My experience with antidepressants was a lengthy process and filled with lots of trial and error. It was quite a tough journey but everything worked out well in the end. If you’re wary about antidepressants or would like to know a little bit more about my experience with them, carry on reading.
I tried to manage my depression
(Trigger Warning – Mention of suicidal thoughts and feelings)
Antidepressants. The one word you don’t want to hear when you have a fear of taking tablets. It was the one word that I knew would fill me with dread. But what other option did I have? I had tried coping myself, I had tried to manage my depression but it wasn’t working.
Antidepressants aren’t all good but they aren’t all bad either, or they weren’t for me. I guess everyone’s experience with them is different. We all take different types of antidepressants, different dosages. I can’t tell you that a certain antidepressant will work for you, but I can tell you my experience with taking them and what I have realised about antidepressants.
My experience with antidepressants
So, from the start of this post, I guess you can realise I was quite ashamed of the fact I had to take antidepressants. That feeling was generated by the stigma around mental illness. I guess that’s why I’m writing this post, to try and address that stigma. Like any good blog post, I will start with the bad and end with the good.
So, I first went to the doctors about antidepressants in March 2017. I was nervous, I was shaking to my core. What would I say? How do you tell someone that you feel sad and broken? Well I did, and I was prescribed sertraline 20mg. My doctor warned me about the side effects, nausea, dizziness and the more serious side effects. I didn’t believe that I would suffer from the serious side effects like suicidal thoughts and feelings, but I did, and it was the darkest time in my life.
Something wasn’t right
You see, a week into sertraline, I knew something wasn’t right. I was depressed but now it was worse. I used to get the train to work and there was this bridge above the tracks. Suddenly I became so consumed with fear over this bridge. Terrified that I was going to jump off every day, I started to hate the train and ultimately began struggling to get to work. Seventeen, working everyday 8:30-5, catching two trains every morning and night and suffering from depression. Life was just getting a bit too much.
I kept these feelings to myself for a while, trying to put on that mask we all have hidden somewhere, ready to pull out on the tough days. That smile where your mouth doesn’t open and your eyes don’t sparkle. I wore that look for a while, but none of us suit it.
I was still hopeful
The mask was still on when I went back to the doctors to tell them the tablets weren’t working for me. I was taken straight off them when they realized how I was feeling and put onto citalopram. I never knew there were so many tablets for mental illness but here I was, trying them all. Bye bye sertraline, hello citalopram. Even though I’d had such a bad experience with sertraline, I was still hopeful.
I lost that hope within a couple of weeks. The thoughts were getting worse, and I knew I had to stop taking these antidepressants as well. This was the week before I went on holiday to France with my family. The doctor took me off them and gave me a prescription for Fluoxetine. He told me to wait, he said not to take them straight away and see if things got better without them. So there I was, three days into my week-long holiday. It was warm, there was a pool and all my family were around having fun. I was curled up in a duvet, crying, sleeping and feeling like I wasn’t even part of my own body. Things weren’t getting better without the tablets, so I started the Fluoxetine.
I finally felt better
Over two months have passed since then and here I am, writing my blog. Out of bed and dressed everyday. I went to a theme park recently. Last week I went on a road trip across Europe in a van. I’m not going to tell you it was plain sailing. I had bad weeks in these two months but these tablets seem to be finally kicking in.
I guess what I’m trying to tell you is that antidepressants are not a miracle worker. You won’t instantly feel better and they might not even work for you. It might take some trial and error. You might decide to try more natural methods and that is fine. Please know that whatever happens you will be fine. Some of you might be reading this and thinking that I didn’t give the tablets long enough to work. Maybe I didn’t, but I did not feel that the benefits outweighed the side effects I was experiencing.
Just remember things do get better and you should not be ashamed of taking antidepressants or asking for help. If you broke your leg you wouldn’t brush it under the carpet, would you? No, you’d go to the hospital. Your mental health is just as important as your physical health. It is more than okay to seek help for depression.
Reproduced with permission, originally posted on walkwithjess