I find that so often with blogs, the personal intertwines with the creative. I’m not sure if creative personalities are that much more vulnerable to the vicissitudes of mental health, or if it’s just that poetry or writing itself is more closely linked to the mental realm than other things one could be doing. For example, I find that my work performance is not really affected by depression or my mental health (positive or otherwise) as much as my writing is. I suppose that’s good because it means I haven’t missed nearly as much work as I could have as a result of my various brain troubles, but I digress. A few weeks ago I stopped taking my medication. All at once. For those of you looking away in disapproval or tut-tutting at me, I would not recommend this to anyone. As usual in my life, it’s a case of do what I say, not what I do. However, I do have a reasonable excuse. Let me expound. Or expand. Expostulate?
About a month ago I realized that I had lost my prescription from my doctor. Amazingly this is the second time this has happened. One would have thought that doctors would have come up with a better system than a scribbled bit of paper for getting access to potentially dangerous substances, but it seems not. Perhaps Canada is just lagging behind and the rest of the world is happily emailing their prescriptions directly to the pharmacy of their choice, or better still posting them onto some shared website for any pharmacist to access. Anyway. As a responsible patient, I did nothing for about a week. Work has been very busy, and I kept forgetting to call them during business hours. And I still had some pills left, so I wasn’t worried. Eventually I got round to calling, and of course there was nobody there. I left a detailed message explaining the situation (as this is what I had to do last time to get it fixed). I never received a call back. A few days later I went to the chemist/pharmacist just to check if my prescription had been delivered, but nothing was there. Now, being the somewhat lackadaisical individual that I am, I did nothing again. Part of this was because I was sure they would eventually call me back, but also on some level I saw this as an opportunity. Circumstance is good motivation for me, and I saw this as ideal timing. At my last appointment, my doctor and I had agreed that I was to taper off my medication gradually (one drug at a time), and in fact I had already tapered off one of my three meds. So what with one thing and another, this seemed like a good time to stop the others.
I was prepared for withdrawal symptoms (although Wellbutrin is notoriously nice in that respect) or some dramatic change in my mood or emotions. In fact, the results were rather boring. It’s now about four weeks later, and I feel essentially the same. I have a little less energy to do things, but it’s not a huge change, and frankly I would rather be unmedicated and slightly slothful than constantly questioning my own autonomy. I have also been working up to 10 hour days, which may explain why I have no energy in the evenings. I am trying to force myself to do things like reading and writing, with limited success. I went swimming today, which I am quite proud of. But overall, very little change. In fact, this experience has me questioning the usefulness of medication at all for someone in my position. I think that I am largely stable right now, and accordingly, medication doesn’t really help me. Of course it’s the first thing any psychiatrist would suggest, but perhaps some sort of talk therapy would be more useful. A revelation!
I should disclaim again at this point that I don’t advocate stopping meds without consulting one’s physician, or stopping taking things cold turkey. I am very resistant to most side effects of most medications, and the ones I take (or rather was taking) don’t have any severe side effects anyway. When dealing with the brain, caution is best I feel. Don’t try this at home, kids!