Being Medication Free… Is it Possible?

As the New Year gets underway, an underlying question remains.

The Bipolar Writer Looks at the Possibilities

My story, the one where my mental illness became Bipolar One, begins with so much pain. That, of course, is a story for another time.

What I want to talk about today is medication. Day one there were a handful of medications that, in the psychiatric ward, I was told I had no choice but to take if I ever wanted to leave. To be fair, I was quite suicidal at the time. There is a real need for medication throughout the last eleven years. I would not be here without the medication that I have been on, and I know this is the truth. That doesn’t mean that change is good.

Over the last few months, a consistent theme has been coming into fruition in my mind–could I live this Bipolar life without medication?

In the last few months, I have worked to get myself of antidepressants with a lot of success. My depression is down without medication (side note my other medications help with depression prevention as well.) Still, I can say with certainty I am better off without the antidepressants.

Things have been different. I usually go through some severe depression, and last year around this time I was going through a small but destructive depression cycle. It put me back quite a bit, and the only thing that got me through was this blog. From March to May, I also suffered a significant setback in my depression with a prolonged depression cycle. I made it through, but I knew things had to change.

I must say this, any medication change should be consulted with a psychiatrist or whomever you seek your medication from!

The changes that I made was under the care of my psychiatrist and we planned out the stepping down of medication.

With the success, I am wondering about two medications that I wish I could live without–Seroquel and Ativan. The issue I have with Ativan is that I have been taking this (benzo) for a long time. With the Seroquel, I wonder if it is a contributing factor to my social anxiety.

The worst part of Seroquel is how it makes you feel throughout the day. It makes it hard to wake up in the morning, and while it used to help me sleep right away, it sometimes takes hours before I get to sleep when I take my dosage.

This coming Friday I have my first psychiatrist visit of the New Year. This will be a topic of discussion. I really believe it is possible to live this life without the mountain of medication. Anything is possible, and worst case I have to get back on the medication. I can imagine a life without it, even if it has been my life every day for over eleven years.

Always have hope in the future. Continuously evolve in this mental illness life. I will most likely be Bipolar for life, but that doesn’t mean it has to control me. I will be updating my progress (and if my psychiatrist agrees) in future posts. Stay tuned.

Always Keep Fighting (AKF)

James

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unsplash-logoAziz Acharki

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38 Replies to “Being Medication Free… Is it Possible?”

  1. I have actually spoken to several doctors on this as well. I think in society today we are just so quick to throw medications but, why can’t we seem to find alternatives. Any-who, good vibes on your journey, great post as usual.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. That’s such a shame. My one doctor works with me on it because they know I do not like taking medication but, my other doctors do not care.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Well done on coming off of anti depressants, as you have already said speak with the professionals and know when to access help if reducing the meds has negative consequences. I wish you well xx

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Hell, James. Happy New Year to you. I am so happy to have read this entry of yours today. I am happy that you are working closely with your psychiatrist and working your way off the Ativan and Seroquel. I was on Seroquel for way too long, and my psychiatrist was changed mid-way towards the middle of last summer. She did not wean me off correctly and the withdrawals wore horrifically horrendous.
    Since that time period, I have had the psychiatrist changed on me three times in my mental health facility, and we have finally found what is working for me. It was a hellish 2018, but I have high hopes for my mental health to be kept intact for 2019.
    I wish you the best with downsizing your medications.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Can’t we take antidepressants and antimanics on an as needed basis – the way we do for migranes and headaches and the flu? Can’t meds be found that don’t give us headaches as they wear off?

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Hey James, love this post. It was such a good read. I myself am trying very different alternatives to help with my own personal problems. Such as my anxtiey and PPD. My therapist gave me so many things to try besides my meds, such as rocking my body and rubbing my arms. I know it may sound like i look like a crazy person, but i swear it helps when my thoughts start to talk over. Or even having a little hairbow or something around your wirst and poping it a few times on your wrist to kinda wake you up and let yourself come back to reality. Always love reading your post!!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. There are some amazing non medication things that can help with anxiety. My work with mindfulness breathing has been the most effective outside my Ativan.

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  6. Great post. Very interesting and informative. You might find some of the content on “Food Matters TV” useful. I’ve found some fascinating documentaries there about the links between gut and brain and how to heal ourselves with food. Some of it is a bit hard core and makes you wonder whether we’re all doomed but I’ve gathered loads of really valuable information from it too so thought I’d share in case it’s of value.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I also want to be medication free, I just feel like everybody knows their own body/mind. And I just feel like I’m not ready to take that huge leap. I also don’t have full on BP disorder. I have Schizo-effective disorder, which is schizophrenia with a mood disorder, I always joke around that I’m schizophrenia and BP love child haha. I wish you luck.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Schizo-effective disorder is tough. That was actually my first diagnosis ever in this life. I know its hard to get to this place. I don’t know if I will fail or succeed but it doesn’t hurt to try in my case.

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      1. If you feel like you can fully take control of your own head space on your own, I say go ahead with it. It takes a lot of time to be fully aware of yourself. You’re the only person that truly knows how to reason with yourself. If you get off medications, you know what’s going to be off, you know what’s going to be different. If you feel truly ready, knowing that you have a plan set in place for when you are feeling like you’re going to be slightly out of control. Then go for it. And if anything, you could get back on it. Being comfortable with yourself is important, and if living a medication free life does that, then good for you.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. I had a horrible time getting off of seroquel. I went through horrible withdrawls and I didn’t quit cold turkey, I tapered down. Going off of meds didn’t work for me, but I wish you the best with what is right for you.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Just please make sure you have a doctor assistance with it. I was on it for a number of years which could be a big reason as to why I had such a bad experience. I’m rooting for you!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I thought I had read that, but I wanted to make sure. Best of luck to you, my friend!

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  9. I’m mostly medication free, but I don’t have the same level of severity. I was very tired of mood stabilizers and how they made me feel. I also felt like antidepressants contributed to my anxiety and didn’t help my manic episodes, as they are mostly for lows. I keep Xanax handily for when my anxiety is unmanageable. In order to be off meds, I have quite a few supports in place. My husband is pretty honest with me about my moods, and I have to make myself willing to hear what he has to say. I also use essential oils, brainwaves, breathing, meditation, writing, and have drastically changed my diet. It’s definitely not fool proof. I still have episodes, but I have some good strategies in place to help me through. I think my advice to you would be to have a support person that is willing to check in and be honest, someone you are willing to accept feedback from throughout the process.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am not going to lie. It is very nice when it helps you get through a tough stretch of Anxiety. It is a short term solution. I am on high dosage after taking the medication for eleven years.

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