Let’s just jump right into things. I decided, this summer, to go off my medication. It was a bit more sudden of a decision than I meant for it to be; but I think that I do best with decisions that are so clear I know exactly what choice to make instantly. I’d thought, a couple of months ago, that I never really intended to be on medication for more than a year; that I really wanted it to be a temporary help, an aid on my path to healing, and not a permanent “fix” in my life. But then I got pregnant, and then I had a baby, and suddenly I had been on it for two and a half years and the time had just flown by.
I’m so thankful for the role that medication has played in my life. There used to be shame; I now have none. I know the foundation it gave for my slipping feet and the symptoms it eased that allowed me to focus on the real problems. But I still wanted to be strong enough without it. But I was too busy this spring to think about it, and I sadly thought to myself that perhaps, after all, I would end up on it forever. I know that is necessary for some people; I just didn’t want it to be for me.
But then I had a wellness visit with a new doctor, and one discussion led to another, and all of a sudden he was recommending that I get off that medicine and give my inner strength a chance to show itself. You can always go back, he said, but why don’t you give it a try? And suddenly I’d committed to it.
It just seemed like the right time. After all, baby is old enough that I generally get enough sleep, rest, and time to myself; Andy was off school for the summer and would be fully available; and I had exactly two months until all of our “real life” responsibilities started back up for the next school year. Ida is big enough that the effect on her through nursing would be minimal.
And here I am, two months later, and I’m off. I’ve been off for about three weeks, I think, and as I told my doctor I am stronger and less susceptible to the OCD issues than I was two years ago while ON the medication. That may sound silly to you, as that was two whole years ago, but I needed the confirmation that I, me, had continued growing and strengthening in those years, and that it wasn’t just the effect of the medication on me because, you know, I wondered sometimes. I wondered if all that blackness was still there on the edges, waiting until I had to go off the medication for one reason or another. And it wasn’t. It’s in my past now, for good.
Sure, I’m struggling with some symptoms more than I have the last year or so. Sure, there was some roughness in weaning off the medication. It seemed like the unlikeliest dosage changes caused anxiety and depression and resurgence of OCD symptoms while other weeks (I reduced my dose about once every 5-7 days) I seemed to experience no changes at all, including the week I quit taking it for good. Who knows why. There were also a few issues with Ida, who was also being weaned off of her (harmless) exposure to the meds through my breastmilk. She struggled with some crankiness on and off, but in general suffered no adverse effects. But since she was going to be weaned off it soon enough when the time for actual breastfeeding weaning arrives, it was all right.
But here I am, on the other side, with one other issue of OCD behind me, and I wanted to share this little story to let you know that you too can do that thing you aren’t sure you can. That that thing you’re uncertain about, that you’re afraid of – you can at least try it. You might find that it’s easy, and totally, 100% worth it. And it’s worth it to see how far you can lean on your own strength, and not the artificial ones, because it is so empowering, whether your uncertainty involves medication or something else.
And if you just can’t do it now, that’s okay too. I was on that med for so much longer than I wanted to be; but that’s okay. It ended up being what I needed. And you know, we don’t always know what’s best for ourselves – when I first stepped into a counseling office in September 2008 I thought I would be there for six weeks, max, before being sent on my way with a clean bill of happy-go-luckiness. Little did I know how much more God had in store for me than that. So I have no regrets. But I’m still thankful for where I am now.
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