Jump to content
Sarasmiles

Which "me" is the real me?

Recommended Posts

Sarasmiles

Today I saw my therapist, who is very wary of my desire to go off of Prozac.  She reminded me of how much I suffered the last time I withdrew from an SSRI.  She reminded me that I cried every day, felt incompetent at work, and couldn't find joy in any of the things I normally find joy in.

 

One of the driving forces behind my wish to be free of antidepressants once and for all is my strong sense that I am not my true or "real" self when I am medicated.  I find myself thinking that my emotions are blunted and somewhat numbed.  My libido is gone. I rarely cry.  Who is this woman?  I am easy to get along with. I am confident and relaxed at work. I am a patient, loving, fun mother.  Is that the real me?  If it's not "real" because I am taking a drug that changes me, then is it better than the real me?  I think my husband likes me more this way. I think I like myself more this way.  So why would I choose to alter myself by going off of the drug again?

 

There is a big part of me that believes that in my previous attempts at discontinuing my drugs, I never gave myself enough time to get beyond the withdrawal.  My therapist pointed out that three months after I  went off of Lexapro, last year, I was still suffering.  She thought that was a long time.  She doesn't want to see me suffer, and I appreciate that.  But since visiting S.A., I see that three months wasn't long at all, in the scheme of things.  I still wasn't the "real me" after three months. I was "withdrawal me."  That "me" without meds was also not "real", because I was still under the influence of the medication, or loss thereof.   I also started drinking, in the past, when I was suffering from withdrawal. That me isn't the "real" me. Drunk isn't real.

 

I want to go forward with this, but I am really pondering these questions, and wondering what other people here think.  Are you more "real" without a drug?  Is it better to be real, even if you are less happy, struggle more with relationships or work or self-esteem?  Is there virtue of some kind in being real?  

Share this post


Link to post
ten0275

sara, hey.

 

 

There is a big part of me that believes that in my previous attempts at discontinuing my drugs, I never gave myself enough time to get beyond the withdrawal.

i think the above statement rings true from what you have written here. and not only did you not give yourself adequate time, but you began to self-medicate with alcohol which exacerbates symptoms on so many levels.

like you, i tangled with the idea of which me was "authentic" - the medicated, or unmedicated. what i came down to was this. that since i had not experienced my own being free from medication for so very long, it was absolutely impossible for me to make a decision until i truly tasted both realities. i knew for certain what i was like medicated. and it wasn't working any more. in fact, it was collapsing.

you've mentioned how a long, slow taper/withdrawal from prozac seems daunting for you. i understand. i felt it. it's probably not dissimilar to a climber standing in front of everest wondering where to place their first foot, and seeing the peak way up above. but i do believe it is the key to minimizing the symptoms you experience. by tapering correctly, you may prevent the desperation that would have made you reach for the bottle of intoxicant or restart prescriptions.

you will not know which you is authentic until you give the unmedicated sara a fair shot to thrive. and this means affording your nervous system as gentle a transition as possible.

i appreciate that you respect the psychologist and psychiatrist that you are working with, but it is very ok to challenge their statements. you are a human and empowered to be an active participant in your medical care.

from my experience, i can say this. the authentic me is the me who is no longer on benzodiazapines and almost off of my antidepressant. i am more relaxed, less anxious, less depressed, more social, and happier than i have ever been in my life - despite my lingering symptoms and occasional short-lived waves. is my life perfect? oh, absolutely not. but i have truly found my self. or what intuitively feels myself. and i realize in retrospect that the depressed, mood-cycling, scared, terrified, panicked, and numb individual i was for all those years was me on some sort of mismanaged auto-pilot. i wasn't really living at all. i was just sort of passing through in a fog.

you are questioning these things. this is a very positive first step. you should be proud of yourself. i would say let the "other" sara have a fair shake. just my two cents.

hang in there.

dave

Share this post


Link to post
Sarasmiles

Thank you Dave. You make a very convincing argument for going slowly.  I have tried quick tapers (anywhere from 2 weeks to 2 months) in the past, and the results have been disastrous.  I don't know why I think it would be any different if I were to do that again.  I am bracing myself to take my time.

 

I love hearing that you are happy as your real self. That is beautiful.

Share this post


Link to post
Meimeiquest

The "real me" really was depressed once. She has lots of issues. I definitely make more "emotion" to any given experience than most people. But to me, that doesn't mean medication will fix it, or even that it is something that needs fixed. I am learning to manage that part of me better, but even though a lot of suffering is involved, I would rather be the authentic me than the medicated me.

Share this post


Link to post
LoveandLight

I cannot remember the real me..

