mummy

For the first time in three and a half years, I am considering weaning myself off antidepressants. It is a pretty remarkable place to be in, to be actually feeling well enough that I would see a future where popping my two miracle pills each morning wouldn't be the pillar on which my life is held together.

I have been on paroxitine since about 3 weeks after Ella was born. It was like suddenly a light went on and I could see why other people seemed so excited about life and enjoyed things. Up until that point I honestly hadn't been able to see what the fuss was all about, most of the time, even before Ella. I tried citalapram before we tried to conceive another baby but my anxiety wasn't managed well on that so I switched back. Switching back triggered a relapse and I had to increase my dose to the maximum for a while. That is why the idea of weaning is a bit scary. But the confidence, self awareness and skills I have learned through therapy, pregnancy with George and since George's birth has shown me that I am strong and that I know how to look after myself. I don't need to fear a stressful day or event and feel that antidepressants are essential to my wellbeing. Well, I am hoping that is what I am going to discover through the weaning process.

Weaning off antidepressants is not something to do without a very well thought out plan and a bit of reading so you know what to expect. Most SSRIs have quite a long half life, which means they stick around in your system for a while so withdrawal doesn't kick in for a few days if you suddenly drop your dose. But paroxitine (aropax, paxil) has a very short half life and you have to take it within the same couple of hours each day or you start to feel funny. It also has some side effects that aren't too pleasant. It makes me feel really tired about an hour after taking it, you can get what feels like electric shocks in your brain that are painless but very wierd. It also limits (over sharing warning!) sexual satisfaction. After three and a half years, I am ready to see what it feels like to be me without the chemical assistance.

Often people try to reduce their dosage during holidays or at a time when they have lots of support. I have learnt the hard way that I need to be living my normal routine and not do it when I have lots of important events or possibly stressful situations, such as Christmas, or major changes in my life. So now is actually a great time. Life is in a pretty straight forward pattern right now and I am feeling no sense of pressure to do this in a certain time frame.

So I have done some reading and am planning a very slow withdrawal process by only reducing my dose by a quarter tablet, two weeks at a time. Hopefully that way I can avoid some of the awful side effects paroxitine withdrawal can have. And I will be able to keep a close eye on my state of mind so if things start to slip I can stop and let things stabilise. If I find myself feeling down or anxious I will just stop. In the big picture, needing to take a pill or two each day is a small price to pay for wellness and joy in my life.

It is pretty confronting to think about the fact that I am physically dependent on medication to avoid going potty. It can feel very shameful and I have moments where I feel like I am flawed and pathetic. But then I remember that choosing to be well and live well is actually empowering, and if that means taking antidepressants, then that is a positive choice. Everyone has their battles and health issues. Some people take blood pressure meds, others need insulin for diabetes. It is better than using other substances such as alcohol or illegal drugs to self medicate. I still reserve the right to use food sometimes!

So after Easter the process begins. Wish me luck and hopefully there will be no going down the rabbit hole.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous9:14 am

    Wishing you the best of good luck with the process! Jody