Failure, or just something like it?

I failed. Miserably. Grotesquely. In glory and shame.

The task was simple, reduce 2 doses of my main antidepressant, 2 doses so I could safely use migraine medications without triggering a potential episode of dreaded Serotonin Syndrome (which I need to be careful of as it was suspected I had it before many years ago). Just two small doses down.

I’m strong, going well, 1 year self harm free. Two little steps down in just ONE of my meds shoukd have been a simple process. My psychiatrist cautioned me how to gently reduce, slowly tapering so as to avoid unwanted side effects such as nausea and cognitive blunting.

The next day I lowered my first dose. By lunch time I was feeling anxious, my heart was racing and so were my thoughts.

Three days later I sat in a Christian worship crying. Three more days and I had been fighting the urge to self harm, and was entertaining suicidal ideation. The next day I had pranged my car, set my GP into a flurry over my anxious state, and paranoid of having another accident, declared I would never drive again! I went through a box of tissues from all the tears in just 10 days. Long days of pain and fear and angst. Nightmares, panic attacks, and inability to focus on reading or writing.


Just 10 days in to what should have been a simple process, I tearfully emailed my Psychiatrist, asking for his advice. 5 minutes later (bless him!!) on a Saturday evening, late, he replies. No judgement, no telling me to suck it up and try a little longer, just kind and reassuring words.

“No one can say you didn’t try! There is no point in you living this way, go back to the normal dose!” And a few other things to reasure me.

Lately I’ve been under pressure to reduce my psychiatric meds. Everyone seems to have an opinion, and many try to blame them for my physical ailments. But these people aren’t there during the night when I’m crying myself to sleep, or worried about leaving for work because I’m suicidal. My husband is. My kids are.

They aren’t the ones waking at night gasping for air because the horror in the dreams was so real that you can smell the fear in the air around you. I am.

And while I respect their opinions, I don’t care so much about failing them, because I choose to consult my psychiatrist with all medication questions – they aren’t there at 10pm on a Saturday night answering my distressed messages about the weird or horrible side effects I’m experiencing!

I failed. I tried so hard, but 10 days of sheer misery was terrifying. I guess I would sooner live with the pain in my head, than die because of the trauma and sadness in my heart. I need every single mg of my psychiatric meds, they keep me alive!

3 thoughts on “Failure, or just something like it?

  1. Failure? I know you feel like it’s a failure. But failure would have been too afraid to try. You pulled on your big girl socks and tried really hard. Then when you let a trusted medical professional know what was happening, you had the courage and sense to do as he said – go back to what you know works! I don’t think you’ve failed at all. I think you tried something really frightening for ten whole days, and was shown very clearly that it wasn’t right for you. At this time. Maybe one day will be different. I have no idea. But you do have an awesome doctor to trust in. Be kind to yourself. You tried something very difficult. You’re not responsible for the side effects xx


  2. Agree with invisibly me (Caz). I see why you feel like it’s a failure. To me, it’s a fantastic try. Ten days, that’s a lot of time to stick it out, to be strong. Some of us need meds, there is so not shame in that, even if people are insensitive and can’t understand. You’ll find a way, you’ll get there when your body is ready. I know that’s frustrating. It’s hard feel that kind of powerlessness to our own brains/bodies.


  3. Oh lovely, I’m so sorry. I get why you see it as a failure, but reading this, I don’t. I see it as a test to see what would happen, an experiment. Your body and your brain obviously need these meds right now, and you found this out the hard way. Doesn’t mean it’ll always be this way, in future you could try weaning down again and maybe your body will respond better. That doesn’t make you a failure; you can’t help what your brain does. Take things slowly and be kind to yourself, as you would if the situation were reversed and you were talking to someone else you cared about. ♥
    Caz xx


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