About two months ago, I went off Lexapro. I had been on it for around two years this time (this was the second time in my life I had been on it at all). I was first prescribed Lexapro around 19 years old, when my depression became something that made life more difficult every day. Until then, I hadn’t considered that there was anything that could be done for depression, other than simply living with it, or, as my family suggested, going for a nice long walk in the sunshine. But unlike when I first discovered that depression existed at thirteen and felt completely helpless in my growing dark headspace, I was now an official adult who could make my own doctor appointments, drive myself to the office, and reveal what I wanted to. So, I did.
On the way to the appointment I was nervous that the doctor would barely listen to me, prescribe a healthy dose of vitamin d, and send me and the gray cloud which perpetually hovered overhead on our way. When instead he looked me in the eye and said the words “minor clinical depression” I felt relieved. I had a thing! Something that could be fixed! I wasn’t crazy, I wasn’t just sad, I had a real, honest to goodness disorder that other people have had for years. I felt wonderful.
Lexapro at 19 was fantastic. I don’t remember my dosage clearly but I believe it was 20mg once a day. I felt so chill, so unaffected, even my then-boyfriend now-husband noticed how my demeanor changed from consistently negative to sprawling on a lily pad in my mind. I loved it. But after a couple of years of being on Lexapro, I found that my gray cloud was still there, he was just hiding out for a bit while I got adjusted to the meds. I didn’t love the idea that I might be taking an antidepressant for the rest of my life. I had no judgement for those who did, nor did I find the drug to be a problem, but I felt ready to try and remove what had ended up becoming a security blanket and try to work through things without it.
That worked for a few years, until I once again found myself sat in front of a doctor hearing the word “depression”, only this time, it was “postpartum depression”. I had known that I had it. I cried for at least an hour a day, every day, feeling like I was the worst mother in the world; already setting up my four-month-old for years of intensive therapy. A strong part of me knew this was irrational, but a stronger part said “no, you’re not meant to be a mother and he’s crying because you are damaging him”. That time I went on Zoloft for about a year.
Once again, I used it to help me get through the darkness until I could find other ways to help myself find the light.
About two years ago, my symptoms were less depression-focused and more anxiety-based. I found myself most days worried about things that the rational side of my brain knew were not, in fact, going to cause Armageddon but once again I vanquished that side of my brain in favor of a conspiracy theorist who just knew that being five minutes late to a friend’s house would cause them to hate me forever. The difference during this time taking Lexapro is that I was going to therapy at the same time. During therapy, I was able to empower myself to study my life like an x-ray, pointing out which aspects were not creating a healthy and happy space and needed to be cut off, and which aspects were in need of being nurtured and tended to. During this last year in particular, I’ve learned that I focus heavily on expectations, both those that I put on others and most important and most damaging, those that I put on myself. I’ve also learned that I am not as fragile as I once thought and I can, in fact, tell someone that I do not want to participate in behavior or activities that they want me to engage in but I do not feel comfortable with.
These skills are still evolving, and will be for the rest of my life, but by beginning this process; where I am releasing some of the self-imposed chains that have kept me in a state of fear and held me back from being vulnerable; I am getting to the heart of what has kept me in this depression-anxiety loop since puberty. I am not discounting the chemical component, and that there may be a time where I find myself in need of medication again, but right now, I feel that the weapons I have to fight off these demons are sharp, and have had much use over the last two months since I took my last pill, and they have not failed. As long as I believe that they can continue to help me fight through the darkness, I know that I can come out on the other side stronger, more whole, and most importantly, more in love with the person I know I’ve always been.
*I am not against medication nor am I qualified to give advice on the matter. If you are feeling depressed or anxious to the point of it affecting your daily life, please seek help from a professional.*
Take care of yourself,