I wrote a couple of weeks ago about some of my trials with psychiatric medications, and how I finally realized that the less medications I was on, the better, I felt. I’ve been completely off psych meds for about a month now. I just wanted to talk a little bit more about how great it feels. I have new connections with my body that I didn’t even know I was missing. Each med that I got off seem to open up new abilities for my to sense my own needs and sensations. I seemed to keep coming alive more and more.
I know medications help some people, and those people should feel free to keep taking them. However, for other people, the medications do more harm than good and the medications may be one reason that we are increasing the number of people on disability in our country.
Actually, the very scariest med for me to be on was Adderall. This was for ADHD but I started having suicidal thoughts when I was taking it. I finally realized after about a week that the suicidal thoughts went away around 5 pm when the med wore off, and they’d be back around 8 am the next morning when the next dose had kicked in.
Getting off lithium helped me get rid of a terrible shakiness and tremor where I couldn’t keep my hands still for any kind of fine movements. It made my chemistry lab work very difficult and it would have made my dog grooming career impossible if I had stayed on it.
When I got off Depakote, I didn’t realize that my feeling of fullness after a meal had been completely missing. As soon as my body could tell me I was full again, I starting eating the right amount of food and lost weight right away. Seroquel gave me the same kind of raging appetite besides it made so sedated I barely wanted to move around during the day. Even worse, it made me physcially sedated but not mentally sedated so that I was still churning at ten miles a minute instead of sleeping. But then I didn’t have the energy to get up and read and get at least something done during those restless hours.
Getting off Ambien really helped me with some memory problems. I got more convinced of that recently when I was going through a tough time at work and took it every day for about a week and finally realized how much more often I would walk into a room and not even know why I’d walked in there. I’d forget more conversations in the middle, too. When I went back off it, all those issues went away the next day. What I found with the sleeping meds was that pretty anything mainstream that put me to sleep would have such a bad hangover the next day that it felt better just to be short on sleep. After a couple of days of being short on sleep, I fall asleep just fine, anyway. I have found that melatonin and some homeopathic medicines help me sleep without a hangover the next day.
I was still having sleeping problems when I was on nothing but Geodon. One of the support groups I went to said that people should just stay in bed when they can’t sleep so I would lay in bed and sometimes catch myself tapping the wall really quiet with my index finger. I told my former roommate about the tapping after I’d lived with him a year, and he said, “So that’s what that noise is. I knew you slept with your dog, and I thought he was wagging his tail or something.”
Then I realized that good sleep hygiene says that you should get back up after fifteen minutes of not being able to sleep and go do something quiet. That seemed to work a little better, and at least it wasn’t as boring. The breakthrough finally came when I got off Geodon. The second night, I feel asleep in fifteen minutes and had beautiful dreams. My brain really needed the REM sleep. It’s amazing to have my theory proved to be true, and since then I have slept really well, every single night. In the whole month, I haven’t had to once get up out of bed and read in order to fall asleep. Sometimes I’ve woken up in the middle of the night unable to sleep and finally realized I just had to go to the bathroom. This has been the most beautiful revelation at all. I struggled and struggled with sleep for so long and use to dream going to bed to have to face that battle. I remember complaining one night to my fiance about it, and he said, “The more you complain about not being able to sleep, the more it’s likely to come true.”
Now I am free. I have completely cleared out my brain and have now been able to experience my own body again, to fall asleep in fifteen minutes or so almost every night, and to completely feel my own emotions again. I’ve come out the other side of the disability industrial complex and now I want to help other people find their own way out of the grind. For people who are looking for more help with this process, I’d reccommend the Beyond Meds blog and the Harm Reduction Guide to Coming Off Psych Meds.