Photo by Mark Fletcher-Brown on Unsplash

When Is an Antidepressant Not Really an Antidepressant?

12 days without my antidepressant and I’m seeing the world differently.

Letrisha Langford
Oct 24 · 4 min read

I know I’m not the only person who has gone without their medication simply because the finance demon has had just too good of a laugh at the moment. When it comes down to repairing a broken-down vehicle, putting food on the table and getting medication, there are some things that will win out over my pills. Besides, it’s just a couple of weeks until payday. What could possibly go wrong?

There are reasons for the warnings provided with prescriptions

I was prescribed Cymbalta (Duloxetine) about five years ago. It wasn’t prescribed because I was depressed, but because it is supposed to help ease neuropathic pain. I am 90 percent VA disabled, most likely due to chemical exposure in Kuwait. (Before some of you may ask, I am not seen by VA docs any longer, as I live so far away from a VA medical center. Now, I’m seen by a local doctor, and most days, it’s just easier to get my meds filled locally.)

Of course, I knew it was an antidepressant. A quick Google search will tell you that. However, Google also goes into great detail as to why you shouldn’t stop the medication cold turkey. I should have paid more attention.

Can an antidepressant alter your mood even if you don’t have depression?

If you’re not suffering from depression, though, wouldn’t it make sense that an antidepressant wouldn’t really affect your mood? Well, in my tiny way of thinking, I thought it wouldn’t matter so much if I went off of it for a little bit.

After all, I have other pain meds for the neuropathy. I thought I might see a change in my pain, but nothing I couldn’t handle. Besides, it’s been the one drug that has been responsible for my lack of a sex drive — maybe that would change, too!

Photo by Matt Bowden on Unsplash

Surprise, surprise, surprise!

It is day 12 and I feel as though I’m on the worst emotional roller coaster of my life. One moment I’m prepared to tackle the world, upbeat, creative, kind and all those other cool adjectives used to describe someone who has the world by the tail and is conquering that monster.

Oh, but wait. Five minutes later …

Slowly sneaking into my brain are other thoughts, namely negative ones. Tears fall with no rhyme or reason, the number of days I’m snapping at family members far exceeds the number of normal PMS days and will someone please tell me why an empty jar of mayo was put back in the fridge before I blow up the kitchen!

I just want to stay in bed, but that isn’t possible. I don’t want to shout at anyone — also apparently not possible.

Dear Lord, I will forever be more understanding and patient with people who suffer from depression if you will only a.) Let me get away with stealing my pills from the pharmacy, b.) Let me find a winning lottery ticket that is just enough to pay for the prescription, c.) Let the bottle of Tylenol on the counter do the same darn thing, or d.) Any of the above!

However, the understanding and patience are going to remain even if the above possibilities never occur.

An eye-opening experience

I have a different appreciation for people who deal with depression on a daily basis. Even though I haven’t been diagnosed with depression, I certainly feel as though I have dealt with some of the symptoms over the last week and a half.

It hurts my heart to know that millions of people suffer every day with what I am only going through for two weeks. And while I don’t recommend anyone going off their medication for two weeks without speaking with their doctor first, this has given me a different outlook on my own life on and off the medication.

Photo by Maddi Bazzocco on Unsplash

Only two days left

Just two. I don’t know how long it will take for the medication to build back up in my system, but I’m certainly ready to start taking it again and getting my “normal” life back. I’m so fortunate to know the end of this is near and not something that cannot be helped with medication.

Letrisha Langford

Written by

Wife, mother, writer, animal lover, voracious reader, exceptional procrastinator, multiple list-builder, nature lover, crazy introvert, and timid extrovert.

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