Most people I know (think that I'm cra...aaa...aaazy)
March 31, 2011 2:37 PM   Subscribe

Am I really okay as a person if I’m not suitably subdued with drugs? Are you sure?

Backstory And then, I saw the doctor, I took the medication (Cymbalta, also) and visited the psychologist. I visited my doctor reasonably regularly until I moved to a not-quite-nearby town last August. Each time we would discuss if I wanted to continue, and I always told her yes, I can't bear not to.

I went out of my way to see her last November-ish, and told her I was going to end my marriage, and also, I was ready to go off the anti-anxiety pills. She thought maybe I’d be going through some tough emotional times (and she was right) and to wait on that and I agreed.

However (3 months on), I ran out, and although I should have stepped down, I didn’t. I think I’m about two weeks cold turkey and I feel great, especially about the end of my marriage (I get to move out in a week’s time, though we’ve been split since November – quite amicable and civilized).

I was very teary and upset for the first couple of months, but now (and well prior to ending the medication) I'm just happy and feel fine, except when the ex does a douchebaggy thing, I feel angry and frustrated because I recognise as an ex myself, I need to set boundaries about commenting on his behaviour, and quite often, even with his best interests at heart (eg his relationship with our daughter) my carefully worded suggestions will result in sulking or silent withdrawn behaviour from him. So when he does the things that have always made me angry, I just try to ignore them, and that's a bit difficult.

Here’s the thing though. Me not on some kind of medication is me more emotional (cute youtubes and heartfelt metafilters make me cry), more creative, more energetic, more of a risk-taker (not jumping off buildings, having indiscriminate sex or spending money wantonly ; I’m more making slightly off-colour jokes in the tea-room with a few select colleagues, spontaneous decisions to spend money on going to a music concert by myself – Bob Dylan – when I haven’t been to a concert in more than 20 years, having a squirt of something (hazelnut, I think) in my coffee when I never have before, and nobody suggested it to me, asking a personal question here without anonomizing).

My ex very thoughtfully and with sincerest motives (no, really, assume that the sincerity at least is true) suggested to me that I should considered going back on the drugs. I know my doctor will respect my decision either way. What I’m worried about is being able to trust my own judgement in myself. I’m not putting a lid on everything I do, and pre-deciding if it’s appropriate or not. I’m just – flying by the seat of my pants, instead of making sure that everything is right, and preplanned, and controlled.

I'm concerned that I might not be able to perceive that I'm being chaotic, or disturbed, or outrageous.

TL, DR (we need a new phrase for this meaning, I think I’ve encapsulated the spirit of this question into one sentence, maybe call it "essence" - it impugns neither of us -reader or writer- then): Am I really okay as a person if I’m not suitably subdued with drugs? Are you sure? Can you back it up with web material?
posted by b33j to Health & Fitness (26 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Are you having negative consequences in your life as a result of not being off of them?
posted by empath at 2:42 PM on March 31, 2011


Is this "you without medication," or "you without douchebaggy ex?"

I know I'm a much less restrained, grumpy, tight-lipped, no-hazelnut-whatever-for-ME-thank-you person when dealing with douchebaggy actions from others.

By all means, check in with your doc if you suspect some sort of psychological episode going on, but are Bob Dylan ticket and a a few filthy jokes actually impairing your functioning?
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 2:44 PM on March 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


er, much MORE restrained, lost my train of thought in the buffer
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 2:44 PM on March 31, 2011


Of course you are OK! First off, psychotrophic drugs treat symptoms, they don't fix anything. If your symptoms are not so severe that you need to take drugs, all the better - they all have side effects and risks. Second, what does treat stuff is working through it, which is harder to do when you are suppressing it with drugs. Psychotrophic drugs are great if you really need them. But drug companies pressure MDs to prescribe them for everything from a backache to a breakup, they are wildly overused. Be thrilled that you are off the drugs.
posted by grizzled at 2:46 PM on March 31, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm concerned that I might not be able to perceive that I'm being chaotic, or disturbed, or outrageous.

I have to say that skimming your question, I found it a bit chaotic and difficult to parse. And this does not seem completely in keeping with your other questions, which were straight-forward and clear. This could be indicative of nothing, but I think you should maybe try talking to friends who have nothing to do with your ex and get their opinions on your behavior, if you don't trust your own self-perceptions.

Having known bipolar people sent into hypomania from antidepressants, I'd be worried about something of that nature. But IANAP, of course, just some jerk on the internet.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 2:54 PM on March 31, 2011 [15 favorites]


Nothing you described sounds to me, as if you should go back on the drugs. Quite the opposite, you sound happy and relaxed. Is that as a result of coming off the drugs, or breaking up with your ex? No-one can tell yet. Why not give it a few more months drug-free and see how things go. Also, take advice on your drug-free personality from some people other than your ex. In the same way that we can't tell if its the drugs or ex that are affecting your behavior, he can't tell either. Maybe he's alarmed that you seem happier without him, who knows.

