The problem with coming off drugs is that, done properly, it is a long process. It may seem like the right thing to do in the buoyant, back to school atmosphere of October; by the time you reach the difficult last steps in December it is dark, you are exhausted, disappointments have intervened in the meantime and throwing the crutch away no longer seems such a great idea.
Eighteen months ago I was fighting the idea of going on anti-depressants. A combination of fear and pride kept me clear of them, but I found myself in such a state by the end that there was no sense in resisting my doctor’s recommendations any further. By Christmas last year I was on a fairly chunky dosage; by new year I was a more recognisably positive person. They were working.
And looking back, as I have been, on 2009 there is no doubt at all that this is the happiest, most stable and most productive I have been since diagnosis in 2005. I got on top of and finished a secondment that had looked like it might overwhelm me, applied for and got accepted on a masters course, enjoyed being in a relationship again, and went through my worst MS relapse to date without being too dispirited. A positive time, without doubt.
So I decided to come off them. I felt like I was in good enough shape to try. And also because I never could gauge how far they were responsible, and how far my better state of mind was due to meditation courses and classes, better work life balance and the occasional company of a lovely girl who wanted me to be well. I was ready to experience this without the drug assistance; without the irritating side effects that came with it.
The descent has not been great though, especially in the last couple of weeks when tiredness and nausea have characterised the days in between taking my (ever decreasing) hits. Stress and disappointment have been the features of work this last month, while the usual pressures of December have laid me low. I am now relapsing too, which is a rather cruel end to the year and one which puts me in an eerily similar physical and psychological position to that of a year ago.
Except where last year the drugs were kicking in, this time they are clearing out. It will be 100% me this Christmas. Lets see how we do.