a life in perfect balance

rebecca chapman  - relationship whisperer

The Day They Took Away my Beautiful, Magical Anti-Depressants.

I recently moved from a big city to a really small country town in Queensland Australia and my house is about 5 minutes from a beach. Chances are, when I've written this  that that's where I am. Feet in the sand, staring at the ocean and working out whether or not I want to go in. Strange thing here is that the water is really warm - like a bath. To be honest - it can feel a bit creepy on your skin. So - I don't always go in.
I'll have food on my clothes for absolute sure and my care factor about that is a big ZERO.




Anti-depressant Therapy

“I worry about being in therapy. I worry about not being in therapy”+

I never, ever worried about being told that I would be entering Withdrawal Therapy.

Farewell Prozac my old friend.
I won’t be seeing you again.
Because the years are softly creeping.
And I’ve stopped my crazy weeping.
And the vision that was planted in my brain. I want again.
No more years…of silence.

At the risk of this whole thing starting terribly off-topic but much more interesting – When I heard “Withdrawal Therapy”, it sounded like the old “Hysteria Therapy “. This was a thing for women back in the day. Google it. More later. Most uncivil.

What was also most uncivil? It was that one day, I was bluntly told that “Withdrawal Therapy “was not going to be 100% my choice. It was entirely above the waist — look that female hysteria thing up — and didn’t involve withdrawing from things and people I didn’t like. Instead, it took away the psych meds I had been on since I was in my late 20’s. My life buddies.


Just No.

My psychologist was sitting right in front of me. Perched in her cute little plastic chair with her gorgeous curly hair and silver laptop perched on her knees — it had taken me 30 years to find this modern fairy. She just got me. I call her Silky — from the fairy in The Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton. She could do no wrong.

But this day — I felt the energy in the room turn — well, we all have bad days, I thought — Silky was obviously overcome by some sort of mental hiccough. So — She put her laptop on the table, brought the box of tissues closer (never a good sign) and felt compelled (obviously by this ‘issue’ she had) to turn and ask me:

“Do you think that maybe some of the medication and treatment you’ve received was given in error? Because of an illness that someone else in your family has? Perhaps it wasn’t all you?”

Then — she hit me with the kicker — that this wasn’t something they had tried in the past for “people under my circumstances”. But “they felt it may be necessary”.

My circumstances…my arse… was about all that I could think of to say.

I don’t actually say these things at the time — just when I replay the whole scenario later in my head. I know you do that too. Peace out.

As far as I saw it, I had just managed to drink my Starbucks without spilling any on my clothes. Furthermore, I’d remembered to visit the Ladies Room BEFORE the appointment time. So, obviously, I was in full command of “my circumstances.” And, the considerable length of time I’d been taking antidepressants for was irrelevant and well — pfffffft. The high dosage — also pfffft.

My “circumstances” were not up for discussion. I was successfully adulting.

Every session with my psychologist, I would take a bottle of a particular diet soft drink. Silky knew that when that bottle came out, it was time to retreat. 

Topic off-limits. 

That day I may as well have pulled a full two-litre cask out of my bag and downed it to make my statement. Back off. 

This woman was tiny, gentle, and peaceful. I was a 5’8″ amazon who was on a high dose of antidepressants that were being threatened. I was highly caffeinated and someone who would do anything to avoid change.

To Silky’s credit, she stayed in that seat. And now — a couple of years later, I will admit under my breath that she DID explain her conclusions logically and reasonably. 

And, because that’s her job, she braved my steely silence. She could tell this was a hell of an ass to deal with.

I do remember, which is often the case with psychological events, that it was so physical.

My body just caved with every word. It was a sensation that hit me right in the chest. I felt utterly without life and without breath. I felt unsafe, insecure, and even more frightened than when I had to walk past the big German Shepard every day on my way to school as a kid. Terrorised. I felt the world as I knew it had gone. And I didn’t want to walk out and see what was there instead. My legs were jelly, and I felt like I was falling backwards.

For a few days.

Right up until I realised I had a choice. And having a choice is one of the greatest gifts ever when you think about it. I could have said No. This particular time and to these specific practitioners. I am not good at saying no — but I think I probably would have if I wanted to.

There are members of my family who think taking psychiatric medication means you’ve failed at life. So the thought of being off the meds also appealed to my desperate need for approval. And, I wanted to be “normal”. So, of course, this may have swayed my decision — but who knows.

I did choose Withdrawal Therapy” (now called “Discontinuation Syndrome” — to make it sound fancy shmancy) ). The drugs had been dulling my senses but keeping me alive. They had done their job well, and it was time to see if my new life meant  I needed them less. Well done, good and grateful servants and all that. *absolute silence*

Time to tell my GP — who said “Holy Fuck” — in that kind of a ‘tsunami is about to hit the shores’ sort of way. I had marched in trying to be brave and said I wanted to reduce my dose. He said, “Holy Fuck”, which didn’t help. Cheers.

But — he did agree to do it, and we discussed a very gradual tapering, which is different for every individual. It MUST be supervised.

The unfortunate factor in this was that my GP had been anti-psychiatric medications for a while, and made me feel very much “lesser than” for taking them. He now rubbed his hands with glee. He saw me as a bit of a project and suggested we start immediately.

In hindsight — I should have looked around for someone else who was a better fit. But I tend to be a bit gutless that way. Doctors scare me — not my current one — *waves*. But doctor phobia was kinda part of my whole social phobia at the time. So please — look around for people where you feel safe. It is okay to not be a great fit with a therapist and just say “No Thanks”.

I kept writing during this process and hope it helps you.

Just a quickie — in case you hadn’t noticed — I do tend to swear. I just do. Life has dealt me some stuff that has entitled me to the odd swear word or two.

I also am a therapist. So if you have a problem with a therapist needing therapy, then maybe I am just not the girl for you. All good. My aim was always to be the therapist that I had had such trouble finding myself.

I would adore you to follow me with this. I was told it would be challenging and very uncomfortable. It was.

I had so many friends who believed in me and managed to keep a straight face when I told them I was dropping my meds. I was lucky. You really need honest, truth-talking friends at this time.

The story gets interesting- so hang in there — and the ending may not be what you expect.

Until then…gorgeous new friends…

Go have a cup of tea and seriously — look up that Wikipedia stuff. Female Hysteria.

And remember — it is totally normal and okay to be super scared about changes to your psych medications. Let’s open up the discussion about the interim periods. Those months and weeks when they aren’t sure what will work or how much you need. When your family is watching everything you do to see if anything changes. The fact you can’t swap quickly from one to another.

Always know you have a choice.

I’ll let you know how it went really soon.

Big Love.


Wurtzel, E. (1995). Prozac nation: young and depressed in America. New York, N.Y.: Riverhead Book

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