Share this post


Link to post
LoveandLight

How strange 'I cannot remember me'..I think too much :)

Share this post


Link to post
Wildflower0214

Neither can I. I have no idea who I was before meds. I can't remember.

Share this post


Link to post
pieuw

I share your worry, Sara.

I was fine on meds, no side-effects and functioning properly. And it felt real... Ok, I was not dealing with my anxiety issues, but that was just what made life easy.

Sometimes I am wondering why I wanted to quit my AD and go through all this. Once the w/d is over, I worry I will again be this anxious person...

Difficult call, huh?

Share this post


Link to post
Rhiannon

Well, Sara and everyone else, I can't speak for anyone but myself. But what I found as I got to the low doses in my very slow taper is that I have gotten myself back. I had forgotten who I was, in many ways, and I had come to believe that the ways that the drugs made me feel and think and behave was normal for me. Turns out, not the case.

 

I started noticing it after about two years of tapering off five meds. When I got below 2 mg on the citalopram (lowest dose pill they make is 10, usual "therapeutic" dose is 20) then it started really happening. I went from being agoraphobic and feeling like I never really belonged with other people, to gradually getting back my old very social extrovert self who loves being around people and hardly ever stays home. Last summer I went camping for the first time in decades, and bought a funky little inflatable kayak which I absolutely adore getting out in.

 

I've seen other people describe the same thing, getting back old enthusiasms and interests long lost to the drugs.

 

I think the thing I most greatly value, which I lost, was my ability to really connect with other people. It's hard to explain, but it's amazing to see the difference.

 

And this process is continuing as I continue to get to lower doses. Now I'm focusing on the benzos and starting to notice deeper and more subtle changes--more self-control, a much broader and more flexible range of responses and options in dealing with life (interesting, because Breggin talks about that but until now I hadn't noticed it so much, but here it is).

 

Peter Breggin has spent pretty much his entire career noticing and describing (and testifying to in court when necessary) how the drugs change people, both when they go on them and when they come off them. You might find some of his work interesting.

 

I understand your therapist's concerns, and frankly, given how insistent you are that you want to taper fast, I share them. I think she's right, I think another fast taper would probably be a disaster for you, given your history. People who have a history like yours do not do well unless they taper very slowly.

 

But what neither of you seems to really understand is that if you taper slowly enough, it's not painful. You are in control. If you start to feel bad, you hold your taper until you feel good again. As the level of drug in your system goes down, you will feel better and better. Gradually you will find you are getting yourself back. It's a beautiful awakening, at least for me it has been.  And except right at the beginning (when I was still recovering from a CT off gabapentin months before, plus still figuring out how to taper slowly enough) I have felt better throughout my taper than I ever felt on the drugs (well, except maybe during those "honeymoon" couple of months right after starting a new one).

 

So that's been my experience. It's been worth all of it, including that first bumpy year.  After the first two years or so it's just gotten easier and easier, and now I seem to have reached a point where it's almost all gain and almost no pain.

 

But this would never have happened if I had not gone very slowly and allowed my nervous system and brain the time it needed to heal, adapt and adjust all along the way. So if you aren't willing to taper slowly, I have to say I might agree with your therapist.

Share this post


Link to post
Prestorb

I definitely liked the medication free "me" better than the "me" I have been since starting ADs ten years ago, but I've asked myself this question too. And for a long time, I really believed the medicated "me" was the better of the two (less intense and critical, more empathetic) but logically, that didn't explain why the depression I was suffering on the meds was worse than anything I had ever experienced before that. When I felt good, I felt really good and was very "happy". But when the depression hit, it hit hard and took longer and longer to lift. That was not normal for me, it had to be the meds. In the long term, they became pro-depressants instead of antidepressants.

Share this post


Link to post
Rhiannon

Prestorb, what I've found between being on the drugs and off the drugs is that emotions feel stronger now, more intense, more overwhelming (off the meds)--but they flow through me now, and they pass. Sometimes I have to cry, sometimes I am just brought to my knees with the intensity of emotion, but if I surrender and go through it, maybe talk to my therapist if I need to, maybe talk to friends, the process seems to know where it needs to go, and it does.

 

While on the drugs it was more like things just got stuck and I couldn't go through whatever process I needed to. I just stayed stuck in those bad places. Not at full intensity, but just ruminating and going round and round the same stuff over and over, just stuck.

 

Which makes sense, since they literally screw up neurochemical brain processes. 

Share this post


Link to post
InvisibleUnless

as everyone else, i can only stress a very cautiously slow taper and remind readers that my experience only speak for what worked for my own self.

