Mental Illness Relapses When Medications Are Stopped

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Self-Care Tip #246 – Collaborate with your physician to change your medications.

It keeps happening.  People are stopping their medications and then getting more sick.  Recently it was Olivia.  I can always tell when she’s off medications – she personalizes things way more and she acts like a victim to many many random things.  She is irritable.

Olivia, did you stop your meds?

Olivia on medication was not a super easy-going person but she dropped much of the edge, her thoughts were clearer and she was able to see other people around her.  Today Olivia felt like her bullets were in place and about to fire.  She answered my question obliquely.

There are sooo many reasons I am better without those in me!   I used to not be able to feel God.  When I prayed, I didn’t sense His Spirit.  Besides, I’m doing fine.  There’s nothing wrong with me.  I’m happy!

The biggest bummer about getting into the scene after the medications were stopped verses before, when stopping them was just a consideration – is that the patient doesn’t see themselves clearly.  They don’t see how bad it’s gotten.  They can’t be objective largely because they are using the same organ that is ill to describe itself.  If I could have discussed it with her before she stopped her medication, she would have been in a healthier state and more able to weigh her risks and benefits of medication verses no medication.

Sometimes we do agree together, patient and physician, to stop medications and sometimes we don’t.  Doing it together is the key though.

Questions:  How do you work with someone who wants to come off their medication?  How about yourself?  Has this ever been a problem for you and if so, how did you deal with it?  Please tell me your story.

29 thoughts on “Mental Illness Relapses When Medications Are Stopped

  1. your comment about we use the same organ with medication and then ill without medication really hit me hard. i was on an antidepressant and doing well in 2001. what i did not know was my husband at the time wanted me sick not well. he told me to stop the med cold turkey. he listed all the reasons. all the bs i now know. i crashed. i fell so hard. friends told me i needed my meds. i said no i am fine. i was so deep into depression i could not see to get out. my very ill brain could not help me. it acted sick with me. i did not see all the signs my husband was having an affair. i see them all now as my brain is medicated and i feel “normal”. took a long time to rise above my sick brain. it was comfortable in my sick brain. i felt at home there. i was too scared to make my brain healthy then i would have to face all the demons. what i felt at home with in my ill brain seemed so right to me. i did not see what other people were seeing. because to me i was surviving. but i fought them one day and now i write this.

  2. i took myself off my meds.
    its been 5months..
    i feel better.. for the most part.. but when things sometimes start creeping back up on me, i wish i was still on them… i hate it

    • Hey there. i’m really sorry to hear about your suffering and know it is one of the most terrible experiences – panic. thank u for sharing your story. others r in your same place. if u don’t mind, would u tell us what is better w/o meds and what led u to come off of them…? also, what are the barriers to getting back on them?
      keep on!

  3. You would think most people today under psych/med protocols would be well aware of the “I’m better and don’t need them” self deluding propensity. Yet it seems few take seriously what can happen when one quits suddenly. I have seen people so terrified they can not leave the house and flinch at every little sound and others become depressed to the point of near suicide. In addition, my experience is that if we take these meds it is time to give up alcohol. That mixture also leads to psychotic episodes. These medicines can miraculously restore us to balance but are very powerful and dangerous if not used according to direction.

  4. I fully understand the feeling of not being yourself on meds. My clarity was gone and so was my creativity. I felt stifled, but at least I was functionable. I am thankful that in time, I was able to be off of them. I realize that is not the case with all illnesses. I suppose one has to weigh the benefits to see if it’s what they need. Meds definitely served their purpose in getting me through a rough patch in life, but honestly I hope I never need them again. However, that said if I wasever to find myself in that same despair I would not hesitate to take them.

  5. My huband doesn’t think I neede to be on meds, yet when something goes wrong, he calls me a drama queen and tells me that I am overreacting. I’m dissappointed that he still doesn’t get it. I don’t think I am ready, or will be anytime soon, to stop all of my meds. I am too scared that I will go back to having panic attacks everyday and I won’t be able to function for my kids like before I started meds. I am feeling pretty good right now, have motivation, and I don’t dread waking up to a brand new day.

