I’ve been considering this for awhile.

I’ve consulted with loved ones, as well my therapist and PCP.

I’ve been mindful of my daily activities, interactions, relationships, triggers and stressors, trying to imagine how they might feel differently.

And I’ve come to a decision.

After over 3 years taking Fluoxetine (a.k.a. Prozac), an antidepressant that has helped me learn to cope and thrive with my moderate generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) diagnosis, I will be weaning off of it over the next 3 weeks.

I am ready to step down.

I feel excited.

And a bit nervous.

I know how far I have come since my diagnosis in November 2013.

I have matured.

Behavior therapy and a heightened level of self awareness, had allowed me to recognize stressors that tend to trigger my anxiety.

I have developed healthier habits and routines, including controlled wake up and bedtimes on most weekdays (and many weekends too).

I workout daily, eat more nutritiously, practice portion control and make sure I drink plenty of water.

I am open to how this may go.

I understand that if I don’t feel well in the weeks to come, I can and I may choose to return to taking my medication.

I will be in contact with my PCP, her nurse and my therapist to let them know how I am doing. They will in turn determine if we need to tweak anything along the way.

This week I am stepping down to 2/3 of the dosage I have been taking daily.

Next week I will step down again, to be only taking 1/3.

The following week I will take 1/3 every other day.

And then I will stop.

Serendipitously, if all goes as planned (which I get may not be the case), I will be off completely early on in my family’s planned spring break vacation to Florida next month.

What better timing to start this phase of my journey with mental illness…

As Bob joked with me earlier this week, if you can’t handle being on a relaxing vacation unmedicated, you defiantly aren’t ready for this!

So why now?

How did determine this might be a good move for me?

There’s the issues of side effects.

Though they can be hard to pinpoint, I have noticed over these 3 + years: more tiredness, a lower sex drive, and other things that may be related (such as night sweats and bizarre dreams).

Also, not long after I started taking this medication, Bob and I began our journey with Beachbody. Prior to that, I’ve never been as consistent with my approach to fitness and nutrition.

As a Beachbody coach, I have also been encouraged to focus on personal development as part of my daily “vital behaviors.” And that has been a game changer.

Reading, watching training videos and listening to podcasts, as well books via Audible, have helped me to appreciate concepts like “failing forward” and have taught me to see trials and challenges as an opportunities to learn and become a better version of me.

I can’t help but wonder how much of my coping and growth, related to my anxiety, are due to my healthier habits and routines, and how much is the medication.

To be clear.

I believe wholeheartedly in the value of taking medication to help cope with mental illness.

After being on Fluoxetine for a little over a month, I was amazed by how differently I experienced certain situations, interactions and emotions.

It was life changing.

I became more stable, more even keeled.

I had less highs and lows.

The chemicals in my brain contributing to my anxiety seemed to be more in balance.

However, I also struggled with feeling as if the medication was dulling my creativity and ability really feel my emotions.

I was able to work through that with my therapist over the years.

I realized that I am as capable of writing a good blog post at 11:00 a.m. as I am at 11:00 p.m. Whereas, I used to think I needed to stay up late to embrace every moment of inspiration that found me when I might otherwise be sleeping.

That said, I will never know if I don’t try and see how I do without medication, after these years of behavioral therapy, life experience, and maturity under my belt.

I am on Day 4 of Week 1.

So far, so good.

I’ve had a few instances of high anxiety, during which I have wondered and questioned how this might go.

And that’s okay.

As I ended my post, in May 2014, when I first shared about my diagnosis and choice to take medication:

Thank you for reading.

Thank you for not judging me.

Thank you for supporting me, as I choose to open the door to this part of my life and share it with you.

Thank you for your thoughts and prayers as I continue to learn to navigate my life, as a woman with moderate Generalized Anxiety Disorder.

Thank you for all the ways you support and care for your loved ones, especially those who have mental illnesses (whether you or they know it or not).

If you also are living with mental illness (whether diagnosed or not), please know that my heart, thoughts and prayers go out to you as well.

We are in this together.

One day.

One hour.

One step at a time.

And 3 years later I add,

One healthy choice at a time.

Do you have experience with stepping down?

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 April March 23, 2017 at 11:07 pm

Listen to yourself! I’ve been on and off antidepressants for twenty years. I know when I’m getting lower and need them, and I know when I can safely come off and be okay. And enjoy your vacation!!

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2 loribeth March 30, 2017 at 3:02 pm

Good luck to you, Kathy! 🙂 I have not written about this on my own blog, but my dh FINALLY agreed to try anti-depressants last year, after YEARS of me begging. He was shocked when he talked to our family dr & learned that about 40% of his practice involves dealing with mental health issues. No doubt moving into our condo last year also helped improve his moods & outlook on life, but there is also no doubt in both of our minds that the meds have helped him enormously. I’m not sure if he will stay on them indefinitely, but if he does stop, I think he will be much more receptive to going back on them again or trying something else if & when it might be needed.
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3 Paleo Mama April 6, 2017 at 6:50 am

The most important question is, how severe is the depression or anxiety that you are having? There is a huge difference between a woman who is suicidal, who in all likelihood should remain on medication, versus women with mild or moderate depression symptoms who would benefit from a different approach, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, or physical exercise. You might find this article useful http://www.paleo-mama.com/women-who-are-trying-to-conceive-take-antidepressants/
Good luck on your way!

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