So! Who has taken the medication route? I know I have. And there is nothing to be ashamed of! Meds can and do help to take the edge of the feelings of anxiety and panic disorder but know this - In order to be able to come off them in the long run, we must also work on ourselves. As in, self-help. As in, getting to the root cause of why our brains are wired in the way they are. The first step and the most obvious is counselling. Urgh! The dreaded 'C' word!! I know there is a lot of stuff in your lives that you may well want to forget, ignore or both! But trust me, you NEED to remember it. In order to lay it to rest. But, that's another story! Back to meds.
My relationship with medication was always a reluctant one. I didn't start taking them until I was around 30. I'd just moved to a foreign country with 3 small children and it just felt.. well.. overwhelming! Especially because my anxiety was ever present. The doc prescribed some medication which, to be honest, I was scared to take. I'd heard stories from friends and relatives that taking this kind of medication can be addictive. That 'If you start taking them, you'll NEVER get off them!' It was a hard decision but I knew I couldn't go on living the way I was. So, I took them. They were called Citalopram. I don't know if you've heard of them or have had a bad experience with them or are taking them with no problems but I did not like them at all! Aside from being the type of person to only take paracetamol if its completely necessary, I did not like the feeling these tabs gave me once they'd kicked in! I felt like I was outside my own body. I knew I didn't want to be the 'me' with anxiety, but this was other worldly to me! I felt NUMB. No feelings about anything! And I'm a passionate person. So off I trundled back to the docs! "Happy Pills?" More like 'robot pills!'
My next trial was with another type of SSRI (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor - incase you didn't know) called Paroxetine. This one made me feel pretty shaky to begin with. I struggled to understand why taking medication made my anxiety far worse in the beginning. I was told that meds can make you feel worse whilst they get into your system and then start to help block the chemicals that cause the 'fight or flight' reaction. OK. Fine. That was what I wanted. However, these tabs had a physical effect. I got up one morning to a red rash all over my face! Just what an anxiety sufferer needs to see looking in the mirror! You can imagine my horror, right? I didn't attribute it to the meds at first. Until I went to the doc who put it down to a side effect. So, that was the end of that stint with meds! I was starting to think that maybe I was destined to be a nice, comfy, cosy home for anxiety!
Then came Fluoxetine and at last I had found something that agreed with me, that I agreed with and that took the edge off my symptoms enough for me to feel normal. I had a nice, long term relationship with Fluoxetine. Even taking it to the next level and upping the anti! I was back! And I felt, not like I was walking on air, but near enough! And this went on for a fair few years.
Anxiety, (the little bitch! (I do personify a lot. It helps me deal with a 'tangible thing' rather than an invisible illness. I will talk about that another time)) Well, she had another plan! She was behind the scenes concocting and conspiring whilst I was oblivious. Like a witch stirring her cauldron! "I'll get you, my pretty!"
Fluoxetine had done all it could for me and we'd reached the end of our relationship. The doc said "there are better meds out there" but I was sad. And I was scared to move on. Scared that I'd go back to square one with finding 'The One!' And so I was prescribed Venlafaxine. Even the name of it sounded far more superior than Fluoxetine. Anxiety could not win. I wouldn't let it. So I took the tabs. For a few months I felt alright. A bit different to Fluoxetine and I still can't put my finger on how. But hey, they were doing what they were intended for. Until, that is, I noticed my heart rate was bordering tachycardia (fast heart rate) whilst I was resting! I don't want to alarm anyone by writing this, and this is my own personal experience with this medication. If you take it and are fine, that is great. But it didn't work for me.
So... off I went to pester the doc again. Sertraline this time and we seem to have a very good relationship.
You might be wondering why I say I am at peace with anxiety now. I am.But to come off medication when you 'feel fine' is not the answer to you becoming medication UNreliant. Never just stop because you feel better. It can make things a whole lot worse. Always consult your doctor. I am staying in my relationship with Sertraline for now. And we'll see how it goes.
If you would like to comment or share any of your own experiences, please feel free. We're all in the same boat.
Take care of yourself and your mind