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the Med Free you - marriage difficulties

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Hello, I'm new to the board, and hoping to find some perspectives and insight from others who have experienced something similar. I'm 2 years med free, after having been debilitated by anxiety/panic, and socially isolated for nearly 15 years due to (what I now know were) the side-effects of the meds I was put on when I was 15. While on meds I had very little energy, and was easily fatigued, as well as exhausted by constantly managing anxiety. I met my husband during my time on meds, and he's been an amazing support through everything. I can't imagine a better partner.


However, as my body came back online after discontinuing the medications I found myself having many new issues that have put a HUGE strain on my marriage. For instance, about a year after coming off, my hormones came back online. They kind of picked up where they left off...as a 15 year old teen; however being 31 and married and having the hormonal and emotional drives of a 15y/o didn't go together so well.


I was feeling the strong compulsion to be on my own, exploring life on my own terms, very rebellious against any form of authority, and rejecting any boundaries that came from "outside". I also had a massive influx of sexual drive, and I felt overwhelmed by it. I struggled on my own (hoping it would just go away and balance itself out) for about 8 months before finally bringing it up to my husband. I admit, hindsight being 20/20 that asking to open the marriage up to some degree was perhaps not the best opening volley. :P


That was just one aspect of huge shifts in my energy, drive, and also my body/mind seeming to seek new experiences as a way to heal and learn and rewire itself. I'm about 10 years behind most other people in my career industry, and I'm feeling frustrated and rushed trying to play catch-up. I was able to be social for the first time in a decade, and I wanted to be out and among people - having conversations, learning how to navigate all different kinds of social interaction again.


I lost a great deal of weight as my metabolic system started to recover, and I ended up looking very good and getting all kinds of new attention, which was novel and exciting. However, my new energy and social prowess was helping me make rapid in-roads in my career field. However, all of this was leaving my marriage in its wake. I felt like a 24 year old, but was 32 and married. I admit to not doing a good job of balancing things...and honestly, to not wanting to because I was having fun for the first time in my adult life.


The last 8 months have been exceedingly difficult. First we had to repair all the damage that me asking to open things up caused. Then we had to deal with the trust-fallout (which went both ways, since he had begun spying on me being convinced that I was cheating - which I was not), which is still ongoing. We were in couples counseling for several months, and both of us are still in individual therapy. It's exhausting. I am currently on homeopathics to help calm and balance my hormones, which has taken some edge off of things and helped clear my head (though it has also zapped a good deal of the energy and motivation I'd had a few months ago).


We've been doing a good job of reconnecting romantically and as friends for the most part - but I think whether or not we're still right for one another now that in many ways I'm a very different person is still in the back of both our heads. At the core is a new relationship dynamic. We got together in a kind of invalid-caretaker paradigm, and now that I'm independent and wanting to forge some kind of life for myself as an individual, it's straining things greatly. We separated for about a month at one point, and came very close to separating again on two other occasions (apartment hunting was even initiated, but nixed).


We're still struggling with finding some new kind of balance where our lives don't revolve around one another, but still include each other. I was just wondering if all the positive changes that can come with discontinuing the meds, have actually caused huge interpersonal issues for anyone else? If so, how did you deal with it? This has proved to be the most difficult thing I've dealt with in recovery so far. Thanks.

Edited by KarenB
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What a remarkable story, freebird. Thank you for posting it!


I think this type of reorientation in a relationship is not uncommon in, as you say, situations where roles change and the "invalid" doesn't need caretaking anymore, such as when one partner has a breakthrough in psychotherapy or finds a creative calling. So it's not at all an abnormal situation.


Your growth may put a strain on your marriage, but perhaps both of you need to grow more to find out how to have a relationship on new terms.


But you must have heard this from your therapist -- I'm interested to find out what people's experiences have been, too.

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Welcome and....wow! What great insight.

I can relate to some of this as I had suffered a work injury (neck) that was treated for many years w opiates and all psych drugs. My husband is an Occupational Med MD and also on several psych drugs for depression, sleep, and ADD. We are much older. Peter Breggin describes our situation so well in his writing.