I know I already gave my answer, but there is one question that I am left with; you thoughtfully describe yourself off drugs, how would you describe yourself on drugs?
posted by Joh at 2:58 PM on March 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


When I got divorced, I needed drugs. At first big ones because it stunk, and then much much smaller ones because I could handle it. Eventually I didn't need any.

The main reason I didn't need things anymore though was because I was going to weekly therapy sessions to come to terms with things, reframe things, and ultimately plan on how to get my life back together. I kept with the therapy longer than the drugs, and eventually I stopped that as well. The total process was about a year and half of that was after the divorce was finalized - ymmv.

Divorce is tough, even when its easy. Maybe its just a good idea to occasionally talk to someone (licensed therapist). Once you start talking to someone, and have a better in-person soundboard, you might have more clarity to better make the decision of being back on drugs yourself.
posted by Nanukthedog at 2:59 PM on March 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Why did your ex suggest that you get back on? Did he give a reason? It seems weird to just suggest that to someone.

If you feel good, you might be okay. I would suggest you take other steps in lieu of medication, like consciously building up a support network and nailing down a real exercise program. Carefully watch your behavior, too.
posted by amodelcitizen at 3:02 PM on March 31, 2011


We're all trying to make the best out of what we've got. In this case, you're talking about making the best out of what you've got for a brain. I think in this case, only you can weigh the benefits of the the drug with the drawbacks of the drug. There's no fixed vs. broken in this situation. There's only you and your judgement on making your life the "best" it can be. Whatever that means to you.

For what it's worth (and coming from an internet stranger, that's not much), your style of writing in this question is noticeably different than your posts on Mefi. If you have friends that have known you both on and off the drugs, maybe they can help you find some outside perspective.
posted by the jam at 3:06 PM on March 31, 2011 [5 favorites]


Did you ever get a firm diagnosis in relation to the meds? Some conditions that those drugs would be prescribed for can involve pretty epic mood swings (cyclothemia, Bipolar II) and it's possible that you're on an upswing now. Which is fine, but upswings can come with crashes, and if the crashes catch you by surprise, they can be awful.

Also, you really are starting a new life, new opportunities. That can make even the most cautious, stable person throw caution to the wind and live in a brighter, bolder way. It doesn't have to be a pathology. Just monitor yourself carefully and be prepared to feel differently.
posted by charmcityblues at 3:10 PM on March 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


* cyclothymia, not themia
posted by charmcityblues at 3:12 PM on March 31, 2011


My wife took citalopram for her anxiety, and at some point decided she didn't need them any more. On them, she was more sedate, but not sluggish or slow to respond. Just less lively, from my view. The first time she stopped taking medication, she had bad withdrawl, and went back on, and was back to her subdued self. The second time, she told me a few weeks after she had quit again, and again quit cold turkey. She seemed more lively, and comparing her now vs then, she definitely has some more "excited" swings. She might have even had some odd really energetic moments - I'll ask her when I get home if she can recall more clearly than I do.

Ditto the jam - ask your friends, neighbors and/or relatives how you seem. From my (very non-professional) point of view, the only reason to go back on medication would be if the mood swings are too drastic, and you may want to ease off of the medication instead of quitting suddenly. But the positive end of your marriage might be adding into your normal emotions in ways that will taper off naturally over time.
posted by filthy light thief at 3:55 PM on March 31, 2011


I am no expert. But... All those "risks" you say you've been taking sound like good things! (unless you really don't actually like Bob Dylan or hazelnuts...)

Monitor yourself and keep in touch with your therapist.

Things didn't work out with your ex for a reason, so he may not be the best person to judge your actions. Not because he is malicious or anything... just because he may prefer a sedate partner who dosen't make racy jokes at tea. Something he dosen't like in you might still be something that is normal and not unhealthy, he just dosen't like it, and may be interperating it as "unhealthy" because it's different from how you are on medication, which he sees as "normal". But maybe without meds you'd like to work on a slightly different "normal" that involves Bob Dylan concerts and hazelnut coffee. Sounds fine to me. Just keep going to therapy and tracking your progress. If things feel off, you and your therapist can work it out.
posted by RampantFerret at 4:23 PM on March 31, 2011



Of course you are OK! First off, psychotrophic drugs treat symptoms, they don't fix anything.
This is an unsupportable assertion.
posted by delmoi at 4:47 PM on March 31, 2011 [5 favorites]


You need someone who is NOT your ex and who knows you to weigh in on this.

