Recently, I have been trying and failing to write a new blog post. Trying and failing to sort out the antiquated layout of my blog site. Trying and failing to stop being a burden to those around me. Trying and failing to stand up without feeling like I’m gonna fall down. Trying and failing to be rational. Trying and failing to see the worth in my own life.
A contributing factor for these failings is my medication. I will forgive you for thinking “hang on, isn’t medication supposed to make you better?”. Because you’re right, it is supposed to make you fell better. But when it comes to mental health, it often doesn’t. And when it comes to transitioning from one set of medication to another, it really, really doesn’t.
Currently, I find myself transitioning again and I’m trying and failing to find an eloquent way to describe how it feels… All I can come up with is, that it is the WORST (honourable mention to the losing contenders, “hella bad” and “the drizzling shits”). From what I have read on forums and message boards, I can only conclude that I am not alone in my experiences. So, given that this is my blog, it seems only right that I should inform you of these experiences.
Back when this all started happening (the anxiety and depression, not the blog) and it was becoming apparent that I had a real problem, I was reticent to go down the route of medication. This feeling stemmed from a simple and logical idea; I did not want to become reliant on drugs just to feel normal. I wanted to get through it using only counselling.
I hate not being in control of myself, it’s part of the reason I’ve never been a big drinker. Don’t get me wrong, I like a few drinks on a night out, but just enough to get me tipsy and relax a little. I freak out at the first sign that the room is spinning. And you certainly don’t want to see me under the threat of anaesthesia – most medical personnel are rightly wary of a fella who is 6’1”, 14 stone and kicking off about going under. It’s just the way I’m wired. I’ve always been this way, so becoming reliant on medication for my mental wellbeing was never something I would pursue easily. But as we all know, things change. And they changed for me.
I had been at a family wedding, consumed a few alcoholic drinks and enjoyed myself. I went to bed, the room wasn’t spinning, I didn’t feel sick, I wasn’t stumbling or slurring. I wasn’t drunk. I felt fine. And then suddenly I didn’t. My thoughts turned dark. Depression washed over me, no doubt aided by the alcohol – a depressant in its own right. I plotted ways to kill myself. And not in a vague “if I were to ever kill myself, I’d do it by…” way. I was specific. I was thinking about it in a “I’m gonna get the dressing gown cords, make them into a noose, hang them over the other side of the door and attach them to the door handle, then hang myself” way. Luckily, Frankie woke up, saw that I wasn’t right and nipped it in the bud.
Due to the actions of that night, my initial plan for a drug free recovery went out of the window. Clearly, counselling wasn’t enough. I was still suffering severe panic attacks, daily bouts of anxiety and my depression had grown to suicidal levels. I had to consider medication.
I went to my GP, explained what had happened and was informed that my first port of call would be Sertraline. Sertraline is part of a group of drugs knowns as SSRI’s (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors). The following is directly lifted from the NHS website “Serotonin is a neurotransmitter (a messenger chemical that carries signals between nerve cells in the brain). It’s thought to have a good influence on mood, emotion and sleep. After carrying a message, serotonin is usually reabsorbed by the nerve cells (known as “reuptake”). SSRIs work by blocking (“inhibiting”) reuptake, meaning more serotonin is available to pass further messages between nearby nerve cells”.
I wonder if you’ve picked out the same thing from that excerpt as I did…. “It’s thought”. That’s right. Not known. Not proven. Just thought. And it gets better, “It’s thought that SSRIs work by increasing serotonin levels in the brain”. So we think we have an idea of what Serotonin does, and we think that SSRIs work by increasing it!
SSRIs are mainly used to treat depression, but can also be used for anxiety. So, I proceeded… and it wasn’t actually that bad (aside from a few side effects – google them and you’ll see what I’m talking about). The depression kind of hung around, but my anxiety began to reduce and my stomach problems all but vanished, leaving me no longer bound by a need to be within walking distance of a toilet. Sertraline worked. Until it suddenly didn’t. And I mean it really didn’t. Seemingly out of nowhere, I found myself locked in the bathroom with a razor blade, cutting my arms.
To be continued…