It’s been over a year since taking my very last dose of psychiatric medication and I’m doing better than I EVER did while I was medicated. Since being mis-diagnosed with bipolar at age 16, I was continuously medicated on various psychotropic drugs until October 31, 2013. My choice to get off medication started with my desire to start a family, but what it led to was far more than I ever could have imagined.
When I first announced publicly that I was planning on stopping medication, I received a number of concerns and even some angry responses from the acquaintances and strangers criticizing or doubting my decision. I wasted far too much time trying to convince close minded people that it was my choice and trying to explain the positive changes I was making in order to accommodate this switch. Fortunately, it didn’t take me much time to realize it was a lost battle to argue with people dwelling solely in the heavy psychiatry world and refusing to see my individual story. I went on with my plan to stop medication despite the backlash and skepticism.
Working with a psychiatrist, I spent eight months from February 2013 to October 2013 slowly tapering off all prescription medication. The process itself was very painful and there were many times when I doubted my own ability to succeed. However, with the help of my spiritual growth and positive lifestyle choices, I was able to survive the detox from psychiatric medication without crumbling.
In January 2014, I emerged from the darkness of my psychiatric experience and my body and mind began to heal again. At that time I also made some drastic decisions about where my personal life was headed. The beginning of 2014 was by far the most difficult time I have ever experienced emotionally, but the most magical as well. Once the fog of medication started to clear, I realized the people and activities I surrounded myself with were deeply hurting me and fighting to keep me stuck in my old ways. So I made the decision to leave my first husband and separate myself from the vast majority of the people and activities I had once given all my time and energy to.
This was not an easy decision to make or to carry out, but I knew if I didn’t that my mental, physical, and spiritual health would crumble. So I left, and started a journey into a great time of uncertainty, pain, and sadness. But I felt human and content within the chaos of suffering. For the first time in as long as I could remember I felt real and whole while fully embracing my pain. And to my surprise, I also felt happy through it all, not hopeless and depressed as I thought I would be.
There are often people both inside and outside the mental health community that assume pain and sadness are the same as depression and mental illness. So whenever they start to feel anything like sadness or pain, they get sucked into the traps of fear and fight against these feelings instead of embracing and going through them. This is so far from the only reality and it doesn’t have to be this way, I promise you.
Yes, many times sadness and pain can accompany depression, but unlike depression, sadness and pain are human feelings that EVERYONE goes through. They do not have to be a death sentence. As I made the move to leave my first marriage, I tried to explain this concept to everyone around me who assumed I was just losing my mind without medication. While in fact, I was for the first time in decades feeling the reality of being human and fully accepting it.
When I left, I told them I just needed to be on my own and struggle for a while. And I was right. And I flourished. And I am still flourishing to this day and I will continue to do so into the future. I keep on proving everyone who doubted me wrong and that is what I will keep doing, day after day. Living in health and happiness, living with love and compassion, living with peace of mind and sanity, and doing it without medication. There is hope and a future out there beyond the lies I was fed for decades, and I plan on living it to the fullest!