“My head didn’t hurt as much when I woke up this morning. Waking up days 1 through 5 I felt as if someone had repeatedly stabbed my entire skull. Also my stomach cramps, body shakes and night sweats have almost found themselves far away from my body. Although my physical being is feeling better my thoughts and mood have been on the downswing. This last few days I have found myself making hurtful remarks towards my biggest support system because I have just been so irritable. Nothing about this journey is going to be easy but I know this is my first step taking back control of my life.”
I am just about in the middle of my withdrawals from my medication, Venlafaxine, a generic for a name brand drug Effexor that I will refer to as Ven. An anti-depressant often used to treat anxiety disorders as well as a nerve pain medication. Although the withdrawal symptoms have been hell since quitting cold turkey I would not have done it any other way. I am a firm believer that people will not make a change in their life until it is 100% their idea and in their control. Control. That’s a word that has more meaning than many realize. In my younger years I felt I had no control of my actions or mood what-so-ever.
This feeling is what drove my parents and I to talk to a doctor about maybe getting me a medication to “calm down” because it will help me “feel better” and go on with my days. Now I don’t want anyone reading this to think I regret this decision, at the time Ven did indeed help me do these things. But it wasn’t until I was almost a year after that first visit to the doctor to talk about a medication that I was prescribed Ven. In the beginning it was whatever drug was the best fit for my symptoms not the chemistry of my body. Finally after two drugs that actually made me more depressed I was prescribed Ven, and for a long time it worked so well for me.
Ven helped me take back control of my mind and my thoughts when I thought I was at my lowest. When my life was spiraling out of my control it was just one pill and my life was normal again. All my life I was chasing a normal life because I thought it was wrong to be different, now I accept that I am weird I have never been happier. I do not regret getting the help I needed at the time, I just know it is not the path I was meant to follow for my whole life.
It was not until I met my current boyfriend that I started realizing my life was beautiful and I no longer needed to be dependent on a medication. He helped me open my eyes to how strong I really was, that I had the power to do this and it was my decision. It was not my initial plan to quit Ven cold turkey but Monday, May 22nd I slept in and forgot to take it. On my way to work that day I found myself crying driving down the express-way because for the first time in so long the world was beautiful to me again. I cried because every color I saw was the most vibrant I have seen them in years.
I don’t want any misconceptions that Ven made me worse because for most of the time Ven did make my anxiety better when I took it. However, I believe that my life with a good job, great boyfriend, wonderful family and friends I just simply do not need Ven to feel “normal” because for once I am comfortable just being me. Things are easier to understand without Ven these days and I couldn’t be more excited to understand myself without it.