Weaning myself off from daily antidepressants was one of the most harrowing experiences of my life. Sure, depression and anxiety are basic human emotions shared by the majority of us, but when it’s a constant, daily struggle, it follows you like your own shadow – you can’t get rid of it, no matter how hard you try. It becomes part of you. Eating and sleeping are your only sources of refuge, the things you once loved to do become impossible to do, even annoying at times, and your family and friends slowly distance themselves from you. And, while antidepressants did keep control of my breakdowns and have even prevented them from occurring, I essentially became a hollow shell of myself, almost zombie-like.
I decided to stop taking my daily dose of Zoloft before graduating college, and it was a detox I wasn’t prepared for. Like a drug addict with no access to substances, I suffered from withdrawal symptoms I never expected: weight gain, insomnia, crying fits, hormonal imbalance – the works. Months later, I stated seeing a psychologist after months of looking. Her lack of suggestive life skills to help me with my depression proved useless, and so she prescribed me a different pill. A week into taking it, I suffered from intense, painful body spasms I mistook as seizures, and so I was off medication once again for almost two years since.
Being off of meds for so long, I slowly learned that I was always taking substances without having any lifestyle changes to accompany them. My therapists were only taking notes (or so I thought) as I basically spilled out every ounce of fear I had with anxiety and depression, as if they were only there to ask me “and how does that make you feel?”, feeding into the psychiatric stereotype. I realized that if I wasn’t getting any suggestions or initiative to improve both my mental and physical health, I needed to go the natural route – no meds included.
Since my last dosage of antidepressants, I’ve then taken the liberty to replace pills with vitamins and essential oils, eating the wrong things (and the wrong portions) with healthier choices, and idleness with exercise and meditation – meditation, that is, not entirely in the crossed-legged “ohm” sense.
Meditation, I later realized, is basically taking healing day by day. Nothing ever happens overnight, including recovery. Depression also has no cure, but your attitude towards your illness is always the solution to coping with your illness. So, if you are going through any form of mental illness, remember that you are not alone. Never are you alone in this fight.