Author Topic: 3 months off of antidepressants...  (Read 3309 times)

Derekf208

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3 months off of antidepressants...
« on: April 14, 2015, 07:19:13 AM »
So I completed my first ten day course last December and it was a huge help for my well bieng.  After the retreat I began to wonder if my depression really is tied to psycological issues, as opposed to just a genetic problem that I inherited.  So after 10 years of being on low doses of antidepressants, I decided to try life without them since I had cleared out so many issues that were creating misery for me.

Well here I am 3 months clean, and I feel...like....crap.  A lot of the misery I had before the retreat is still gone, and I don't get upset with myself like I used to when feeling this way, thanks to the meditation...but boy do I feel lousy.  I don't know if I should keep sticking purely with the meditation alone, or go back on meds??  It's getting to where I just want to lay down all the time.  Focusing during meditation is getting harder and harder.  All I can do durring meditation is say "yep, this is how I feel, like crap.  I guess I'll just keep observing it." :-[

Believe me that helps some, but it's not improving how I feel all the time or helping my energy levels. 

And yes I eat fine, excersize and am pretty active in my community. 

Thankyou for your help.
« Last Edit: April 14, 2015, 07:25:19 AM by Derekf208 »

Quardamon

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Re: 3 months off of antidepressants...
« Reply #1 on: April 14, 2015, 09:44:21 AM »
In my view, meditation is part of a learning process. It is not a magic wand that will do whatever you want it to do.
You find, as you say, that focusing during meditation is getting harder and harder. So, meditation was a huge help in your well being.
And meditation is not helpful enough to stop the medication.
That sounds like a logical conclusion, does it not?

Sometimes I wonder if the promises that are made about meditation do more harm, than the meditation itself does good.
I understand, that the retreat did you good, although you were on this low dose of antidepressants. So I would say: simply combine the two.

Congratulations with completing a ten day course! I imagine that that was quite a feature.

Derekf208

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Re: 3 months off of antidepressants...
« Reply #2 on: April 14, 2015, 02:57:04 PM »
Thanks for the reply, I think you're right, although I suppose I made that sound a bit obvious.  Problem is, after a year or so, maybe two, an antidepressant stops working and I have to switch to a new one.  Well, over ten years I've run the whole gamut!  This is one of the biggest reasons I did the Vipassana retreat.  So before I go back on meds, i want to try other methods first.

GooperMC

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Re: 3 months off of antidepressants...
« Reply #3 on: April 14, 2015, 08:21:48 PM »
I'm also on antidepressants and I've also run through a whole slew of them.  For me antidepressants aren't the solution to my problems but they do give me enough energy to fight.  Without them I want to lie in bed all day and don't have the energy to do healing activities (mediation, exercise, reading about acceptance, lovingkindness, etc).

I am not a doctor but it sounds like you probably aren't ready to go off your meds entirely.  Maybe you could leverage your meds to buy a bit more time to continue working through issues and to try and create a habit of happiness.

My sympathies for what you are going through.  I'm there too and frankly it sucks but the good news is it sounds like you have found some activities outside of meds that help.  Maybe they just don't help enough ... yet.

Vivek

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Re: 3 months off of antidepressants...
« Reply #4 on: April 15, 2015, 07:09:40 AM »
I would recommend psychotherapy. I hear that Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy is quite effective. Also, check out Three Principles practitioners.
Let's go beyond this illusion, shall we?

Alex

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Re: 3 months off of antidepressants...
« Reply #5 on: April 15, 2015, 02:15:37 PM »
Hey Derek

Good for you to have taken a retreat, which also seems to have paid off!! You are starting to open up to the possibility that psychological factors can also contribute to your suffering. This means you are starting to take ownership/responsibility for your own experience, which is an important step in personal development and in conquering depression. Really, this is great!

I wonder what exactly triggered this shift in your perspective?

Derekf208

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Re: 3 months off of antidepressants...
« Reply #6 on: April 15, 2015, 04:40:34 PM »
My shift in perspective changed when I actually experienced what I call "the exorcism" at the retreat.  Through that I was able to discover a habit pattern that was creating a lot of misery for me.  I had suspicion about it before the retreat, but it wasn't until then that it became very clear. 

Another thing I discovered, is that my old pattern of looking for satisfaction to my ego was also causing a lot of suffering.  The ego just doesn't suffice for me.  If I try to rely on ego boosting for happiness, I eventually end up miserable.  So letting all that go was a huge help.

Now I'm left with what I still suspect is a genetic/neurological mess of anxiety and depression.  I'm pretty sure I inherited it from my moms side of the family, as it didn't really strike until puberty.  Still not 100% sure though.  Is mental illness really a disease?  Or just symptoms of something much deeper? 

