Why Getting Off My Mental Health Meds Was a Bad Idea
I created this artwork while smack-dab in a low mental health place over the jummer. My anxiety was causing my hand to no-joke shake with the paint brush in it, yet I felt so sure: everything I was going through was material and it would take me somewhere. (p.s. Is it obvious that I’d just seen the newest Aladdin movie?)
Well, it happened again.
I feel like life for me over the past decade has basically been this: me scurrying around scooping up my marbles, then losing them again. Scoop em up, lose em again. Scoop, lose, scoop, lose.
The particular Marble Scattering that just occurred, though, I mostly did to myself.
In late spring, I had successfully thrived through several consecutive months of strong mental wellbeing and successful management of my ADHD symptoms. I had all my personal/home support systems in check, was straddling clouds of inspiration and creativity, found myself plowing through to-do lists and social endeavors like a John Deere tractor, enjoyed almost all of my inner thoughts about myself and the world, and generally found life to be manageable, maybe even — dare I say it — easy.
Let me pause here to offer my medication backdrop: My anti-anxiety go-to med for these 10 years has been Lexipro. I have done lots of personal development around acceptance of this gift from modern medicine; therapy and inner work have assisted in my slow descent off the pedestal that used to be a shrine to my ego. When anxiety first presented in my early thirties, I used to sit on that pedestal — suffering and panic-ridden — as if by not accepting the assistance of pharmaceutical intervention I somehow was stronger (albeit iller). But then I got wiser. I’ve written a “Medication Manifesto” to myself and have it tucked away in my journal for regular review, its core message that I am strong for all the work I put into my wellness — medication included — and that it’s not cheating. After all, strong people accept help.
But, after having just explained to you how much comfort I had worked hard for surrounding the gift of Lexipro, I still had this quiet eagerness to get off of it. Without even consciously knowing it, I think I was secretly looking for enough evidence, enough stability, enough consecutive weeks/months of my marbles well-kept to warrant an off-ramp from anti-anxiety meds.
In May, I was solid — really, really solid. And I was ready to hit the eject button to my pal, Lexipro. I said, “Thanks, old friend. You were there for me when I needed you, but life is telling me I’m ready to move along now. I’m grateful for you, and I will now say my goodbyes. SEE YA!”