For today’s Wellness Wednesday, I thought I’d post an update on how I’m doing sans Prozac. It’s been about a month since I took my last dose, and I’m feeling pretty great. However, coming off the medication wasn’t without its challenges…
My doctor had prepared me for the emotional symptoms I might experience, including some helpful tips on how to tell the difference between discontinuation symptoms and a full relapse of my depression. However, I felt less prepared for the physical effects of coming off of the medication. (This isn’t a knock on my doctor, by the way; she probably told me, but I was just so focused on the emotional aspects that I brushed off the physical ones. “Yeah, yeah, yeah, headaches, OK, got it.”)
A few days after each reduction in dosage, I experienced terrible headaches that no amount of Tylenol could touch. The headaches just laughed derisively at the pain killers. “Tylenol? That’s so cute!” The second dosage reduction was the worst headache-wise, to the point where I had to take a sick day because I physically couldn’t be productive at work. I ended up changing my reduction schedule so that the headaches wouldn’t interfere with (Canadian) Thanksgiving or my super-busy week at work.
For the first couple of reductions, I thought that my night sweats were just because it was hot outside. But once it got colder, I was still waking up drenched. It was so bad that the cat didn’t even want to be near me (and normally he’s an aggressive cuddler who will stop at nothing to get a little closer). At first, I didn’t even link the sweats to the Prozac. I was actually worried that maybe my beloved new mattress was to blame. Thankfully, now that the Prozac is fully out of my system, I no longer wake up looking like I’ve done a hot yoga class.
Although the headaches and the night sweats were unpleasant, the vertigo was what scared me the most. There were a few times that I was in meetings and suddenly grabbed the edge of the table because I was sure that I was falling through the floor. (As a result, I’m pretty sure that my boss and his boss both think I’m a weirdo.) One night when I was taking out the garbage, I felt like I was being pulled to the right and struggled immensely to walk in a straight line. Anyone watching the security footage definitely thought I was wasted.
Now all of those symptoms have subsided, and I feel normal. Actually, for the first time in years, I feel like myself again. Although the Prozac was totally necessary to get me through that period in my life, I had started to notice that my positive emotions were a bit numbed. That was a worthwhile compromise when I still needed the medication to survive, but once I’d been doing well for a year, I wanted to feel like myself again. I’ve been noticing it here and there the past couple of weeks, where I have those moments of pure joy that had been dulled a bit when I was on the medication. I’ve also felt so much more energetic, which is really great because I’ve also been a lot busier lately (that might be a bit of a chicken and egg thing, though: do I just happen to be busy or am I planning more things because I have the energy again?).
I don’t want this post to come across like I’m shitting on antidepressants because nothing could be further from the truth. If I ever relapse (and honestly, given the statistics, it’s probably a case of when, not if), I’ll gladly start taking it again, in conjunction with talk therapy. It’s actually really comforting to know that option is there if I need it.