As a 23 year old woman with bipolar disorder and PTSD, I am no stranger to mental health medication in some form or another. Up until recently I have been taking Lamotrigine, which is technically an anti epileptic but can also be used to treat bipolar depression. In the past I had take other anti depressants etc such as Citalopram which also dealt with my anxiety however, when they changed my diagnosis from depression to bipolar around three years ago now, I was weaned off Citalopram and placed on the correct bipolar medication. Which in the long run, yes was great and my moods are a hell of a lot more stable now and the extremes are nowhere as intense and difficult to deal with. But this meant that I was completely left without any medication to help with my anxiety.
Me being me, as soon as I realised this decided that no, I could do this totally on my own and that ripping my support blanket out from under my feet could only be a good thing. Future Emmie realises that past Emmie was being a moron. Bad past Emmie! It’s all well and good to cope with or without medication, as long as you don’t suddenly stop taking something to cope with a problem with no intention of putting another coping mechanism in place to help to support you. I didn’t do this, and so unfortunately for the last few months my anxiety has been getting progressively worse. To the point I can be visibly shaking, or have to take myself off to the toilets to fight off another panic attack. It’s exhausting to be always on the ball and trying to protect yourself and anticipating anxieties next move. So today I bit the bullet and went to the doctors to ask for help, he was lovely and put me on another anti depressant called Sertraline which I have to take alongside the current medication that I take, which will hopefully help to control my anxiety. So, here are the ten stages of starting new mental health medication….
- Total ignorance. Stepping into the doctors surgery and having absolutely no idea what they are talking about, simply nodding and smiling as you are just taking them on their word that this new pill works and that it might help you.
- Google it. As soon as you get out of the office and back behind your smart phone it’s time to hit Google! Lets look up this new medication, see what it is used for, what others have to say who have taken it, why they stopped. Everything that you could ever possibly want to know….and certainly some things that you wouldn’t, right there at the touch of a button.
- Chemist. Go straight to your local pharmacy and purchase these new found tablets. Choke back the pain as you are told that the current charge for an NHS prescription is £8.60 PER ITEM!!! Begrudgingly pay it and grumble to yourself as you wait.
- Crack open the booklet. Why are these always so long and what the fuck are all these side effects for?! “May cause suicidal thoughts”?! That’s why I’m taking the buggers!
- Self doubt. How can I take these when they have all of those side effects? Why am I not strong enough to cope without the need for medical support?
- Take them. Begrudgingly. Go on then, when you feel this bad anything really is worth a try.
- Feel dodgy. Those familiar side effects start to kick your arse but you power through them like a pro.
- Forget to take one and feel like your going to die! Medications with a short half life are a killer if you forget a dose and the side effects can really make you feel like death warmed up.
- Realise your a moron, and you aren’t dying...but you still feel a bit grotty.
- Notice that they may actually be working. And you’re not dead! But you still feel groggy. And misty. And generally tired. But we all know that isn’t going away any time soon – welcome to the wonderful world of anti depressants kids 🙂