“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 getting terribly off-topic but much more interesting, when I heard “Withdrawal Therapy” my brain thought this had a bit of a ring of the old “Hysteria Therapy” which was a thing for women back in the day. More later. Most uncivil.
What was also most uncivil, was that I was quite bluntly being told that “Withdrawal Therapy” was not going to be 100% my choice, was completely above the waist – look that female hysteria thing up – and didn’t involve withdrawing from things and people I didn’t like. It was taking away the psych meds I had been on since I was in my late 20’s. My life buddies.
My psychologist was sitting right in front of me, 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. – 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 received and take now was prescribed because of an illness that someone else in your family has, and not totally because of an illness that you currently have?”
Then – she hit me with the slammer – 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. 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 which I had been taking anti-depressants 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 certain diet soft drink. Silky knew that when that bottle came out it was time to retreat. Topic off-limits. Mic Drop. That day I may as well have pulled a full two-litre cask out of my bag and downed it.
This woman was tiny and gentle and peaceful and I was a 5’8″ amazon who at this time 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 clearly explained her conclusions logically and fairly. But also because life is like that – she also braved my steely silence because this was a hell of an ass to come to terms with.
What I do remember, which is often the case with psychological events – is 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 completely without life and without breath. I felt unsafe and insecure and even more frightened than when I had had to walk past the big German Shepard every day on my way to school as a kid. Terrorised. I felt like the world I had walked into that office from had gone and I did not want to walk out and find out 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 particular practitioners. I am not good at saying no – but I think I probably would have if I wanted to.
As a very quick aside here – there are members of my family who think taking psychiatric medication = complete failure at life – so the thought of being off the meds also appealed to my desperate need for approval for being “normal”. This may have swayed my decision – but who knows.
I did choose Withdrawal Therapy” (now called “Discontinuation Syndrome” – to make it sound fancy shmancy) ) from the drugs that 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 that 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’ kind of way. I had marched in trying to be brave and said I wanted to reduce my dose. “Holy Fuck” did not help. Cheers.
But – he did agree to do it and we discussed a very gradual tapering – again which is different for every single individual. It MUST be supervised.
The one 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 having taken them. He now rubbed his hands with glee. 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. 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 that it helps you.
Just a quickie – in case you hadn’t noticed – I do tend to swear. I just do. I feel 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 who I had had such trouble finding myself.
I would adore you to follow me with this. I was told it would be tough 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. Maybe I’ll do some podcasts on what they really thought sometime later. Could be fun.
I will try and repost these every day…please email me about anything you feel. It is all welcome and I will try to answer it myself.
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 – lookup that Wikipedia stuff. Female Hysteria.
+QUOTE “I WORRY ABOUT BEING IN THERAPY. I WORRY ABOUT NOT BEING IN THERAPY”
Wurtzel, E. (1995). Prozac nation: young and depressed in America. New York, N.Y.: Riverhead Book