The Tapering

It has begun! Yesterday I chopped up my 40mg Viibryd tablets into halves and quarters to take 30mg for the next two weeks. It’s been something I’ve been planning since a little before Christmas. 

Around the beginning of December I read Kelly Brogan’s “A Mind of Your Own” and became obsessed with the idea of weaning myself off of my antidepressant medication for the benefit of my 8-month-old breastfeeding son and myself, for our long-term health. …But I went about it the wrong way.

 I hadn’t yet adjusted my diet, or gotten rid of the number of toxins in my environment or those that had built up in my system. I went straight from 40mg to 20mg having cut my tablets in half after deciding on a whim, halfway through Brogan’s book, that I was just gonna go for it (she doesn’t recommend doing that, by the way.) Within three days of trying this schedule I had a major meltdown. I woke up on the fourth day so weepy, upset and self-consumed that I was afraid to stay alone at home with my son. My husband suggested that I call one of my best friends, Jackson’s godmother, to ask her for advice. She has an amazing inner life and often acts as my spiritual director (though she doesn’t really know that). 

She said that I needed to set myself up for success… which made me think about how often I set myself up for failure, this time included. She asked me what I thought God wanted me to do just for today, and she reminded me that God doesn’t want me unconsolably upset (I saw myself as having to embrace redemptive suffering of a self-flagellation type degree), but that He wants me to be at peace. I wasn’t yet able to handle the tapering because I jumped right in without a game plan. I felt relieved, as if she had given me permission to take my meds for the day without feeling like a failure. I went back to the drawing board (which is kind of unusual for a spur-of-the-moment, impatient person like me… but I was willing to try anything.)

So I sat down and literally made a game plan. What were potential obstacles? What was my toxic thinking surrounding it? Who would be on my support team? My medical team? How much would the doctor’s visits costs? How would I raise the money? What if I had a breakdown? I tried to visualize a worst case scenario, and then gathered people around me to prepare for the transition. I felt like this was a solid foundation to begin with. 

I posted Facebook Live videos documenting the journey, just to have the moral support of a community backing my decision. There’s nothing like the inertia of friends cheering you on to stick with the hard times.  I drastically altered my diet for over 2 months, cutting out all gluten, sugar, dairy, and processed foods. I threw away all synthetic or toxicant products in my house — makeup, cleaners, dish soap, over the counter medication, toiletries. I dyed my hair with henna to avoid the temptation of continuing to color it blonde (more toxicants). Everything I ate — and my family ate — was now antibiotic-, pesticide-, and GMO-free; all animal products local, pasture-raised and grass fed. I replaced all over the counter medications with essential oils, and started using them to take care of my health holistically (body, mind, emotions and spirit). The more I learned and absorbed, the more I believed it was possible. 

Life, however, didn’t stop in the midst of my personal transformation. This was happening during Christmastime, folks! And I have a very busy (and darling) 8 month old! To implement all of these changes and hold fast to them has taken me a couple of months, and during this time I knew it wouldn’t be right to attempt tapering again. I did more research about how to correctly do so — did I need an overseeing MD? A psychiatrist? A compounding pharmacy? — or could I do this myself with the right support system?

The answer ended up being the latter. Using a compounding pharmacy to redo the Viibryd into tapering doses would’ve cost me over $200 PER PRESCRIPTION.  As I knew most psychiatrists are still behind in the psyhoneuralimmunology field, unlike Kelly Brogan, I knew I didn’t want to involve a “regular” psychiatrist. I needed someone who would see me as a whole: body, mind and spirit. I prayed often for God to heal me, believe that He would, and that He would provide me with the right resources for this journey. 

And He has. It has been nothing short of miraculous. 

Firstly, I followed the advice of people in my circle who were already thriving. I wanted to emulate the people around me who had what I wanted: life and life abundant. These women were financially sound, competent, confident, radiantly beautiful, unique, healthy in every aspect. This isn’t to say they don’t have struggles, but they know how to handle them. Every one of them remind me of the Proverbs 31 woman in their own way. I took all of their advice and stuck close to them, like a little girl looking up to her big sisters. I don’t regret following their footsteps one bit. The path I was trying to forge on my own just wasn’t getting me where I wanted to be. 

That said, a friend of mine challenged me to complete the Oola wheel and set goals for success, focusing on the areas in my life that are out of balance. It took me a couple of tries and some serious self-discipline to actually sit down and do the damn thing, but I am so glad I did. I finally got to-do’s down in my planner and accomplished them. There’s just something to be said about scheduling what you want to get done. It allows you to hold yourself accountable. 

My first rough draft. The OCD in me would never let this fly for the finished product.

My Oola wheel was way out of whack, by the way. Finance was pretty low, which wasn’t surprising to me. As an entrepreneur who owns a seasonal business, my finances are just not where I want them to be long term and the way things are going isn’t sustainable. I was also low in fitness. Fitness doesn’t just mean going to the gym; it’s a rank of your overall health, from sleep to hydration to stretching and stress relief. I was grateful to write down what my long term goals were for each Oola category — the 7 F’s: finance, family, faith, fitness, fun, field, and friends. Little by little I made progress. 

When I felt closer to achieving the safety net I had set out to create, found a doctor who would work with me and the right products and friends to help me heal along the way, I went for it. It’s never really going to be the right time. I kept wondering if I should wait for this, or that, or until this appointment passes, etc. But that’s just procrastination fueled by fear. God was gently tugging at me as he does. I did it scared. 