Part of the behavior you mention may simply be a rebound from being off the drugs combined with relief at going on to your next stage of life. Have someone you trust just keep an eye on you and make sure you aren't doing unwise things with your money or spending too much, or doing risky things but honestly you sound just fine to me. The fact that you even bring this up leads me to believe you are selfaware enough to handle this.

IF need be the drugs will always be there. Talk it over with your doc but I think you are okay to at least continue as you are unless evidence indicates it to be unwise.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 4:59 PM on March 31, 2011


If you have friends that have known you both on and off the drugs, maybe they can help you find some outside perspective.

This, this, a thousand times this.

I cannot always tell when I am hypomanic or slightly depressed, but my friends and family often notice the differences in a very short time.

Ask someone who is not your ex. If you think that your judgement is unreliable right now, then get a second and third opinion from your friends and family.
posted by patheral at 7:19 PM on March 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


It might also be worth a face-to-face visit with your doctor, who has a sense of your past manner and no obligation to push you one way or the other.
posted by SakuraK at 10:37 PM on March 31, 2011


patheral said what I was about to. If you're OK with being as you are, and people who know you and care about you are also OK with you being as you are, you're OK as you are. Random Internet people can't know you well enough to call this.
posted by flabdablet at 12:16 AM on April 1, 2011


Response by poster: I am not as yet having any negative consequences of being off them, that I know of.

I'm believe that I'm not being psychotic, I am just not acting in a fiercely self-controlled, middle aged manner.

I asked the X why he thought I should go back on drugs, and he said, that I was more emotional, that he thought I was doing and saying things that I would regret (not the ending of the marriage - other stuff), that I would probably swing back into very dark depressiveness as part of my menstrual cycle (something I am sometimes prone to).

I am happy and relaxed (and excited about my future) when I'm not around him. I'm far more creative, excited, productive as a result of being off the drugs. I've been seeing therapists on and off throughout our marriage. I've known for a long time that our relationship hasn't been working, but it took an extraordinary length of time for me to get the courage to be on my own. I have cried deeply, a number of times, and mourned what might have been, and what was and all the hopes and dreams I had for our partnership. I don't think my mourning is over, but I believe I am well along the way, and every day I feel grateful for him for continuing to show me how much I don't want to live with him anymore.

I think I was diagnosed with general anxiety. I don't meet textbook guidelines for bipolar, I just don't swing far enough each way. However, my doctor is a general family practitioner, and my therapist is a psychologist - if that makes any difference.

On this particular drug, I'm well behaved, controlled, restrained, non-sentimental, not flustered, not excited; I have trouble thinking of new ways to visualize data or create layouts or present material differently; I can tolerate bad behaviour easily. I'm not nervous or jumpy but still shy. Initially, it reduced my severe anxiety so that I didn't mind talking to anybody really (not an issue now at all), and assisted me in being able to perform day-to-day tasks - talking to the bank, going to the hairdresser and so on. None of this is a problem anymore.

I'm taking the general consensus advice from within here and have mentioned my circumstances to my closest work friend, and I will be checking in with my sisters-in-law this weekend, and maybe my brothers. My sisters-in-law are not so invested in deciding my behaviour as my (older) brothers are. So, maybe the only way I can judge if I'm acting like a normal human being is to ask other people if they're happy with my behaviour?

I want to say, I also very much appreciate the answers that say that it looks like everything's okay, and if I'm fine off the drugs, that's good. That is very reassuring.

Therapy finished some time ago. I don't have anything that I feel a great need to discuss. I could buy myself some time with my therapist from the earlier question to ask her to assess me, I suppose.

I will make an appointment to see my doctor.

Perhaps I need to draft a question that says something along the lines, "How do I begin to believe in my ability to make appropriate decisions and judgements about my own behaviour?" because I find myself struggling against the excellent advice above to give myself up to be judged by family and friends. Clearly, though, it's the only option, if I doubt my ability to assess myself.


Thank you for your kind and thoughtful answers. I very much appreciate all of them.
posted by b33j at 1:34 AM on April 1, 2011


I don't really want to get into elaborate debates in the AskMeFi section, but allow me to reply to this comment:
Of course you are OK! First off, psychotrophic drugs treat symptoms, they don't fix anything.
This is an unsupportable assertion.
posted by delmoi at 4:47 PM on March 31 [5 favorites]
First of all, I misspelled psychotropic. Pardon me.
Secondly, if psychotropic drugs actually fixed something rather than treating the symptoms, then you would take them until your problem was fixed, and then you could stop taking them. Right? If you take an antibiotic to cure an infection, you don't remain on the antibiotic for the rest of your life, the infection gets cured and you stop taking the antibiotic. And on the other hand, if you take insulin to treat diabetes, the insulin does NOT cure the diabetes, you continue to have diabetes and therefore you continue to need insulin, to treat the symptoms. So we can clearly see the difference between drugs that cure a disease, and drugs that merely treat a symptom. Both types are useful.
You may very well need to treat your symptoms. Many mentally ill people have serious symptoms which need to be treated and should be treated. But the drug does not cure the mental illness. And I think my point remains valid, that if you do not have symptoms, then you do not need to take a psychotropic drug. And they really do have serious side effects.
posted by grizzled at 4:58 AM on April 1, 2011


