Getting Off Antidepressants

I am in the last few days of getting off the antidepressants I have been on for the past four years. In the middle of the night one night, I woke up with the memory of why I was prescribed them. It wasn’t depression or anxiety. It was anger.

I had two emotional experiences that I didn’t know what to do with at the time. One was waking up in the morning crying about how much I loved my students. The second was giving the middle finger [a sign of anger and contempt] to two male colleagues who were arguing that female students were wanting the negative sometimes sexual attention they received from male students. I had tried arguing back that no one truly wants that attention, but they had insisted.

I went home and called my therapist. I also called my obstetrics and gynecology doctor, because I was certain that my feelings were connected to my menstrual cycle. Both professionals jumped in with labels and explanations.

My doctor explained that I was in my thirties now and that these feelings happened but I shouldn’t worry; drugs could be prescribed to combat the imbalance in my body. She started me on antidepressants and birth control pills. Over the next few months I was on a monthly roller coaster of emotions. She assured me that we would find just the right balance of drugs to take care of my emotions.

My therapist quickly jumped to the label “bipolar.” I resisted it and asked her, “What if there is nothing wrong with me? What if there is just something wrong with the world?” I don’t remember her ever assuring me that I was actually fine or that having huge feelings made sense in the face of oppression. I didn’t yet have the language of RC, but something didn’t sit right [feel right] in how she was viewing me.

This leads me to today. I have spent the last year preparing to come off of antidepressants. I have done a lot of sessions on my feelings about taking them and about another doctor setting me up to be on them forever. No matter how many times I asked to come off them, he said they were working so we shouldn’t mess with them. In fact, any time I had trouble with a side effect, he suggested adding more drugs.

Several months ago a Co-Counselor put me in touch with Janet Foner, the RC International Liberation Reference Person for “Mental Health” Liberation. She spoke with me about coming off antidepressants. She explained that it was important to build a community of support around me to help me discharge the feelings I had about taking the drugs and about coming off of them and all the feelings that could (probably would) surface once I stopped taking them. She described her “five-point program for getting present and staying that way.” It included setting up my life the way I wanted it, working on keeping my attention out, and, most important, staying in RC.

A Co-Counselor encouraged me to set up a team of people around me and said that setting up sessions for my own “mental health” liberation was an opportunity for my whole Community—to get more sessions in general and to back [support] a Queer woman of the global majority in taking back her mind.

So now, as daylight begins to peek through my bedroom windows, I am aware of the many ways I’ve benefited already from this experience. I have built a stronger Community of Co-Counselors around me who have all stated that they will actively back me in reclaiming my mind. I have gone from having regular sessions to having regular sessions and reaching out for and responding to requests for mini-sessions—often. The bones of my RC experience have begun to fill in with flesh.

I also have begun to have access to feelings that I didn’t know I had lost access to. I recently started noticing the fear and anger I have about people running through stop signs in my neighborhood. I have been able to feel and discharge feelings about racism and sexism as my wedding approaches. And, most curious of all, I have begun to feel emotions around music. This week I made a list of songs for my upcoming reception. Music brings sadness and joy and inspiration. Intellectually I could have told you that at any point. It breaks my heart that I haven’t felt it in years. But I’m so glad that I will have an amazing soundtrack for my path of re-emergence and to go along with the connection and clear thinking I am fighting for!


(Present Time 190, January 2018)

Last modified: 2018-01-10 01:41:22+00