As of this year, I will have been on anti-depressants for over 4 years. It might not seem long at all compared to others but it’s a big deal. It took me decades to allow myself to seek help for my mental health and, like any other illnesses, I discovered that I needed medication to function properly. Everyone is different so I know that people can come off their anti-depressants with time, but I’ve been told by my GPs that a balance of therapy and medication will a long-term thing. Ah well, I’d rather be able to have more good days than bad.
This post will consider some triggering moments so this is a warning to anyone who might get triggered or distressed.
I’ve seen a bunch of friends recently tweeting that their GPs had put them onto the pills and were worried about being on them. I wanted to tell my experiences on here so that I could maybe help anyone that is thinking about taking or have started taking. It’s easy to become angry at yourself for having to take any type of anti-depressant but that is so far from the truth. You are strong and brilliant!
Okay, let me get one of my story! I have battled with a form of mental health ever since I was a kid after being bullied intensely at school. You’d be amazed at how many people developed social anxiety and self-hatred because of words thrown at them. I’ve actually spoken about my depression and anxiety through videos so, if you have any spare time, feel free to check them out! I’ve officially been diagnosed since 2014 which was actually when I was in my final year at university. I had never thought about going to see someone about how low I was even though I’d done counselling at school and knew the signs. I guess I thought I didn’t want to be a nuisance to anyone including my mum. She’d actually done mental health nursing so told me to go and talk to someone.
I still felt like I was seriously letting myself down, but part of me was glad that I could actually tell someone I was really feeling without being judged or seen as weird. The doctor who I spoke to was so nice and listened to me rattle on through tears. My mum was there too and I could tell that she was pretty shocked about how dark my thoughts had been. I discovered it was better to say everything because I think I wanted the help before I did something stupid!
I was put on Citalopram which I’d never heard before and I was at first scared of taking them. I was one of those people who always checked the side effects and became terrified. That said, I still took them because I knew that they were there to help me, not harm me. They did make me feel like I had a bad flu, aching all over and really bad headaches. Thankfully I was able to function with painkillers and distracting myself with university. I was on these particularly meds for around 3 years until I noticed that they weren’t working as much as they had. I was starting to have more low days and I went back to the doctor to discuss what I was feeling. This one was pretty rubbish and didn’t look at me when he spoke which made me feel uncomfortable and had me walking out of the appointment.
I didn’t feel safe talking about such personal details with someone who didn’t seem to care about what I was saying. I managed to get another appointment that same day with a mental health nurse who prescribed Sertraline (the anti-depressants I’m on at the minute) and I’ve had something of a love/hate relationship with them. One of the side effects that comes with these is weight gain and, for someone who hates their body with passion, putting on weight is a nightmare. I’ve been been over-eating anyway since Mum passed away which wouldn’t have helped but I know the anti-depressants have affected me too. That said, I do think they’ve helped. What you need to understand with medication (if you’ve never taken any before) is that it takes a while to find the right dosage. You get given a low dose and it gets slowly more and more depending on how it affects your mental health. Right now I’m on 150mg which is apparently a high dose but I’d rather be on that than back in the unit I went into in January.
Another meh thing about them are the withdrawal. DON’T FORGET TO TAKE THEM! You feel so bad when you forget them for a couple of days. It’s easy to think it’s okay not taking them if you’re feeling really good and haven’t felt low for a while, but believe me, the medication gods don’t like you doing that and you get hit badly with intense dizziness, nausea…the works. If you feel as if you need less, go back to your GP and they’ll be able to slowly reduce your dosage safely for you.
I hope my experience has helped anyone going through this situation. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. You’re not being a burden on anyone and you’re not weak for having to take these. You wouldn’t think about saying that to someone suffering from a disability, would you? You matter and people around you care. If you want more information on anti-depressants, then check out the Mind website. They have really detailed guides to what can be taken and what happens. The Blurt Foundation also has links to forums where you can chat to other people with mental health so you don’t feel alone.
Are any of you on anti-depressants? Let me know your experience in the comments below!