Over the past month I have been weaning myself off my anxiety meds – it has been a slow process, but I’m finally feeling like myself again without the help of a magic little chill pill.
When I was first prescribed 10 mg of Cipralex last December, I was in a completely different headspace.
Looking back, I’m embarrassed to admit that I was tossing back four to five glasses of wine a night with reckless abandon (add a few more on the weekend).
As a result of the excessive alcohol intake paired with my penchant for salt n’ vinegar chips and greasy takeout, my waistline and self-esteem became non-existent. Of course, it probably didn’t help that I hadn’t stepped foot inside a gym for a good six months, and had stopped bothering with my appearance. The simple act of taking a shower seemed too tiring.
While I used to be social butterfly, my anxiety and addiction kept me indoors, closed off from friends and family.
But you know what? All that wasn’t even the worst part.
I had grown so utterly, completely exhausted of being uncomfortably numb. Nothing really upset me, but nothing made me happy either.
Fast-forward 11 months later, I have undergone a complete lifestyle overhaul and feel like a different human.
Today, I am 10 months sober, 10 pounds lighter and have made some real positive connections with loved ones and new friends who feel just like family. It’s not easy, but I’m slowly learning it is okay to distance myself from people who are unsupportive in my journey. Not everyone is okay with change, but I’m realizing that’s their issue to digest at their own pace, not mine.
Giving up control feels so freeing.
Never in a million years would I ever think that exercise, meditation, a healthy diet, prayer and reading would all become part of my daily practice.
Self care used to seem self indulgent, now it’s my number one priority in order to be of any value to those around me.
Ladies – we have to stop thinking we need to put everyone first. YOU, yes YOU need to be happy and healthy or you’ll find yourself in my shoes, depleted, empty and depressed.
Of course, not every day is perfect, or even good, but that’s just life. A huge part of living is being uncomfortable, learning from it and moving on. Not avoidance, which was my past occupation.
So, you’re probably wondering, if I’m feeling so good right now, why pull the plug on my happy pills? Why now?
While I loved how it softened all the sharp edges of cumbersome worry and settled the raging storm that was constantly unsettling every fibre of my being, making it impossible to concentrate or sleep, I was still feeling numb.
As a writer by trade, it’s vital that I own and experience my feelings so that I can transcend them onto a blank canvas – that I let my own soul bleed out in hopes I can make just one other person feel something… to let them know they aren’t alone.
My lifestyle is also different these days. I feel like these positive changes make it more possible to handle my anxiety on my own. I guess I just don’t feel like I need it anymore.
Instead of reaching for a bottle of chardonnay at 5 p.m. on the dot when I’m feeling unsettled — okay, it had started to become 4 p.m. towards the end — (sigh), I’ll crank up the tunes, make myself a comforting cup of tea in my favourite mug, call a friend, take a ballet barre class or a hot bath.
My life may sound boring to some, but I promise you, I’m having the time of my life — minus the ‘wine flu.’
If you’re planning on weaning yourself off medication for anxiety or depression, please do me a huge favour and make sure you do so with the help of your doctor. Also, don’t take this post as being that I am anti-medication. I’m not.
My meds helped me propel forward into a healthy, positive lifestyle. I can honestly look myself in the mirror and like, respect and appreciate the woman I am today. Am I perfect? Far from it.
Even so, I finally feel like the role model my daughters deserve — flaws and all.
If you’re suffering from anxiety, depression or addiction, you don’t have to suffer alone. Screw the stigma — there is nothing wrong with seeking help or speaking out. It doesn’t make you weak, unemployable, a bad friend or parent. It means you’re human, and that you’re in good company.
In fact, 33.7% of the population are affected by an anxiety disorder during their lifetime.
Photo cred: all photos by Amber Breen Photography
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