After a year of taking antidepressants, I felt sure that I could cope without them. I didn’t want to become dependent, only for the antidepressants to mask my mental health. I tried to deal with my depression and anxiety head-on and control it. So, despite my psychiatrist’s concerns, I weaned myself off Fluoxetine and Seroquel. I figured that if I ate a balanced diet, exercised, increased my vitamin intake, and spoke with a psychologist, I could overcome my fears. Live my idyllic life free from the chains of anxiety and medication. I had this mental picture of what normalcy looked like, and it didn’t involve taking antidepressants.
Antidepressants such as SSRI’s (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) work by increasing serotonin in the brain. Once the effects of my antidepressants decreased, I slowly exhibited signs of a relapse.
For the first two months after coming off Fluoxetine, I felt great. I was full of life and confident that I had made the right decision. I was optimistic that the worst was behind me. I felt cured of my debilitating depression and anxiety. But, in hindsight, what was I thinking?
I was in a state of delusion, thinking that I was mentally sound when I wasn’t. My anxiety had crept Slyly back into the control center and once again was building momentum. I started experiencing intrusive thoughts that were mild and infrequent at first. But the more I focused on these thoughts, the worse they became. I had horrific images of ‘what if I stuck my hand in a blender, ‘what if I ran out into oncoming traffic, or what if I pushed myself out of the top balcony? I felt like I was under constant attack from my own brain. I didn’t understand why this was happening to me.
I knew that my depression and stress were school-related in the past. But this time was different. I wasn’t in school. Yet, my anxiety had changed. It was stronger, more menacing. However, I still didn’t want to accept the fact that it had returned. So, I researched and blamed several other reasons for my ill mental health, e.g., severe PMS, viruses etc.
By this point, I was experiencing other symptoms, including nausea, vomiting, body aches, chest pain, fatigue, and insomnia. These symptoms led me to believe that I was suffering from a physical illness. Truthfully, I was suffering from hypochondria. I fell into deep worry that I was dying, had a cancerous tumour, or was going to have a heart attack. However, upon talking with a doctor and getting a blood test, that returned negative from anything untoward. I finally accepted that I was suffering from anxiety and depression. But I remained certain that I didn’t need antidepressants.
My intrusive thoughts were now constant, hitting me in waves. I had a panic attack almost every day. Leaving the house was stress-inducing to the point that my hands would shake. I had this intense fear of having an anxiety attack while surrounded by people in a shopping centre.
It was overwhelming and terrifying living with my mind constantly attacking me. I wanted to hide in a corner and stop living. I felt like I couldn’t talk to anyone about these thoughts because they were so heinous and sickening. My mind told me that I was the most mentally disturbed person in the world and that if I spoke to anyone, I would be locked up.
Upon researching intrusive thoughts, I concluded that I was suffering from numerous mental disorders. I felt extreme fear that I had OCD and Bipolar. This worry turned into more intrusive thoughts. I was stuck in an endless loop of negative thoughts, causing anxiety which caused more negative thoughts.
It wasn’t until I had a mental breakdown to my mum, where I spilled all my dark feelings, that I finally had a moment of relief. Thankfully my mum understood exactly how I was feeling. Previously, my mum had asked me to go back to see a doctor or psychiatrist, but I had refused, thinking that I could handle my mental health. Now I felt broken down and beaten. I finally accepted that I couldn’t manage my anxiety and depression by myself.
I booked myself to see a new psychiatrist, where I found consolation. I was told that my intrusive thinking wasn’t OCD. Intrusive thinking is common in people suffering from severe anxiety. I was put back on Fluoxetine and Seroquel on a higher dosage.
Thinking intrusive thoughts doesn’t mean that that’s how you feel. Sometimes the brain works against itself. It can’t decipher between imagination and reality. Instead, it will hunt for weird and horrifying thoughts to get a reaction. So, it’s okay to have intrusive thoughts. Let them flow through without focusing on them.
I am happy if I have to take antidepressants for the rest of my life. My intrusive thoughts are few and far between. If that means I’m dependent, I don’t care. I know what I’m like without them, and it’s not good.
Previous blogs relating to mental health
Suffering through Highschool with Anxiety and Depression
Why I’m going to keep taking antidepressants – ABC Everyday
Unwanted Intrusive Thoughts | Psychology Today Australia