A while back I wrote about my journey to physical health. I was very optimistic at that time that I would soon be able to come off all my prescription medications.
Over the last several months, I have been slowly reducing the anti-anxiety medicine I’ve been taking for two years. I went from 4 per day to 3. I felt great! From 3 to 2. Still felt great! From 2 to 1, not so great. During the time I was taking one pill per day, I began to notice some things about my behavior. I didn’t feel anxious at all, but I noticed I got angry about minor things much easier than I have since I’d been taking this med.
One day, I got so irritated at my sweet husband. He did something minor, and I was really ticked! He got angry with me when I (not very kindly) pointed out the thing he had done that made me so upset. Later, he apologized . . . and he wanted and needed me to admit my part in the disagreement. But I couldn’t. I truly could not see my part in that argument. This isn’t like me. Even if I don’t see it, I am usually able to apologize anyway for the sake of the relationship. Not this time. It took me days to soften and tell him I was sorry.
Another day, we had some family members in the house, including a small child who is extremely active. Another family member had brought a very high-strung dog. This dog and this child were not a good mixture. The dog began barking (a very high-pitched bark), NON-STOP for an hour. Usually, this would be fairly annoying to me. Not this time. This time, I was ready to commit murder. I could not stand the noise and chaos in my home. For a long time I’ve felt pretty laid back even though I’ve been dealing with a lot of chaos in my life. I was appalled at how difficult I found that situation.
Three days later, a friend recommended I go to www.nomorobo.com. This site is supposed to help you if you are getting too many sales calls from computers. We have been getting so many, we have been considering canceling our phone number – which is a huge pain. So, I thought, “Yes! This will help a lot, and maybe we won’t have to cancel that phone!” When I went on the site, I realized the steps for setting this up are different for every phone carrier. This should be simple, right? I run a website for heaven’s sake! Long story short, I could not figure out how to do this to save my poor life! That was bad part #1. The second bad part was my reaction. I lost it! I got so angry and frustrated I actually had to go lie down for a while. Sadness.
So, I began reconsidering coming completely off this medication. Many friends have tried to encourage me by saying they might have reacted the same way to these situations. For me, that really wasn’t the point. The point was:
I don’t like feeling so angry all the time, and when I was on this medication, I was so much more at peace. Tweet This
It was such a lovely goal to want to come off all prescription medicines. So much better for my liver, not to mention my pocketbook! But do I want to freak out over little things every few days? I do not.
The other day I visited our counselor. I shared with her what was happening. I told her how many people were excited for me when I told them I was coming off my prescription meds. I am almost wishing I had never told anyone. Now, I am feeling humbled that I seemingly “can’t” do it. To be honest, this is embarrassing to me. This counselor is awesome. She helped me reframe this in my mind. I have another prescription med that I went from 6 pills a day to 2 pills a day. I was perfectly happy to continue taking 2 a day because my body seems to need it right now. So, what would happen if I went back to 2 pills of the anti-anxiety medicine per day? How is that different from taking 2 of the other medication?
On one level, it isn’t. On another, I realize I am feeling a small amount of stigma being on a psychotropic med. Many people feel there is something slightly shameful about taking that kind of med. Christians especially feel this way, I’ve noticed. It is almost as if I am admitting knowing Jesus isn’t enough to keep me happy and stable. This seems like a shameful acknowledgement. And yes, it does seem different to me to be on a psych med, when many think a person who is on a psych med is somehow lower than those who don’t need it.
Many people believe a person is “less than” if they take psych meds. If a person physically needs it, how is that different from taking any other medication? Tweet This
Yesterday, I got an appointment with the psychiatrist who has been prescribing this med. I told her about the three times I have lost it in the last month. She said, “So you’ve been much more irritable.” Right. Irritable, that’s the right word. She asked if I’ve been feeling anxious or nervous; have I been eating and sleeping well? No, no, yes and yes. I have been feeling so well that going back to college hasn’t made me anxious at all!
Then she told me the anti-depressant I am on can sometimes make people feel irritable. Interesting! She believes that the full dose of the anti-anxiety medicine was masking the irritability the anti-depression can cause. Her recommendation? Go back to two pills of the anti-anxiety med each day, and begin coming off the depression med. Wow! I wasn’t expecting that! I had thought since I “wasn’t able” to come off the anti-anxiety med, she would say I should remain on the anti-depressant I have been on over a decade. She pointed out that it has been over 18 months since I’ve had a depressive episode, and that she thinks I am in “remission.”
So, that is my current path. I will be decreasing my anti-depressant over the next few weeks, and then will talk to the psychiatrist about coming off the anti-anxiety med. I will keep you posted on my progress. In the meantime, I will be working on giving myself some grace, even though I’ve hit a bump in the road. And I will remember Isaiah 40:29-31:
He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.
Question: Are you now, or have you ever been on a psych medication? What was your experience like?
I pray that we will all learn to give ourselves some grace. Many blessings to all of you. Until next week,