Not so long ago, I was feeling particularly resistant about taking them; maybe partly because my depressive illness had gotten so bad that I knew I might have to. But for a multitude of reasons, I am now taking them.
I asked my GP 2 weeks ago to prescribe me anti-depressants. She’s one of the few GPs who seem to be reluctant to offer it, so it was very much coming from my end. I explained that finally commencing therapy, after being left waiting for the best part of a year, wasn’t quite cutting it.
My main gripes with medication, namely the “what happens when it’s time to come off it”, stopped mattering to me. Who gives a fuck how I’ll feel in a few years when it’s time to come off it when I barely want to live now? What about how I feel now? What about my life now?
When I was back staying with my Mam during my sick leave, she kindly booked a flower essence appointment for me as a belated birthday present. I met with someone she knew who made tinctures harvested from specific plants aimed at supporting wellbeing.
I discussed my current situation with her and we got onto the topic of anti-depressants. I spoke about my reservations and she disclosed to me her experience of taking them to deal with menopause-related depression. My critical question to her was: “Did you still feel like yourself? Did you feel like you lost yourself at all?”
She assured me that she didn’t lose herself. She just felt more able to live her life. This conversation was a major deciding factor in my choice to start taking them. This was a woman with Buddhist iconography littered all around the room, a Green Tara tapestry adorning the wall. I felt very comfortable in her presence. She seemed like she had it together and was also very in touch with her soul and her intuition. If I was going to let anyone tell me to take medicine, it was going to be her.
And she didn’t tell me to. She just gave me the courage to give it a try.
I’ve come to the conclusion (me and my endless conclusions) that I might have dysthymia. It’s basically mild depression that lasts at least two years and has very short periods of relief in between episodes. The reason I think I might have this is that I feel like I’ve spent the majority of my adult life at least mildly depressed; and that I’ve had a melancholic disposition since childhood.
The theory is that when someone with dysthymia experiences a major episode of depression, it’s “double depression”. And once this subsides, they go back to their usual dysthymia. That’s their normal. I don’t think it’s normal for someone of my age (25) to have had around 5 episodes of depression and also to significantly struggle with motivation in between.
Whether or not any of this will ever be proven, I just realised that I want to actually enjoy my life. If taking anti-depressants will help me do that, then I guess that’s what I need to do.
And more important than that (to me, at least) is I want to make more music. Above EVERYTHING, I hope that it helps me make more music. I’m not taking them to numb me from the perceived reality of being stuck in a corporate framework, I’m taking them so I can make more music and break out of it.
My dream reality would be that I had an endless amount of money to spend on tackling my cPTSD head-on. Bodywork and trauma-informed therapy, namely. Until that time, I will take the medication I need to take to help me make the music and do the work I need to do to get me in such a financial position that I can afford the kind of treatment I actually need.
All of that aside, how am I feeling?
I started taking sertraline 8 days ago. For the first 5 days roughly, I struggled with nausea and subsequent loss of appetite. It took me a while to recognise that it was a side effect. When I looked into it, I found that it’s very common. It wasn’t enough to make me physically be sick but on the second day of taking them, I was at work and I wondered if I might actually be sick (it’s worth mentioning, I’ve been working through this adjustment period).
Aside from the nausea, I have found myself feeling a bit bleary and brain-foggy. Like a cross between a tension headache and then feeling as if I’ve overslept. Speaking of which, I feel like my sleep has been a bit better since starting the treatment.
After the first couple of days, I would come home from work, have my tea then almost fall asleep on the couch at 7 or 8pm. Like, fighting sleep to the point where I had to send myself to bed. This would’ve been nice if I didn’t then wake up at midnight and stay awake ’til 3. This sleep pattern hasn’t persisted and I have to say I miss being so tired so early that I had no alternative but to send myself to bed. Discipline with sleep is something I struggle with.
Something else I observed during the first week is that my intrusive thoughts lost their tenacity. Any time my mind began to wander to suicidal ideation or self-injury, it’s like my brain couldn’t quite form the thought. An analogy I came up with is that it felt like punching in a dream. I wasn’t quite able to do it. I felt a bit fuzzy and unfocused.
This was equal parts unnerving and comforting. Almost as if my brain had been hacked but for my own benefit. I noted how this could be useful in efforts to alter cemented and damaging neural pathways. In my case, my increasingly persistent pattern of compulsively thinking of self-injury in response to distress might be at least in part dissolved by this medication. So I can start again, in a sense.
By the third day (a day off work for me), I noticed I felt a bit giddy and away with the fairies. I met up with a friend and had to apologise for my almost incessant laugher. I felt like I was on valium. It was quite nice actually.
In the days that followed, I noticed I was more or less okay while I was at work and had something to focus on but when I got home and sat down, my mind started reeling again. That valium effect.
In terms of my concerns around feeling worse before I feel better – that hasn’t happened yet. Although, my motivation is still more or less at an all time low. I have to say, something that is comforting is that throughout all these symptoms, I have been very self-aware. I’ve been noticing how I’m feeling without getting totally swept up by it. Hannah is still here, as meta as that sounds.
As of now, 8 days after starting the treatment, I feel virtually the same as how I did before I started taking them. The obvious side effects have worn off and I just feel “meh” again. Now it’s a waiting game for them to start taking effect. I know there’s at least one person who’s interested in hearing how I get on, so I’ll continue to update here.
I’m hopeful that they will help me. It’s quite unlikely how radically my perspective has shifted – I hope I do get something positive out of it eventually.
Thanks so much for reading.
– SMUT. ❤ xxxx