Taking the stabilisers off my brain

So it’s been a while since I posted about anxiety and mainly that’s because mine has been under control thanks to citalopram. It is difficult to have a good awareness of anxiety when I’m not actually experiencing it, and the meds do seem to cut me off from that part of my experience even more then usual. (I’ve discussed this in previous posts)

However, my brain is freewheeling again, I came off the meds just before Christmas. Hello Unmedicated Brain! Been a while…

I did it according to my doctors wishes, I cut down slowly from 20mg a day to 10mg a day to 10mg every two days for specified amounts of time, then I stopped when I knew that I had nearly two weeks off work for any withdrawal effects to do their thing before I went back to work. Not that I really felt any… I was a bit grumpy and short tempered at times but not hugely and as soon as I noticed I was able to control it (apologies to my mother in law for a bit of grumpiness on Xmas Day!!)

So… is there any difference… is there life after meds?!

To be honest, apart from continuing to be a bit more short tempered than when I was on the medication (and generally that’s not noticeable unless you’re listening to my thoughts), no, there is no discernible difference. For me, I knew it was long past time to come off the meds because I kept forgetting to take them. I was starting to get quite worried about the effect I was having on my brain chemistry by not keeping up a regular schedule of med taking. This to me was a big sign that I didn’t need them anymore and shouldn’t be on them. But I’m a good girl with medication (or try to be) so I adhered to the doctors wishes and took far longer than I wanted in coming off them. I did see his wisdom in staying on them while I got used to a new job, and certainly the meds helped me negotiate a slightly tricky “constructive criticism” phase about 6 weeks into my new job.

I’m very glad to be off them and I hope to last more than six months this time! I guess I have a six month marker in my brain and when I pass June this year without needing to think about going on meds, I will be very glad. There is a small part of my brain that fears now I’ve started going on anti-depressants, I will fall over at ever increasing intervals until I just stay on them forever. An irrational thought you say? Hello, have we met?? Being an experiential learner, I won’t believe that I can survive longer than six months without meds until I have survived that long 🙂 rational be damned!

However, the signs are good… my new job is a lot more relaxed and enjoyable than my last, it’s still challenging, but I have a lot more gratitude and appreciation from the people that I am helping and supporting and that matters and counts more than I have words to say. Almost every encounter I have with the Visually Impaired Veterans that I now support gives me a warm expandy feeling in my heart and a big smile on my face. This adds to the “psychic armour” (for want of a better term) that protects me against the world, it adds to the feeling of worth that I have and I can honestly say I LOVE MY JOB! I love it so much I don’t even mind (much) getting up before 6.30am!

(and if you DO know me… you should know just how much that statement means!)

So…. what’s the point of this post?

I guess this is just checking in with myself post meds. Seeing where I currently am on my personal Path through life, noting that it’s currently a good place and marking that.

From spending several months last year on meds, I have gained more awareness of my cognitive processes. In the month since coming off meds, I’ve been able to note my mental responses and once aware of what I’m thinking, I’m able to take control of it – switch from a grumpy irrational response to a calmer one for example.

How do I feel about meds – the same way I feel about painkillers or nytol – they serve a purpose. Taken correctly and not abused, they can help to gain and keep control, help do the things that need to be done and smooth the rough edges. However (according to me), none of these things are meant to be taken permanently and it’s better if they don’t need to be taken at all. But if they do… then take them, use them, it’s what they are there for and there is no shame or guilt in that. Just use them properly and make sure they enhance and improve your life and allow you to do the things you want and need to do otherwise… what’s the point?

In my case, the meds got me through a really difficult work situation and allowed me to keep going when every anxious bone of me was begging to run screaming for the hills then fall over. They allowed me to go through the soul crushing process of finding a new job in todays difficult work climate and get through the first few months of a completely new work environment.

I thank them for that.

And now I look forward to seeing how I do without the stabilisers on my brain and I hope that it’s a very long time indeed (or never) until I need them again.