The medical front isn't all doom and gloom though. Today marked the start of my trial run of being off my anxiety medication completely. I have been steadily reducing the dose for a while now and today my doctor agreed that it was time to go solo for a while and see how that goes. I feel very positive about the move as I have been feeling really good with the lower dose and I have some great coping strategies now to deal with the stress and worry that plagued me for so long. I've learnt a lot about myself in the last year or so and while that sounds strange coming from a 40 year old guy it's the truth. Some of the things have been positive, and some not so much.
On the negative side was seeing that I weaknesses like any human being, I'm not perfect and I do make mistakes. Sometimes I can't please everyone and sometimes people aren't going to like me or want to listen to what I have to say. On the positive side is knowing now that all of those things are okay.
I'm stubborn and persistent. Sometimes thats a great thing and gets results but you can't let it rule your life. Keep some perspective on whats important and be prepared to "cut it loose" even if in the short term it is painful and causes you stress. In the long term it is most likely for the best.
Here's my dirty great caveat for what you read below. All of what is said and done below has been in consultation with my doctor.
I have treated getting off the meds like the training and preparation for a race. Set the goal, make a plan and do what needs to be done to achieve it. I have learnt to deal with stress and anxiety as my first step. Call that the base miles before the intensity training starts. During this time I was heavily dependent on my medication to moderate my stress but as I got better at it I decreased my dose and kept a close eye on the results. Just like upping your miles and watching your average speeds and heart rate. Monitor it, apply the results.
So if you like, the decreasing of the dose has been like increasing the intensity of training. As my dose comes down, I am dealing with more and more of the stress on my own so to speak. And now it's all me! I'm happy to take this step finally and even a little bit proud to be able to. Nowhere in the mental health handbook does it say it's a lock that you'll get off the medication once you have started it or that if you do you will stay off it. Life is just not that cut and dry. I feel pretty confident though that I have a red hot go at it because I have my family and a fantastic support network of friends to help me if I need it and that my "training" has been good and solid.