Alex

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Re: 3 months off of antidepressants...
« Reply #7 on: April 15, 2015, 07:41:22 PM »
"the exorcism"... I hope that wasn't as painful as it sounds ;)

But seriously, it's amazing to see that when we take the time and effort to pay more attention in a relaxed way, what we can discover and eventually let go of. Well done!

Now I'm left with what I still suspect is a genetic/neurological mess of anxiety and depression.  I'm pretty sure I inherited it from my moms side of the family, as it didn't really strike until puberty.

Can you clarify what you mean by "a genetic/neurological mess of anxiety and depression"?
Can you also expand on what you mean with "I'm pretty sure I inherited it from my moms side of the family, as it didn't really strike until puberty."

All in all, it seems like you're saying that your psychological work is now done or finished and that the depressive feelings that remain are of a different nature and beyond your sphere of influence? Is this what you mean?

Is mental illness really a disease?  Or just symptoms of something much deeper? 

Ilness and disease are synonyms. And generally a disease presents itself with symptoms, symptoms that might be caused by something apparent or something much more hidden.
So I'm really not sure what these questions refer to.

I'm sorry I'm only asking questions  :)

Derekf208

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Re: 3 months off of antidepressants...
« Reply #8 on: April 16, 2015, 12:21:53 AM »
What I mean by a "genetic/neurological mess" is an irregular rhythm of chemistry that leaves me with these low energy levels, persistent worrying and just an overall crummy feeling most of the time.

 It's hard to tell whether or not there is a deeper cause to it all that I can uncover, or that if it's just a nasty biological trait that I inherited and have no control over.  It's like living in an empty room that randomly floods full of water all the time, nearly drowning you.  Why is it doing that??  Is it just a glitch in brain chemestry, or is there something deeper psycologicaly?

Basically I'm wondering if further meditation work, perhaps another 10-day retreat will up-root the reasons for my low moods.  Or if I'll just end up chasing my tail because the problem isn't all psycological, but rather chemical as well.

Hopefully that's a bit clearer.  I appreciate your help.

bomega

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Re: 3 months off of antidepressants...
« Reply #9 on: April 16, 2015, 03:28:43 AM »
While you were on the anti-depressants, were you ever in any counseling/psychotherapy as well? If you were, how did that go?

If you are depressed, I don't think it is possible to just take a pill to heal your pain. The medication masks the symptoms, but there is an underlying cause to the depression that needs to be addressed. Personally, I don't think it is relevant whether or not it is genetic: If it isn't then you have to deal the the psychological issue, and if it is, then you have to learn to deal with the genetic/chemical issue - in that you were born with it, it is a part of you, and you have to deal with it as part of your life. The medication can be a tool, and it is up to you to decide if you want to use it or not. But, if you want to live an authentic life, you will still have to learn to deal with your depression, which is what counseling/psychotherapy can do. Counseling can be painful at time, is kind of boring most of the time, but it is another tool for you to use to heal yourself in a way that medication can't, and even meditation doesn't promise (although some people do find healing through meditation alone.)

It sounds like meditation and the retreat has helped you be less attached to ego gratification, which is great, but that you haven't yet learned to find the intrinsic joy in life. I've struggled with depression my whole life, and it is only in the past couple years with the counselor I'm working with now that I have come to learn that it is possible to control your thoughts and choose depression/not depression. It kind of blew my mind actually. But it was only through her holding my hand through the process that I came to learn it.

Alex

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Re: 3 months off of antidepressants...
« Reply #10 on: April 16, 2015, 11:50:17 AM »
Those are some fundamental questions that you ask… and justly so. But there's no clear-cut answers just yet. Science is still trying to figure a lot of this out.

The genetic/neurological mess, as you call it, is more like a genetic vulnerability. It may make you more susceptible; it's not all-controlling. Genetic vulnerability is one of the factors besides psychological and social factors, life events, etc. that can influence depression.

Vulnerability means that if other factors would be exactly the same, a depression will develop more likely, rapidly or severely. It doesn't mean that you are powerless.

It is indeed hard to tell whether or not there is a deeper cause to it all that you can uncover.

But...

It is safer, wiser or more functional to assume there is a deeper psychological dynamic unknown to you. Everyone here will tell you: there are layers and layers that can be uncovered, the understanding of your inner workings deepening ever more as you continue your meditation practice… for years and years to come ;)

So, even if you have some genetic vulnerability, even if your brain is somewhat disarrayed because of depression and/or medication, being free of depression is always within the possibilities.

So, I'm going to join all those here inviting you to see a therapist. As blind as we ourselves sometimes are to things we do, so easy it is sometimes for an experienced listener and observator to point to interesting aspects of the dynamic. It's amazing what bringing awareness and language to our experience does. So mindfulness will then help you explore all (together).

