Seven weeks ago I quit all my psychiatric medications cold turkey. I’d been on four, definitely over-medicated. I was starting to feel disillusioned and was tired of relying on chemistry to function. I was feeling blunted, unable to feel much of anything at all. On top of that, I’d been medicated for the past six years straight. I simply didn’t remember what it was like to be un-medicated, or why I was on medication in the first place.
So I made a rash and irresponsible decision. I woke up one morning and skipped my pills. One morning turned into two which turned into a week. Within the week I was experiencing serious withdrawal symptoms. Shaking, sweating, restlessness, anxiety. My emotions were roller-coasting out of control and I admittedly used negative behaviors to cope. The withdrawal symptoms waned after a week and my emotions started to stabilize.
It was really great at first. I could actually feel. I could be happy and sad and excited and disappointed. I was laughing freely and crying at every little thing. For a few days I could really focus and was ultra-productive. It was so liberating, to let my emotions regulate themselves. For the first time in a long time I felt like I was truly living. But then the depression hit.
I didn’t really see it coming, though I guess I should have. It just snuck up on me. The first time the cloud engulfed me I attributed it to maybe just a lack of sleep or a bad day. But soon that bad day had turned into a bad week. I hardly noticed the change, but soon I was spending every free moment of the day in bed either sleeping or distracting myself with Netflix. My days became consumed with fighting the thoughts that suggested suicide as an answer to all my problems. Any time I made a mistake or simply opened myself up to the world by speaking, I immediately ran to the comfort that suicide would bring. I was never really in danger of doing anything, it simply wasn’t an option. But that didn’t stop the thoughts. So I drowned them out with my favorite TV shows and loud music. I stopped doing my homework and only left my house for mandatory events like class and dance practice. My future dissolved before my eyes. All my plans became gray and unappealing. I’d lost interest in even having a future at all.
It wasn’t until week five that I realized my little experiment was coming to an end. It was the second time in a row that I showed up to my therapy appointment with tears in my eyes. It was becoming apparent that this episode wasn’t going to pass. I’d been hoping that I was just in a slump and everything would resolve itself with time and I’d be able to lead a normal life. The reality was that I am, indeed, mentally ill. I wasn’t faking it, I didn’t grow out of it. I do actually have a problem, one that makes it nearly impossible to function without some sort of chemical support.
Seven weeks after I skipped my first pill, I agreed to start medication again. To be honest I’m scared of losing my emotions. But I’m also desperate for any relief from this stifling depression.
It may seem like my decision to quit medication worked out OK for me. In the grand scheme of things it did, but these are seven weeks I can’t get back. I can’t change the bad grades I got on exams because I was too depressed to study. I can’t change the new scars on my wrist from my inability to cope. While my decision did allow me to restart medication on a low dose and on my own terms, it was also incredibly irresponsible and dangerous. I in no way condone my own behavior. If you’re concerned about the side effects of your meds, please talk to your psychiatrist. Make your decisions with them, not on your own. It’s safer that way, and it’s what I should have done.
I’m glad you wrote this and I’m glad I read it. I’m on a medicine that I wanted to stop taking. It seems that it has physical side effects. I will call my doc and try to trust their opinion.
hi there, i am considering going off mine but not cold turkey, i want to gradually reduce the amount so that i don’t experience severe withdrawal symptoms. my psychiatrist said that after two weeks of being in college that i can start to lower my dose, and he explained how to do it. i’m also wondering if you were suicidal before you took antidepressants and if quitting my medication by gradually lowering my dosage would be a good approach. thanks for your input
I stopped all my medication 5 days ago I can’t stop crying at every little thing my mind races all the time I am not bipolar but I’ve been hospitalised twice In the last 5 months and I woke up one morning thinking I don’t want to be on medication anymore I take 7 tablets a day but will my brain return to normal I have anxiety and depression from when I was young I am 35 years old and just want to be normal but my emotions are every where I cry when I’m happy and cry all night long I don’t sleep and bad thoughts are constantly there I can’t even tell my family anymore they don’t want to hear it or understand I’ve lost people because of the way I am I love everyone but hate myself
Donna E. Montgomery
People dont realize. It take years to get that crap out of your brain. And its causes an imbalance as soon as you start the meds. They should have a rehab to wean people off these dangerous drugs. But It takes years and some drugs do permanent damage. Yea big pharmacy won’t let that happen. My mom took 60 pills a day for55 years. She was never really well. Died from the meds at 67. Horrible. That crap makes me SUPER CRAZY. So no. I’ll take my emotions. I do take a sleep aid
Hello Donna, I am so sorry to hear about the loss of your mother. Hopefully the work for mental health improves to avoid things like this. If you’re struggling with these tough emotions, please call us at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). The Lifeline is here for you, your [friend, etc.], or anyone struggling through hard times – 24/7/365. Feel free to pass along our phone number.
I’ve been given the wrong medications for 4 years and at high dangerous levels now the doctors that got me like this refuse to treat me anymore and nobody will take me In. Nobody will help get me off because I’m a liability. I only have a week or two left and when I run out I am going to just kill myself. I’m not going through the withdrawals. The health care has screwed me. My hand hasn’t been met. If I’m not helped off these pills I will decide my end. Either God gets off his ass and helps for once in my life or a doctor will.
