Cold Turkey: An Apology

I am an idiot. And that is the truth. I am about to write something that I am actually incredibly ashamed about. Even if I don’t understand my own actions at this time. it’s hard to know that I purposely put myself in danger.

Just after my grandmother’s death I decided that I wasn’t going to take Citalopram anymore, I am not sure why this crossed my mind, I’m not sure why I followed through with this weird request from my brain. After all, I have been fighting the urge to self-harm for just over a week now, and If I can fight that urge why did I chose not to fight this one?

So I stopped taking Citalopram. No talking to my doctor, no researching what would happen. I just stopped. On further exploration I found the following notes for a piece I seem to have been planning, which I wrote the day I decided to stop, I often email myself random snippets of things I have written, I take these elaborate and turn them into posts. Here is the raw text of what I emailed myself on the day I decided to stop.

“I feel so guilty.

Since my grandma’s death, I have struggled with my emotions. I feel so guilty for being depressed. I feel like a terrible, horrible person. Since my grandma’s death, my grandad keeps saying “life goes on, think of all the people dying all of those war torn countries.”

He says my grandma thought “I’m not going to get better what’s the point?”

I hope that was not the way she felt, but deep down, I think it may have been. My Mum and granddad were talking about how my grandma knew there were things she would never do again.

And now I feel guilty. There are things I can do that I don’t because I am depressed and I just can’t bring myself to do them.

My family talks about depression, they acknowledge its existence but they believe that there needs to be a reason for those feelings. And because of that I feel guilty. I am depressed, but truth be told I have no reason to be. I’m physically well, I have a job, money, friends, hobbies and roof over my head. But I am depressed. And I can’t shake the guilt.

This is another reason I can’t tell my family that I am depressed. I would feel like a phoney. They would say “why?” which incidentally was my brother’s response. And I can’t answer that. I just am. I’m a terrible horrible person with no reason to feel the way I do whilst people around me suffer and face death and even through all of that they don’t experience the devastating, terrifying, debilitating lows I do.

Sometimes I find it hard to believe that not everyone feels the way I do. It’s hard for me to believe that not everyone is depressed because I have always felt the way I do for as long as I can remember. But sometimes I feel that maybe I am not depressed am I a phoney exaggerating my feelings? I don’t deserve to feel like this. There has been no catastrophe. No physical abuse. I’ve had a normal life with my parents in a debatably stable relationship and they loved me and still I came out like this.

I can blame them for the little things they do that screw with my head but ultimately who’s fault is it? Do I have the right to feel so affected by what some people would see as minor things?

I don’t deserve this blog or this readership. I feel guilty”

Subliminally, I understand my decision now. I decided I didn’t deserve to feel depressed, I didn’t deserve medication I should be happy and that is the end of that. But that’s not how life works, I am depressed. I am anxious and I know that, deep down I know all of this but still. my grief and guilt at the situation seem to have made me crazy. And I stopped taking my pills. This was a silly thing to do. I am well aware of the side effects of cold turkey. It’s a shame it took me so long to realise my mistake.

3 days after I stopped taking my pills I began to feel constantly panicked. For a long time, I have been able to convince myself that I am having a panic attack and this made it a little easier to cope. Well, until I started having these increasingly panicky moments. And even if talking myself down didn’t work crawling into a ball usually did. But from the minute these feelings started I couldn’t shake the fear. I became convinced I was having a heart attack although deep down I knew I wasn’t.

I blamed the fact my Dr had referred me and not really listened to my fears about it. Well, he half-listened to them. He deleted my house phone number from my details but told me I could still receive an NHS stamped letter.

After two days of constant panic, I started to get worried. I couldn’t hide my hyperventilating, I couldn’t hide the fact that I felt completely uncomfortable and had no idea where I would feel safe. So, I decided to do something I contacted “Mental Health Matters”. They are a charity that have a live chat feature on their website. You get 40 minutes maximum to try and get some help.

