This is the first post in some time about my depression/anxiety, but I thought it’d be good to give an update after so long, as I have some news to share: I’m off the Zoloft.

The backstory

Last year, I had a massive panic attack. It took a lot of effort for me to even get to a place where I could seek treatment. I couldn’t eat, I lost over 20lbs in about a week, I was physically ill to the point my doctor was worried I had some gastrointestinal issue, and at the end of it all, I was put on anti-depressants.

I was prescribed Clonazopam, a very strong anti-depressant akin to Xanax, and Zoloft, a SSRI akin to Lexapro or Prosac. The Zoloft was a preventative drug, intended to calm the anxiety down over time to something more manageable, and the Clonazopam was there when things got messy–when those awful anxiety attacks kicked in.

After adjusting to the Zoloft and getting to a place where I could function, I immediately began seeking help. I’ve been seeing a psychiatrist and a therapist once per month, taking their advice, incorporating lifestyle changes, and changing my perception.

The therapy has been great; it’s helped me deal with stresses at work, change gears when things get tough, and ultimately get a handle on my anxiety.

After many a doctor visit, we came to the conclusion that the Zoloft was becoming an inhibitor for me. Yes, it helped at first — it helped get the chemicals in my brain balanced out so I can have a clear head as I sought treatment. It was a great tool to use on the road to my recovery. I have no regrets having been on Zoloft; in fact I don’t think I’d be where I am had I not been taking Zoloft.

But as time went on, it began to keep me emotionally low. Instead of keeping my anxiety subsided, it brought all feelings and emotions, good or bad, to a halt, ultimately putting me in an extremely depressed state. For those of you who don’t struggle with this kind of thing on the regular, it’s almost like taking out a loan for happiness and the debt collectors are knocking on your door for their payment. It kind of defeats the purpose, and ultimately reignites the angst and depression, and distracts me from my goals.

I began having nightmares every night, waking up with a tight, tense jaw, as if I’d been clenching in my sleep. The dreams were stressful to the point I would wake up in a panic. I’d wake up furious, stressed, afraid, panicked, or on the verge of tears. And it didn’t help that I never could remember the dreams. I’d just wake up in this horrible state of mind for seemingly no reason at all.

So I stopped taking my Zoloft…

 

It’s been about 3 weeks since I’ve stopped taking it. The first week or so was rough; I felt a little more irritable than usual, my anxiety and depression felt stronger, and I felt physically sick. I was worried that maybe I hadn’t made the progress I thought I had, and that I’ve jumped the SSRI boat too soon.

But, after a week or so of feeling like total garbage, I immediately began thinking more clearly. I’ve begun feeling more emotion, more joy, and my passion for work was somehow reignited. I’m accomplishing a lot more in a much shorter amount of time. My brain just needed time to adjust to the change, just as it did when I started taking the Zoloft in the beginning.

The best part of it all, is I feel awakened. I feel like I’ve learned so much about myself through this experience, and I’m a better person because of it. Or at least that’s what I’d like to think 🙂

But things are not perfect.

While things are significantly better in terms of my mental and physical health, it’s not all bells and whistles. I still have anxiety, depression, and panic attacks. I don’t think that’s going to change for a long time, if ever.

But what has changed is how I deal with it. I was so used to just putting aside my stresses and moving forward. But what I didn’t realize is I’m chained to my experiences, and the feelings I face. Sure, I can put things aside and continue moving forward, but eventually, the size of it all will get too big, and I’ll be stuck.

That’s not happening. I face my anxiety and depression head on. My therapist has equipped me with tools to manage my anxiety on a regular basis, and while there will always be times where the anxiety beast is to great to defeat without the help of medicine, I’m not afraid of facing it head on.

I’ve been through anxiety hell and back, and even if my anxiety never goes away, I have a much better understanding of what I’m dealing with.

Thank you for your support.

It’s been a costly journey, both financially and emotionally. But throughout it all, my friends, family, and coworkers have been so supportive. So thank you all for the kind words, the help, the support, the prayers, the good vibes, the happy thoughts. It all counts, it all helps.

Cheers,
-dc