Wednesday, August 17, 2011

I Want To Stop The Medication

I know, it's like a big bad word to mention stopping your medication. I would never condone it. For myself however, I find that life has become boring, uninspiring, and flat. I am an artist. Well, I used to be. Now, I have the talent, and I go through the motions, but where are the feelings? I do it because it is my job and I need to pay the bills.

In my spare time, I used to create other things aside from my everyday job as a potter, but other than silly little sketches, I don't do the stuff that I used to enjoy doing, the stuff that released so much emotion. I am sure the art reflected that emotion as well. It's not just the creativity that has been affected, but it's the desire to do things I used to do, that I enjoyed so much. It's the feelings I had that, magnified, pure and honest feelings about everything.

I have mentioned before, from my point of view now, what the medication has done, it has removed all the feelings and flattened me and it has made me less of a bitch and crazy person to everybody else. Should I really worry about what others think? Shall I mention that I am basically a hermit now as I have lost the nerve to face society. So, I technically have very little interaction to other people as it is.

I am still depressed to a degree. Not as deep as before medication, but I traded that for being slightly depressed all the time now. I have no mania now. My manias weren't dangerous or outlandish. They were not a financial crisis like many others have. My manias were pure blissfulness, happiness, energy, accomplishment, creativity. Now, I am boring! Literally boring, bored just doing what needs to be done and just making myself do it.

I think about stopping the medication or going to a very small dose to see if I can recover some of that feeling I used to have, but at the same time, I fear it. I don't fear becoming suicidal because I obsess over that at times. What I fear is undoing the repairs I have made with the people that I love. I fear the rollercoaster ride that always resulted in crashing head first into the ground and being in the deepest pit of depression for months at a time.

It is such a dilemma. I wonder though, with the clarity that I have experienced on the medication, will I be able to take that knowledge with me when I go off the medication and be able to control myself? Or will I be like I was before where I just didn't really know what I was doing at times. The times I thought that something made perfect sense and later realized it was completely stupid. I don't know.

If you have stopped your medication before, please let me know what the results were. Did you take the knowledge you gained on meds with you when you went off meds and was able to apply it towards self control? Like the old saying goes *Will I be jumping out of the frying pan into fire?*



Lee Harris said...

Dear Inferno,

So, you seem frustrated with living without the special gift of hypomania and desire to stop your medications in an attempt to recapture your creativity -- your artist's edge.


At least consult your P-doc and let her know what you want. And, discuss it. If you have good insurance and patients the P-doc and you may find that level of hypomania that is sustainable - livable.

I understand the desire for a greater level of brain activity. Unfortunately, controlling the mind storms that we have is difficult. Getting the brain chemistry right may be problematic if you have other co-existing medical problems like thyroid disease. And, yes, I have tried modifying the dosage of my mood stabilizer (valproatic acid) with some success.

Unfortunately, life gets in the way of such experiments and the death of my companion sent me right back to my regular med routine -- well, with some increase in my anti-depressant. Will I try again. Probably. Even now, nearly a year later, I am taking less of the anti-depressant.

Nevertheless, since you asked -- please don't stop your meds cold turkey. Talk it over with your P-doc. And, if you modify a med it should be the mood stabilizer (lithium, Criam, Epival, etc,).

Best wishes,


MyThought said...

Learned is learned

I was reducing my meds for a while now, little by little. I can only speak about myself so please talk to a professional about it before you decide anything.

I can say that the process to get off them is hard and I had withdrawal symptoms every time I lowered the dose. Eventhough they were `light´ symptoms compared to those you can have, it was horrible for me. I am right now off my meds since 3 days and am just at the beginning of my withdrawal symptoms..

But despite all this I can say that I didn´t get worse mentally. I didn´t get depressed more than on the medication. I didn´t have more irrational outbursts (when you want to call it like that)than before.
I felt that it was harder at the beginning to control myself but I was able to apply what I learned and it worked every time.

I´m still scared though, what will happen now that I am totally off the meds, but I´m sure I can do it.

That you want to reduce your medication doesn´t necessarily mean that you have to stop taking them. Take it a step at a time. That´s what calmed me down.. you can always take a step back when you lower it too much to feel comfortable with.

But have a Dr by your side, if you decide to lower the dose of your meds.
And more than anything listen to what is happening inside you, nobody knows you better..

