Oliver Twist(ed)

I have nothing against antidepressants. Nothing. They save lives, they saved my life.

They can be harsh drugs. They are big and strong and their purpose is to jiggle about all of the chemicals inside your brain and create a few more where they are lacking before smothering them all over your cortexs like a big duvet.

They go about their duty for as long as you take them, sergeant majoring every hormone/chemical/whatever to stand in line and behave and work properly thus making sure that you don’t draw life’s curtain prematurely.

But they are just a drug. Like paracetamol which although brilliant for a pounding headache brought on by 582010185 hours of a toddler hitting you on the head because its fun to play drums, if you take two every four hours for days then how do you know that your headache has gone?

Sometimes when you feel sort of maybe almost alright you have to tentatively stop them to check. And if the pain does still linger a bit then hopefully a blast of fresh air/getting out the PVA glue and letting the toddler stick your favourite top to your favourite jeans to the wall behind the fridge so she’ll stop the drumming/some therapy and self kindness will be the final cure.

Do you see what I mean?

While antidepressants do help they also shroud everything, after all if something has the power to take away the searing pain of depression then it’s sure as hell going to put a bit of a damper on everything emotionwise right?

There are no moments of bouncing with happiness or sighing the blissful sigh of relaxation because all emotions have been safely sealed in an envelope in a box in a safe in the dark recesses of somewhere.

I need to get these things back because without them how can I recover?

Simply, two years ago my poor brain needed whatever chemicals I was doling out to it. I had the chemical munching Oliver Twist of brains – please Sir, can I have some more – It really had gone very wrong and that is something that now, with distance and clarity, I can see all the more.

I was really not well. I wanted to hide and to be silent and still and alone and to just stop, everything needed to stop.

I had a tiny newborn and I didn’t want to hold her or kiss her or fill my senses with her scent and her softness. I looked at her and I felt nothing and then I cast my eyes to myself and saw everything that I hated.

There’s a whole world of stuff really that should slot in here but in the interest of you still being awake by the time you scroll to the bottom…Hey! There’s a link to vote for me down there y’know so do scroll all the way down. Not that I’m nagging or anything – I’ll save some for later like Beans hides chunks of apple for cheeky nibbles when she’s peckish and as if we never feed her – but nominations close soon.

I didn’t take the decision lightly and it was discussed at length with the husband and with my therapist because obviously my GP was less than forthcoming with help or advice or support – ‘no, you won’t withdraw, it’s called discontinuation effects*. See me again in six weeks…’

I was and am still pretty petrified to see where I am when I’m unmedicated. I have no idea whether I will cope or whether I’ll crumble and that is scary.

But now I am running through the metaphorical forest with my arms stretched wide and my out splayed fingers brushing across every tree that I pass as I say this but I think I’m through the worst of the worst of the worst of the withdrawal from my medication.

I’ve hit the one week mark and I’ve survived – although it did feel touch and go at times and had you asked me last Tuesday I would likely have stared at you, unblinking and ashen faced, and said quite matter of factly that this is it, thank you and goodbye before floating back off into the nightmare.

It has been hard, inexplicably so. Never in my life, physically, have I felt so dire and although I do tend to lean towards the dramatic at times (that spider was bigger than my face I swear) I am saying this with my hand on my (finally calm) heart and my (mostly steady) fingers raised in the Brownie promise.

I can’t explain how I have felt which is really bugging me. I want to be able to articulate all of it because its so cathartic and because I turned to Google at times when I genuinely wondered if I was about to fall spinning off the mortal coil and Google was shit and contained none of the answers that I was looking for.

I want to find the words because I have shared every single step of this so far that it feels wrong to stop now and frankly I want some recognition for everything that I went through because I kicked withdrawal right in the ass.

I was rendered immobile and bound to my bed with vertigo (horrific), nausea (extreme), headaches, hallucinations, insomnia, vivid nightmares, hot sweats, cold sweats, general sweats, full body aches, no appetite (and when I did eat food tasted odd, different) and a plethora of other delights. At worst I didn’t move, even for a wee, for over 48 hours. At best a packet of ready salted Frisps tasted like they should taste.

There is so much more to what I have been through but recapping it now feels wrong because this isn’t a full stop but just a series of them, this is no miracle (damn it).

I was extremely poorly FULL STOP I took medication because I really needed medication because had I done nothing to try to control the errant chemicals in my brain I would very likely not be here right now to type these jumbled words FULL STOP I got stronger and I came off my medication DOT DOT DOT

* ‘discontinuation effects’ equal fucking withdrawal in my book. Anything that makes you feel like you’re coming off some kind of class A substance, dying and looking wistfully at the pills still sitting on the bedside table, calling to you, should be treated as so and supported for goodness sake.

badge2 Oliver Twist(ed)

*ahem* here’s that link (click the badge!) I was telling you about. Maybe if you feel like being kind you could perhaps vote for me (best writer?) and then I can stand up in public and thank you all for getting me to where I am now. And I won’t even blame you for not telling me how hard this would be, I’d be that grateful.