Travis, Thank you for writing to us and I am sorry to hear you are in so much emotional pain right now. Our Facebook page is not meant for any type of crisis intervention, however the Lifeline crisis counselors are here for you any time day or night, every day of the year at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). The call is free and confidential. Reach out and let us help you through. Our Phones are open now and we are waiting to hear from you today.
Well, not sure about god, but the system sucks. It put people with mental health in the hands of docs and big pharma. I’ve been kicked from a couple of psyc’s because they don’t like the fact I wont take meds that HURT ME… Its a crazy system. antipsychotic med, insurance 4.74 no insurance, $209.99 (30day supply) The pharma and medical especially mental heath entities are playing money games with our lives. Our Money. Our Familys. And the DEA is making it very hard for people to get the meds that they need. It’s all about the money… They all gotta maintain the lifestyle not matter what the cost. Oversubscribing drugs that you can’t cold turkey, and keep you in a state of unrest, panic, anxiey, or being turned into a zombie, is the best recipe for drs to keep upping dsages, trying new meds, adding more and more pills to take care of other side affects.. It is a circus.. A big money circus thats destroying the minds of many people with mental health issues, especially in the united states.
I just wanted to tell you I LOVE your blog, I love how real it is! I get so frustrated with all the surface level stuff. Mental illness is not something talked about, I have it as well, and yes I have a ton of medicine. Thank you for blog and bringing light to mental illness, a serious topic no one talks about!???? You can always email me!????
Why I stopped taking MY medications:
I was compliant with my medications for my entire life. I believed, with some reason, that I was indeed mentally ill. Earlier this year, my body began to reject my medications. I had an unprofessional prescriber who refused to listen to my therapist and medical treatment team, who had attempted to contact her repeatedly for months before I even broached the subject with her.
After months of therapy and searching for a new prescriber, it turns out that I had PTSD, a mental condition that is currently not recommended to be treated with medication, as it prevents the recovery of traumatic memories, which can worsen the condition. A very disrespectful man took advantage of this, and I am now undergoing testing and counseling for a very real possibility of hepatitis B, C, and AIDS. This happened when I was having a bad reaction to a prescribed medication that made me suggestible and vulnerable to revictimization.
If I could take pills for my pain, anxiety, and depression as a result of this, I would. What has helped me is my faith. I began to explore Buddhism during this time. Now, my diet, exercise, calmness, happiness, and outlook have improved.
The man who did this, if what he posted on the Internet is true, went through an experience so horrific that led to where he is today? I feel sorry for him. I forgive him. It in no way excuses his actions, but I understand his pain. I am living with only a fraction of the pain and fear he must have gone through, and I have found it maddening at times. I wish him no harm. I hope he finds a way to love himself as I love myself now.
If you are having symptoms of a mental illness, talk to a friend you trust, and find a therapist. If a professional advises you to take medication, by all means try it, but make sure you trust your prescriber. Don’t forget that nobody will ever know you as well as yourself, even if they have your best interest in their heart.
When you see a red flag, get out. Get out safely and cautiously, but get out. I don’t care what kind of relationship it is. A boyfriend, a parent, a boss, a friend, a doctor, a lawyer, a child, a neighbor, a blogger, a criminal… Even a policeman. We are all people, and we all make mistakes. If you dropped your phone into a lion’s cage, no matter how important that phone call, I doubt you would get it. However, if you have chosen to get it, and got mauled in the process, and you are reading this, forgive yourself, too. We all make mistakes, including trusting the wrong people.
Above all, your health and safety is what matters. I am a staunch promoter of this helpline, whether you believe in psychiatry or not.
Live long and prosper.
Thank you for this comment. Namaste
Thank you so much for writing this.
I don’t know how you tapped into my mind but I’m having almost the exact same problem right now. I quit all my meds cold turkey without asking.. I was over medicated and it was just bogging me down, I thought. I felt worse on meds, I thought. I dropped out even. For two months or so I felt great and then.. Depression. Really sad. I didn’t realize it at first it kinda hit me all at once just recently. And again I dropped out so I sit at home all day on a regular basis, and that doesn’t help anything. Anyways, yeah. Currently I’m so conflicted, sad, and disappointed that this didn’t work out. I felt great but now it’s just.. Not worth it anymore. After reading your article I’ve agreed to go back to the doctor and get help, slowly.
We’re glad that this piece resonated with you. You matter. If you’d like to speak with someone for support, please do not hesitate to call 1-800-273-TALK.
Good site! I truly love how it is simple on my eyes and the data are well written. I’m wondering how I could be notified when a new post has been made. I have subscribed to your feed which must do the trick! Have a great day!
Jolee G Waddle
I personally have been on Seroquel 50 mg twice a day Seroquel 300 mg at night
Ativan 1 mg daily
Buspirone 15 mg three times a day
Celexa 10 mg in the morning for almost 19 years started at age 12.
I love my medications. I actually feel human. I have Borderline personality disorder, Generalized anxiety disorder
Some of us need our meds to stop the obsessive thoughts and speeding brain.
