Big steps

I started this blog at the suggestion of the lovely Jim, Life Beyond Booze, who was really my first connection with the sober Word Press tribe. Although Jim’s posts are now as as scarce as a hen’s tooth, he was a great support to me and many others and he occasionally pops up to treat us to one of his hilarious and clever posts. The folks I met through connecting with Jim have pretty much remained a firm group and I now consider many of them friends. My sobriety blog developed into a managing anxiety and depression blog and, unsurprisingly I suppose, others on the ‘sober train’ had similar experiences and mental health challenges. It has been an interesting and eventful journey up until this point. A journey I had no idea I was taking but one I absolutely needed to invest in.

Why am I talking about all this today? Well, firstly, I have reached my 200th day sober. 100 days is supposed to be a phenomenal milestone and now I’ve doubled it! Secondly, 4 days ago I began the very slow process of stopping my antidepressant medication. Almost one year ago I started taking SSRIs for the second time in my life. I’d initially taken them for 6 months, stopped for 6 months and then my mental health regressed so much I was back taking them again in June 2019. Anyone who has followed my blog will know how totally devastated I felt when I started taking antidepressants. It was truly soul destroying and I had tried so hard to manage and cope with my depression with counselling, support, exercise etc. But it had become a desperate situation. For the sake of my family, I finally admitted what I viewed as defeat and I ‘gave in’. Both times I took that first pill I sobbed and was inconsolable. I had two different types of medication because the initial ones triggered some rough side effects that unfortunately didn’t reduce with time. I swapped to a different type for the second time round and apart from the initial 5 days of the worst anxiety I have EVER experienced, I have had no other issues with them.

On both occasions they helped. I wouldn’t say they ‘cured’ me or made life miraculously wonderful, but they gave me a way out of the grey, colourless existence I had been living. They put me on an even keel and hit the ‘pause’ button of the terrible downward cycle that is anxiety and depression. They gave me back a little bit of control over managing my own illness. I still felt pretty crap much of the time and I definitely did not achieve my one focus; to discover Claire again. I continue with counselling which ended around last September. Looking back now, I would say I was ‘better’ but still not well. I started reading more about anxiety and depression, looking further into alcohol addiction and soaking up any literature I could find. Then on the 16th November 2019 I gave it up. To this day I don’t know how I have succeeded. I was a ‘drinker’. I loved my wine. People who knew me knew I loved my wine but oddly had no idea how much I really drank. I also realised I had significantly increased my reliance on alcohol as a crutch for my mental health issues over the years. In addition, I drank rather than ate … my body seriously lacked any nutrients. I was underweight and my hair was just as thin and disappearing just as fast as I was.

Fast forward to today. 200 days later. Taking the antidepressants allowed me to examine my behaviours and realise I needed to make that huge step into the unknown. Taking alcohol out of the equation gave me my life back. It was clear that 2 weeks into sobriety, living an alcohol free life was the answer I’d been searching for. The grey quickly changed to a rainbow and the excitement and interest in life, gone for so long, had reappeared. The past 6 months haven’t been easy. As many of you will know, my mood regularly fluctuates and anxiety and depression still lurk at my door. I am starting to recognise the signs and pre-empt the downward spiral by using new tools. I am 2 stone heavier and my hair is thick and has grown back. Claire returned!

This past few weeks I have been deliberating a lot. I am ready to remove the last crutch and stop my medication. I have read around the subject and want to be sensible about it. (Thanks to Ashley, Mental Health @Home, for the suggested reading material). Some people have suggested I remain on the antidepressants as they aren’t impacting on me with any side effects. I understand their view and I appreciate stability is not something to be sniffed at. The crux though is this … I want to come off them. I want to know if I can do this without antidepressants. If I can’t, then I will have no option and they will be part of my life for a much longer time, maybe a permanent fixture. It’s time to find out.

So, here I am, 200 days sober and 4 days into taking a reduced dose of my SSRI medication. I will keep posting. Checking in is so important right now. I am scared and nervous. It feels like I’m taking one last final big step. It’ll be ok though. Whatever happens I know it will be ok.

Love Claire xx

50 thoughts on “Big steps”

  1. CONGRATULATIONS Claire ❤ I am so happy for you. Also, eerie coincidence, this morning I got out my Lexapro (not an SSRI, a dopamine antidepressant) and cut every pill in half, deciding it was time to get off these meds now that I feel more stable than in the fall. I'm going to do a couple of weeks of half dose, and if I feel ok, stop altogether. So I feel extra solidarity with your current situation 🙂 xxxx ❤ big hug ❤ Anne ps. Yes, I think Jim was just a collective hallucination of ours and only existed in our minds 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Wow .. that’s great you are doing it to. That’s exactly what I did. Cut them in half. We can support each other.

      Ah, Jim, I remember him well …

      Good luck with the meds, I’m with you my lovely 😊 xx

      Liked by 1 person

      1. lol I’m sure Jim will be back 😉 and yes, we can absolutely support each other !!!! I feel ready to face the depression-anxiety with my own internal resources – it’s won’t always be easy but it’ll be good to know someone else out there is doing the same thing 🙂 xxx ❤

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Exactly how I feel. I want to at least try and see if I’m able anyway. I’m not expecting miracles but I think I have other strategies I can try that weren’t there before.