So as it goes, the full dose is still in my system for at least 4 days or so. Yesterday I felt the same, except I finally slept. For the past couple of weeks this nervous energy and insomnia has had me in its grips. Every night for as long as my hubs can remember I’ve twisted my feet restlessly while falling asleep. It’s comforting to me; terribly irritating to him. I sleep with my shoulders up by my ears, which has no doubt contributed to the TMJ I suffer from. I wake up regularly at 3am, and nights that I can’t shut my brain down I am in and out of bed to nurse my son (who most likely would stay asleep if his mama’s warm body was asleep next to his) between journaling or reading. It’s just been restless. 

I attribute this to my lifestyle changes and that the dose of Viibryd I needed to work therapeutically before said changes was now too high. Sure enough, last night I finally slept soundly with little to no interruptions (I still have a nursing and teething baby after all). I remember, longingly, the last time I took myself off of all meds enjoying the deepest, most relaxing sleep of my life. The daytime drama of my uncontrollable emotions wasn’t worth the blissful sleep, so I tapered back up (but kept myself off of Adderall and Wellbutrin), so I’m really looking forward to embracing that sleep state again. 

Lastly, another oily friend of mine specializes in the emotional release of stored memories that can create physical repercussions. It shouldn’t sound strange to me; when my stepdad died at age 14 my body reacted first with deep mental anguish, depression and then mononeucleosis. I missed months of school and remember my mom having to wake me up to eat. It wasn’t just a typical malady; something had manifested into this desperately weakened state. I knew it even back then. My mental, spiritual and emotional weakness led to that of a weakened physical state. 

So I bought this book that she referenced at a group get together we were at once. I remember thinking they were all nuts. But here we are, a year later, and I am drinking the Kool-aid. This book is unbelievable (don’t judge it by its cover). We don’t have time during this post to get into all of the nitty gritty, but there is  one very interesting aspect about what I learned today from author Carolyn Mein that I want to share. 

I mentioned that I drastically changed my diet. Kelly Brogan puts a big emphasis on this — she won’t even see a patient for a second time until they’ve done her specified elimination/detox diet for one month. Now that I’ve been doing it for two months I can genuinely say there will be no going back for me. My body would just balk at that decision. When I was meal planning I started wondering if maybe there was a diet specific to my ancestry that I could create… after all, I did do a 23andMe DNA analysis and could start with specific cultures of the largest groups I identified with (I’m not gonna lie, I started with my 0.2% West African heritage to pick recipes from because I think that’s badass). I didn’t get very far with this planning because it was a bit overwhelming, but I knew I was on to something. Based on my genetic expression there had to be a diet that works for me and people like me.

So back to Carolyn Mein. She states that there are 25 different body types with personality profiles that require unique nutritional and exercise needs as determined by the dominant gland, organ or system of your body. Each body type tends to have core emotional issues; specific strengths and weaknesses; and predispositions to certain dietary and lifestyle triggers that just don’t jive with their chemistry. So there’s a Blood body type, Eye body type, Stomach, Spleen, Skin… you get the picture. 

That said, I have a Heart body type which seems rather appropriate. You can read about me here. Another celebrity Heart was Mae West, who, after Googling her, I have to admit I take after in body shape, height and even facial symmetry. How bizarre is that?

And get this, y’all. All of the food that I, 1) have never really liked (like garbanzo beans or any type of alcohol), or  2) I’ve been addicted to at some point (like sugar, bread, and ice cream), but that inevitably make me feel like crap afterward, are on the Heart dietary recommendation to eat seldomly. This doesn’t sound too shocking to you, surely, because everyone should avoid those things, right? Except when I identified my husband’s body type the foods he has never really liked were on his list as well — things like mustard, sugar and broccoli. When he indulges in those things it just puts his body (and mind!) out of whack. And he’s much more in tune with his body than I am mine — my body will tell me it doesn’t like ice cream, but I’ll say “shut up body” and eat an entire pint, ya feel me? He just intuitively knows to avoid those things.

And get this: the different body types have core emotional issues that are characteristically challenging for them, i.e. Mae West and I probably faced some similar difficulties in our lives. The Heart tends to struggle with loneliness, a not good enough mindset and worry which I can definitely vouch for (versus another group’s like “anger, failure, losing, inferiority” which are not predominant struggles of mine). The entire point of the book is about emotional release using essential oils, so it is essential (heh heh) to pinpoint these underlying problems in order to treat them. More on this later as I really get into the nitty gritty and have successfully used her recommendations. 

I mean, really, God. Thank you for placing this right in my lap, right when I need it, and right at the time I am open minded enough to accept it. It was so validating, eye-opening and very, very exciting. You are not a victim of your biology. You are a bespoke being, and through tapping into the Young Living community I have found others who can lead me to how I can create my own bespoke lifestyle. I’ve said it once already, but it really is truly miraculous. 

So, I will continue to update you all as the tapering unfolds. I really do feel very optimistic about the game plan and outcome. There’s a confident peace about it, which is what my friends-I-look-up-to describe to me as necessary in order to forge ahead. I hope that this gives others the confidence to pursue the changes they need to make in their lives, as scary as it first seems. The grace you need to succeed will roll out in front of you like a red carpet if you have the humility to ask for assistance. At least, that’s been my experience. 


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