I’m four days into coming off anti-depressants, after a course of just over one and a half years.
I want to tell someone about the experience. So it might as well be you! This won’t be my most elegant blog post. But then that’s life, and pretending to be more enlightened than we are is only ever just a stumbling block anyway.
I’m angry. I’m full of bad temper. Mood swings. Frustration.
Many people have pointed out to me the dangers of coming off anti-depressants suddenly. It is ill advised and can lead to long-term withdrawal, so I would not recommend it to anyone, and this is not what I am doing. I have been stepping down the dosage carefully for about four months. The time has come to stop completely. Since they are pills, not liquid, the effects are perhaps more stark than they could be.
People have written about ‘spiritual emergency‘. Electric shocks going through the brain. Panic. Mania. I remember when I went on the anti-depressants, I was very upset. They are inhibitors, and as such they dampen the highest of the highs, and the lowest of the lows. I found that my connection to Spirit was much harder to realize, and that meditation was more difficult.
Despite this, I persisted with both the drug regime and the meditation, and agree with those who say you need both! The effects of the drugs lessened with the reduced dosages, and the meditation sometimes resulted in greater ‘peaks’.
As a Bodhisattva, meditation is often the most important part of my day pattern. But days like this I find myself resorting to whisky! I know it will pass.
When I was in therapy, my therapist said that I believed in the process, and that is what got such good results so quickly. In the same way, I have hope that this will pass, and that the feelings of shock and disorientation are actually just my stronger emotions coming back to life – much like the many garden flowers after the hard winter we have just had in the UK.
And similarly, I have hope in the Dharma. My nun who runs the local Dojo uses the word ‘faith’, because (this is in my words) she has faith that the practices of soto zen are very skillful methods of reaching satori.
So it is spring. There is a lot of hope around. The promise of colour, of warmth, of growth, sweet smelling cut grass and sweet pea flowers. It is a good time to emerge from anti-depressants and wake back up to all of my emotions like long lost friends.
If you are coming off them, or thinking about coming off them, then stand with me and lets have hope together. I would like that very much. When you do it, I will know.
Did you know that the trees stand together for company? They are aware of where each other is standing. They communicate at some level with each other. They are aware of each other. Know each other. Stand together. Standing together is not weak. Supporting each other is not weak. Trees do it all the time. They can stand alone. But they much prefer good company, and the company of another tree is always good. Even a tree that is growing too close!