The anxiety can be debilitating.
Obviously if you can function on less then that’s good.
Thank you Jolee for reaching out to our blog- If you ever in a tough spot and need some extra support the Lifeline is here for you any time day or night, 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
I am considering stopping some of the many medications I am on. Just over feeling crappy as in lonely, anxious and as if the situational depressions I’ve experienced have caused me to be diagnosed as Bi 2. My family members are encouraging me to go off meds. give it a try and I can’t help to want to.
Dee, thank you for expressing your concerns and thoughts on this matter of medications. Our crisis counselors are here for you any time day or night at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). They should be able to discuss the matter with you and/or connect you with local supports so please call us.
I read your post and just hope that those around you aren’t in denial about the reality of mental illness. I don’t know if this is your scenario but don’t be shamed out of treatment.
I am at this point now. I was fine until I moved from Northside to the Southside of Chicago to be on my own away from toxic people and environments. Now I finding out how hard it is to stay stable in a system that has limited resources in other areas of the city. How services are plugged together and so compartmentalized to the point it places those dual diagnosed at greater risk of relapse or suicide. Some systems require you go though a whole reevaluation and re diagnosis which absurd. It is hell trying to stay stable in this system in Chicago.
Dawn E.Bedell, we’re so sorry for all the struggles you are going through with the Chicago system and we want to help. The Lifeline is here for you any time day or night at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Don’t hesitate to call us for extra support. Your life matters!
my boss wont let me take my medications to live what should i do
Hello John, We are sorry that you are experiencing this issue with your boss. Please consider calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline to talk to a counselor for emotional support. The number is 800-273-8255 and they are available 24/7. You don’t have to struggle alone.
I stopped taking all mine nearly 3 weeks ago, I called my doctors surgery and told them, and said I don’t want a gp anymore, I was asked my date of birth and that was that. I feel like shit, I didn’t want to exist on them and I still don’t off them. It’s taken me this long to realise that no matter how many times they say we want you to get better what they mean is, we want money. No matter how hard you desperately hope they are doing what’s best for you, they never are and never will be. I was told “The only one who cares about you is you”. It’s a hard lesson to learn. It broke me.
Hello Hannah, it sounds like you’re going through a lot right now. It’s great that you are reaching out and talking about your feelings and we would love to help! The blog really isn’t the best platform to help with crisis intervention – please take the first step in getting help by calling the Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
I was told by my mother that my mental illness wasn’t real and that I didn’t need “all those medications” and after hearing her tell me that repeatedly, I finally started believing her, that it was all in my imagination and so I stopped taking my meds. I spiraled out of control and had a psychotic break, ending up in a psychiatric hospital for three months to become stabilized. I never discuss my illness with anyone because most people seem entrenched in their ignorant beliefs that mental illness is a personal failing, that sufferers can will themselves out of their symptoms, or that they can control symptoms with nutrition and exercise. I no longer feel obligated to have others validate my illness. It is common for people to gaslight mentally ill people into believing that they are not really mentally ill and so they go off their medications, only to realize that their perception of reality is, indeed, valid. It is very abusive.
I am 63, and I feel like my bipolar meds aren’t treating my symptoms as they did when I was younger. There just isn’t a lot of information out there about the older bipolar patient.
I was diagnosed with lithiuim toxicity a few weeks ago. The ER doctor told me to stop taking it until I could get in touch with my psychiatrist. Then he suggested using just 300 mg in the morning but a week or so later, he added another 300 mg in the evening every other day. I’ve been following that for a week.
I’ve noticed that when I don’t take the lithium at night, I feel better in the morning, although I’m still experiencing shakiness, some vision changes that clear up by the evening, and other symptoms. Is it possible for a person’s body to react in adverse ways to a medication she’s taken for many years?
Also, when my psychiatrist has tried to add in other meds, especially during the winter when I am blessed with SAD, I have adverse side effects with those meds and then reactions when they’re taken away. AUGH!
If anyone has any advice on these concerns, I would be so grateful! Thank you very much.
I just read this. I have been told that I don’t have allergies, but I have been told I do all my life. I was thinking about just quiting my meds. I am on adhd meds and depression/anxiety meds. I also take Gerd, stomach, astma, neuropathy, and high blood pressure. It is an endless cycle
la times crossword
I’m grateful for my family, friends, and support system. I’m also grateful for the help I’ve received from professional therapists and psychiatrists. I know that I can get better, and I want to make the most of my life.
I’m not sure how long I’ll be able to stay on these medications, but I know that I need to find a way to live without them. I’m grateful for the opportunity to have tahe freedom to make this choice, and I hope that others will follow my lead.
it was refreshing to read other peoples experiences and to feel that someone else is also going through the same as me
i want to quit taking meds the suicide thoughts i can see them coming, ever since taking the pills they have waned off, but now somehow i feel the validity the value of suicide itself
note im writing this 3 am
I’m appreciative of the chance to exercise my freedom of choice, and I hope that others will do the same.
This is a fantastic post, in my opinion one of the best I have read. Your work is impressive and excellent. Thank you for sharing it.
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