Life On Anti-Depressants

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.

anti-depressants flatlay

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.

Unexpected Feelings

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.

People’s Reactions

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.

Reflections

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!

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16 Comments

  1. July 27, 2017 / 7:10 am

    Strong women are those who ask for help when they need it. This post was really informative and documenting your journey is a great way to show your progress.

  2. July 27, 2017 / 7:35 am

    Thankyou for sharing such a personal post, found it useful to see the difference off and on them. I’ve been debating seeing GP myself but worried they won’t deem me ‘depressed’ enough and see me as a weak person or send me for CBT (worked for a while, but doesn’t work for everything)

  3. July 27, 2017 / 8:40 am

    Thanks for sharing about your journey, Vix. I’m so glad you are feeling hopeful.

  4. Maria
    July 27, 2017 / 12:03 pm

    You are so brave for seeking help! I myself did the same thing and I did get some unexpected/bad responses from people (including my father) that don’t understand the way depression f*cks with your head. I tried Setraline too and it did wonders for me!! (I had previously tried another anti-depressant that didn’t work for me and it made me super tired all the time so it was quite crap)

    Anyway, thank you for sharing. I think it’s so important for people to understand this journey and start de-stigmatizing mental illness as a whole.

    x Maria

  5. Abi
    July 27, 2017 / 2:05 pm

    This is such a brave and honest post! I took anti depressants a few years ago and they made me so much more miserable. I’m so glad that you’re starting to feel slightly better lovely x

    Abi | abistreetx

  6. July 27, 2017 / 8:05 pm

    I’m in the Sertraline club as well – and honesty, a lot more people are than you’d think. I always worry about telling people I date that I’m on antidepressants, but most of the time they’ve been on it themselves at some point or know someone else who has. Don’t worry about your identity – if anything, being brave enough to ask for help makes you stronger.

    alicered.co.uk

  7. Emma Harrison
    July 29, 2017 / 10:16 am

    I feel like I always start my comments with ‘Wow Vix’ and this comment is no different (sorry, not sorry and all that).

    Wow Vix.

    I think that it is great that you are sharing your story so openly and honestly, there is a horrible stigma attached to MH & the treatments associated with it, especially medication. Some people seem to forget that MH sufferers are only human at the end of the day and it is something that could effect anyone.

    So glad to hear that you are feeling on the up, long may it continue.

    Emma | HarmonyBlaze.co.uk

  8. July 29, 2017 / 11:10 am

    I understand how hard it can be to accept that you need the help of anti-depressants, it was something that I tried to put off for as long as I could. For me, I started to take them to help control my OCD and stop me spiralling out of control, it was hard at first, but only now do I realise that I really do need them!

    Danielle xx
    http://www.fashionbeautyblog.co.uk/

  9. July 29, 2017 / 9:17 pm

    Firstly, well done for seeking help lovely! In my experience, tablets only made it much worse (was on them for anxiety, not depression) and i found my emotions ALL over the place. A few people close to me had told me that they think I should come off them because they couldn’t handle my mood swings anymore! I’m glad you’re seeing good changes though, and I’m sure they’ll only get better.
    Secondly, have you tried hypnotherapy? I tried it for my anxiety (which got to the point where even the thought of answering the phone in work filled me with dread), and it really helped! Definitely worth a go if you’ve exhausted all other avenues. You’ll get there *flexes muscles*

  10. July 30, 2017 / 11:41 am

    You’ll get that zing to get your out of bed to begin with and then you might have some rough patches but trust me it all work itself out in the end. Don’t be ashamed of being on the tablets I personally keep it to myself unless I have to but I don’t let the medication define me at all.

    Mel ★ http://www.meleaglestone.co.uk

  11. July 30, 2017 / 7:51 pm

    I’m really glad to have come across this post, I’ve just been prescribed Sertraline for the first time in my life and will be starting it this week – have been thinking of documenting how I feel. Really pleased to hear you’ve noticed some positive changes and I hope that things continue to improve for you x

  12. July 31, 2017 / 7:58 am

    Congrats on taking the courage to go see your GP, it was probably the most difficult part for me, just admitting to somebody else that something is wrong.
    It’s so strange how much someone else’s experience can be so different.

    I went on antidepressants for a little while last year, but they just made me feel so much worse. The main thing I couldn’t deal with, were the headaches! awful awful headaches that no pain relief can help with. It started hindering on my life more than the depression and anxiety did.

    Glad to see its helping you in some respects, but remember its just a big journey and its okay to have your ups and downs!

    Emily // Emily Atelier

  13. August 16, 2017 / 4:26 pm

    Such a great post, especially for those who might be scared or apprehensive about going on the medication. it’s nice to hear people talking about this subject now!

    Well done for taking the plunge to go on the tablets. People get scared that the won’t ever be able to come off them again, but I did and I’m doing better than ever!

    Keep going….you’ll see a bigger improvement in the second and third month.

  14. August 16, 2017 / 9:07 pm

    It’s so brave that you’ve shared something so personal with us all Vix. I’m sending you an abundance of love on your journey. xxxxx

  15. September 2, 2017 / 5:52 am

    Don’t ever feel like seeking help no longer means you’re strong. In fact I would say it makes you an even stronger woman. I sought help from my doctor when I eventually hit an all time low. I believed that I was worthless and the people in my life would be better off without me, and initially going to the doctors about my feelings made me feel even more worthless. As if I’d failed myself because I couldn’t fight the feelings I was having alone, but my doctor said to me that the strongest people he knows are people like us. People who can look in the mirror and say, “I need some help”, and that we have the courage to take the steps we need to better our lives, and work towards giving ourselves the health and the happiness that deep down, we know we deserve.

    I love to see posts like this in hope that other people who might be suffering see them and hopefully it encourages them to take the steps they need to work on their MH. As much as I feel like the stigma is slowly breaking down around MH, there is still too much of one around it for my liking, and having felt so low about myself, it breaks my heart to think of how many people there must be out there still suffering in silence because they fear the judgements of others x

  16. Nicola
    September 25, 2017 / 1:59 pm

    I understand totally where you’re coming from. I had to take some time off work recently due to stress and anxiety. I’ve never wanted to take medication but was advised to take Sertraline. I haven’t noticed any huge changes except that I’m just more able to cope as I’m much calmer, less anxious and less teary. It’s really helped me in terms of stabilizing my mood and allowing me to deal with issues. It’s great to read how well you’re doing – that first step in going to the GP is so important. I’m lucky with a great GP who prescribes the medication along with counseling and other lifestyle advice.
    I was so worried about taking it, but now realize that sometimes we just need that little bit of help.
    Take care x