My Drink and Drugs Heck- Being Off Medication, Out of Therapy and Back to Work.

I meant to write my therapy tales as a weekly series, but it ended quite abruptly. Not for any bad reasons, but because my therapist was off to Peru (!) and wanted to finish the sessions before he left- which would involve squeezing a few into a week, which was the week before I went back to work. I would rather have spent time with my son than with the therapist, so we had two more sessions and left it there.

Did I find it helpful? I’m not really sure. There were more talk of trauma but a lot of it was just going through the self-help resource website. And the trauma is a whole other thing, so it picked at those threads a bit and left them dangling. My panic attacks have reduced but they often do when I’m incredibly busy, and I still have my horrible intrusive thoughts, but what can you do? (Except more therapy!)

I’ve also finally gotten off Quetiapine, which means I’m now medication free for the first time in 14 years. Yep, I’ve been on various brain potions since the tender age of my brain still developing, and that thought slightly horrifies me. I literally have no idea who I would be without medication, and I will never have the chance to find out since my brain is most likely permanently altered by them. Hooray! I can pretty much chart my life with various medications- 16: carbamazepine, 17, olanzapine (and becoming huge), 19-22, Lithium and Depakote, with various antidepressants and antipsychotics added, 22-28, on and off Lamictal, 22-30 antidepressants in low periods, Quetiapine. My Drug Heck.

Quetiapine was the last medication standing and the one I’ve found hardest to come off due to being dependent on it for sleep. My psychiatrist has utterly denied it causes a) weight gain and b) sleep dependence. She almost dared me to come off it, saying it didn’t have any withdrawal effects (I’ve almost torn my skin off with itching when trying to get off it before, taken a fork to bed where I’d lay awake for a week), and I can’t resist a dare, so I did. I can’t take Quetiapine if I need to do baby night duty which I would do twice a week so Robert could sleep. One night I just didn’t take it the next one. Instead took some promethazine (an antihistamine) and put on my sound machine app to sleep, and it worked. Promethazine has mitigated the worst withdrawal effects but i’ll need to get off that, too. I had gotten down to 75mg of Quetiapine which is why I think it wasn’t so tough this time. In the past when I’ve withdrawn I’ve gone mental fairly quickly and ended up back on it. But it’s been almost a month now and I haven’t had to call the police because I thought there was someone in my house wanting to kill me, so I call that a success.

I don’t feel hugely different. I tend to get quite down this time of year, and I am a bit. My brain is a bit more buzzy and detuned but I can get out of bed in the morning which is such a difference. My gorgeous human alarm clock helps, but even without his glorious gummy face I think I’d be much better. I haven’t been late to work once since I started back, when I used to be late every day (I’m late to my own time so I can leave by 5pm, but that’s transport rather than me).

As for being back to work- there’s a whole other post in there, about how it feels being a working mother. Lots of emotions, guilt either way, when I am at work and when I’m not. I’m only in for 3 days at the moment because I have a lot of leave to use up, but I’m fairly apprehensive going back full time in the new year because I will pretty much never see him in the week. My awful commute means I often don’t make it home to put him to bed, and I miss him terribly. He’s such a beautiful wee thing, in a lovely stage where he’s a real, proper little person. He’s crawling everywhere, chasing the cats, laughing his head off all the time, babbling (lots of, “mamas”, but I know it’s just babble right now), loving being read to (he brings you a book and puts it in your lap to read)- just an utter, utter joy.  It’s nice to be amongst adults at work, I have some excellent friends at work, and I’m lucky to have a job I love and an understanding workplace. I would probably go mental being a stay at home mum, since I’m an introvert anyway and work forces me out. My social skills totally disintegrated when I was off work for four years. The baby is incredibly sociable, he seeks people out, smiles at everyone, makes friends everywhere he goes, and I’m not great at getting out when that’s what he needs.  And it’s not healthy for him to just be my life, nor I his. I want to set a good example, and I’m glad he’s growing up with his dad being at home, to teach him, well, so many things, but one thing being that women aren’t handmaidens. And I know there is drudgery and frustration (a lot of the latter, since he’s so frustrated himself with being a baby), and it is good to get a respite from that so I don’t mind it so much.