Your main question in this thread related to continuing with medication or not. Underlying this question there seems to be a wish to be free of meds, which now conflicts with your concern that your mood and energy levels are beginning to drop into a dangerous zone again. Whatever you do (you'll have to figure out for yourself if and how long you can hold off going back to meds), find support! Meditation alone is probably not enough. Other people also wondered: did you go into therapy? Whas that not suggested by the prescribing doctor? And why you chose not to do or continue this, whichever was the case… Do you have reservations regarding therapy? Bad experiences maybe?

With regard to your experience and dealing with it now and during meditation… your body-mind produces crappy emotions, thoughts and physical sensations. This is part of your experience now. I can't determine from your words how you relate to that.  Your words suggest you're able to simply sit with it, but there is also a feeling of aversion. I think there is a lot to explore there in addition to  just observing the crappy feelings, not to mention bringing awareness to how you react to the crappy experiences the rest of the day. A good therapist will be of so much help in this process!

All the best!


Derekf208

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Re: 3 months off of antidepressants...
« Reply #11 on: April 17, 2015, 06:00:20 AM »
Great post, Alex.

Talk therapy never really did much good for me.  I just end up talking in circles and only speculating as to why have these deep feelings.  Plus, it's extrmely costly, and very hard to find a therapist that asks the right questions.  The Vipassana retreat is about the only thing that ever helped me get to the bottom of an issue regarding suffering. Crystal clear, in high definition. 

Thanks again to you all for your thoughts. 

Alex

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Re: 3 months off of antidepressants...
« Reply #12 on: April 17, 2015, 01:38:37 PM »
You're very welcome, Derek. If you don't mind I continue to give my reflections and questions. ;)

Quote
The Vipassana retreat is about the only thing that ever helped me get to the bottom of an issue regarding suffering. Crystal clear, in high definition.
That's indeed a remarkable experience. I wonder, what happened after the 'clear seeing'?
Maybe in a sense you were "ready" to do this retreat and become aware of the things you did, like a flower that is ready to blossom but just needs some rays of sunlight or something.

There is also no predicting how a next retreat would unfold. Imagine going to the retreat with strong expectations, what would happen then? Meditation can not be forced or deployed in an instrumental way (which is our 'habitual' way of dealing with problems). Meditation is much more about relaxing in the presence of the "problem" that working towards a solution.

And how many retreats would you then have to do to get to the bottom of it? Also, what would be the bottom? When would you be content?

Quote
Talk therapy never really did much good for me.  I just end up talking in circles and only speculating as to why have these deep feelings.

In the same way, maybe you weren't ready for therapy at that time. Maybe it was too difficult for you to feel and recognize the deep feelings at the time, leading to speculating or rationalizing about them and unavoidably getting nowhere and ending up talking in circles.

I wonder, now that you have more experience with simply (but really) feeling what is there and trying to be with a feeling, exploring how you react or relate to your experience, if you now have a different view about this, if you have ideas of what good therapy could be like for you?

Quote
Plus, it's extremely costly, and very hard to find a therapist that asks the right questions.   

It is an investment, that's true. And choosing to spend a limited resource like money on some thing instead of something else is a question of priority, something that we have to evaluate for ourselves.

The right therapist… the right questions… you know, research comparing the different approaches to counseling (psychodynamic, cognitive-behavioral, client-centered, system therapy) shows that non-specific factors such as an authentic human connection, putting words to your experience, receiving unconditional acceptation, installation of hope/perspective etc. are what determine the success of the therapy, much more than specific techniques or interventions.
So a good enough therapist with whom you feel comfortable, will be good enough.

A mindfulness-based therapist may be a good bet. Someone who does the same practice as we do, but who is a little further along the road and is experienced in its clinical application and in working with people. Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy was also recommended here. Although I really support this program, it is not designed to explore an individual experience in depth, but it could also be a compromise solution. It stimulates you to bring more attention to daily life, which is what we often forget as a beginner as we sometimes focus too much on meditation itself...

arethamorce

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Re: 3 months off of antidepressants...
« Reply #13 on: June 14, 2019, 05:00:20 AM »
Hello, I was just looking around and went across this thread. I was diagnosed to have severe depression 4 years ago and tried almost everything out there that "could" help. The only medication that worked best for me is medical cannabis. I perfectly understand that it's not legal everywhere. At first, I was doubtful so I started doing my own research and read articles about marijuana. I found out that each marijuana strain has different uses for different diseases. Like this strain Moderator edit: deleted the link to commercial website.  This one is very effective when it comes to stress and anxiety. Just sharing, have a nice day to all.

Moderator: Final warning - do not post links to commercial websites.
« Last Edit: June 15, 2019, 01:21:32 AM by Middleway »