I’m on a new adventure…. I have been stable for three years. No manic episodes. No manic-depressive episodes. So, we explored the idea of me going off one of the medications that makes me tired and causes me to gain weight.
There’s nothing wrong with being on medication. There’s no shame in it. Even once I’ve been removed from this medication, there will still be others that are part of my daily regimen.
After waiting an extra six months to ensure I was stable and ready for the change – we began the process of weening me off the medication.
NOTE: We recommend you speak to your physician, psychiatrist and mental health team before going off your medication.
Never go off cold turkey.
So here we are… Week three of this journey.
I feel off. I can’t put my finger on it. Maybe it’s just me psyching myself out. Or maybe it’s my brain trying to catch up with what’s happening. But I don’t feel the same that I did before.
The only thing keeping me from worrying too much about it, is the knowledge that I have a plan. I have a support team.
So if you’re starting the journey of going off your medication, here’s what I suggest.
- Have a support team.
When things get tough – who are you going to talk to? Who’s going to support you? Listen to you? Reassure you? For me, that’s my mom. She knows she can’t really solve my problems – but she can listen. She can make sure I know I am being heard.
Surround yourself with friends who get it. Friends who will watch out for you and be honest with you if they become concerned. My best friend is that person for me. She knows what I am going through – and she’s there for me no matter what.
Have a professional you can call. If talking to friends and family isn’t enough – who are you going to talk to? Have a counsellor, therapist or someone knowledgeable in your mental illness at your disposal. If you don’t have someone like this – then have the local crisis centre number written down somewhere where you can find it in case of an emergency.
- Understand the logistics.
Talk with your physician. What is the plan if you need to stop going off the medication? When we discussed the process of me going off my medication – my psychiatrist told me that if it was too much, we could stop. We can slow down. The worst that happens is that I go back on it.
- Keep track of your health.
On a scale from 1 to 10 (1 being fantastic and 10 being in danger of yourself) where are you? Keep track of that. Create a calendar. Mark it down so you can track how you’re doing.
- Make a plan.
This is something I suggest you have – no matter where you are in your mental health journey.
My plan looks something like this.
- When I realize I am not okay, I go talk to my support team.
- We practice the rule of 5.
Wait 5 minutes – has the feelings went away? No? Can we wait 5 hours? In the meantime, take a nap, take a warm bath, drink a cup of tea. Focus on relaxing.
- Remove any temptation.
Sometimes there are things that become triggers or temptations that are unhealthy. Especially for someone who has struggled with self harm. It is best to remove those things from your current atmosphere.
- If need be, we will call my medical professionals.
- If I become suicidal, I will go to the hospital.
When I first came home, one of the things I asked my parents to do was to agree that if I ever approached them and told them I needed to go to the hospital, they would take me there with no questions asked. If I am asking – It’s taken everything in me to admit that I am not okay.
- If I refuse and am in immediate danger, I have given previous permission to all of my support team to call an ambulance and force me to go to the hospital.
- Have a legal plan.
As a business owner who lives with a mental illness – specifically Bipolar, I have a written will and power of attorney if we should need it. It’s something I think each individual should look into doing.
Although mania makes me think I am invincible – I am aware that I am not. Having a power of attorney prevents me from destroying my life when I get sick.
If you are looking to go off a certain medication or you’re in the process of doing so, I hope this helps you. I highly recommend that you have a plan in place. It doesn’t have to look like mine. But having a place can give you some serious peace of mind.
Is there something I missed? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Leave a comment below.