mental health

What’s Up, Doc?

There is a huge misconception around anti-depressants. A lot of anxiety/depression sufferers believe, (myself included at one stage), that taking anti-depressants/anxiety medication is a sign of weakness and giving up. We are all independent and don’t like to admit that we need help. We are all too proud to admit that, sometimes, we are actually struggling.

It took me a long time to give in after multiple doctors and therapists had suggested medication to me.

It is not that we are incapable of getting through it on our own, it is that sometimes we just need a ‘leg up’. Yes, I am on medi­cation, but I still get through these hard life challenges on my own.

I started on herbal medications at first and after visiting my GP, beta blockers were introduced to help me to calm, reduce and manage my panic attacks. These, for me, weren’t the solution. Whilst I was able to sleep more, I was still having excruciating panic attacks. These were affecting my work, my studies and my relationships. I very quickly noticed myself getting worse and needed help. I went back to the GP after a few months and had a good chat about what had been going on.

That is when I was started on Sertraline. I was given sertraline to take on a daily basis and diazepam to take as and when I could feel myself falling or having a particularly bad day. Sertraline actually made me pretty unwell. I couldn’t seem to keep my mood balanced and I felt sick for the first few weeks. I persisted until it was clear they just weren’t cutting it. That said, I was in a VERY bad place at this point.

I went to the doctors and broke down in front of him. I am forever thankful to my GP for being so understanding. He has a good ear and always manages to say the right thing. This has not been the case with all GP’s I have visited about the matter. We decided we would try a new medication and I was introduced to a drug called Citalopram – very common anti-depressant/anxiety drug. I am still on this medication now and cannot be without it. I started on 40mg which is the highest dose and am pleased to say we have now decreased it to 30mg.

This is the one for me. I take citalopram every day and find I don’t need to take diazepam or Kalms© tablets anymore. Without my medication I very quickly start to feel myself slipping.

I guess the hard thing about medications and testing their real ability to help is difficult… ups and downs are caused by circumstance. Who knows whether at the time, if I had been having a particularly good period in my life, whether the first medication would have been more effective.

The one mistake I have made with my medication is when I was in a good period and almost became TOO confident. I stopped taking the medication and was convinced I was cured and didn’t need them anymore. This was not the case. After a few weeks, things changed. I started becoming anxious generally, the low moods were creeping back in and I ended back in the GP’s office.

Coming off of anti-depressants is a gradual process, as with a lot of other medications for all sorts of conditions. Never do anything without the advice of your GP.

Taking medication does not mean I have given up, it does not mean I will be on them for the rest of my life and it does not mean that I have failed; it is an aid to help me through. In honesty, there have been times that if the doctor told me I needed to rub egg on my face every day to feel better, I would have done it. Medication is just to help alleviate some of the tough symptoms you feel whilst you get yourself better.

Don’t be ashamed, scared or too proud to ask for help. That is what doctors are there for.

Be brave.

Stay with me here.

3 comments

  1. Brilliant Alice. I dont want to be on medication but as you say its not forever or though it seems like it sometimes. I have been on medication for years but I guess I need it. Unfortunatly I do self medicate with alchohol but my support workers are forcing me to take action on this. Thank you for sharing this Alice. Keep up the brilliant work you are doing xxx

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  2. I couldn’t agree more and along with trying to improve lifestyle and getting support medication is a lifesaver. As we know medication is part of the picture and gets us out of the hole and following that we need to act.

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    1. I love this 🙂 I take sertraline every day – ironically to citalopram didnt work for me at all! I completely agree that it is just a leg up – I still have good days/bad days just not suicidal days. Its great to make more people aware as so many people say ‘i dont want medication – i dont want to feel no emotion or be monged out all the time’. I take 200mg Sertraline a day and I still have challenges with concentration/mood/fatigue so cant imagine what life would be like if i didnt take them. Great topic to discuss/share/raise awareness of – thanks alice! CT x

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