Breaking up with my meds

In Pronoia by Amanda Tan

Last week, I came off my meds. It’s been over a year I’ve had my pal Zoloft with me, everyday. Calming my tits, cutting off the weird lump in my throat when I watch some sob story on TV, helping me not wake up frantic and breathless and craving cigarettes. Well, it’s not just the Zoloft, I’m done. Done with therapy, I bade my therapist a warm goodbye the other week, and as I left I thought about how I’d miss her (she’s soooo nice!). Also, done seeing the pill dispensing white coat I call Doctor Lim (he’s soooo nice, ohai Xanax man can).

And of course, it’s the week that shit hit the fan for me. My personal life is a mess. My creative work feels stagnant. I feel it might be the universe or a deep corner of my brain spurring these changes just as I part with something I’ve relied on for so long. It’s like, time or something you know?

What’s it like? Coming off them?


I was watching Asia’s Next Top Model the other day; a show I despise, good god it’s vapid and annoying, but it was on TV and silly girls were crying about getting their hair cut and it was like a car accident I couldn’t stop looking at. Then the picture reveal of their new hair cuts came on, and one of them looked so good and I teared. At that moment, was the moment I realised, I really don’t have Zoloft in my blood stream anymore. I’m fucking crying at ANTM! Good lord, I was alarmed.:(

Silly, small freak out moments aside, I am in the midst of recalibrating my relationship with a loved one, and it’s been complete shite. I sobbed intensely, like Claire Danes intensely, for the first time in probably a year this weekend.

I had no filter, no Zoloft wall protecting me from all the feelz.

And at those moment, I was like, I want you back, want you back, want you baaaack for good. I sang a little love song to my empty plastic ziplock bags of serotonin reuptake inhibitors. Even as I’m typing this, I’m in a bargaining state. I want to go back for more. Feelings are hard. Pls make them stop.

So this morning, I chose to wake up and read and write about what I’m dealing with.

  • Physical symptoms include headache, dizziness, vertigo, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, chills, muscle aches, electric shock-like sensations, “pins and needles” sensations, insomnia, sweating, tremors, and sexual dysfunction.
  • Psychological symptoms include low mood, difficulty concentrating, anxiety, irritability or agitation, aggressiveness, vivid dreams, nightmares, feeling of depersonalisation, and mania or hypomania (rarely).

Here’s what I have experienced;

Physical Symptoms: Vertigo. I’ve most definitely floated around my room and office more than once.

Psychological Symptoms: Aggressiveness. Lots and lots of aggressiveness. (I totally yelled at the check out lady at Cold Storage the other day for closing her counter.) Oh wait and a little bit of ALL OF THE ABOVE.

And while I get off my meds, someone I care about got on their meds. Observing this cycle, I do feel all mental illness is a little connected. I might be an OCD/anxiety case in the simplest of explanations, but I relate so hard to mania, depersonalisation, and all that jazz. All flip sides of the same ugly spinning coin. I’d also say that we’re or not you have a diagnosed illness, these things crop up for everyone once in a while in varying severity.

Our brains are powerful little lumps of weird squirly material, I sense a strong part of my symptoms stem from knowing my meds are gone, fearing that they’re gone. And it’s feedbacking to me all these ~fEeLiNgS~ to remind me in a weird way.

And our brains are powerful little lumps of weird squirly material, I sense a strong part of my symptoms stem from knowing they’re gone, fearing that they’re gone.

Similarly, going on them, you’re finally forced to face your demons, and that can make it a little worse before it becomes a little better. It’s just the cycle of things. Of life.

So why am I writing about this?

 I find breaking up with my meds akin to breaking up with a boy, which just so happens to be happening for me right now (I think, I dunno, “It’s complicated.”). Getting on them is like meeting someone new too, like; “Oh hi hello, who are you? This is kinda weird and scary but I think it’s good?”.

All this parting ways with stuff has made me feel like a Grey’s Anatomy episode where the medical symptoms are a reflection of the emotional symptoms going on in our relationships.

The 5 stages of a break up are typically:

  1. Denial
  2. Anger
  3. Bargaining (OMG I miss you… :(….)
  4. Depression
  5. Acceptance

I think me and Zo (is it ok if I call you Zo?) are at maybe 2 – 3. The first few days I didn’t have Zo, I was like, noooo, furrealz? No moar? Then later, I was like, super mad, ya know? Cos; “HOW CAN YOU LEAVE ME? WHY DO I FEEL LIKE DIS?”

And now I’m contemplating going back to the doc for more. Do I really have to break up with 2 things in one week? I guess this will be the true test of my sanity. Because how do you know you’re better? When you you can handle when things get hard I suppose. This decision is to be determined. I guess we could say that well, me and Zo, we’re on a break.

But here’s the thing, even though we’re on a break Zo, I’m not going to cheat on you with Mr Whiskey and fuck my shit up. I think I owe it to myself to make this break work for us.

Okay? Let’s see how it goes.

About the Author
Amanda Tan

Amanda Tan

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Amanda Tan is a filmmaker, VJ, writer and artist based in Singapore. Amanda is currently the director of Empyreal, a creative company specialising in film production, live visuals, and content creation. Amanda writes mostly the ratchet things that appear on Psymbiosis.

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