Perhaps one of the biggest changes I made to my life when learning to cope with my Bipolar disorder was to release all the negativity I held within me. I set about slowly chipping away the negative influences in my life and I worked hard to replace each dark thought with one filled with light. This isn’t always an easy thing to do but the old adage is certainly true, you receive what you put into the universe. Yesterday, as I was on my way to work, the air was so spring-like and it was delightful. The old me, would have missed instances like that. I would have been too far within my own head to realise that the timid sun was beating down, I wouldn’t have noticed the deliciously fresh, cold and crisp air; and in turn I would have missed the very thing that brought me back from the brink of insanity once again… My medication has now stopped entirely. I have been on many medications throughout this journey of mine but the only one that seemed to stabilise me was Venlafaxine and so all of the others were slowly discontinued – it is different for everyone so I would never deign to belittle or even to recommend a certain medication. For me, Venlafaxine gave me the time to learn my illness, it halted symptoms that hindered my ability to function, it kept me alive… and now I need to learn to live without this crutch of medication to hold me steady. I am not afraid of living life without medication. I have developed so much as a person, I have management techniques now, I have strategies to keep me going, I talk more – about anything and everything because an externalised problem is far easier to cope with than one kept hidden inside, festering. This time is a difficult one though and I am not too proud to admit that I am struggling. My Venlafaxine was reduced slowly over this past year, from 225mg right down to 37.5mg… but the withdrawals from this drug are hellish to say the least. Sweats and instances of severe cold, brain zaps and body zaps, headaches, vomiting, panic attacks, irritability, dizziness, tearfulness and even a few rogue suicidal thoughts are among the symptoms I am experiencing right now. I can feel the sickness within my mind – which is rather fascinating as I realise now that it has been there every time I have fallen in to the pit of despair; its a strange sensation – almost as though there isn’t enough room in your head for this pulsating brain inside, I feel this immense pressure as if I were about to explode in a horrific display of blood and gore. I am five days into having no medication and things are starting to ease – I feel dizzy and a little queasy but for the most part the symptoms are subsiding and so I see a light at the end of the tunnel. The important thing is to continue to move. Things are more challenging to deal with now, I have a job, I function as a human being and no longer reach for the pillow and sleep away my troubles away; though sometimes I really wish I could. I know without a doubt that I will come out of this, victorious. I will battle through this tough time – like I have so many times before and when I emerge it will be as though from a cocoon – I will spread my wings and all life will be a riot of colour; no longer the rage of grey that has plagued my soul. Things seem bleak but I must not dwell on that. I must look at the rays of sunshine, timidly pushing through the overcast sky – the Venlafaxine that gives me so much pain right now is also the saviour that stopped me from ending my time here. These withdrawals are merely a renewal; they are the making of me and serve to add yet another facet to my character, another layer of wisdom, another layer of knowledge, inevitably making me a better person. And so; though I enter a new chapter, I do it with my head held high because no matter what, I will overcome, I will flourish and I will be ok.