Anti Depressants

Three Weeks On Sertraline

Trigger warning: suicidal ideation and self-injury

It’s been over three weeks now since I started taking sertraline, an SSRI anti-depressant. Also known as Zoloft and Lustral amongst other things.

In my last blog post, I ran over the initial side effects and how it felt during the adjustment period. Now I feel as if those obvious side effects are gone but I still don’t feel “better”.

One thing I didn’t go over during my last blog post was that I was experiencing mild memory loss. It was something I noticed primarily at work. I forgot whether or not I’d actually completed tasks – my mind didn’t feel as sharp as it normally does. I think that symptom is still ongoing more or less.

So how do I feel now?

A bit on edge. Agitated. Anxious. I’m ruminating quite a lot again, replaying uncomfortable memories in my head. The intrusive thoughts are back.

I hoped that the initial blocking effect the medication had on my intrusive thoughts would be maintained – but it hasn’t.

In a sense, that’s good. My brain doesn’t feel quite as “hacked” anymore. But I don’t feel great overall.

My motivation is still direly lacking. I struggle to get out of bed on my days off. It’s difficult to cook and clean. I haven’t cleaned my room in over a month. And showering everyday is difficult too. I feel like half the time my hair just looks greasy.

I regard my colleagues at work and how clean their hair looks and wonder what they might think of me. I sometimes worry about smelling of B.O. I know this isn’t a nice or attractive thing to talk about but this is the reality for a lot of people in my current predicament.

I often feel guilty towards my flatmates for my lack of contribution around the flat at the moment. And for the fact that a lot of the time I’m sleeping in late or laying about – I don’t want to bring anybody down. I know that being around active people is much more uplifting and I don’t want to be a drag. But they’re aware of what’s going on so I think they understand.

I had a follow-up with my GP last week to talk about the medication. She said it could take another few weeks for things to take effect and that if I’d said I was feeling better, it would’ve been purely the placebo effect.

I told her that I was feeling markedly more suicidal again and for some reason, she managed to make a joke about it. I said how I was starting to think about how blood-thinners from the pharmacy might help me bleed out quicker if I was to slit my wrists.

She responded by saying that warfarin takes quite a long time to work and that she “didn’t need to tell me” there were other ways of taking my life that would be quicker. Then she quickly corrected herself and said: “Sorry, that was a joke – I am taking you seriously!”

But at that point I was completely deflated.

It seems no matter what I say to a GP, I’m never suicidal enough for them to take me seriously.

Taking warfarin and then slitting your wrists? You obviously don’t really want to do it otherwise you’d be buying a noose or a .45 pistol.

I made a safety plan with my therapist the other week for when I feel suicidal so the GP told me to look at that, mentioned phoning the Samaritans and also the emergency department of my local psychiatric hospital.

It was decent enough advice but it just upset me that it was preceded by a dismissive joke.

Like, it made me feel like it doesn’t matter that I’m suicidal? Like it’s just a tedious conversation at this point and that I was wrong to bring it up.

But that’s not the case. Suicide awareness campaigns everywhere urge people to speak up, not to bottle it up inside and to be honest about the way you’re feeling. So it hurts when you don’t get the response you’d hoped for. And that is a real risk for those of us who deal with suicidal ideation.

I was able to laugh about this my therapist, which is good but I feel like I’ve sustained some emotional damage from that conversation with the GP. I might actually file a complaint with the GP surgery because I feel like they ought to be held to account more often when things like this happen.

I’ve been prescribed another month of the medication and we’re to follow up in another month’s time. I’m kind of glad in a sense that I need to go and pick up my prescription because it’s a reason to get out the house on my day off.

The anxiety I’ve been experiencing has been affecting my work a bit and yesterday, I felt like I could cry at any moment for seemingly no reason. I’ve made a couple of silly mistakes over the past few days and have felt rotten about it. Every time I thought about it over the weekend, I got a surge of adrenaline and intrusive thoughts of self-injury. I’ve been worrying that my colleagues don’t like me anymore because of it; so I had a word with the pharmacist about it.

I was so anxious to talk to her because I’ve only been working with her for around 5 weeks and she didn’t know anything about what happened over the past 2 months for me. She was very understanding in a pragmatic kind of way, asking me what dose I’d been started on with sertraline and advising me what to do if I still didn’t feel better in the next few weeks. She also offered me to do different tasks in the pharmacy if I needed to and that whatever happened, we would work it out. What a relief. My vulnerability paid off.

P.S. It’s now been a couple of days since I started writing this blog post and today I have felt…happy. A word I am afraid to say. It hasn’t necessarily been in the most balanced way, it’s been more like surges of euphoria and giddiness underpinned by a bit of anxiety. But at multiple points throughout today, I have felt genuinely joyful and for the majority of the day I’ve felt content.

I’m afraid I’ll be back to feeling morose tomorrow but I have some plans of how best to spend my days off and I’m keeping in mind that I’m still adjusting – there’s bound to be ups and downs. But over the past couple of days I’ve totally rearranged my room, the other day I washed the dishes and cleaned the whole kitchen; today I got a different haircut.

I feel hopeful.

Thanks for reading 🙂

– SMUT. ❤ xxxx

2 thoughts on “Three Weeks On Sertraline

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