I honestly don’t know exactly how it started… I do remember waking up one night in Singapore, unable to sleep, resolving to complain to the manager of the serviced apartment where I was staying that the sheets were super itchy and there must be bedbugs, before realising I perhaps had to take an antihistamine.
It got to the point where, three years later, I was taking one daily. I was now living in the US, and decided to go to an allergy doctor so I could figure out exactly what it was. After doing a prick test, he gave me a long list of things I had reacted to, with the ending statement of, “oh but there’s a 50% chance of false positive, so just keep doing what you’re doing and take an antihistamine daily.”
So I accepted that I was allergic to something, and continued taking an antihistamine every day. If I didn’t take them, I would get itchy hives all over my body, and I accepted that I was just one of those people who needed to keep allergens at bay.
I started suspecting something was wrong when, now in Oz, I had a few blood tests where I mentioned that I was allergic to shrimp/prawn (I had a few ER visits when I was younger after eating ’em), but the test results showed no reaction. One time, I was given steroid pills, and was told that since the steroids were more powerful than my antihistamine, I wouldn’t need the antihistamines, but I still broke out in a rash.
Plus, my symptoms didn’t abate when seasons came and went — seriously, shouldn’t things be better when the pollen count was low? But alas, they weren’t. I thought maybe I was reacting to something I ate — I spoke with a nutritionist, we cut out some foods and I was feeling better but the itchiness was still there.
So, one night, staring at the angry rash covering my torso and reaching for an antihistamine, I resolved that I no longer wanted to be a slave to a stupid pill. I searched and found that Cetirizine (the antihistamine I was taking) withdrawal really is a thing. Yes, I’m aware that all the evidence is anecdotal, but other people’s experiences were just so similar to mine. The unbearable itching if I didn’t have my regular dose. The angry rash, the hives. If other people were to be believed, it seemed like I had developed a dependency on the very pill I was using to treat my symptoms; my antihistamine was both my cause and my cure.
Some people recommending weaning themselves slowly, so that’s what I’ve been trying to do. When I started getting serious about weaning, I had been taking the pill every second or third day. Now I’m taking half a pill every third day. I’m hoping I can cut down more, but lately the last couple of hours in that three-day period is agony and I end up caving so I can at least get a decent amount of sleep.
I’ve been drinking a lot more water. I’m pretty desperate at this point so I’ve added a few other drinks, too — I’ve been drinking a turmeric tea and dandelion root drink. They’re supposedly good for liver cleansing and anti-inflammation. I even tried adding bentonite clay to clean my system, I’m not too sure what it does (haha) but apparently some people do it to beat drug tests, so I figure it must be a pretty good detox option…
Anyway, here I go. Hoping that by this year’s end I’ll be off this stupid antihistamine!