 

firstly, if you are to eventually be free of the meds, in addition to a very slow taper, as people have explained the benefit of, i would prepare beforehand some sources of support and aid for the times when things might be harder, in those senses, than when you were taking the full dose you are now.  support systems like buddies on here, and people 'in real life' that will be privy to your decision and be able to counsel and console you during the changes (positive or negative) that the tapering off might entail, perhaps some reading material (which has already been begun on recommendations above), and contingency plans in case situations of emergency or temptation arise.

 

i feel like your having tried to distance yourself from the medications before might give you a more balanced and wisened approach should you choose to give it another go.

 

 

my own experience with medications was that they perpetuated and universalized a depression and despair that had grown for years beforehand without proper address...it was not crystalized into an absolute and completely debilitating state until i begun my experiments with pharmacology.  after ending my final doses of all meds (except a single one i kept a few months longer for the weight gain), i immediately felt much, much better.  a literal and figurative weight was lifted, and it greatly enabled decisions i had long sought to live a healthier general life---better diet, better social habits, better self-view, etc.

 

but the most fundamental issue you pose is, i feel, simultaneously both the most important and the most diverse in answer: who is me, and who is the REAL me?  i think that is up to your own decision...and not in terms of the answer, but rather your expression of decision IS the answer.  the 'real you', in my opinion, is the you that is sitting there wondering if its a good idea to try stopping the meds again.  the you that weighs the pros and cons and has concern over being one way or another.  and, i dont think its mere introspection that makes a genuine individual---i understand that sometimes we almost entirely lose that, to situations or medications---but its our capacity to employ that introspective self that seems to be the distinguishing factor between our potential realities and personhoods.  we are who we choose to be, ultimately...not because we have power over what happens to us, but because we get to decide how to react to that, and what perspectives and philosophies to hold in adapting, growing, and overcoming.

 

i feel like we have the responsibility to hear our own selves out---who could ever know us better than our own minds and bodies?  its also responsible to, as you seem to have been, take into consideration the thoughts and concerns of others, especially ones that share your life or have been around to give you advice on these experiences.  i think its very appropriate to be wondering about the implications on your family life and its constituent relationships and responsibilities, but your responsibility is not to be self-lobotomizing in your endeavor to be good to/for them---that would, on the whole, essentially cheat both them and yourself.  i wouldnt pretend to have the answer, or the mind or authority to make a real suggestion to a stranger, and im sorry if this comes off as presumptive at parts.  i can, at least, say that your concern and questioning gives me faith you can make good decisions, at whatever rate or in whatever context you next find yourself in.

 

as for the merits of having the capacity to feel, in greater depth and profundity...it seems warranted, to seek that which gives you the most vital and meaningful experience.  there is a chance that greater difficulty, heartache, or sadness can result from healthcare decisions of this manner, and often there is no way to escape a cost regardless of which direction you take the matter.  it sounds like your wondering, and this decision, is more than simply experiential in the immediate senses---it amounts to something far more existential.

 

sorry if im a little late to the party, and i hope you can feel acceptance, peace, and support for whatever decision you make.

Share this post


Link to post
JuliaMarie

Hi, this is my first time posting on here. Your heading caught my eye because all I really want is to feel like myself again. You know in your heart and in your gut who the real you is, have confidence in that!!! I am working everyday to get back to the person I was, and it is so hard, but I am lucky to have a therapist who is beyond supportive. I know when I get through this, I will start eating junk food, but at least I will have an appetite, I know little things might start bothering me again, but I know I will have the motivation to pay my light bill on time, and I know I will have some anxiety, but also know I will feel joy, that kind where your heart wants to burst when you see your child smile. Its hard to tell who the real me is when everything is so foggy right now, I just have to remind myself everyday,and have faith that the real me got me through everything in life without medication.

Share this post


Link to post
RubyTuesday

and what is good, Phaedrus, and what is not good? need we ask anyone to tell us these things?

Plato, from Zen & the art of motorcycle maintenance

 

beauty is truth, truth beauty

that is all 

ye know on earth

and all ye need to know

Keats

Ode on a Grecian Urn

 

I believe it is better to be real, that it is much more difficult, but beyond the doorway lies the only true happiness available to us as human beings

 

myself on drugs is myself in a distorted mirror.

but in withdrawal the mirror is still distorted, just warped in the opposite direction

Share this post


Link to post
btdt

Today I saw my therapist, who is very wary of my desire to go off of Prozac.  She reminded me of how much I suffered the last time I withdrew from an SSRI.  She reminded me that I cried every day, felt incompetent at work, and couldn't find joy in any of the things I normally find joy in.