Inferno said...

Thanks guys for your input. I am sorry to hear of your loss Lee. It seems that all of us are in the same boat as far as finding the right med balance, and wishing for the best of both worlds. I guess it is a burden we must bear. I appreciate all your comments. Although both of your comments, Lee, and My Thoughts, are opposites, both give me inspiration and some guidance that perhaps a good balance is possible. Good luck to you both in finding yours, and thanks again for your input. Inferno

laughingwolf said...

i didn't stop taking prozac, they just told me i didn't need it any more, and stopped prescribing it...

came as a shock, but i swallowed hard and pressed on...

that was 10 years ago...

i'm still pressing on, knowing, at the back of my mind, the black dog can return any time, and bite me ion the ass... again!

Anonymous said...

My brother has bipolar and takes medication. My sister has bipolar and after starting medication for a little while decided to go off it completely. It was messing her around too much (trying to find the right dose etc.) and it didn't really fix the problem, it did what you described - made her feel nothing, empty.

I think the answer is different for each individual. I worry when people say "don't go off your medication" because I really feel that is unfair to say. Although it might be right for them to stay on medication, it may not be right for you. Only you can decide.

It probably not advisable to just go off them though, usually people have to be weaned off gradually which is done with the help of your doctor.

I would also talk to a Naturopath or other Natural Health professional because they can help with how to manage without medication through natural sources. There is a website at foodmatters .tv that has great documentaries with doctors and natural health professionals talking about alternative strategies to managing mentla health problems. My favourite documentaries are called Food Matters and Marketing the Madness.

Follow your heart - if it is saying to go off your meds, find a way to do it in a safe way and make sure you have support.
Anyway, hope this helps. xxx

Rita Brhel said...

My husband has bipolar and he was very stable on meds until this spring, when he decided to go off meds b/c he felt he was "cured." He soared into hypomania -- not too bad, you know? -- but he couldn't control it on his own and ended up in a mixed state. He's been back on the original med cocktail that worked so well before, for about 2 months and is struggling big time in a depression. We're now going to have to add at least another med. And look at the timing of this: I'm 38 weeks pregnant with our third child, and our girls are ages 5 and 3. So...while I know it's super tempting to get off the meds or tweak the dose, and for some people it works, I would be careful -- you could do irreversible damage and end up on more meds/higher doses than you are now...not to mention the strain of that situation on your loved ones. I guess, my advice would be to talk to your doc and then if you decide to try to go off/lower the dose, be careful of the timing. Certainly don't do at a time when, if bad effects occur, it would be devastating to your relationships.

Anonymous said...

Dear Inferno

Your plight replicates a position I found myself in earlier this year - creativity waned, though I knew it still existed within me I couldn't grab hold of it, it was like mourning a best friend, except one that you can get back if you want to. So I chose to get my "friend", my personality back, and stopped medication.

I created wellness plans, researched my triggers and determined ways to avoid them. For a while, it worked and it was wonderful, if somewhat chaotic and unpredictable. And then the depression hit with massive force and only thanks to the unbelievable support of an incredible friend who silently read the situation and acted, do my children still have a mother.

My psychiatrist said to me "you are resilient but your willpower alone cannot manage your illness, this is a chemical imbalance you can't control" and I thought - but hang on - I used to control it before I was diagnosed, why can't I again? I am educated now, I know what is happening and how to handle it? The problem is, when you're on medication, YOU FORGET. You FORGET how deep that depression sends you, you FORGET that you can't comprehend climbing out of it, and that even medication seems pointless by that point because you simply don't want to live. It is exhausting hiding the perpetual death wish, negotiating between your dire urge and the people who will be affected by your demise. Can't think, can't focus on anything, completely obsessed by dying. Where, how, when....

I didn't realise until after I was gently led back to a medicated place how extremely incapable I truly was of controlling my thoughts. And how much easier and happier life is now, I don't EVER want to go back to that ugly black depression.

So please tread carefully, the hypomania is a hugely appealing drug, but the come-down negates its worth. If you choose that path I recommend you ask someone very close to you that you trust implicitly to watch you carefully, and what to look for to know you're in trouble, because if you are anything like me you won't tell....until it's possibly too late.

Inspiration for your creativity might be available in a different corner, or a different genre... maybe there's another way.

Good luck Inferno, I hope you keep talking.