Are You Falling Into This Common Mental Health "Trap?"

It can happen for many people who are treating their mental illnesses with medication — once you feel like you're doing better, it can be easy to think that you can stop taking the drugs because it feels as if you no longer need them. But after going off her bipolar medication, ban.do founder Jen Gotch wrote about why it was mistake to do so.
In a post to her Instagram page, Gotch opened up about why you should think twice — and definitely talk to your doctor — before deciding to go off medication for mental health.
Gotch wrote that after years of feeling "misunderstood" by her doctors and being prescribed Prozac ("at that particular time if you were sad and didn’t hear voices you pretty much got Prozac"), she finally had a breakthrough and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
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While staying on bipolar treatment medication for 10 years changed her life, Gotch said she stopped taking the drugs after forgetting to bring them on a five-day vacation.

23 years ago when I was 23 a doctor gave me Prozac. He was trying to help. I was in a very dark place in my mind and at that particular time if you were sad and didn’t hear voices you pretty much got Prozac. I felt better after I took it for quite a while and then I felt worse. A lot worse. I went into therapy and over many years met with 6 other doctors as they all tried a ton of different drug cocktails to get me to a place where I could actually function. No one got it right. It was a scary, uncertain, lonely time for me. I felt misunderstood by everyone around me including the doctors that I was paying to help me, and that was incredibly alienating. Then a lightbulb. What if I was actually Bipolar and not just Depressed? I saw a new Doctor, he confirmed the diagnosis that my therapist and I thought and prescribed a two drug combination that changed my life. CHANGED MY LIFE!!! I stayed on those drugs for about 10 years. I got myself together. I got married, I started a company and then I stopped taking the drugs. It was an accident - I went on a 5 day trip and forgot them- but I felt fine so. . . I stopped. I felt fine for years. I was convinced my brain chemistry had changed and I could manage, but this is a common trap for people with mental illness and I fell right in. With Andrew being gone I’ve had a lot of alone time. Like a lot. You watch my stories. You know! I realized I wasn’t ok and I was just scared and prideful and ashamed that I hadn’t miraculously risen above it. That I hadn’t evolved beyond my physiology. I’m still suffering. So I’m starting to take medicine for it again. I wanted you to know because you have supported me and encouraged me and helped me realize what was going on and that it was ok. I’ll keep you posted every step of the way, since I know this will be useful for so many of you that are suffering, too. Ok that’s it. Sidenote: I know you are going to ask about my pj’s and it’s not because you don’t care about mental illness it’s just that you like rainbows as much as me. I get it. They are from Reformation but I think they are sold out. Bye. 🌈 💊

A post shared by jen gotch (@jengotch) on

"I felt fine so. . . I stopped," she wrote. "I felt fine for years. I was convinced my brain chemistry had changed and I could manage, but this is a common trap for people with mental illness and I fell right in."
As the National Institute of Mental Health points out, you should only stop taking medication with the help of a doctor, who can help you slowly and safely decrease the dose. You need to give your body time to adjust to the change, and to avoid symptoms of withdrawal.
As for Gotch, she said, "I realized I wasn’t ok and I was just scared and prideful and ashamed that I hadn’t miraculously risen above it. [...] I’m still suffering. So I’m starting to take medicine for it again."
There's a lot to consider when it comes to going off your mental health medication, and while it may be tempting to quit cold turkey when things are better, it's important to do so as safely as possible.
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