Steroid Withdrawal & Emotional Fallout

Some time over the last two years, I’ve started to feel like a different person.

In June of 2014, I started my steroid therapy for TAK. I started at 50mg a day, which is an incredibly high dose. I was on it for months before I started to taper off… And I stalled at 35mg for four of five months. In February 2014, I started tapering again, and it’s taken me over a year of messing with my immunosuppressants to find something that effectively manages my symptoms to replace the steroids.

I’m currently on 3mg of Prednisone, tapering my way to 0mg…

And I’m terrified.

Over the last year and a half, I’ve become a different person. While it’s true that most of my more irritating personality traits have remained intact — my brain never stops, I manage to be the most insensitive when I’m trying to be cautious, I’m judgmental and rude — the emotional part of me is entirely different. I’m cautious. I’m sensitive. I cry more, hurt more, and generally give a shit, well, … more. I feel more than I ever used to.

These are, I admit, mostly good changes. I’m no longer the biggest jerk on the planet when it comes to other people’s needs. I’ve done a pretty good job hiding this from the rest of the world — I still act cold and indifferent to even the most depressing parts of my life. I’m very good at “moving on” quickly, but the process of “getting over” is hard and dark.

Tapering off of steroids has a lot of withdrawal side effects. Some good, like weight loss… But mostly bad, like abdominal pain, low blood pressure, nausea, and mental changes.

Lately I’ve been overwhelmed by an endless string of thoughts.

What happens when I’m done taking these medications? Am I actually better? Will this happen again, and I’ll be on steroids again, and it’s a never ending cycle of fat face and fat body and pimples and an upset stomach no matter what I eat? Am I going to turn into yet another person? Will I go back to being who I was before, because she was kind of a jerk…

I’ve always been really good at catastrophizing, but I’ve only gotten worse in the last two years. It’s times like these that I have to separate from my surroundings. Being on the road helps sometimes, getting out and moving, listening to Rachel Dratch’s “Girl Walks Into a Bar” on audiobook… Heading somewhere and just participating in life outside of myself really helps.

And so I go to the beach.

And so I take photos.

And so I write.

Mostly I spend time with people who I love.

I love more.

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