A Prescription For Happiness: Get Off Your Meds

photo from scotspolitics.com
originally posted by Jenny Sansouci on Healthy Crush

A Prescription For Happiness: Get Off Your Meds

I remember sitting one day staring at my bottles of prescription medication, not giving a fuck about whatever I was supposed to be doing. I was prescribed Zoloft, Xanax, Wellbutrin and Amitriptyline for depression and severe anxiety. I kept looking at the bottles like they were my enemy. I had it in mind to stop taking the pills completely, but every time I went cold turkey my body would start to turn on me. My hands turned into ice, my face would drip sweat, and my vision would fade to black.

It’s a seriously easy badge to carry, being a victim. Many people choose to be a victim because they want attention. We need attention, and some of us aren’t getting it from the right places. When given a medical diagnosis, it’s like having a golden ticket to the front of the self-pity line. I had the ticket, and I was entitled to everyone’s special treatment. The worst part that makes me want to punch myself in the face is that I thought all of this made me smarter and more superior than everyone around me. Some great burden was bestowed on me — because I was just so goddamn smart, it was only fair that the universe made me miserable. This way, I could be justified in trying to separate myself from all the people around me. It was my excuse for not participating, I had it in my head to believe nobody could understand what I was going through or how much of a struggle life was for me.

One day, I sat around a group of friends that were complaining about their lives and their happiness and I realized I was one of them. And I knew I would rather die than be the person that brought other people down. I was responsible, and I was letting myself walk around as an uninspired person, not contributing what I should have been contributing. It’s no longer in season to sit on the edge and judge the world around you in the name of intellectual superiority. That’s fear in disguise. Everything we point to as a reason for why our lives aren’t the way we want them to be is an excuse that we are choosing to make because we’re too afraid to face the battle that lies ahead of us.

Fast forward to today. I’ve been off the meds for years. Sometimes my mind still goes so dark that I can literally feel the vultures gathering around me in a cloud of murky filth. When things go south like this for me, I’ve had to find new ways to cope. I start treating myself like an animal, and I take away the power of my mind by telling my brain to shut up and I let my body run on autopilot. I move, I breathe and I wait for the cloud to pass.

I get back to simple movement and good food. Even though I don’t want it. It’s the last thing I want – I just want to sit there and be miserable and eat pizza; but I do it because I’ve made a commitment to be happy.

Sometimes it takes a day, sometimes a week. But I don’t make it a big deal anymore, feeling sorry for myself or compounding the actual suffering by adding more negative energy to it.

Our bodies can withstand quite a beating – they are well constructed. But our minds are so fragile and can run away from reality in an instant if it’s uncomfortable. Our minds are also seasoned exaggerators, making our emotions feel much more severe than they actually are. Is it really that awful to feel depressed? I think it can be kind of fun. I check out for a bit and sit down and sort through my awareness. The hollowness that resides in me produces so much sorrow — but I’ve learned to sit tight in the pocket and wait, because it always turns into the most raw creativity that I ever get the chance to experience. Just embracing sorrow will beat that fear driven monster into the ground. Sometimes in sadness I do my best writing because I care less about people’s opinions than usual; they can’t make me feel any worse than I make myself. I get the courage to be so painfully honest that I make even my inner self-critic proud.

As a business owner, I use the dark times to make bold decisions that I have been putting off in order to maintain appearances. I use the slight feeling of panic and desperation to act courageously. It is a reminder that I don’t know how long I’ll be around, so I better do everything I can to experience as much self-approval as possible. I love being bold, and darkness helps me realize how.

Many plants die in the winter during the first frost. Or they live dark and gray lives for that time. I know spring is beautiful, but winter has grown on me. It’s the dark horse that prepares us all for bloom. Sadness isn’t sad; it’s just an experience that is different than happiness. They are tangled together in a need for survival.

Darkness seems to be the default setting in my head, so I have to fight hard for my happiness.

It is essential that I exercise every day. I like a mix of running, dance, yoga, and martial arts. Most days it’s yoga, because I love being flexible and it always makes my forehead tingle and gives me reason to believe that there might be an entire universe inside of me. The running is great because sometimes I can’t walk fast enough to feel fully alive. Dancing is important because it challenges the way I think. When I learn choreography, my initial reaction is to control and perfect it, and this leaves me looking like an idiot. It forces me to let go and feel the music and move the way I was designed to move.