I contacted them, they asked if I was alone. I told them my mother was here but didn’t know about my mental health and now wasn’t the time to tell her whilst she is mourning my grandmother’s death. But instead of asking what could be making me anxious this chat person seemed fixated on the fact I hadn’t told my mother. So I lost faith in the services and my responses became short and uninterested. The person suggested I watched a movie. So I said ok she told me to contact later if I still felt panicky.

It frustrated me that in 8 minutes she had replied 8 times and hadn’t asked me anything relevant to why I had contacted. I don’t have the attention span for a movie, I am to busy concentrating on the fact that I feel I may be having a heart attack (which I told her) regardless. As I lay in bed playing Temple Run on my iPad and listening to music I had distracted myself enough to forget about the panicking. Until my battery died and it came back with a vengeance.

A few days ago I couldn’t sleep so I put my pillows at the opposite end of my bed. It helped at the time but now my heart was racing and I was petrified so I changed them back. Which initially made me feel a little better, then it stopped making me feel better and the panic was back. I tried to concentrate on my breathing and just as I had got the panic under control it came back again.

I’m not sure what made me realise it, but it became suddenly obvious to me that my problem wasn’t the referral and was actually withdrawal from the depletion of citalopram in my system.

My cold turkey attempt had done this. I had done this. I decided to start taking my pills again in the morning a week of 20mg before I go onto the newly prescribed 40mg.

But it wasn’t stopping the panic. The plan wasn’t helping. So I got up and took the 20mg pill. I know it’s a placebo right now but the panic stopped instantly. And I did this to myself. And I don’t even really understand why. I don’t even know why I stopped taking them. I don’t understand what exactly made me feel so guilty, what made me feel I didn’t need to take them anymore.

This mental health professional will rue the day they had me referred to them. I’m the opposite of a gold mine.

I have learnt from this experience that taking myself of antidepressants was stupid, especially without research or a plan. And I realise how stupid I was to do this. Regardless. I want to apologise to everyone who has tried to help me in my recovery because I have let you all down by forcing myself backwards.

As Always,

The Elephant in the Room

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16 thoughts on “Cold Turkey: An Apology

  1. Really proud of you. You realised that you needed your meds and went back to them. You deserve this blog. By far you do, its honest inspiring and eye opening. Your stripping it down and baring depression to the world. And thats a massive step in its self.
    xx

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  2. Do not be so hard on yourself. A main issue with mental health problems is that they mess with your rational thinking. That’s why a lot of people who are helped by their meds go off of them. It isn’t rational, but that’s part of the disorder. It is why the “treat with pills only” model is failing so badly. You should have someone to talk with, to monitor you, in addition to the pills. Someone to correct your irrational line of thinking before you damage yourself. Put quite simply, this is not your fault!

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  3. The abrupt discontinuation of SSRIs such as celexa usually do far more harm than good. You’ve realized this, of course but I have to reiterate please don’t do that again without speaking with a healthcare professional. You don’t want to erase any “gains” you make through mismanagement of your meds.

    And don’t be so hard on yourself. We all have lapses in judgement and “I can’t believe I did that,” moments. That’s just a part of life. Peace to you.

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  4. It was a learning experience, one I’m sure you won’t forget. And therefore, it was worthwhile. The only people who I lose patience with are the ones who don’t learn from their mistakes.

    That person on the helpline you called sounds next to useless. It is very frustrating to need help from people who are not really very good at what they do. The gifted ones are very rare, at least in my experience.

    Also, I think having depression is different from getting depressed about things. I think of “having depression” as your insides and the way they work or don’t work. To me “getting depressed” has to do with being incompatible with things outside of you. With me, if both are going on at the same time, I’m in big trouble.

    Anyway, you’ve have a backslide. You can learn from this and forgive yourself and keep going forward with the new information.

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  5. I’ve done this to myself too, stopped Meds for odd reasons without medical guidance. It’s a harsh wake up when you survive it, isn’t it? I’m glad you can step back and see things more clearly. It will help you move forward.