I have been off of opiates since 2008 and dc'd ADs over the past year (still on benzo, stim, and traz). Injury and chronic meds began in 1993, married in '95, so all we knew of each other was invalid/medicated caretaker MD roles until several months ago when I began to have 'breakthrough emotions'. Some of his family and one old friend said he used to be social, but I only know a very isolated recluse, which 'fit' what I needed when I was in horrible chronic pain and depression. I always wanted more of a social life, but had no idea of the role that the ADs were playing. He still refuses to acknowledge in either of us.

I will write more later.

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Welcome...... and congrats on hitting 2yrs med free, well done you.

Im so glad you started this thread here, and have to say what a great insight your post is, and to let you know that your so not alone.

I too took paxil for 14.4yrs and am now 6months med free, and experiencing problems in my marriage too, yes paxil creates problems for its users, but i cant in anyway blame paxil for my marriage problems per se;- they existed for a long time prior to the drug, but........ yes i will admit to being emotionally super charged since coming off, ie, things that are said and things that happen hurt more now, than they ever would have done prior to my use of the drug.


I feel a lot of resentment towards my husband as i have been married for 34 plus yrs ( i am a very young 52) I have gone through a lot of hard times and stood strong and seen it through, i consider myself to have been very supportive towards my husband, yet, through no fault of my own i have needed support from him, and it hasnt been there!!!!!!!!! that hurts badly, especially seeing what iv had to go through. Iv pleaded and begged for support at certain times, but it just hasnt been there.

How can anyone turn there backs on others they love and care for?

I just thank GOD for forums like this, it makes us realise that we are not alone.

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Hi Freebird. I must agree, great insight. You seem pretty balanced and in tune with your inner self and it's inspiring for someone like me to hear. I'm still in the process of getting there. I don't really have any advice, but it seems you and your husband are making good efforts to find a balance and that's good. Best of luck and thank you for sharing your story.

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This is a tough one... I find as well that there is general disbelief about what I describe that I am going through even with close friends and family. I see my parents every day, and my mother has come to realize that something really is wrong (my father seems to think I just need to get over it and that it's just my regular depression and anxiety about life stuff)... but even then sometimes she thinks I can handle more than I can (for that matter, so do I! It's hard to find the right balance of how much to push forward and how much to take it easy). It doesn't help that there is not a whole lot of literature out there supporting us, and what is out there can be considered "fringe"...

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This is a very interesting concept to me.  First the stage your at in your life when you put on drugs is important I think as I do believe the personality and physical changes the drugs cause are significant.  I too believe that the drugs can delay development or in otherwise contort it.  As in we would not have been the way we were or developed certain aspects of ourselves the way we did had it not been for drug effects.


How this affects each one of us is a mixed bag.  For you it has been a dampening of your sexual self for me taking one drug at one point caused an explosion of sexual energy and obsession... my brain also had a decreased cognitive ability to figure out what could be causing the sudden and dramatic change... urges and unwanted imagery ran the show... my body was just along for the ride while the true aspects of my real self were buried some place under the rubble ... never to be heard from again till long after ceasing the drug use

So you see it can go many ways. 


I think a lot depends on the drug you have taken... as they affect us in different ways. I know one drugs affect on me to be completely different than another and the fallout completely different too though they are all called "antidepressants"  it is a term used extremely loosely in my opinion as they don't so much stop depression as alter the mind/body in various ways so that depression if it were the reason one took the drug... becomes the least obvious problem. Or for me I was badly affected cognitively/functionally often and  other issues became the new top issues... including side effects and severe adverse reactions that can take years to heal from ... which included more drugs and damage to treat... according to the wisdom of my doctors at the time.


I think when we are drugged and developing or stagnating due to drug use... we deviate from our life path in damaging ways to accommodate the drug affects we are stifled from our natural growth....   and this shows up later when we get off the drugs... for myself I feel I have missed much of my life as I lived it in an altered state of being... aspects of my personality that are true to my innate being have been side stepped... put on the shelf stagnating while I took on a new drug personality and lived thru it... often damaging aspects of my life beyond repair... not to mention the lack of development and enrichment to myself and my loved ones by my not being in my life ... if you get what I mean... some may not get this others who had extreme personality changes will. 