Often, I have to put on my gloves and mouth guard and go to battle with another human being who is courageous enough to stand in the ring with me and help me fight myself. True war, a battle between equally matched participants, is one of the most beautiful things I have ever experienced. It’s madness, having someone attack you, and I don’t know why I’m there. It’s not really violence I’m after; it’s a constant search for peace. Fighting is the only place where lies have no significance; it will tell you everything you need to know about yourself.

Exercising, eating well, writing, taking photographs, making movies, brainstorming, leading, and helping people tap into their potential have eliminated my need for pharmaceuticals.

Creation is my medicine. I was depressed because I was born to create and I was wasting my gifts. I was scared to step out on my own and let go of my ball and chain.

If you don’t want to fight for your happiness that is fine with me, but please stop pretending like your life is anyone’s fault but your own, because it’s not. As soon as you can look at yourself honestly and make this acknowledgment you will be free to experience whatever you can dream up. If you continue to give anyone any power over your well-being other than yourself, you are conceding to the fact that in this one very short and precious life, you are perfectly fine with being mediocre and letting any potential for passion and joy inside of you die without even a fair chance of speaking its mind.  

I wake up every day and literally create a world that I think is worth living in. My work, my projects, and the people around me were all carefully constructed to contribute to my self-worth and personal happiness. I will not touch a job or a person that doesn’t support the person I want to be, and I’ve been doing it long enough now to trust my discerning gut without hesitation.

I’m going somewhere big, and if you don’t think you are, it’s time to get on a different program- because you’ve been selling yourself short. We are a powerful and prolific species, and it’s time we start believing it.

Spread the word!

    5 Comments

    1. July 5, 2014

      Thank you.

      Reply
    2. July 23, 2014

      One of the most honest pieces I have read about living with depression! Love it!

      Reply
    3. Heather
      July 29, 2014

      You are my spirit animal. I’ve never heard from anyone who lives so much like I do! Except I do Krav Maga because it’s violence is based on the desire to live and survive. Thanks for the great read!!!

      Reply
    4. Sara
      September 8, 2014

      I have never read something so unbelievably irresponsible. I get your message and absolutely think its a great one, everyone should to take responsibility for their own happiness- ON or OFF meds. I’m happy your experiment worked for you, but if I went off my meds listening to your direction ( which at no point do you say you are not a MD or that this is just a suggestion and consult with your doctor first to come up with a personal plan for safety reasons) I would end up in a major manic state. Hopefully for my child’s sake, I wouldn’t end up on the 11 O’clock News as The Naked Lady Running around NYC! That public nakedness would really suck for me, because then my husband would take me to court for full custody of our chid and probably win, because after I had been finally detained for my public streaking I would then get very agitated with the Officers( stage 2 of mania) maybe knock one in the nose and start crying because I was sad that I just hurt someone and continue to cry because all I really wanted to do was gone home and no one would take me there and then the final stage would start- severe depression which lasts days. Now, I’d be in the loony bin, and I am a completely normal girl you’d pass on the street and might take a second glance at, (fingers crossed).

      This is what can happen to someone with bipolar disorder. I don’t want this but it’s real and is part of what makes me great. Yes, I get depressed, but not like you do unfortunately. When I get depressed it feels like there is nothing, I am nothing. I don’t talk about and ruin peoples day because I CAN’T leave the house that is until I was finally PUT on the RIGHT MEDS. This is a CHEMICAL PROBLEM in the brain. Something that I wish I had control over but I don’t. Trust me I have tried to control it with A LOT of things and they didn’t work either. For the first time in my life I feel like I’m living. I didn’t play with my son until he was 3, do you know what that day felt like for me to feel that joy on the floor with him, do you know how awful it felt not being able to do it before, not feeling, period not understanding what was wrong with me.

      I’m not upset with you, nor yelling or any bullshit like that, I just wanted you to see into the eyes of severe depression from someone who reads your blog, wants to be healthy and good to people. But for me, being GOOD to people (and myself) is ON MEDS. Please be responsible with what you right, people ARE listening and ARE influenced by you be careful for them and be careful for you too. xoxo

      Reply
      • kirk hensler
        September 8, 2014

        i respect your opinion. don’t think i’m any stranger to serious mental “illness.” it has plagued my entire family for generations. i’m not a doctor nor do i advise anyone to do anything they aren’t comfortable with. that being said, it’s your choice to decide how you want to live and your mental attachment to what you believe to experience carries more impact on your mental state than the actual physiological effects of the mental illness itself. i’m quite tired of people letting anything overcome their ability to be a free person.

        Reply