A Season of Change


"Butterfly" mosaic by artist Irina Charney

While most blogs I follow shared pictures and reflections on life, family, and faith over the holiday season, I kept things pretty quiet here.  Except for the few occasional updates, I spent most of my holiday season hunkered down in what for me became a season of challenge and change.

The first week of vacation, I decided to go off my medication for depression.  For a while now, I have felt like the meds weren’t really helping, and in fact were contributing to my anxious tendencies.  That, combined with a change in our insurance for 2011 (where the expensive meds would not be covered) helped me decide to be med-free.

The physical symptoms of withdrawal that first week were terrible.  I was dizzy, nauseous, and disoriented.  I thought it would help to have the kids home during this time so I could rest if I needed to, but the constant activity and stimuli of having a full house only aggravated matters.  And my husband, though he was probably not aware of it, became watchful of my actions and emotions, making me even more anxious about trying to quietly handle the side-effects of withdrawal.

During this time, we also had two very large holiday gatherings at our house, which were great fun, but also immense challenges for me given how I was feeling physically.  And emotionally, I was feeling the pressure of trying to provide a last-minute Christmas for the kids (gifts were purchased clear up through Christmas Eve!).

My goal in getting off medication for depression was to begin handling my health – both physical and mental – through disciplined diet and exercise.  So once I began to feel physically better from the medication withdrawal, I started with a huge change to my diet and nutrition.  Which – and if you’ve done this before, you know what I mean – just created a whole new wave of physical and emotional changes for me.

Transitioning to fewer calories and less sugar and sodium left my body initially wondering what the heck was going on.  For the most part, it was just headaches and fatigue I had to deal with until I fine-tuned what my body needed.  I finally came to a comfortable daily calorie count, and it’s been much better.  My biggest challenge remains the elimination of late-night eating.  For a long time now, I’ve ended my day with a sizable sweet treat late at night, eaten while watching tv after everyone has gone to bed.  It’s like my daily reward for having “made it through” my day.  I didn’t realize just how much comfort that ritual gave me until now, and I’m left needing to replace it with healthier alternatives.

And as things are leveling out with the changes in medication and diet, I’m still left handling the changes to my environment brought on by the holidays – namely, that the kids are still home and that the house is still a wreck.  We are also dog-sitting two puppies, which has definitely changed our environmental dynamics (but they’re doing great, Amy!).

But in just TWO MORE DAYS, I should be able to welcome in a new normal.  One in which the kids are back in school, the house is a little cleaner, I am medication-free, nutritionally sound, and much more physically active.  In fact, we’ve re-joined the YMCA, and I cannot wait to take my 3yo to the child watch and my rear end to the cardio room for some mutually beneficial time apart.  I’m getting a killer playlist together as I type.

My changes began before the New Year, and I know there are many more just around the corner.  But hopefully with this revolution in mind and body, I’ll be able to greet what 2011 has in store for me with open arms.

  • Best of luck. I take medication and tried to stop cold turkey and went through major issues. Talk about a roller coaster. It was the wrong way to do it. Talk to your doctor and set up a plan to ease off. And congrats on the decision.

  • Anonymous

    Wow, it sounds like you are going through a lot of changes right now. I wish you all the best with the new outlook.

  • Lots of changes but I think all moving in the right direction! I imagine withdrawal is tough but looks like you’re hanging in there. Exercising is a great mood improver too so hopefully that’ll be a nice replacement and you won’t even miss the meds. Hang in there and happy 2011!

  • Misses E.

    Tough changes, but all in a positive direction. I wish you much success.

    I used to do the same thing with a late night snack as a reward. I eventually switched to a mug of fruit or herbal tea. It’s still comforting and a little sweet, but very low in calories. Just make sure the blend is caffiene free.

  • Anonymous

    Wow, Stacey, that is a huge change! I have switched meds before for my anxiety issues and it really throws me for a loop. I tried to totally go off the meds once, but it just doesn’t work for me.

    I think you are so awesome for making such huge changes to your diet and exercise routine! Keep us posted on how it effects your depression

  • Good luck to you! What a way to start off the new year.

  • Ape2016

    I feel for you. I tried going off Paxil by tapering twice and cold turkey once and couldn’t do it because of the horrible withdrawal. Then, about 6 weeks ago I was so sick with the flu, that I couldn’t refill my scrip for over a week. I decided since I was already miserable to just stay off of it and then suffered for 2 weeks more. Even with the horrible withdrawal, I noticed that not only did I have more energy, but I could actually enjoy things, instead of just floating along. I hope you can stay med free. I think some people really need them, but I for one wish I had never started!