17 May 2018

MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS WEEK | THOUGHTS ON MEDICATION

 ^^ It just had to be this lovely piece of art, by the Etsy shop 'We Are Extinct', sin't it purr-fect?! ^^

Sometimes it is hard to know where to start with mental health and, as I sit here trying to decide what I should write about today I have come to the conclusion that the best mental health posts (from me anyway) come when I just type, so here I go...(I guess the title will give away the content by now!).

I have told my story many times in the hope of helping someone understand more about their own feelings and, ultimately help them to realise that they are not losing their marbles! Whilst I have had my fair share of people accuse me of 'showing off' by telling my story (seriously?), being 'too open' (how else do you help people?) and 'craving attention' (as someone who suffers extreme anxiety, believe me, this is not my bag!), I have also made one of the most amazing friends ever through a post about anxiety (shout out to my 'Lobby'!) and have built upon/become part of an online community of absolutely fecking awesome people who just get what it is like to be a little socially awkward and to feel out of place sometimes. I have had such wonderful support on my bad days and have also had messages from people on Instagram who have just 'noticed that I am a little quiet' so reached out just to check I'm okay, how amazing is that? To all the people out there who don't like anything about mental health I say this: don't f**king read my mental health posts! Quite a simple solution really!

Whilst I have told my story many times, it is a story that is constantly evolving; I still have mental health problems, but they just peak and dip throughout the year. Sometimes it is situational and other times (and most annoyingly) it is just the way my brain is functioning. Only this week I got summoned to the doctors for another medication review (for those of you who don't take medication on a regular basis, they just like to check in every once in a while to make sure all is well and assess your requirements). There are some occasions when I will just say 'yeah, all good Doc' because I know I need to stay exactly how I am and there are other times when I think I want to try coming off my tablets. Let's talk about that for a moment.

Over the years I have tried a few different types of anti-depressants; all of which (apart from the ones I take now) haven't agreed with me for whatever reason. This process can take a while to get right for some people and I was one of them (don't be disheartened by it though) but, when I got put on my current medication, Fluoxetine, it felt so good for me; it didn't make me feel like a zombie, nor did it make me feel high as the kite at the end of Mary Poppins, I didn't really feel anything side effects wise (hurrah!). I was even more impressed with these tablets when I started to notice the 'fog lifting' within about two weeks, which is not something that usual happens on anti-depressants for a while. So yes, these have been a success and they were very necessary when I reached out to the doctors to go on something else. I had tried and tried not to go back down the path of medication; I knew they had benefits but I just didn't want to be on anything, it was a total block in my head due to past experiences. The day came that I was just so frightened to be in my own company and feared the thoughts I was getting and so I had to do something.

Since I started taking them, back in 2014, I have had some dark times but the ability to cope has been better and I can handle things with more ease. Now that brings me to my review this week; I discussed coming off the tablets but talked to the doctor about my fear of not knowing how I will 'be' until the drug is out of my system. That, for me, is one of the scariest things. I am on the lowest dose, so there is nowhere to go really, but we decided that taking one every other day would be better, just to see how my body/brain reacts. It is so hard because I certainly feel better most of the time; I have horrible lows during 'hormonal' days (hands up ladies... it's not just me right?!) but it is the more severe down days that I worry about, but how will I know until I try?

There was a bit of a crazy time, I think it may have been a couple of months ago, when I had totally forgotten to take my medication for about 10 days; I honestly don't know why, it just slipped my mind utterly. One evening I started to feel myself spiral into what I can only describe as an episode of very extreme hyperactivity, it was a bit crazy actually; I was very fidgety, couldn't stop chattering on and felt on a high; this was soon followed by a total dip and the next day all I could do was sleep. As soon as I realised that I had missed my medication I had a look at the side effects of missing tablets and that kind of 'episode' was one of them. Naturally it is things like that which worry me as, quite often, I don't notice that kind of mood has set in and it is those around me that notice it more. It is almost a slight bipolar trait which isn't what I am diagnosed with but I think the lines can overlap and blur, so these are the reasons I think I am best to keep a certain level of medication flowing around my system.


^^ I can't talk about mental health without including the amazing Emily Coxhead who created The Happy Newspaper, if you don't already follow her then you MUST! ^^


This has turned into a bit of a medication ramble hasn't it, but hopefully it may be useful to someone as I know that I could've done with other peoples thoughts before I made the leap and began taking something. I believe that anti-depressants have their place but I also believe that you should take them to compliment positive life steps too, such as healthy eating, exercise and mindfulness. I think that if you are expecting to just sit and pop a pill and wait for something to happen that you may feel a bit let down.

Having depression is one of those horrible things that can force you into stillness; you feel like you just want to stay put, in the safety of bed or home and be there until the fog lifts but medication can help you take those first steps back into normality again. Once you have begun to live life again, doing the every day things that became a struggle, you will gradually be able to do more and more until the things that seemed terrifying no longer bother you at all. That is what medication has done for me; it has allowed me to get petrol again without a panic attack, pop into the supermarket on my own and feel safe, go to the gym and cope with the noise and lights and people... so many things are now just normal again.

So there we go, my medication ramble is complete for today! I really hope that was useful for even one person because there is such a stigma around tablets and they really can be helpful when used right and not seen as a simple fix. 

Thank you so much for reading this post, don't forget that there are many resources out there that you can use if you need to talk to someone about your health, click right here for many options!
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