 

One of the driving forces behind my wish to be free of antidepressants once and for all is my strong sense that I am not my true or "real" self when I am medicated.  I find myself thinking that my emotions are blunted and somewhat numbed.  My libido is gone. I rarely cry.  Who is this woman?  I am easy to get along with. I am confident and relaxed at work. I am a patient, loving, fun mother.  Is that the real me?  If it's not "real" because I am taking a drug that changes me, then is it better than the real me?  I think my husband likes me more this way. I think I like myself more this way.  So why would I choose to alter myself by going off of the drug again?

 

There is a big part of me that believes that in my previous attempts at discontinuing my drugs, I never gave myself enough time to get beyond the withdrawal.  My therapist pointed out that three months after I  went off of Lexapro, last year, I was still suffering.  She thought that was a long time.  She doesn't want to see me suffer, and I appreciate that.  But since visiting S.A., I see that three months wasn't long at all, in the scheme of things.  I still wasn't the "real me" after three months. I was "withdrawal me."  That "me" without meds was also not "real", because I was still under the influence of the medication, or loss thereof.   I also started drinking, in the past, when I was suffering from withdrawal. That me isn't the "real" me. Drunk isn't real.

 

I want to go forward with this, but I am really pondering these questions, and wondering what other people here think.  Are you more "real" without a drug?  Is it better to be real, even if you are less happy, struggle more with relationships or work or self-esteem?  Is there virtue of some kind in being real?  

 

I still suffer with things self esteem don't work I wish I could and relationships... I do feel much more real now than I ever did while drugged. Even though I suffer a lot of long term effects or protracted withdrawal in part likely from cold turkey long term use many meds ect ... I basically did everything wrong. 

 

I think it is a very personal question and choice for me I want to be what I was meant to be but drugs have made that impossible so now I want to be the closest I can get to the "real" as I can get. I may have a different take on this as I was not in phych distress when I went on the first Ad and always ended up back on as not knowing a thing about withdrawal... or the effects wd comes with. Same as you I kept trying to get off the drugs as I knew I was not ME... 

 

I know you have a lot of other people to think about we all always do... still I would try and fail in the old days... if only we knew the truth in the beginning.  I think the only way you will know is to try I don't think you will regret it. 

 

Along with all else that goes with withdrawal there is nothing like getting back to yourself... not for me there is nothing else like it... I love it when I have to take a drug that may jeopardize it like right now I am taking a steroid for my lungs... that puts me at risk... of losing me or a bit of my sanity... I hate it.  Most times I just say not thanks to drugs as I value this self higher than most anything else in my life. I just do... it is my right of birth my humanness... to me it should never have been messed with it is sacred ground. 

 

That is my take on it and I know others have not been affected the way I have but for me this is where the rubber hits the road... I lost a lot of time a lot of life too much already that is how I see it... even if I am sick or crazy I want to be the real me.  The crazy for me went when the hard part of early ct wd went there are other body things that hang on... I would not trade back to my life on Ads for a minute.  The life on Ads wasn't my life it was something else a stand in... wondering around in a daze it was not me all those people were liking it was the drugged me...like being drunk we are not the same when not under the influence.  That is how I see it now. 

 

hope that helps you in some way

peace

Share this post


Link to post
Songbird

I've struggled with these same questions for years.  While on meds (I mean the "therapeutic" doses) I felt contented, but eventually I realised I had lost interest in the things I used to love, had lost all my creative urges, never felt excited about anything any more, life was okay but bland.  As I reduced dose and began to have more intense emotions, it was a relief to be able to cry again, to feel some excitement about something, to have a few creative thoughts.  It was only as I began to feel my "real" self again that I realised how much it had been suppressed by the meds. 

 

Those emotional "inner child" parts of me that caused problems all my life also returned to cause trouble, but in a way this is a good thing as it allows me to address my issues and work on the stuff that needs working on.  I can't quite remember exactly who I was before meds, but time has gone by and I will never be that person again anyway.  I will be a new me, changed by everything I've gone through, but at least an authentic me.

 

The hard thing is going through the withdrawal waves and thinking each time that is the "real" me.  I don't believe it is, but when in the thick of it, it is easy to believe this depressed, tearful, doomed-feeling person is who I really am.  All the childhood negative stuff comes up really intensely and I feel like a little kid again, crying my eyes out.  Then when I come out of the wave it all subsides and I can see how messed up my thinking was.  It can be confusing being so many different "mes" and wondering which one is "real".  I just keep trying to have faith that eventually I will stabilise as a me that is "real".  I know once off all meds I'll still have the "inner child" part of me with lots of issues to work on, but that's okay.  I would rather that, than have half of me suppressed.

