Gather the strength
Looking at similar posts and blogs all over the internet, its very obvious that we all have questions about anti-depressants.
What do they do? / Are they dangerous? / Will I be addicted? / Will it make me a zombie? / Does it mean I’m weak? / What are the side effects? / Will I always be dependant? / What happens if people find out that I’m on them? / How long do I have to take them?
I know that everyone has differing experiences but based on my own, there is one really important rule. Once you’ve decided to start taking anti-depressants you have got to see it through.
The early weeks will be horrible but please give them time to work. It’s not unusual for people to bin the drugs at this point but I just couldn’t give up after I’d made the decision to get well. My first prescribed drug was the ubiquitous Citalopram. However I was soon changed to Escitalopram as my reactions in that first fortnight were so severe.
If your reactions are really pushing you to consider stopping taking the meds, go back to your GP! Please don’t give up, there could be a drug that will suit you better.
Over time it was clear that I was suffering from a number of side-effects. Weight gain, drowsiness, dizziness and lowered libido. As for the mental effects, I always likened it to living life with a sock on my brain. I was conscious of being slower to respond and when I did I found myself searching for words. For someone who was always eloquent, this was a constant source of torment.
I’m conscious of and try to avoid sounding like someone who has ‘been re-born’, preaching like an ex-smoker or a religious zealot. I had hideous ups & downs through the years that I was on anti-depressants. There were times when i wanted to bin them, times when I swore I wished I’d never started taking them, and times when I just wanted to destroy myself. However, I can safely say that they gradually and quietly changed my life. They bought me back from a dark place and gave me headspace to start again.
If I can offer a word of warning at this point. I reached a stage when I told myself that I was ‘better’ and that I didn’t need to take my drugs any more. My GP had been very clear in explaining that I shouldn’t just stop without going back to see him. When I did this he told me in no uncertain terms that it was too early. I was so angry. I felt fine, I wanted to get on with stopping and get on with my life but I was persuaded to stay on the original track.
Two months later, I realised how right he had been. I had another ‘life-event’ (that I won’t share here) and quickly realised I was going off the rails again. Even whilst on the drugs I was barely able to cope with the changes in my life. If I had tossed it away and said my GP “didn’t know what he was talking about”, I would have been sunk.
Finally, and with the support of my GP I gradually reduced my dosages This was a process that took another 9 months to complete and brought with it the side-effects of withdrawal but it just couldn’t be rushed.
There was a sense of victory when finally finished taking them but I know that it’s likely I’ll need it agin at some point. I’m fearful of that day but know that I will reach out for help much sooner now and will have the confidence to put my trust in the people around me.
Depression stole my confidence. I had to search the internet for answers and often found myself reading blogs and support forums. If you are going through the same and are reading this, you have my best wishes. Keep fighting.