I find now those years lost ..Lived in a drugged state...  are a part of me in a dissociated memory sort of way... I know it was me I know I was there and I know I lived it... but it does not feel like it was me... not the real me I know to be my true self.  It has been an agonizing struggle to " re emerge"  so to speak after years of drug use for many reason not the least of which has been the dealing with the changes I myself made while I was on drugs... how people see me ...post drug use... and the disconnect from what I feel in my real self now back and the drugged self i grow further from.  I am constantly re annoyed by the damages done to my life as I see it more clearly every day and that does not help my mood any. 


I think since you were on the drugs from a key developmental age it will take time to sort out who and what you are.  I think to the amount of time on drugs makes a big difference to have lost say under 5 years to drug use is one thing to have lost a decade or two .. is not so easy to make up for.  I have lost 18 years... so rebuilding a self and seeing what will be shaken out of the puzzle box at the end of the day is not so easy. Trying to establish a self after a long time is daunting and my hat is off to you for going forward best you can I would suggest you take it slow as we all tend to be a bit of pendulum swinging too far one way then the other before we sort ourselves out.


All those years married... and he was your helper... means something.. something that would be very big to my natural self.. may not have meant much to my drug taking self but to the self I have now this is huge...I will add some thoughts I have about this tho they may or may not be helpful to the new energetic you....

I did my drug years alone and as an alone person... I struggled to keep a job and find anything stable in my life... there was no base to be kept stable... he has been your base for years ... kept on keeping on ... that means something big to me now maybe because i did not have it... he married you as you did with the idea this is who you were and was fooled as much as you... I wonder where you would have been without him.. this relationship has great value and if you can factor in the real affects of medication on your lives and both get an understanding of it with a therapist who gets it too.. if one exists... changing or ending the relationship should have these facts in the subtitles... a lot of confusion comes with this sorting and it shifts all the time doing it alone I am forced to follow it as it is the only game in town for me I have to do it... but if I had a partner he may not care to follow these shifts... I think the fact that so far yours is at least open to seeing where this goes is an amazing statement to how deeply he cares for you... 

to me 

that is uncommon and needs to be treated with care... with or without him... he has added value and care to your life and it was his life too... I really hope you don't become enemies as you have something rare. 


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Weird to get new responses to this in 2015, when it was originally posted in 2011 :)


I guess and update is in order in light of that:


We're 3 years divorced now with no contact (other than a few emails regarding taxes or other things of that nature). 


He was unable to stop spying on me and he quit his individual therapy when it became clear that he had actually always had extreme control issues. but my illness had enabled him to have near complete control without exerting any effort since I was basically housebound for most of our marriage. A lot of things that had been ongoing issues throughout the marriage suddenly were put in a new light that showed me what big red-flags they had been about the control issues. (Like him keeping a spreadsheet of all the money it cost him to support me while I was not working, and presenting it to me each month and letting me know that I was expected to pay him back in some way eventually.)


I, of course, had done a good deal of damage with the asking for the open marriage which was never repaired. I take responsibility for that.  I continued to work hard in therapy, and do everything both he and the therapist asked of me to work to repair things. I'm sure that there were things I did that I could have done better. No one is perfect.


The relationship was becoming increasingly extremely toxic and emotionally manipulative. He knew exactly what all my weak points were, and when I would start branching out in my own activities, he would do everything in his power to make sure to tear me down to the point where I could not leave the house again. Then he got to nurse me back to health and be the supportive partner, until I was better, and then it all started again. He even acknowledged in couples therapy that he did that, and he was seeing that it was an unhealthy pattern.


After about a year of that, I was suicidal - I didn't want to divorce him because I "owed" him so much, and no one in my family has ever been divorced and did not want to be a failure. But I couldn't live with the contact accusations, and emotional abuse he was heaping on me. I didn't see any option other than just ending it. After about 2 weeks of spending all day Googling suicide options, I kind of had an objective moment where I saw what I was doing, and saw how it was NOT an option, and I knew I needed to leave. 


We separated again, and we left the door open to reconciliation. We both vowed to continue in individual therapy so we could make progress on our own issues, and then hopefully be able to make it work again. Within 4 weeks of me living separately, he called me to confess that he had been hacking into my social media and email accounts again, and that he was sorry, but unwilling to continue in individual therapy. That closed the door for me.