Share this post


Link to post
LoveandLight

I have absolutely no idea who I am..my personality, emotions have all but been blanked out except rage. It's strange not knowing me and realising I haven't known me for yrs..have no clue..how strange

Share this post


Link to post
btdt

This too can seem to come back bits in widows and go in waves... really.  That I find quite odd. 

One day it will be all good I hope...peace all.

Share this post


Link to post
daniel0708

Well, Sara and everyone else, I can't speak for anyone but myself. But what I found as I got to the low doses in my very slow taper is that I have gotten myself back. I had forgotten who I was, in many ways, and I had come to believe that the ways that the drugs made me feel and think and behave was normal for me. Turns out, not the case.

 

I started noticing it after about two years of tapering off five meds. When I got below 2 mg on the citalopram (lowest dose pill they make is 10, usual "therapeutic" dose is 20) then it started really happening. I went from being agoraphobic and feeling like I never really belonged with other people, to gradually getting back my old very social extrovert self who loves being around people and hardly ever stays home. Last summer I went camping for the first time in decades, and bought a funky little inflatable kayak which I absolutely adore getting out in.

 

I've seen other people describe the same thing, getting back old enthusiasms and interests long lost to the drugs.

 

I think the thing I most greatly value, which I lost, was my ability to really connect with other people. It's hard to explain, but it's amazing to see the difference.

 

And this process is continuing as I continue to get to lower doses. Now I'm focusing on the benzos and starting to notice deeper and more subtle changes--more self-control, a much broader and more flexible range of responses and options in dealing with life (interesting, because Breggin talks about that but until now I hadn't noticed it so much, but here it is).

 

Peter Breggin has spent pretty much his entire career noticing and describing (and testifying to in court when necessary) how the drugs change people, both when they go on them and when they come off them. You might find some of his work interesting.

 

I understand your therapist's concerns, and frankly, given how insistent you are that you want to taper fast, I share them. I think she's right, I think another fast taper would probably be a disaster for you, given your history. People who have a history like yours do not do well unless they taper very slowly.

 

But what neither of you seems to really understand is that if you taper slowly enough, it's not painful. You are in control. If you start to feel bad, you hold your taper until you feel good again. As the level of drug in your system goes down, you will feel better and better. Gradually you will find you are getting yourself back. It's a beautiful awakening, at least for me it has been.  And except right at the beginning (when I was still recovering from a CT off gabapentin months before, plus still figuring out how to taper slowly enough) I have felt better throughout my taper than I ever felt on the drugs (well, except maybe during those "honeymoon" couple of months right after starting a new one).

 

So that's been my experience. It's been worth all of it, including that first bumpy year.  After the first two years or so it's just gotten easier and easier, and now I seem to have reached a point where it's almost all gain and almost no pain.

 

But this would never have happened if I had not gone very slowly and allowed my nervous system and brain the time it needed to heal, adapt and adjust all along the way. So if you aren't willing to taper slowly, I have to say I might agree with your therapist.

 

I agree with this post and more generally with just about everything that has been posted on this thread. This week, for the first time since starting psych drugs four years ago, I am starting to actually feel emotion on a fairly intense level. I don't think it is a withdrawal symptom, just the old me coming back. I am starting to feel excited about things that I didn't feel excited about for a long time, like international travel and living abroad. I feel I am literally transforming because obviously the dose of the drug I take is not sufficient to numb my emotions any longer. I am not suffering at all. I am not following the 10% rule, and never have, but I go pretty slowly and it has always worked for me. (This is my 14th and final drug I'm tapering). I am really looking forward to getting the full range of human emotions back, especially getting back the ability to relate to others like a normal human being. I want to write, to laugh, and to enjoy what life has to offer. I am convinced that the "real me" is the one that is not consuming powerful mind altering substances like psychotropic drugs. Sure, I have some rage issues off of the drugs but at least in that state I can feel the emotions for what they are and deal with them in a positive way, rather than blunting them with chemicals and sweeping them under the rug. I always thought that the old me was dead forever and permanently destroyed by psychiatric drugs. Now I know that the human mind is very capable of regenerating itself and restoring itself to normal function even after years of chemical abuse. I'm living proof of that, though I am still in the very beginning phases of my journey. I choose to believe it's only going to get better.

Share this post


Link to post
blazesboylan

Hi all. This is a question that I ponder from time to time. I have been on meds for over 7 years. Effexor and risperidone mainly and I am tapering those drugs today. I made a (rough) 10% cut to my Effexor this morning actually so we will see how that goes.

