Coming Off Psychiatric Medication

Allen's story

I had spent the best part of 9 years on different types of anti-psychotic drugs, some were better than others, but overall they seemed to work. I had my last psychotic episode in 2005 and seemed to be getting better, the voices had gone and I was no longer paranoid. After about a year of no symptoms, I wondered, after consultation with my wife, whether it would be possible to come off of the tablets. I spoke to my psychiatrist and aired my views and to my suprise he thought that it would be in my best interest to try, although he said it would be better to come off the antidepressant (Amitriptyline), gradually, first, then wait another year before coming off the anti-psychotic (Risperidone). After some deliberation and some internal conflicts, I decided to give it a go, but not the way the psychiatrist suggested.

I started in August. I lowered my anti-psychotic, only by a small amount and reduced my anti-depressant. Over the next two months I tried to reduce the anti-depressant further, finding I was becoming depressed, I went back on it. I went to my GP, not the greatest in the world in my opinion, and explained what I was doing. He shouted and told me that he was not the person I should be talking to and that he had no intention to help me come off the medication, I did not have an appointment with the psychiatrist until the end of January. I spoke to my wife and went back on the anti-depressant. I continued to come off the anti-psychtic until the end of December 2006 when I was no longer taking that drug. I went to the psychiatrist, a different person again, and explained that I was no longer on the anti-psychotic and that I had had no problems. She was concerned that I had come off the medication without their observation but insisted that I had more regular appointments, just to keep an eye on the situation. I spent the next month getting used to the idea that I no longer needed the medications then tried, again, to come off the anti-depressant. This time I found it a lot easier, reduced it slowly and eight weeks later, I was free, no more medications!

When I was on the medication I found it hard to do most things, work, study and play all had to be dealt with on a day to day basis, I could not guarantee what each day would hold. The medication gave me a drooped look and I constantly had the shakes but it did reduce the intensity of the voices and paranoia. I have become a different person since coming off the medication, make plans if I wanted, and I do a lot more and do not have to pretend I am well, because I am!

Since coming off the medication I have found that people, my new GP, reacts towards me in a different way. I have always had difficulty sleeping, I went to my GP and asked for some help. To my shock he sent me to the psychiatrist, he was thinking as I later found out, that because I was not on the anti-psychotic I was becoming ill again. To my relief, the psychiatrist was under the impression that I was not spiralling down hill to a psychotic episode, I just could not sleep.

I started to come off the medication on my 30th birthday, 12 months later I am free from the burden of taking tablets twice a day. My psychotic symptoms have not come back; I never thought the use of alternative remedies would be a good idea, if I do not need mainstream medicine why would I need alternatives. If, in the future, I do become ill again I would be the first to suggest going back on the medication and try to get well again. The last nine years have been a blur; the next will be a life worth living.