An Update: Abandoning My Antidepressants
It’s been over a month now since I quit taking my antidepressants (Wellbutrin). If you didn’t see my original post on this topic, you may want to check it out here. To briefly summarize, I hated how it made me feel in that it made me feel nothing at all. Now that its effects seem to have subsided, I wanted to give an update on how things are going.
So… what are some of the differences I’ve noticed? first and foremost, I can feel again. Things have begun to affect me the way they used to. I’ve been writing again. I’ve been thinking deeply again. I feel more present as opposed to like I’m watching my life go by through a foggy window. I’m okay.
I’m finding myself torn. On one hand, I’ve always been a big supporter of medical science and getting help when you need it. When someone is suffering, I always recommend going to a doctor for antidepressants or other therapy. Hell, I work in a mental health clinic and help people get their prescriptions every day. I think for a lot of people, medication can be a life saver and the answer to their problems.
On the other hand I feel a bit like a hypocrite when I see things differently for myself. I think maybe some people are just meant to feel things more intensely than other people, and maybe that isn’t a sickness; when you take away the ability to feel you take away the ability to create. I’ve talked to a lot of fellow creatives on this topic and nearly all of them have been diagnosed with some form of mental illness. Many of the old greats have been diagnosed post-mortem with depression or anxiety or bipolar. A common theme seems to be the inability to create on medication. It numbs the senses crucial to the act of creation. I’ve tried two very different antidepressants now and they both essentially did the same thing: one brought me to an almost violent serenity and one brought me to a sensory deprivation tank filled with my own blood where I lay there smiling with no care in the world.
I was afraid that maybe this time I wouldn’t wake up again. After a couple of weeks passed and I was still struggling to form a coherent thought or to care about certain things I thought maybe whatever part of my brain was responsible for it was killed off or left on permanent vacation.
To my immense relief, I was reading an article one day and it actually made me emotional. Shortly thereafter, I started to get a lot of really great ideas for writing, or little projects I could do. This went on for a week or so. Then, I seemed to have some sort of second breakthrough where I started to take better care of myself. I started going to the gym again. Today was my day off from work and I’ve had a lot of really wonderful time to myself to think, and the epiphanies keep coming. I want to re-embrace my minimalist lifestyle and do another wardrobe purge. I want to go back to eating 100% paleo (a diet in which I felt healthier than I ever felt in my life) but to avoid my usual urge to dive in with both feet. A gradual change is hard, but it’s what I want to do this time to make sure it sticks.
Overall I know that going off of the antidepressants was the right choice for me. It’ll be a difficult path but a beautiful one. I don’t want this to come across like I’m promoting living with mental illness unmedicated. I’m very much a believer that everyone should walk down the path in their own way and find what makes them happiest. You should talk to your doctor before making any changes in your medication. For me, twice was enough to know. While there might be a medication out there that would work for me without killing the emotional side of me, I’m not willing to try anymore. At this point, I’m going to keep going with what has worked for me in the past, which is keeping my creative outlets open and fortified strong against my demons.