One Year Antidepressant-Free

“One day the symptoms fade,
Think I’ll throw these pills away.”

– Pearl Jam, “Down”

I went off antidepressants a year ago today, on June 12, 2018.

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The Longest Break

I quit taking antidepressants 259 days ago, which makes this the¬†longest I’ve been medication-free since…well, from when I was born until I started on antidepressants in 2007. I remain optimistic that this is permanent.

With luck, this’ll be the last time I blog about OCD-related medication. I’ll make note of the one-year anniversary of my withdrawal on June 12, but that’s it. I’m done with them, and for the foreseeable future I’m done writing about them too.

Three Months

I’ve been off antidepressants exactly three months, and so far, so good. So really good, for the most part.

At the risk of belabouring this point: I am not against¬†antidepressants. They helped me get better; I’d start taking them again tomorrow if it were necessary. For now, though, it isn’t, and I’m hopefully done with them for a good, long while.

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A Bit More Math

Let’s do a bit more basic math, along with some even more basic doctoring.

Today is Tuesday, June 26th. I stopped taking Trintellix, my antidepressant, on Tuesday, June 12. Trintellix has a half-life of anywhere between 57 and 66 hours depending on (among other things) a person’s age, metabolism and overall health. It takes five times as long for the drug to fully exit a person’s system. 5 x 57 = 285, 5 x 66 = 330; 285/24 = 11.875, 330/24 = 13.75. In other words, 11-4/5 and 13-3/4 days.

Which means at some point between the early hours of Sunday and Tuesday mornings my body secreted the last lingering vestiges of Trintellix.

I am officially antidepressant-free.

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Withdrawal

Today, Sunday, is my fifth day antidepressant-free, and so far withdrawal’s been relatively smooth. Sure, I’ve been tired and lightheaded and irritable and had a mild surge of intrusive thoughts, but these are all perfectly normal withdrawal symptoms. Besides, the last time I did this I had a much different experience:

Day one was fine. Day two was okay. Day three was bad; day four was hellish. Day four was when the withdrawal symptoms really kicked in. Strangely enough I hadn’t really anticipated the possibility of negative side effects, yet they were myriad and surprisingly aggressive. I figured insomnia would be one of them, since one of my antidepressants was a sleeping aid, and it was. But what I didn’t reckon for was the nausea, dizziness, obsessive thoughts, or general sense of dread (not to mention some of the weirder side effects, like the inability to eat dairy or an itchy scalp).

Almost none of that’s happened this time, the dizziness and the obsessive thoughts aside – and even then the obsessions, while sometimes persistent and usually unpleasant, are mostly white noise (I could never have said that the last time, when obsessions still had the capacity to paralyze me). I suppose I should qualify that by mentioning I was going off both an antidepressant and an off-label antipsychotic the last time – but still, so far the difference between the two experiences has been night and day.

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