So we waited out the year that Canadian law makes you wait before you can divorce, and then we divorced. During that year, I met someone and despite me trying to set an arbitrary moratorium on dating for myself, I ended up acquiescing to some dates and things clicked in a remarkable way. I found employment to keep me above water, and starting doing what I could to ensure that I could move into a more high-paying position.


I admit that following the separation, my anxiety came back with a vengeance, in a new form that it had never taken previously (obsessive intrusive thoughts) so I didn't have many tools for coping. I thought I was going to have to hospitalize myself several times, which is not something I had ever even once considered before in my long past. But I stayed med-free and got myself into a CBT program, and started doing my mindfulness meditation religiously twice daily, and things really turned around.


I work full time now, and am slowly building some savings, and am completely financially independent with no debts. I'm in a committed relationship of 3 years that has no co-dependent overtones. I've even traveled internationally solo to several locals, including India. My life is pretty awesome, and I can't remember ever being so stable and content. I still do deal with anxiety from time to time, but my tools keep it very manageable, and I'm able to keep it from affecting my quality of life. 


So...that is how the story ended. It's not necessarily the classic happy ending, but it's a really good one for me in any case. :)

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I did not notice it was old sorry...but thanks for the update... as for the intrusive thoughts after you broke up that could well have still been withdrawal I am glad your well but feel sorry you two could not remain friends... I guess there was nothing there worth saving. 

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This is a tough one... I find as well that there is general disbelief about what I describe that I am going through even with close friends and family. I see my parents every day, and my mother has come to realize that something really is wrong (my father seems to think I just need to get over it and that it's just my regular depression and anxiety about life stuff)... but even then sometimes she thinks I can handle more than I can (for that matter, so do I! It's hard to find the right balance of how much to push forward and how much to take it easy). It doesn't help that there is not a whole lot of literature out there supporting us, and what is out there can be considered "fringe"...

A rose by any other name is still a rose Wil and fringe can mean truth... there are a lot of books in the library... take a look some may help ...suggested book list on here too.

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Interesting story.  I must say that I'm not surprised that you divorced.  When I initially read that you were medicated at the time you met him, I was thinking that he couldn't have possibly even really ever have known the real you.  Congratulations on your new life.  I'm glad that you are doing so well.  As for your job, just hang in there and don't be afraid to take a risk.  My career took off by always doing the right thing and by taking some risks. I was late in the game career wise also (not because of medication but children).

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Hi FreeBird - not sure if you're even a member or checking anymore - I can sort of relate to the troubles you experienced.

I hope you ended up with a good balance with your husband.


While tapering off the medication - still at 7mg of Lexapro, I also experienced a HUGE SURGE of quite strong and immature emotions

They felt like they were straight from my teenage years as a boy.  I'd get crushes on girls occassionally - always ones that wouldn't work out etc.

I'm now 40 - very happily married and have children etc.

I've been drugged for the best part of 8 or so years, and was constantly thinking "something is missing" while on the drugs - they took away my ability to enjoy simple things in life - which i always did enjoy.

So I started searching for answers - not even realizing it was the drugs..

blah blah... fast forward... to now.

Dropped to 7mg and almost INSTANTLY developed a totally overwhelming crush on a person I met on an inter-state work trip.

My normal brain of last 15+ years wouldn't have given it a second thought - from the obvious - wow she was pretty and nice to talk too... but WD brain on 7mg down from 8mg.....


3 weeks of total torment and excruciating emotions really took over.

I talked to some close friends and sort of worked through it.

Worst part is she is only 22, I'm 40... old enough to be her father - I look much younger than my age, but still.

I kept looking at her facebook page to get a "fix"

it wasn't even a sexual thing either.

It's slowly died away now - but it's robbed me of self esteem and left me quite depressed.

Again, I'm hoping that these emotional symptoms are just withdrawal, and my brain re-balancing... but I did NOT expect this.


Fortunately for me - it hasn't affected my marriage - my wife would be very upset to hear the exact nature of what I have been dealing with... so kept it quite generic.

I've been joking about it with work collegues to lessen the effect, and that helps.

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