These are just some of the medications I had the privilege of throwing away on January 2, 2010. I had just completed a safe and lengthy detox supervised by a qualified doctor.
Down the rabbithole
I was diagnosed with severe depression and anxiety disorder at the age of 18 and put on prescription medication. I soon began to experience side effects, and was put on more medication to manage those. Shortly after, I was misdiagnosed with bipolar disorder.
I spent the next twelve years lost in the Western medical system, taking countless medications. I was given no other alternative to feel better, and told by doctors that that was just the way it was going to be for me… forever. I was told I’d be on a cocktail of medications for my entire life, unable to ever live a normal life without them.
Unsurprisingly, I spent almost the entirety of those twelve years wishing I were dead. I just wanted the pain to stop.
It wasn’t until I saw a naturopath in December 2008 that the gravity of the situation came into focus. I was 80 pounds overweight and suicidally depressed… these things I knew. But what my naturopath told me (after running some bloodwork to get a baseline) was that I was on borrowed time. I was pre-diabetic and had the liver enzymes of a 60 year old, lifelong alcoholic. He guessed I had about six months to live, if I continued on this path. He also told me that he didn’t know where to begin to help me, because of the mountain of medication I was on.
It was such a mountain of medication, in fact, that no doctor wanted to go anywhere near it. No one knew where to begin. With considerable effort, stress, and frustration, the 38th doctor I called agreed to help.
I’ll never forget the first appointment with him, and the day my detox began: May 6th, 2009.
“Well, the first thing we’re going to do here is get you out of this coma,” he said.
I knew there was never going to be a perfect time to start nor did I want to wait any longer. Each time I took medication, I felt my health deteriorating and couldn’t chance it.
I didn’t need a special day to start
I wanted the detox to go quicker, but followed the advice of my doctor, who was adamant that it had to be done slowly and in a very controlled manner, to keep me safe. The detox would end up taking the rest of 2009.
My liver couldn’t take the strain of these meds any longer and I needed to do everything I could to avoid liver failure. I knew I had more living to do than just six months.
The first day of the rest of my life
January 2, 2010 was my first morning without prescription medication —even the pain killers I had become addicted to.
It felt like the first day of the rest of my life, even with the most uncertainty I have ever felt. I didn’t time it to happen with the dawn of a new year, but the universe had other plans.
When I took this photo, I felt a lot of emotion. Disgust. Elation. Anger. Freedom. Fear. Mostly fear. I feared that the moment I threw the meds away, I’d need them. I feared doctors would be right and I couldn’t live a “normal” life without them. I feared that I wouldn’t be able to overcome the depression and anxiety that had crippled me for three decades. I feared letting go of who I used to be. I feared being different. I feared feeling. I feared change. I feared.
Though the detox was “over,” I was still messy, emotional, overweight and confused. I had known I needed to get the meds out of my system if I wanted to survive but they had been a part of me for so long. A part of my habit. Filling scripts. Smoking cigarettes. Picking up meds. Doctor’s appointments for more scripts. Pop a pill here. Pop a pill there. Cigarette. Take a painkiller. With food. Without food. With a drink. A cigarette. With another drink. Another painkiller. Another pill. Upper. Downer. Whatever. Numb numb numb. Time for a smoke. Dinner meds. Another drink… It was my routine and habit for 12 years—a habit that nearly killed me.
I was desperate for the change but more importantly, I was ready for that change. As much as my husband wanted change for me, he couldn’t do it. I had to do it.
I thought “well, shit… I got myself here and I’m the only one that can get myself out.”
I was ready to take responsibility for my actions. I was ready to put the work in to change this death sentence. The detox was excruciating and I knew this was only the beginning.
Forgiveness… for myself
I forgave myself and threw away the past habits along with these meds.
I believed without a doubt that my body could heal. I knew it in the soul that I had been so disconnected from that I could reconnect and thrive.
For the next 10 months after the detox, I devoted myself to walking, working out, meditation, yoga and healthy eating. I faced emotional eating issues, addiction and the negative voice constantly playing in my head with stories of unworthiness, shame and guilt. Step by step, thought by thought I got stronger and practiced new habits. I sweat and breathed out the 80 pound burden of suffering that I had been carrying around.
Today is the day
Today is the day. Today is always a day for new beginnings. Today marks seven years that I have been living medication free, loving life, truly happy… with unshakable peace and unconditional love. This is the life doctors told me I’d never have. I’m still practicing the same healthy habits and have kept that 80 pounds of extra weight off.
Gradual changes over time add up to different habits, which make up a different life. I hope you are ready to start. Self-awareness and self-responsibility are the first tools you need to start living the life you have always dreamed of.
You can do it. Start now.
Happy New Year my friends. Many blessings and peace to you.