If you've read some of my previous blog posts you may know some of my struggles with medication for anxiety over the years.
I was first diagnosed with anxiety disorder at the age of 20 (2005), and was put on paroxetine (also known as aropax) to manage my anxiety. At 21/22 I weaned myself off the medication, and was off it for a few years until I went back on medication when I was 27 (2012).
At this stage the doctors tried me on citalopram, which made me feel like complete shit with heightened anxiety and nausea. After a week I came off this and went back on paroxetine, as I hadn't had any negative side effects from this.
This time around I was on paroxetine for about 2 years until I was 29/30 (2015). Once again I gradually weaned myself off the meds, and was off them for a year before I had another breakdown and was back to the doctor. The doc put me on venlafaxine (or effexor) this time (2016) because whenever I was on meds previously I found that I put on weight, and not just 3-4kgs, but 10-15kgs.
Once again I have dropped my meds and am gradually reducing it to see how I go. I'm not necessarily doing it with the goal of coming off them altogether, but I only want to put into my body what it absolutely needs, and that might be 50mg of venlafaxine, rather than the 115mg I have been on.
One of my struggles through a lot of this has been my doctor. I am registered at a clinic in Hamilton, and to be honest haven't had the best experiences with my GP. I find her condescending and lacking empathy, which is a shame when you are in a position to be helping people, especially when they are in distress.
She made some unnecessary and negative comments about my mental health and weight while I was on paroxetine, so when I decided to come off paroxetine the last time (around 2015) I did it without my doctors guidance because I didn't want to have to deal with her and what she believed was right for my mind and body.
When I did go to the doctor and let her know that I was off paroxetine she said that if I found I needed to go back on meds for anxiety that she would try me on effexor "as one of the side effects is weight loss so that will be good for you". Some people could tell me not to be so sensitive and get over it, but when you are someone who experiences mental distress you tend to be a bit more sensitive. I have also had a constant internal battle around the meds and my weight gain. As a female in our society it is hard to carry extra weight and not have it affect your self confidence and sense of worth. I certainly don't enjoy being heavier than I used to be.
But I've had to make a choice over the years between my mental health and my physical health, although I'm not so heavy that my physical health is negatively affected. And once again I am decreasing my medication without not under my doctors supervision because that way I feel like I am in control and doing what is best for my mind and body. I don't recommend this for anyone, however when you don't feel like your GP is a safe space for you to be completely open and honest there is something wrong in my opinion.
That is why I'm writing this, because I know I'm not alone, and want anyone else who has experienced similar things to know that they aren't alone. There are certain professions where you have to be a certain type of person and brings certain personality traits into your role, and I think that when you are looking after people it is important that you are non-judgemental and empathetic.