I have an announcement that is both scary and exciting: I’m going off medication.
I’ve been on Prozac (fluoxetine) for two and a half years now. It helped me accomplish things in therapy that I was unable to accomplish on my own at the time. Those of you who have been on this ride with me since I started therapy three or so years ago know how much I struggled with the decision to medicate. I was very opposed to the idea, but my therapist talked me into giving SSRIs one more shot.
Getting to a high enough dose for positive effects was difficult. I almost quit many times. But the battle was worth it. I started making progress. I started feeling like I could handle things. I started to believe in myself more. It was exactly what I needed.
Over the last couple of years, Prozac has continued to do that for me: make OCD manageable.
Things have gotten dramatically easier to deal with the past few months, even though I haven’t changed my dosage. I’m finally getting to a point where the Exposure Response Prevention exercises have paid off. I’m finally seeing real, tangible evidence of my brain being reprogrammed. OCD is retreating, and it feels amazing.
So I decided to get off Prozac. Those of you who have been reading for awhile know that I never wanted to be on medication permanently, that my therapist and I planned to use it as a temporary tool, something to help me get to a better place. Well, I’m in a better place—a much better place. It’s time to stand on my own again. That’s both terrifying and exciting. Terrifying because I could fall flat on my face. OCD could pop back up. But it’s exciting because I believe I’ll be fine. I know what I’m doing now, and I’m going to work really hard at continuing ERP exercises as I taper off Prozac.
I’m very hopeful and confident about this. I can’t wait to see what happens.
That said (and this is for those of you who don’t have OCD) this doesn’t mean I’m on my way to being cured. There is no cure to OCD. Yes, I’m doing better lately than I have done in years, and I’m getting off medication, but that’s only for now.
The reality is that I’ll need to go back on medication at some point in the future. It could be months away, or it could be years, decades down the road. There’s no way to tell how long this good period will last. I’m not being pessimistic here. That’s how OCD works. You can overcome your obsessions and your compulsions for a time and have a bit of freedom from that anxiety, but OCD just lies in wait, dormant, when that happens. It doesn’t disappear entirely. I will always have OCD. Always. That’s just how it is. And remembering that is important because I don’t want to punish myself when OCD hits me hard again. I don’t want to blame myself for something I cannot control.
So I’m going to enjoy this period fully. I’m going to revel in being off medication. I’m going to get my hands dirty and take advantage of whatever momentary freedom I can grab. I’m going to continue pushing myself outside my comfort zone. I’m going to store up how good it all feels because I’ll need these memories later when things get difficult again.