        Oh I did an hour of yoga yesterday. Only beginners stuff but I’m really enjoying it! Xxx

        Liked by 1 person

      3. 1 hour is GREAT (I did nothing today or yesterday, it’s sooooo hot here) 🙂 you have SO MANY strategies, and they’re all there waiting for you to use them when the time comes 🙂 xxx Anne

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow wow wow … welcome to sober life. Read the others blogs and soak it up. It really does help. Thanks for commenting and I’ll take a look at your blog tomorrow morning. You have made a great decision and well done you x

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Congratulations on 200 days! You are amazing! I think you are doing the right thing by trying to navigate life without the meds. I reached a point I just felt I could stop taking Zoloft, and I didn’t and haven’t felt like I needed it since. I think drinking is a huge contributor to anxiety and depression and that many people find they no longer need medication once they stop poisoning their brain. Sending positive vibes and love on this beautiful journey. Love you! Xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Collette. I definitely feel cutting the alcohol has been the biggest factor and that’s why I feel ready to stop the medication. I wanted to give myself time to get to a strong place with my sobriety and if not now, when? Good to know you haven’t needed them since stopping. This blog really helps me to not feel isolated in this!! I’m so lucky to have it. Xx

      Liked by 1 person

  3. congrats Claire!! 200 days WOW…thats amazing ! And good luck on your new undertaking, from what i hear it can be an up & down experience , but very individualized. My one friend took a year of slowly weaning off and just celebrated her first week med free. I could never get thru the side effects …and , of course, “Everybody Loves Jim”..hahha..he should have his own tv show! lol…hugs!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I had a friend who had the same issue with the side effects. I have to admit when I first took these I didn’t think I’d cope with the anxiety. I had my first full blown panic attack and it was awful. Luckily that was very short lived. I intend to wean off slowly and I’m writing a journal now to log how I feel each day and what’s happening.

      I hope Jim returns. I think many of us miss his posts and comments. I’m sure he’ll pop up again at some point. Xx

      Liked by 2 people

  4. 200 days!!!!! Amazing!!!! Protect your sobriety at all costs, imho. Because sobriety is the key to success, for most of us here. Success with the children and everything else. The rest can come as it feels right.

    It sounds like you’re doing perfectly. You know I’m your gut what’s right for you and your own body at any given time. Love what you said about checking in. That is key… or it was for me at least. Much love and thanks as always for your awesome honesty. 💛💛💛🦾🦾🦾🌱🌱🌱

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Lol! I definitely don’t want to be anyone else’s gut. Advice helps the giver more than the receiver… that much is certain at least. ;)) So thanks for being graceful about it, Claire. :)) 💛 xoxoxo

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Claire- this is a great example of someone taking control of their life. Brilliant! You identified drinking as a factor, smashed that out the park and afeter a sensible amount of time have turned your attentions to the ADs. With your track record of success, resilience and commitment in tackling the booze I think your structured approach seems sensible and stands a great chance of success. Add in the support and those little ADs haven’t got a chance. GO TEAM CLAIRE! JIM X

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Yey Jim is back!!!!

      Thanks for the support as usual. I do feel the time is right and if I don’t try I’ll never know. Can’t wait for a post from you Jim. Your ‘WP’ family need you!!! Xx

      Like

    1. Thanks Dwight. The support from you and others on here makes the difference between success and failure. I don’t mean that having to take meds again would be a failure, but having people here to help will mean I won’t see myself as having failed if that happens. Hope you are ok. Claire xx

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Bravo Claire,
    Two hundred days is a mighty effort. My drinking seemed to be the cause of much of my anxiety, and clearly for many others here also.
    I’m no Doctor and have no idea about the meds, but I have no doubt you will know what’s best for you. Be kind to yourself. Be patient. I don’t think of meds as either good nor bad nor a sign of success or failure. They simply are. At any point, you do whatever you need to do to take care of yourself. No judgement. Cheering you on. Go get em.
    BB

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are so right BB. I have come to learn that about medication and accept their use. I no longer feel a failure for taking them. I suspect I just felt like a failure in many things back then. If I need them, I’ll take them again. Side effects of reducing are causing some issues right now but I’ll persevere. Thanks for the comment x

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Congratulations on 200 days!! Wow!! Thanks for being so raw with your thoughts. They really are helpful! As you know I have a loved one and she just went on an SSRI. Counseling as well. She still has some “hard times” but hoping the counseling can help her cope with them better.
    You are amazing and I’m really rooting for you! Seems the perfect/right time to try for ya!! Much love to you!! 💗 💗 💗

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m actually really glad she has started SSRIs … it will give her a moment to breathe and reset. I think it gives space for counselling to do its work and the brain to be able to process a little better. I’m really hoping that happens for her. She has you too which as far as I’m concerned is a sure fire success story waiting to happen. Xx❤️❤️

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you so very much!! This is exactly what I am surely hoping will happen!! It’s so hard to see someone you love struggle. And I was worried so much too! I’m so thankful to have you as a friend! XXXX

        Liked by 1 person

  8. You are so solid, Claire! Tapering off, even micro-dosing tapering off is so important. I believe meds used as a tool or bridge to get to the other side can be very useful. I just don’t think that they’re the only or final answer in many if not most cases. We are more than a brain- our bodies hold so much of what goes on in the way of tension and energy blocks. Treating the mind, body, and spirit is what I’ve seen and experienced myself to be the way to go. Hugs and woo-hoo on 200 days!!😘

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This is a fab comment, thanks Elizabeth. I agree with you. I am finding yoga absolutely brilliant. Somehow it makes me feel strong. That sounds odd I know but it’s a strength both physically and mentally. The app I’m using has loads of guided meditations too. These are the tools I want to use now. I’m down to 5mg of the SSRI which is below the required dose for therapeutic impact. The weekend was hard .. physical and mental side effects but it has eased significantly now. Fingers crossed. Hope you are doing ok. Good to hear from you xx

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Please don’t hesitate to contact me privately- I’ve lots of experience, both personally and with others and have many great resources. I have never been better, Claire.💜

        Liked by 1 person

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