 

At the moment I am experiencing some withdrawal and I can tend to self-diagnose. I see myself as exhibiting a lot of the symptoms for bipolar II for example. However, it is very possible that this is just withdrawal because it's hard for me to remember if the non-medicated me was like that. It has been some time.

 

So, I am thinking that once I have become free of the meds altogether in maybe another 12 months or so and then after maybe 6 months that I will be able to re-evaluate myself and discover what perhaps is the "real" me. It is very possible that I may not have any symptoms at all or at least nothing that requires treatment with heavy psychiatric drugs.

Share this post


Link to post
manymoretodays

A simple response.  And maybe I will do a list for myself today.  Of who I am, who I have always been........what I know is me.  Even despite all the changes the meds. have done.  And then read it out loud as my mantra.  I have had periods where I feel like myself........and an almost better self than what once was before seeking the mental health treatment.  I know I always feel younger than I am.........I mean I think we lose some of the neccessary adult development during our drugged years.

 

Anyway.....good luck to you Sarasmiles.  I think I got started with this mess around 88 or 89 too!!

Share this post


Link to post
Knaster

I find this thread is really interesting! The question of who the "real" me is occupy a lot of my thoughts these days. I can very much relate to Sarasmiles first post and I also agree with InvisibleUnless that the only real you is the one in the moment. Philosophically speaking I don't believe there is a "real" me, no "normal", no "truth" and no "right". There is just one "me" caught up in a series of "now" moments put after each other. Perhaps is the question who do I want to be? The one struggling hard with emotions, relationships, sleep, work and all other things in life. Or the one that, at least in my case with meds, was ok most of the time but lived in an emotional bubble.

After 14 years on Effexor I am not sure who I was when I started the medication, but I am quite certain I don't want to be that emotionally insecure and shy that I was back then. I do not want to go back in time and start over from about fifteen years ago. Are many of the positive things that has happened during the years on meds, because of the meds or despite them? I can not tell what is cause and what is effect.

It seems quite common here that many of you know, remember and like the person you where before meds and want to get back to that feeling/person. I don't. I want to move on and be better but also not more vulnerable. Songbird is right in that we never can return to a previous version of our selves, meds or no meds.

Thinking and reading a bit more I realize that I can't really tell who the medication-free me is now, because I'm currently caught up in "withdrawal me" and will be for at least one more year. Hope that, when I'm off the meds and the withdrawal, don't realize that I like the person on meds better, and have wasted several years struggling and sustained all this pain in vain...

Share this post


Link to post
MissSerene

The "real me" really was depressed once. She has lots of issues. I definitely make more "emotion" to any given experience than most people. But to me, that doesn't mean medication will fix it, or even that it is something that needs fixed. I am learning to manage that part of me better, but even though a lot of suffering is involved, I would rather be the authentic me than the medicated me.

Meimei: Thanks for this (I'm late to the party here). Have felt in recent months that floods of emotion that were probably tamped down by the meds are coming out. I feel overwhelmed and out of control and not at all like the old, dissociated me who could "handle anything." I see clearly now that, in my traumatic upbringing, I never learned self-soothing or emotional self-awareness and self-management skills, or good relational skills, and other things a human being needs in order to flourish. It feels daunting to be trying to learn these things in my early 50s. Some days, I feel so backward and stunted and sad and lost. Other days, I tell myself that this "growing up" is a demanding project that will take everything I have and "wake me up" during my middle and later years, if I'm lucky enough to have these. Though I'm looking so foward to regaining a fuller-feeling me, I'm also trying to stay in today...to be present to today. This is a skill I need in order not to get lost in all the old fear and negativity.

Share this post


Link to post
InvisibleUnless

After 14 years on Effexor I am not sure who I was when I started the medication, but I am quite certain I don't want to be that emotionally insecure and shy that I was back then. I do not want to go back in time and start over from about fifteen years ago. Are many of the positive things that has happened during the years on meds, because of the meds or despite them? I can not tell what is cause and what is effect.

 

It seems quite common here that many of you know, remember and like the person you where before meds and want to get back to that feeling/person. I don't. I want to move on and be better but also not more vulnerable. Songbird is right in that we never can return to a previous version of our selves, meds or no meds.