    • hey jjenhen! this is something we here together understand to possibly b the hardest work of your life – choosing what is friendly to u despite external (husband in this case) stigma. that is not easy or fun sometimes. thank u so much for saying it for all of us. keep us posted on your walk of courage!

    • it is true that the longer mental illness goes untreated, the more it progresses. the more often we relapse, the more mental illness progresses. and sometimes it just progresses despite our most compliant efforts towards health. i don’t know which scenario(s) u saw but it seems u get the idea. we stand together and support each other w our dying brains. keep on.

  6. I just read this and was introduced to this site today. What terrific timing. I just went to the family doctor and told him my meds (celexa) that I have been on forever are not helping with impending doom anxiety….so he is sending me to a psychiatrist to figure out the right meds. I said to him ” i just figure this is as good as it gets”, but alas, I think it can get better. I have settled to live with my sick brain cuz the rest of my life is good and I don’t want to be greedy 😦

  7. I love your last comment – “Doing it together is the key.” – and I agree with it completely. I chose to get off antidepressants by myself and a medication for Fibromyalgia, also by myself. I was so proud of me. Thought I was great. I wasn’t. I’m now “doing it together” with a doctor and am amazed at how NOT great I actually was! NOW I’m getting there…oops! WE’RE getting there. 🙂

  8. I can’t even count the number of times I’ve wanted to go off of meds. Taking meds makes me feel defective in some way, flawed. Truth is that I’m insane without them and go into a tailspin. All my hard work and progress goes right down the drain. I was told that I would most likely be taking some kind of meds for the rest of my life-ohhh! That SO sucks! I’m in a really good place right now. The right chemical coctail has finally been found. So, I accept the fact that my breakfast is a handful of meds and a banana. It’s taken me a long time and a lot of hard work to get to my good place so I don’t want to take a chance of messing that up by stopping my meds. Besides, I’ve promised my doc I would stop trying to do her job without talking to her about it first

    • oh kaily. (smile.) thank u for your frankness with the ongoing conflict that is part of your journey. taking it in that the struggle with the ambivalence to medication therapy may be a part of your self-care journey is such a courageous act of presence. keep on.

  9. Would like to be off but when I tried there were poor results (discussed previously in an earlier blog).

    Now an article in the WSJ indicates asprin may conflict with prozac. I use 81mg asprin per day. So maybe we finLLY get the correct formula but a later drug addition may be bad?

    • yes, i saw that as well on antiinflamatories and SSRI’s. i really like how u saw it as a potentially positive turn for you. many might have grumbled.
      as far as rx changes, u’d hv to ask your doc as i’m not able to make recs on this blog. i encourage u to discuss it though. it’s always worth our time and reserves.
      keep on M. always a pleasure.

  10. I can feel for Olivia. I soo want to get off meds, and ECT. But after talking with you, my husband and family, I realize that I’m better off taking them. It”s just I get tired of all the pills, the ECT’s, the side effects, ect. I wish I could go back to the way I was 30 years ago, but who knows, maybe I needed them then too, just not as bad. I wish they’ed come up with just one pill, or even a shot, that would make me feel “Human” again, with out all th side effects!!!!

  11. popped over and was reading your most recent post…was a bit concerned/curious regarding medication. I’m glad to see that you advocate for their to be a choice…I shall not get into my story too much, but I’ve got a story (quite amazing when I think back…) anyhoo, I’m happy to say that a person that was given the most grim of outcomes is now med free for at least six years (I believe). I know that chemically I should be on, but, it killed my creative muse, you know? Please continue to work with those that really want a life without chemicals not out of societal stigmas, but because they don’t feel “real” while on them.
    You offer a wonderful service to all who happen here, or your workshops. Cheers ~

    • hello there libraryscene! quite nice to see your lovely face here. thank u for this bit of your story. i’m glad u spoke up and am more glad that u r feeling well. i understand your concern w my posts but am relieved to know u feel safe enough to tell us about yourself. i’d luv to hear more about this teaser u left us w any time ;). thank u for your encouragement too. really really need that myself. keep on.

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