In 2004, before my husband was deployed to the Persian Gulf, I was having a really hard time catching my breath. I had two kids under the age of seven, was working full-time and looking at the possibility of my husband being away for a year or more. Oh yeah, in a war! I was a mess, but I had NO idea what was causing me to be unable to catch my breath. I went for a series of tests. I had x-rays, bloodwork, needles to check for DVT (deep vein thrombosis), they checked me for blood clots, you name it, they checked me for it. And they found nothing. Nothing except for anxiety. My nurse practitioner said that not being able to catch your breath, or heavy sighing when you tried was a sign of anxiety. My doctor concurred, and they put me on an antidepressant.
I’ve been on the antidepressant for over 10 years now. If I missed a dose, I could tell almost immediately. The withdrawal symptoms felt like a hangover. A really ugly hangover. Luckily that feeling went away not long after I’d take the missed dose.
Flash forward to today, 2015, more than 10 years after I started taking the antidepressant. I don’t feel like I need to be on an antidepressant any longer, I’ve talked with my doctor about it, I can breathe easily, and just feel like I want the drug out of my system. I don’t feel like I need to continue taking it.
My doctor prescribed a 20-day supply, slowly taking less and less of a dose, effectively weaning me off completely. I’ve followed his directions to the letter, and Tuesday was my last dose. I felt great! Free! No more antidepressants in my system! Yay me!
Oy vey, I feel like I’ve been hit with a Mack truck today. I woke up just fine, showered and came to work. And now I feel like dog crap. I’ve got that hungover feeling, my pupils are like pinpoints, I’m dizzy, a little nauseated and just generally feel bad.
Which is worse? Having the drug in my system when I don’t really feel like I need it anymore, or taking it when I don’t feel like I need it JUST to avoid the hangover symptoms? I’m really not sure at this point. I don’t want to be on an antidepressant anymore, I don’t feel like I need to be and don’t want to be addicted. That’s how I’m feeling right now. I feel like I’m kicking an addiction to something that, for more than 10 years, helped see me through some rough patches.
When I think of addiction, I think of hardcore drugs: cocaine, meth, heroin. Bad. Very bad. I DON’T however, think of addiction with regard to something that’s supposed to help, like an antidepressant. I’m so disappointed! Add that to the list of things I’m feeling with this awful hangover feeling: disappointment.
So now what? Now I feel like an addict suffering from withdrawal symptoms. An addict. I had no idea I was addicted to the antidepressant, but obviously, I was.
This, too, shall pass, as they say. But damn, until it does, I just want to sleep it off. It’s depressing.