You’re probably aware of the basic stats for mental health in Australia and around the globe. We know that whilst all across the nation people are pooping, eating and having sex, one in five of those pooping sexy humans are living with a mental illness. Around 4 million Australians have been diagnosed with medical conditions such as clinical depression,anxiety, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder (to name a few).
On top of this, Strayans’ rank 2nd place globally for the most anti-depressant prescriptions dispersed. Every 30 seconds a script is being punched out across our great sunburnt land.
I’ve been using SSRI’s to assist with Clinical Depression since 2012. Doctor’s pushed and pushed for me to try Lexapro or Paxil, according to them I was missing out on the magic candy of life. The magical candy could level me out and, combined with exercise and a good diet, I would be a functioning individual with minimal side effects. We quite possibly have some of the greatest GP’s in the world; but holy balls these blokes missed a couple of relevant details during my consultations.
The first two weeks on an SSRI are brutal. Not even in a spiritual sense, but physically I felt so displaced. I can only sum up my experience using the noun shit-storm.
Fast forward four years after some amazing work with counsellors, meditation gurus and most recently a life coach (I highly recommend all three), I’m feeling like these anti depressants are doing more harm than good. Over time you happen to need more of them, then once you’ve maxed out your dosage, it kind of feels like the body has taken a hit. Sex drive goes bye bye, sluggishness beats your gym sessions and the brain region has been replaced by an old worn out ballsack*.
Finding the right GP has been imperative in settling the anti-depressant dispute. Finally after a failed suicide attempt alongside a few intense episodes, my new Doc and I sat down to discuss the possibility of a misdiagnosis. After some testing it turned out I may be a little more bipolar and a little less depression than initially thought. Of course, we came to realise perhaps the drug I am on is likely doing more harm than good for ol’ Breezus*. For anyone who has tried tapering off but has had no luck, read on. There’s a lot of negative shit online about weaning off Lexapro, Paxil and the likes; but if you have spoken to your team and have decided it’s the right move for your body and soul I have some tips to conquer the beast. Read on friend!
- If possible reduce your work hours or take a week off. I am currently out of work which has made it a lot easier. There’s a three day period in there somewhere in which you just need to sleep and withdraw. Hitting up your meetings and asking Debby how the kids are in the lunch room will fuck up the process.
- Push through the brain zaps. Brain zaps or Paraesthesia happens to be the most asshole-ish side effect when discontinuing your anti-depressant. Some people barely get them, some people get them every minute; Doctor’s don’t really know why they happen but they do eventually stop. I have found if I don’t get enough sleep the brain zaps are a lot more frequent, if they’re really bad I lie in bed with some white noise in my ears. If your brain zaps are unbearable talk to your Doctor about slowing down your rate of tapering. There’s no shame in stretching out the process — the main thing is your health and wellbeing, remember that’s why you’re going through this horse shit.
- Plz don’t go cold turkey. One of my friends did this and survived, but I am certain this is because she is actually immortal. Speak to your health professional, generally the way to go is to reduce the dosage in increments — even Harvard says so.
- Get your support systems ready. This includes anyone you care about being aware. Tell them what’s going on. If they don’t take it seriously tell them again. If they still don’t take it seriously they sound like dicks tell them to e-mail me I will explain k.
- Meditate, read, walk. These three things are why Breezus’ head did not implode. In fact I am at the tail end of my taper, and such activities have been my escape and made the whole process less like a horror movie.
The above are purely personal insights. I believe they are fairly bloody good, but I am sure there are other humans out there with wonderful ideas as well. I have read one dude increased his fish oils and vitamins to discover the brain zaps weren’t so significant as a result. Whatever you do make sure you have the support of someone, be it a health professional a counsellor or spouse. And remember to reward yourself at the end of all of this by buying yourself some cookies and wine.