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.
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.
"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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