 

Thinking and reading a bit more I realize that I can't really tell who the medication-free me is now, because I'm currently caught up in "withdrawal me" and will be for at least one more year. Hope that, when I'm off the meds and the withdrawal, don't realize that I like the person on meds better, and have wasted several years struggling and sustained all this pain in vain...

i can very much relate to this.  i might have positive feelings about particular past activities or experiences, or even just the natural nostalgia of passing decades and age divides, but theres no 'self' im trying to get back to.  and the medications might have stifled some things, or complicated or destroyed some things, but my life was not completely absent while i spent 7 years on them all, and i have grown profoundly and beyond where i could have been before or during meds in discontinuing them.  life path and life direction seem less pertinent, and less malleable, than life orientation.  im healthier than i used to be, and try to cope in some more beneficial ways.  maybe ive lost some things, and maybe ill find new ones instead, over time.

Share this post


Link to post
RivkaE

Hi Sara,

 

I understand your concern.   However, my ADs proved toxic to me, while you are not now experiencing any such side effects. I was constantly being switched and was on a cocktail of six medications when I began to get severe neurological side effects.  Long story short -- I am disabled now, and am trying to get back to  a semblence of health.  I am also again severely depressed.  Is this relapse? -- most here would say no -- it is just a symptom of protracted withdrawal.  My own psychologist (who is helping me withdraw) does not believe there is such a thing as MDD.  He is helpful to me, but I do not buy this; I feel as bad as I did when I started ADs.

 

Yet my story is NOT yours!  If I could have been helped with one medication (and I was -- Zoloft, for about three years and sucessfully went off it for a period of remission for 13 years) I would have done it again (and did).  The problem is that it stopped working and I was very naive to allow an additive approach until I was basically poisoned. 

 

Prozac is now working for you, so the real question is, should you wait until it stops or should you try to see how you are without it?

 

The issue I have been pondering, especially after joining this site, is that most of us had some critical issues before AD.  (Some did not --the saddest stories are those from people who had managable symptoms and then became severely ill from the AD.)   

 

I welcome responses about this!   Basically, what led us to meds in the first place??? 

 

Yet you write you were "crying all the time," and "drank too much."  Basically I am asking how much of how many of us are now is close to our pre-med self, which for me often became intolerable.   I have had MDD since childhood and I really suffered with it without taking any meds.   I think this aspect of the use of antidepressants is not fully addressed here and is not at all resolved in my own mind.

 

I would love to hear from others about this!  All I know now is I can't tolerate any antidepressants and have to face life without them: I do not have a choice,

 

So, I really think if you want to know your pre-med you, try tapering.    If you are functioning well now and do not have side effects other than some suppression of libido and rarely crying, I am not sure that being on prozac is a bad place to be.   

 

I do stress given how toxic ADs were to me and everyone on this site, I am sure they are not what they claim to be, and you risk having your dose becoming ineffective.  Yet, it can't be ignored that some people can do well and never experience toxicity.   On the other hand, there is no question they may alter the brain so that there may be no going back.   You see -- I go back and forth about this.

 

Yet, was my pre-AD self better?  Sometimes yes, very much so! Other times, not at all.  My depression was episodic.

 

For what my advice is worth, all I can say is I wish I was where you are now and if you really wish to see how you are w/o Prozac, taper extremely slowly and then decide.

 

Best of luck to you whatever you decide!

Share this post


Link to post
Iamfine

I definitely liked the medication free "me" better than the "me" I have been since starting ADs ten years ago, but I've asked myself this question too. And for a long time, I really believed the medicated "me" was the better of the two (less intense and critical, more empathetic) but logically, that didn't explain why the depression I was suffering on the meds was worse than anything I had ever experienced before that. When I felt good, I felt really good and was very "happy". But when the depression hit, it hit hard and took longer and longer to lift. That was not normal for me, it had to be the meds. In the long term, they became pro-depressants instead of antidepressants.

Me too.

Share this post


Link to post
Coopergirl1

Sarasmiles- I can't believe how much your thread has touched me. I truly feel the exact way you do or did and would like to know where are you in your life now? I hope well♡

Share this post


Link to post
starburst

My withdrawal from Lorazapan and Lexapro has been very slow. I didn't know how to do it properly because I only found this forum a short while ago. I just did what felt right for me. I needlessly endured some horrible side effects from withdrawing too much (going from 30mg to 25mg then from 25 to 20 etc etc) but I know better now. Every dose down has revealed a little bit more of the 'old me' the 'real me'.  I can't believe the person I became on Lexapro. From being someone who cared so much about their appearance I turned in to someone who couldn't care less, gained 25kg in one year, stopped wearing make up, went out without brushing my hair, wore 'bag lady' clothing. It wasn't until I got down to 5mg of Lexapro that the realisation of what I had become hit me in the face. It was as if I had been blind to the person I had become. I look forward to being anti depressant free to reveal more of the old me. I can't afford to look back and be sad because it is the past and it has gone, I just need to look to the future and the life that I have ahead of me. I am scared of the next step. I have already had a rebound effect trying to cut down from 5mg and it scared me so much that I am nervous about trying again. But at least I know how to do it better this time around. I have read so many testimonies from people that have walked this path before me and I know that it may take a long time for the old me to return, to be symptom free. It is exciting but scary all at the same time. I am grateful for my faith which seems to give me the strength to fight this battle. 

