Weaning Off the Pills

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional and the medications, dosages, and treatments described here are not meant for any readers to use as their own diagnoses and dosages. I have deliberately been vague about actual medications and some of their dosages to prevent this. They are described here purely for the purposes of showing fellow insomnia and anxiety sufferers that there is help for them out there and that there is hope for them. Please seek professional medical help if you need it.

I’ve been really bad about keeping this blog updated, apologies! I have no other excuse than I’ve been lazy and have been procrastinating. Let’s put it down to a mid-year slump 😛

In the previous post I touched on getting into a good enough head space where I felt comfortable enough with the idea of weaning myself off the sleeping pills. My sleep had improved greatly in December and I knew I would relax a lot more during the leave period at the end of the same month so I felt then would be the right time to try it out.

If the I Quit Sugar programme taught me anything it was that it’s okay to approach something new with the idea of it simply being an experiment: some days things may work really well and other days they might not. The important thing is not to beat yourself up about a bad day and simply get back on the horse as soon as you can. This was an idea I took into weaning off and it certainly made things a lot easier.

I didn’t set a specific start date for weaning, I figured I would start it when I felt absolutely ready so that I wouldn’t stress myself out. My partner went away for a night with his friends shortly after Christmas so I took advantage of having the bed and home to myself and started the weaning process then. To be honest I didn’t even wake up that morning thinking I would start it that night, it just kind of occurred to me during the day. My casual approach to it really surprised me.

And lo and behold it actually worked! Up until then I had been taking 1-2 sleeping pills each night depending on how bad the night was (don’t worry, that amount had been prescribed to me) so I so sure that cutting down would be a real struggle. I went down to a 3/4 pill and it was absolutely fine. I managed to sleep the entire first night through and actually woke up a lot later than usual. I put that part down to being so relaxed while on leave but was nonetheless grateful. It was such a relief to know that I was able to wean off and still sleep!

For the next month I continued on 3/4 of a pill each night (keep in mind though that I still had bad nights and would take an extra 1/2 pill if I woke up in the middle of the night and couldn’t get back to sleep for a few hours) along with melatonin and then the next month I cut down to 1/2 a pill each night and that also worked out really well.

The next month things went a little haywire. I tried going down to 1/4 pill each night and experienced a really bad occurrence of insomnia, much like how it had been a year prior. My heart would start racing when I was dropping off to sleep and my body would jolt me awake. My mind was constantly racing and I simply couldn’t get to sleep for hours despite the assistance of melatonin. After a few nights of this I decided it wasn’t worth it and went back up to 1/2 a sleeping pill.

My head-space had taken a serious knock from the setback of not being able to go down to 3/4 of a pill and I did struggle a bit with sleep for a weeks after that. I realised then that I needed the help of a professional. I turned to a therapy service offered by my work and they did what they could but helped me to see that while they could help me get into a positive head space it would be pointless if there was an underlying medical condition that would simply set me back in any case. I finally understood that I needed to see a psychiatrist and the therapists really drove this point home by saying that it would be an expensive exercise in the short term but would work out cheaper than constantly being on medication in the long term.

I finally bit the bullet and started seeing a wonderful psychiatrist around April who was a bit cheaper than other psychiatrists with the view of helping me to sleep and getting me off the sleeping pills. Side note: Why is professional healthcare so expensive?? It’s disgusting how inaccessible it is!

More about all that next time though. For now I want to leave you with the following: it’s okay to admit you’re human and that, from time to time, you will fail at things. Just get up, dust yourself off, keep doing your best, and stop beating yourself up these things. That’s something I have to keep telling myself everyday.

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