After nine-and-a-half months of taking a tiny white pill every night around 6 pm, I decided to start tapering off my anxiety medication. It has been a bumpy three weeks, with side effects resurfacing as my brain newly balanced its serotonin production. Last night was my first Lexapro-free day since January! I’m feeling lightheaded and a little dizzy, but no anxiety.
Overcoming my stigma surrounding prescription medication and choosing to take Lexapro (in combination with a strong commitment to continuing work with my therapist) was one of the best decisions I ever made. Lexapro fit my brain like a cozy, snug glove on a cold hand. I lived for ten months with only occasional anxiety, which was almost always triggered by a specific event, rather than something completely ambiguous and mysterious. In short, anxiety was coming up as it was “designed” to: to signal that something felt unsafe, or that I needed to take action to prevent an unwanted outcome. Feeling anxiety about my audition? Better practice. Feeling anxious about my defense? Better check those facts again. My chronic, consistent anxiety had relaxed. It was wonderful!
But who really wants to be on a prescription drug? My intuition spoke to me one day: no more Lexapro (I tend to make big decisions quickly, based on my gut). I’ve been having a lot of success with regular acupuncture, and it is undeniable that finishing my master’s lifted a huge anxious weight off my shoulders. I cut my dose in half, and then in half again, and last night didn’t even open the bottle in my medicine cabinet. Freedom!
I’m feeling newly energized to use more natural ways to care for my anxiety. Continuing with acupuncture, using herbs and tinctures that friends have lovingly made, making sleep a top priority, and eating nourishing, yummy things all day are all methods I’m excited to continue exploring.
I don’t regret taking Lexapro. I truly believe this drug tamed my anxiety to a degree where I could breathe and look around and create healthier mental patterns. But I am so glad to be done. I feel like “myself” again. Sending gratitude to Dr. Parrott at the UAF Health and Counseling Center for prescribing me Lexapro.
Coincidentally, I just finished a piece for LifeOmic titled “Do you have anxiety? Your mitochondria could be struggling to create energy.” Enjoy my explanation of this new research! At the bottom of the article, I share some resources about anxiety that have been helpful for me. With anxiety disorders being the most prevalent mental illness in the US, it is very likely that you know someone struggling with anxiety, or that you yourself are struggling. I hope we can all find ways to nurture and heal ourselves, whether that’s inviting someone to stick little needles in our ears or taking a drug manufactured by some big corporation. It’s all good.