It feels almost unfashionable to say this, to not don my power suit and sing Eye of The Tiger. But I really enjoy being with him, much more than I ever expected to. He’s with his dad, so that’s great (we can’t afford childcare, and Robert quitting work made sense) but I’m always worried about how Robert is coping and feeling, too. I feel a bit like I’m letting everyone down, and I’ve got a case of imposter syndrome going on with work, my confidence is in bits. I’m sure it’ll get better and I’ll settle in, navigate the space between, but I had a bit of a cry at the station earlier after missing my second train, so it had taken me two hours to get home.

To this face. I mean, c’mon. You’d cry too.

(PS, I don’t smoke anymore either. Pass the yoga mat)




Yep, I’m fat, have scarred arms and an incredibly happy son.

IMG_5096 IMG_4858 IMG_5013 IMG_4597 IMG_5069 IMG_4726

Meeting Sugar the rat!

Meeting Sugar the rat!

He saw an alpaca for the first time.

He saw an alpaca for the first time.

13 Responses

  1. he is the world’s most adorable child. And it’s ok to feel crap and guilty and all those other things – you’re awesome, don’t ever forget it

  2. He’s beautiful boy. Well done to you. And thank you for keeping such an eloquent blog for all of us to read. To allow us into your innermost thoughts and struggles, some of which aren’t pretty. It helps the rest of us understand what it’s like to live with a mental illness, and not just to cope but to thrive and create a life for yourself. Thank you for putting yourself out there.

  3. I love reading your posts and hearing all about your precious little family. Your honesty and courage is inspiring, your son will be very proud of you someday.
    Take good care.

  4. Thanks for sharing this. I’m in a similar position. Your words help.

  5. Beautiful happy baby! Thank you. Made me smile.

  6. What a lovely blog post. Your boy is adorable!

    Well done on all your hard work, and thank you for sharing – it’s inspirational.

  7. He is a beautiful boy, and you are a gorgeous mama! Dont put yourself down. You are amazing!

    I am on 300mg quetiapine, and find if i dont take it, for whatever reason i dont sleep. At all. I just lay awake in bed, but try and rest. When i first forgot it, i dozed and then woke up, but then spent the whole night stressed that i wasnt sleeping. Now i just accept it, and it isnt so bad.
    If i am VERY late to bed, i take half a tablet, so that i am not a complete walking zombie the next morning. When i was first on it, getting up in the morning was impossible. I would find myself crumpling into a heap on the floor, halfway through making packed lunches, feeling hideous nausea. It was light blacking out. Horrible. And apparently, if i took it whilst still up, before going to bed, i would stagger around and slur my words like i was drunk. So attractive. I am better with it now, but still find i get the best sleep if i have taken it by 9.30-10pm… when i have to get up for 7. Luckily my lovely partner is used to me needing ‘just an extra 10 minutes’ every morning and doesnt fuss too much. Am glad i am only on 300mg though. Hate to think how i would be if i was on more.

    I had to get up to the loo in the night last night. Just as well i dont have to pass the top of the stairs because i am so staggery i am afraid i might fall down them.

    But i definitely think my bp is better on the drugs than off it…… I think.

  8. Those are beautiful pictures. Good luck on your medication free journey.

  9. Wow. What an inspirational read. Congratulations on it all! You have a beautiful family, yourself included! I just could never imagine coming off my psych meds, especially quetiapine. It’s funny, my husband & I were just talking about that. I mentioned that if I had the support I might attempt it. He about fell out of his chair. Lol.

    Thanks so much for sharing. It’s encouraging to hear that it can be done!

  10. Thanks, thanks, thanks a million for continuing to share your experiences. You don’t even know how encouraging it is to be able to track with you through meds, life, work, family, having a child, etc.

    Also, your baby looks so much like your husband it’s hysterical. I love it.
    And you are gorgeous.

  11. I think you are just amazing! The little one is so adorable and always looks happy! I’m coming off Quetiapine, nightmare to come off I was also using it for sleep, down to 25mg a night now so not long until I can finally ditch it, then I too will be drug free!

    I still pop back here to read your posts of sneak a look at your Twitter – I’m no social media butterfly now! 🙂

  12. Those photos are stunning, I am fatter than you and scarred too. But I never had the balls to take a photo with me and my baby. It’s one of my biggest regrets, I am so happy you have photos of the three of you. xx

  13. […] Stopping psychiatric medication after 16 years: My Drink and Drugs Heck […]

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