On medication

I’ve been on Zoloft since I was 25.

I had just started a new job at Freshpet, after a really tough experience at Vaynermedia which resulted in an abrupt quitting after many many days and nights in tears.

Up until this point I had been doing therapy pretty consistently, and had already gone through treatment and long recovered from my eating disorder. I was doing well, but I wasn’t thriving. The critics in my head were rampant, and I had trouble shutting them down. I would spiral out about things and replay episodes that had upset me over and over. I was hyper-critical of myself for most everything. Anything that went “wrong” felt much bigger than it actually was.

My mom encouraged me to explore medication as anxiety runs in our family and it has helped other members of our family.

I always resisted. I wasn’t sure I ‘needed it’ and I didn’t want to become dependent on something. Mostly though I think I was worried about the stigmas surrounding it and the adjustment period (where you often felt very tired and slowed down). I was afraid of what it would do to me. Would it change who I was?

Until I stopped resisting. The Vayner experience left me feeling battered and down. I was starting something new and I wanted to do a great job. I wanted to stop getting in my own way by not being able to let things go.

I talked to my general practitioner and we decided to try the lowest dose of Zoloft (50mg) and see what I thought.

Now, seven years later, I have spent the last two months trying to ween myself off of Zoloft at the encouragement of a spiritual advisor I’m working with.

And I’m writing this today because I don’t think that is the right choice for me.

The world of anti-depressants is interesting. Diagnosis is spotty, because you can’t measure blood levels or other biometrics to know if something is wrong - it is based on what the person (sometimes an unreliable witness) tells you they feel. I have often wished that someone could draw out the levels of serotonin etc in my brain and properly diagnose me (is it very mild depression or very not mild anxiety?). I know that it can be difficult to find the right medicine or the right dosage. I myself had gone to a psychiatrist and been recommended ADHD medication, which just didn’t sound right to me — I never felt that I had ADD. I ended up asking my general practitioner instead and very specifically naming Zoloft. I’ve played with my dosage a bit here and there mostly because general practitioners have suggested trying to go up a bit because ‘why not?’. But it’s really on me to say if it is working or not, and how much is attributed to taking it versus other things in my life (positive happenings, self work, etc). So it’s just hard to know.

I’ve been exploring what it would be like if I were to go off of Zoloft for over two months now. I’ve gotten my dosage down below 50mg, slowly tapering off bit by bit. Mostly out of curiosity: am I cured now? do I need this? Is it holding me back in some way? will I have to do this if and when I am pregnant anyway?

Today I woke up after a day of anxious mental nagging, which has been preceded by many similar days. Of seeing problems but not solutions. Of finding reasons to be sad.

I don’t think this is working for me.

I’m ready to acknowledge it.

I am okay without it. But I am not great. I struggle more. I am more critical. I question more. And it doesn’t feel like I am doing any of these things for good reasons.

It’s been an interesting experiment because it’s reminded me of how I used to feel without Zoloft.

Maybe, regardless of 7 additional years of growth and self work and coaching, I am still wired this way naturally.

Maybe this is why medication exists at all.

Maybe I need a little help. And maybe that is okay.


An update: I went to the doctor (PLEASE consult your doctors before tapering off of meds - don’t be like me!!) and had a really good long talk about tapering and how I’m feeling etc. We decided we are going to stay on the lower dosage for now and check in in a month. It felt really good to share all of this with someone who is an expert and discuss it fully.

We also decided that I should get some support in the form that works best for me to supplement the medication (eg. therapy, coaching on a consistent basis).

Basically the bottom line: there is nothing wrong with being on medicine, especially if it helps you. There is no need to be a hero. But if you are going to try to taper, do it with medical help and increase your supports as you do it. There is no right or wrong answer, only what feels right for you.