You sound like you are beginning a very common cycle of psych-drugs, feeling good, stopping the drugs, symptoms return, and then resuming the cycle. This is a widespread phenomenon and you should ask a professional about it, not the internets.
posted by fuq at 8:09 AM on April 1, 2011


I don't know you other than from the internet (where I like you!), but it seems like you are a little manic right now. This might be all wrong, but to me it looks like you are writing more and faster than you usually do and in a slightly different style.
That, plus what your ex said (and he knows you better than any of us), makes me a little worried that he is right and that you will crash hard.
You are still happy and high so you don't regret anything you're doing yet, but he might be right that once you come down a little you may wish you hadn't done/said some of whatever you're doing.

You are going through a lot of changes right now and I think it is normal to have ups and downs and all sorts of new feelings. If it were me going through all these changes, I would want to have the stability of meds I knew worked on me to some extent in the past. In other words, there is enough else going on that it doesn't make much sense to change this up now. You can always experiment with going off meds later, and meds are not a life sentence so you can do that at any point. You are about to be living in a new place and alone, and that should make you pretty happy as you've said. Why also change up the meds now on top of that?

If you haven't been too destructive yet, and it sounds like you are mostly ok so far, that is great and another option is that you can see what happens at the end of your cycle (if you do crash). Please do see your doctor and tell her that is what you are planning to do, and warn her that you might be feeling low at a certain point so she knows what to look for.
Also, please schedule another appointment with her at the end of your cycle so even if you are too depressed to reach out by then, you have something set up and she knows to check in on you.
posted by rmless at 9:00 AM on April 1, 2011


> asking a personal question here without anonomizing

beej, I'm sorry to hear about what you're going through but I'm glad you posted as yourself so I can tell you that because you're by far the most active of any of my mefi contacts, for a good long time now the top of my sidebar has been nothing but "beej had a comment with 12 favorites...," "beej had an answer with 17 favorites...," "beej had a best answer...," from top to bottom. You rule, beej. I honestly find it hard to imagine your going wrong by doing what you feel is the right thing, after due and sober consideration but not extended anguishing. (A slightly off-color joke at the tea table doesn't strike me as reckless, self-destructive behavior even if you're having tea with the Queen. Unless the queen is Victoria, naturally.)
posted by jfuller at 12:29 PM on April 1, 2011


P.S. I see I just misspelled your handle umpty times. You know you've spent way too much time on the intertubes when you no longer even notice the l33t!
posted by jfuller at 12:32 PM on April 1, 2011


I don't know you other than from the internet (where I like you!), but it seems like you are a little manic right now. This might be all wrong, but to me it looks like you are writing more and faster than you usually do and in a slightly different style.
That, plus what your ex said (and he knows you better than any of us), makes me a little worried that he is right and that you will crash hard.
You are still happy and high so you don't regret anything you're doing yet, but he might be right that once you come down a little you may wish you hadn't done/said some of whatever you're doing.


That is horse manure.

I have BEEN hypermanic. I have also been on and off medication (have been off for years now with the permission of the last pdoc I had.) I can tell you -because my docs told me-that you do have a rebound effect when you do stop medication, but that goes away.

Plus, please, everyone please remember the OP has NOT been diagnosed with a bipolar or cyclothymic disorder, plus she is now getting out of a marriage where she has felt she could not be herself. If that makes you manic then every single divorcee on the face of the planet needs lamictal.

The OP is NOT displaying any problematic behavior. To be safe she is doing the smart thing and asking people who know her AND who don't have any particular ax to grind to evaluate her behaviour just in case. If she were manic I doubt she'd have even posted the question!
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 3:29 PM on April 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


Response by poster: I've seen my doctor, she thinks I'm fine. She says maybe my ex is not coping with the changes I'm making in my life now that I'm free. She said I'm intelligent and to trust my own judgment and not to ask people on the internet. Oh and about that, when I said 50% said I was fine, and the other 50% said my posts seemed different etc, and that I should see a doctor, she said the second 50% were just trying to be safe about giving advice over the internet. Otherwise, I'm fine. It's all good. Thanks for listening and participating.
posted by b33j at 8:10 PM on April 4, 2011


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