You’re here because of the title of this post. Maybe you’re also on anti-depressants and you want some solace in the way that the things I’m going through aren’t too dissimilar to what you’re going through. Perhaps you’re here because you want to know more about anti-depressants before taking the leap yourself. Or maybe you’ve never needed them and you’re just curious. Whatever you’re here for, I hope by detailing my experience in this post, it’ll give you some answers. Hopefully it’ll also raise a few questions you might’ve been needing to ask.
Getting Anti-Depressants: The Appointment
First of all, I had to make an appointment with a new GP to discuss what had been happening to me lately. I don’t want to be triggering unintentionally but I had gotten to a point where things looked very very bleak. I was worried about my summer off of work as I didn’t want another 6 weeks of dragging myself out of bed at 3pm and never leaving the house. I wanted a solution.
For a bit of background – I’ve had 2 different types of therapy previously and explained this to my doctor. He asked if I’d ever tried anti-depressants and I said I hadn’t. I was worried about all of the scary things you hear about them. That they make you more depressed. That you put on a fuck-ton of weight and that you will never be off of them.
He told me the side affects and explained that mental illness was a chemical imbalance in the brain. That the drugs (of which I was prescribed Sertraline) helped to balance my brain’s chemicals back out again.
I agreed to try them and immediately booked a follow up appointment and was referred to my local ‘Mental Health Hub’ for a further assessment.
Immediately After My Appointment
I went to my chemist with my prescription in hand and picked up the tablets straight away. I felt the crush on my chest ease ever so slightly at the prospect of trying something new.
The First Week
I didn’t experience any massively noticeable changes straight away (which I was prepared for) but I did notice I had slightly more energy. My 5.45am alarms were snoozed just the once and not for an hour of persuading myself to get out of bed.
In the first week I also went on a date and got extremely drunk. It was the next morning when I experienced the worst hangover I’ve ever had coupled with a severe bout of depression that I realised that I really can’t mix alcohol with taking the tablets.
The Second Week
It was this Week that I noticed that I had stopped comfort eating. One of my fixes to make myself feel better when I was in a pit was to order a takeaway or eat two dinners. This week, I had struggled to finish my meals and began opting for smaller portions.
Again I noticed an upsurge in my energy levels. Nothing massive but where I had previously labelled myself as ‘operating on a 1/10’ I now felt like I was operating on a 4.
The Third Week
This Week a huge change was felt by me. It may seem inconsequential to some but my housemate woke me up early and asked if I wanted to go to the gym. Old me just wanted to bury my head on a weekend and hermiticise but on this day I said yes and I felt super proud of myself.
The Fourth Week
This past week has been the end of the school term and with it has come a lot of social events (including dating). I am not a huge drinker but a night out-out on the sesh that ends with dancing and drinking and me at my sassy best are my favourite nights. Limiting myself to just 2 Gin and Tonics felt odd. It was the first time that I questioned what I was doing. Would I be boring now? Would my un-depressed state change me? Am I the person I am because of my mental illness? What if I’m not interesting when I’m not insulated and miserable? After all, my blog is named because I was likened to eternal grump Victor Meldrew.
This week has been the hardest and the time where I’ve felt the depression touch back again. But I have made my second appointment wth my GP to discuss the side effects and my dosage with a view of getting another prescription so hopefully things pick up again.
As you may be aware I’ve been away from my blog recently. With starting anti-depressants I’ve had an odd sort of identity crisis. I’ve been struggling with my mental health since I was 17 (if not longer) and me operating on a 1 out of 10 is all I’ve ever known. It’s how I’ve built myself. So to now be operating in a different way has made me question myself and worry about what people think of me.
My closest friends and sister have been utterly amazing. They are proud of me for seeking help. There is no judgement. They check in on me without making me feel like a leper and they cheer lead me on.
But I’ve had to tell some work colleagues – especially when they were trying to force tequila down my neck at the work leaving do. Their reaction (unwittingly) upset me. They told me how I’ve always been so strong and always come across as so together and that they feel sad for me that I’ve had to resort to medication. I know they mean well in their sentiments but this made my feelings of losing my ‘strong woman’ identity even louder.
I’m also kind of-sort of seeing someone I really really like. I haven’t told him yet because I don’t want it to define what he thinks of me whilst we’re still getting to know each other. I am by no means at all ashamed of having a mental illness and in no way embarrassed about being medicated but I need to be in a stronger place to deal with a possible rejection if that’s what will come out of it.
I’d say I’m operating at a 5/10 at the moment. I have more energy but still not enough to achieve everything I want. I have more moments of contentment but that may be to do with other things in life going OK at the moment. Most importantly, the utter bleakness I had been experiencing has lifted remarkably. Would I like to be operating on a 10/10? Of course! But I don’t think I can solely rely on the medication to help with that. Overall, I’m glad I went on them. It may not be for everyone and maybe after a few more weeks it may not be for me, but the positive changes I’ve seen so far have given me hope again.
Please feel free to ask any questions and I’ll see if I can help – remember I’m only speaking from personal experience and I’m by no means an expert!
If you wanted to read something about what motivated me to try medication, you can here.
You can also check out this infographic by Better Help on high-functioning depression. I hope it helps!