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Anxiety Depression Mental Illness My Life

Med Chat

Hi there. Hope your Sunday is going well wherever you are. Today Drew and I are having our own little Christmas, complete with Christmas sweaters , ginger bread houses, crackers and all the trimmings. You’ll just have to wait for all the details I’m afraid, but I have high hopes!

If you’ve been reading you might be aware that I’ve been using medication to keep the symptoms of my depression/anxiety under control. I started on fluoxetine which worked well to suppress symptoms, but unfortunately I had disturbing intrusive thoughts so my doctor and I decided to try something different called Sertraline. I’ve been taking it for about eight days now, and so far I feel okay; still having wobbles, but able to do the things I need to without panicking/crying all the time.

Medication for mental illness can be a controversial issue.

There are people who don’t believe in using medication, people who think of it as the ‘easy option’, people who couldn’t praise it highly enough, and there are people who don’t even think mental illness is necessarily a valid illness that CAN be treated with medication.

Like most young people, I’ve always been wary of medication.

From a young age I’ve been prescribed various medications to control pain in my spine, and some of these meds are strong and come with warnings and side effects. It has taken me a long time to accept having to use them. They are not the easy option: they aren’t necessarily good for you, they carry warnings of addiction, sleepiness, euphoria…the list goes on.

I didn’t want to ever become dependent on painkillers – and I still do my best to cope without them – but I don’t want to be made to feel bad for choosing to use them on bad days.

Pain, depression and anxiety can have a seriously negative impact on quality of life. Each of them usually accompany the other; the parts of the brain that deal with each are similar if not the same.

When I’m in pain, I’m depressed. When I’m depressed, I’m in pain.

Pain makes me sluggish, tired and lethargic. Pain makes me feel guilty because I can’t do ‘normal’ things. Pain makes me feel bad because I can’t pluck up the physical strength to tidy the house or cook or wash my clothes on bad days.

Depression, anxiety and chronic pain are a toxic mix.

Before I started medication for my mental illness I was an absolute mess. I could barely leave my room; the thought of having to see my housemates filled me with horror. It was nothing they had done; it’s just the anxiety/depression would convince me they hated me and that they didn’t want to see me, or hear me, or generally be around me.

You see, depression and anxiety can whisper nasty little lies in your ear. They make you feel worthless. Empty. Alone.

I’d do anything to avoid bumping into my housemates. I’d listen carefully to make sure I didn’t bump into them in the corridor. I showered when everyone had gone to bed. I couldn’t go shopping without Drew. I couldn’t cook, and didn’t always eat. When I made it into uni (with Drew walking me in) I panicked and wound up hysterically crying and having to leave, because the thought of being surrounded by people filled me with terror.

I was not the person I am now.

I didn’t want to stop to talk to people. I wanted to hide away from everything: so I did. The majority of my days were spent in floods of tears under the duvet.

It was a terrible time.

These episodes very rarely happen since I’ve been on medication. I have off days – of course – but I can definitely function. I CAN do the majority of things I need to do.

Shaming people who take medication to control their mental illnesses is not helping anyone.

I don’t believe any one has the authority to tell me when/why I shouldn’t take my medication. You might not agree with it, but it’s not your choice. It’s mine.

Medication has allowed me to feel (at the very least) a little bit like myself again.
I’m happy most days. I laugh. I smile. I tell rubbish jokes and I love doing my makeup and cooking and eating. I love watching documentaries and playing on my ds and reading books and discovering new things. 

Depression made me forget my love for these things.

I am no longer empty. I feel like a person; I have emotions – positive, happy ones – and at the height of my depression/anxiety I was a horrible mixture of sadness, emptiness, guilt and panic. Happiness was a distant memory, and I was unable to feel it.

You might not understand why I take medication to control my illnesses. You might not agree with it. You might even claim they’re just a placebo.

But if they help me, why question them?

You don’t necessarily know what goes on in my head, or what has happened in my life. It can be a dark, miserable place. And as long as medication keeps me feeling okay and allows me to live life, I’m going to take it.

All I’m asking is that people be a little bit more considerate. Don’t judge what you don’t understand.

I know this has been a little heavy, but it’s been weighing on my mind.

Have a great day wherever you are; chirpier posts will be up soon, I’m sure!
Heather x

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My Life Things I'm loving

A few thoughts

Hi all! Things have been super busy (third year is pretty stressful as it turns out) so I apologise I haven’t blogged sooner. I don’t have the time (or at least when I do have the time I spend it drugged up to my eyeballs on analgesia) so apart from working and writing and studying I haven’t really been up to a lot.

I do have to say though I’m feeling so positive with regards to the anxiety and depression. As well as having counselling, I’ve started a low dose of fluoxetine (better known as Prozac) and I feel this has helped my moods immensely. I’m no longer panicking about little things, I’m no longer crying in the street, and I’m feeling really positive which is wonderful. Of course I still have anxious moments but no way near as intense as they were a few weeks back. The other day I walked through campus and for the first time in maybe a year or possibly longer, I felt genuine happiness. I noticed things I wouldn’t usually notice. The daffodils looked so bright and gorgeous and everything was sunny and wonderful. It was a fantastic feeling and I forgot you could feel that way.

My counselling has come to an end as we feel I can carry on without it (at least for the time being). It was a really great thing for me, and I’m so grateful I had the opportunity to have it. It’s worked wonders, and it was rather emotional having to say goodbye to my counsellor. Together with my medication, it’s really changed my life for the better and I’m hoping for sunnier, positive days from now on. I’m under no illusions it will take time. I know I’ll be on my medication for months and possibly longer, but despite some of the side effects (the worst being I can’t take my tramadol with it which is bad on painful days) it was the best decision I’ve ever made.

Last night I went to my lovely friend Amy’s birthday meal and get together. Amy is one of the loveliest, kindest and most wonderful people I’ve ever met in my life. She has such a sunny disposition and always brightens up your day. It was wonderful to spend some time with her and all her friends. We went to Roots which is a Caribbean bar and grill, and I had coconut shrimp to start and a Trinidadian jerk chicken roti for the main course. Alcohol was off the cards as I’d had a lot of painkillers yesterday, so I had a fruit punch instead which was refreshing and lovely. The food was okay, but not as amazing as we’d all hoped which is a shame. Another thing that was really off-putting was the music: it was so loud I felt like I was eating my dinner in a club! I think it’d be great for a few rum cocktails, but I perhaps wouldn’t go again for a meal out. We did go back to Amy’s for tea and cake, which was by far my favourite part of the evening. It was great to have a good natter and a cuppa!

That’s really all that’s been going on over here. I hope you’ve had a wonderful weekend and a great couple of weeks.
Look after yourself,
Heather