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  6. I did exactly the same thing with Citalopram, but it’s good you’ve started them again. You should be feeling better in a couple of days and I’m sure you haven’t moved backwards. You will pick up where you left off and put this down to experience that many of us have had to learn the hard way 😉

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  7. You haven’t let anybody down including yourself, the last couple of weeks you’ve had a death of a loved one and trying t deal with your mothers burgeoning depression and your own, and the huge step you took in seeing your doctor and explaining your situation, on the face of it your holding up pretty well:)

    When coming off Citloparm as i did it seemed to send my symptoms into high gear which wasn’t the best thing to do, and will take a couple of days to get back into your system.

    I do wonder sometimes what kind of training they give helpline advisors, some of them have to no clue ans as you say tend to fixate on a certain area, which then turns into a circular one sided conversation, which leaves you frustrated and wary of using this valuable service of course only valuable if it works.

    Take care.

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  8. I’m glad you’re back on them. To echo what the others said, try not to be too hard on yourself. You’re under a lot of stress and stress often causes us to do uncharacteristic things. ❤

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  9. Hey. Don’t ever think that you have let anyone else done. You are only responsible for yourself, my dear. It is a lesson learnt, and let it never be repeated.

    I have difficult periods like you when i want to go off my meds too. and if ever you come across them, remember that drugs like Celexa needs to be slowly tapered down. not, totally stopped at one go. 🙂 and sometimes i find it helpful to give myself a window period of 24-72 hours. if after that i still find myself wanting to do so, i’ll proceed with it.

    that phone call you mentioned sounds really exasperating! i hate it when service providers, paid or not, are not listening, and choose to talk about something THEY want to talk about, as if it was about them, and not us!

    it sounds too cliched, but keep strong, and stay safe honey.

    xoxo

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  10. You don’t owe anyone an apology, you certainly haven’t let us down! xx
    Emotional reactions to medications is an unfortunate but common experience for those of us with mental illness. It is fantastic that you have been able to understand your minds reason for this reaction and are taking steps to correct it.
    Your self awareness and ability to self talk are great steps forward! Remember everyone makes mistakes. You are are doing well in the face of some tough challenges, don’t forget that! xx

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  11. There is nothing you need go apologize for. Whether you go forward, backward, sideways or upside-down, we want to hear how you are doing and what you’re up to. It’s not at all contingent on forward-only progress.

    I understand some of the guilty feelings. I have felt undeserving of this life because obviously I allow myself more emotional suffering than people who truly suffer. Right? But that’s not real or true. Your mental experiences are also real and true. If your brain doesn’t produce enough neurotransmitter a right now, for whatever reason, then you’re going to mentally suffer. You don’t need a “why”. Just as a diabetic doesn’t need to explain WHY their body isn’t processing sugars correctly. Our bodies just *are*.

    You’re working with what you’ve got and I really admire your blog.

    ❤ Best wishes

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  12. I can identify with the panic attacks, though at first I didn’t know that’s what they were. The worst was when I ran out of Xanax, and I was taking 8mg a day, which is a very high dose. My counselor found me on the street and took me to the ER, where they gave me a shot of Ativan to calm down my system. Those attacks are very real and can be very terrifying.

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  13. Don’t ever think that you’re not deserving… we are all deserving. Just give yourself a pat on the back that you realized what you did. How many times have I’ve done something that made perfect sense at the time and then to realize what I did? We are all human and must forgive ourselves. take care…

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  14. I’m glad you’re back on your meds, and I hope you can see a therapist who will listen and help (not like the person on the help line!) good job for recognizing your need, and taking steps to fix it – that’s a victory!

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  15. Stopping meds can be catastrophic sometimes but we learn. I learned the hard way too. I stopped Effexor and ended up cutting myself and having horrible withdrawal. Dealing with death is hard whether you are depressed or not. It gets easier over time but they are never forgotten. Depression is an imbalance in the brain, there doesn’t need to be an event or family history and it is very common. The fact is that you are going to the doctor for help and you should be proud of that. Its all a learning experience and finding the right balance. If you ever feel panicky again, sitting in warm shower helps a lot. Good luck to you, I hope everything works out.

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