I have never been a fan of medication. I liked the idea that you can take a small pill to take away a temporary headache or pain. But those things were short term and never routine. Anything over a one time event meant something else to me. It meant a permanent problem. Thus, I incorrectly believed that long term medication meant that there was something wrong with you. As a result, I always tried to avoid medication at all costs.
That sounds silly, but my beliefs derived from my friends and family’s health history. The people that I knew took pills because there was something wrong; Diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol – these were serious things. Because of this, I didn’t want medication. I didn’t want to experience the same perceived constraints or issues that they brought. Something was wrong with the people I knew. The medication was there to “fix” them. I didn’t judge these people for needing the medication. I was more fearful of the idea that I too needed to be “fixed”.
When I was diagnosed with Postpartum Depression and Anxiety, the possibility of an anti-depressant was not on my agenda. I knew that I wasn’t well, but I didn’t want to believe that I needed to be medicated. I wanted to overcome it on my own, without any help from little pills. This alone gave me the strength to continue with support groups and therapy.
However, it was becoming apparent that it wasn’t enough. I was overwrought with disappointment. I’d feel great for some time, and then I would find myself back in the depths of PPD / PPA. One week I would feel hopeful and inspired, and another, I would cry in despair, wondering when I’d ever find my way again. The ups and downs of it was excruciating and exhausting. I didn’t understand who I was anymore. I finally gave in and started an anti-depressant. It ended up being the best thing for me, and it was instrumental in my recovery.
Late last year , most of the PPD/PPA feelings and triggers had subsided. Those days of anxiety and fear were long gone. I wondered if it was time to come off the medication. My psychiatrist did agree that I was making great progress. However, she recommended that I stay on the meds for a year total. I agreed and made my follow up appointment around the year mark.
Then, life happened. A flurry of personal, work-related and child related issues arose. I was beyond stressed. While I didn’t quite revert to my PPD and PPA tendencies, it was clear that I was under a tremendous amount of pressure. After hearing about my current situation, the psychiatrist advised that it would be best to wait another three months and remain on the medication. It wasn’t in my best interest to wean off in a stressful time in my life My psychologist agreed.
I understood. At the same time, I was also disappointed. I thought that I had come so far in my recovery. I believed that I was in a place where I could handle and cope with things on my own. I even began to believe that I was regressing. Why else would I have to stay on the medication?
As the things in life got more intense, my sensitivity to the life events and everyday stress intensified. I found myself a bit more emotional and feeling more anxious. I felt strained when I thought about all the issues that were happening. Familiar feelings of self-doubt and fear slowly came to fruition. I wasn’t in my old PPD / PPA mindset, but the stress sure made me wonder. If I wasn’t feeling anxious, I was trying to hold back tears when I talked about the ongoing events in my life.
It was then that I had to remind myself – the doctor was right. Why would I try to add another stressor to my life? Weaning off medication, especially anti-depressants, is a process. It can take a little time, and there’s always the chance that I could have a few side effects. Is that all worth it? What’s so wrong with being on the medication for a bit longer?
I have since accepted my doctor’s advice and have not chosen to wean off the medication. I have so many other things going on right now, that it’s easier to keep something like this on the backburner. It isn’t hurting me, and it’s not as if I can’t review my situation a few months from now and think about the options. I also have to remind myself that being on medication doesn’t make me weak. Being on it means that I care about myself enough to help me through these difficult moments, and that in itself is worth it.
Life is still difficult, but I’m getting through it. I’m still a few months away from things calming down, but I’m glad that it’s not any worse. I’ve increased my therapy sessions, which is helping as well. I may have changed my personal recovery timeline, but it hasn’t affected or changed my end goal. I’m getting better. I’m getting there…it’s just taking a little bit longer.