Share this post


Link to post
DavidStone

In reading this topic over it occurred to me...the WD version of me...is not "me". It sometimes feels like it but its not who I was before coming off Lexapro and it isn't who I was on Lexapro. I'm glad there are people around me who knew me before the WD and have confidence I'll be back at that place again.

 

Hang in there everyone!

Share this post


Link to post
Coopergirl1

Hang in there David! I am in the same boat. I hope one day I'll wake up and this will be a dream! I am hanging out in hopes my feelings for my boyfriend will show again and I can be happy. I wish you luck and peace

Share this post


Link to post
JSC7

I can relate with this question because honestly, it started within weeks after getting off Paxil. Being on it from ages 15-26, I felt like the medication changed my personality and attitude about everything. During the years, I still enjoyed life when I did things I enjoyed, and still got a long with people but I felt more mentally numb. These types of changes seemed to take at least 6-12+ months before I even realized it but since I was a teenager I didn't really know what was going on. In the last few years I've pondered it a lot more since I've read others stories and it hit home.

 

I lost my will to do a lot of things I would've done previously without much question. If someone invited me to go out and do something, even if it was simple I'd say no most of the time cause I felt too tired, or had basically no motivation or drive to do so. I've been off Paxil for almost 4 months, and while I'm still dealing with physical withdrawal symptoms, mentally I'm doing quite a bit better. My thoughts are less clouded, and my mood is quite a bit more stable than while I was on Paxil, even though now I'm starting to suffer from anxiety out of nowhere.

 

Personally, I feel like I'm my true self while not on any type of medication or substance that alters me mentally. Whether someone feels they're their true self while on a medication, I'd say that just varies from person to person but I'm still struggling to handle all of this withdrawal and figure out where I am mentally.

Share this post


Link to post
Coopergirl1

I need words of encouragement please. I am off two months of lexapro and having bad neuro-emotions. Ones telling me to leave my wonderful boyfriend. I want it to stop. Please tell me it gets better.

Share this post


Link to post
starburst

Hi Coopergirl. Did you do a fast taper from lexapro? I have very slowly weaned from 30mg to 5mg and it has taken me seven years! but I have found that the withdrawal symptoms have been so much better for me this way. Could you see a good councillor? someone who you can talk through your feelings with, get a better perspective of the situation. Sometimes another person can pick up things that we might not realise just by talking to us. From my perspective love is a commitment. It isn't all 'goosebumps' that is early 'lust' rather than 'love' in my honest opinion. Love is making a decision to be with someone and riding the bumps of life with them. I wish you all the best. 

Share this post


Link to post
manymoretodays

I need words of encouragement please. I am off two months of lexapro and having bad neuro-emotions. Ones telling me to leave my wonderful boyfriend. I want it to stop. Please tell me it gets better.

 

It gets better.

 

And yes, if your mind will allow please go look at the Lexapro/AD tapering section and possibly consider reinstatement at some degree, then a judicious taper.

 

Meanwhile, it gets better.  Yes, it gets better.

 

Yikes, now I remember so clearly how awful I felt and for so long.  It is entirely not worth the suffering if you can get it to abate.  Try, try, try not to do anything while under that intense neuroemotion state of mind........as far as decisions or words used, etc.

 

And oh yeah.......did I read it here or elsewhere.......somewhere here I think.........that true soulmates take work.  Every relationship does.  Nice when lust and true Love go together too........I think that goes in phases though or something.........don't really know too much about anything anymore though.

Share this post


Link to post
Coopergirl1

You guys are the best. I know it is neuro emotion trying to get the best of me but I am not going to give up! I tapered only 1 month and was on Lexapro for 1.5 years..I know I did it way too fast :(

Share this post


Link to post
starburst

So coopergirl1 you have tapered from 20mg lexapro down to zero from July this year? From what I have read that is a very fast taper. I have seen links on here that sometimes reinstating a small amount of the SSRI will combat the withdrawal symptoms. Don't quote me though, I'm new and have read so much that my mind is in a spin. Maybe someone with more expertise could advise you. 

Share this post


Link to post

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use.