For those who don’t know: Citalopram is one of a group of antidepressants called selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors, or SSRIs. These medicines are thought to work by increasing the levels of a mood-enhancing chemical called serotonin in the brain.
So I had my appointment at the doctors. It turns out when I’d had chance to sleep on it I pretty much knew what I wanted. I wanted to get some extra help from medication while I sorted out my self care. I don’t want to sit through more CBT yet until I see where this journey takes me. So I have upped my dosage of citalopram with doctors approval from 30mg to 40mg with a review in 6 weeks. It would be great if at that review I can start reducing again.
There is a stigma around anti-depressants that even I as a 5 year participant can’t quite shake. Some see it as a weakness, some see it as a crutch, some people are just too scared of the addiction to try. I only ever wanted to be on them as a short term aid while I got myself right, but things are never that simple.
Sometimes our bodies have a genuine chemical imbalance that we have had since birth or due to influences in our life. I have at least one friend like this who knows she can never come off the drugs because without them her body doesn’t work right. I am dependant on mine, I’ve tried to come off and it’s horrendous. I don’t know if I am one of the people with a natural imbalance or if I just haven’t gotten myself to the right place yet. I have wanted to come off the drugs so I can ‘just be me again’ without some drug influencing my system… but I don’t know when or how this may be the cast and I have to make sure that when I try again it is for the right reasons.
I realised that the only one really applying any pressure to come off the anti-depressants is me. Work realise I need them, my husband and friends know I need them and not one of them is judging me for it… except myself. So, why am I insistent that I don’t want to be on them the rest of my life? Because… I am? I guess I worry that I’ve lost something of my personality with the change in how my mind works but I would say if asked that I feel normal and like myself… but its been so long.. how would I know?
When I first went on them I could feel fairly accurately what they were doing to me. I could feel the detachment and the numbness. It was like I knew that normally at this point I would be crying… but I just felt external to it. It is still harder to cry, I can still get the feeling of frustration that I want to cry but nothing happens. But this is the low level frustration, the day to day stuff.
If I get a real shock or like the last few weeks get to a real breakdown point where I just can’t rationalise or cope anymore, then I cry. I also hyperventilate and go dizzy as it seems I can’t get a normal level of upset I go straight to anxiety attack. I can however bring myself back from this with a breathing meditation that has thus far worked every time. I let the tears happen and focus as much as I can on my breath on slowing it, counting as I breathe in and out and make sure the breathing out is slower than in. This in turns tells the body there is nothing to panic over, the short sharp breathing that can come with crying tells the body there is a problem.
Much like there is no shame in taking anti-depressants to help, there is no shame in crying or needing comfort either.
I have tried to come off from the drug a few times over the last few years, I pick spring because it is sunny and warm and nature is coming back to life. Trying to come off in winter while it is dull lifeless and depressing just wouldn’t work. These attempts have however not worked out and in some cases take time to recover from. I have a 3 day limit before I hit withdrawal, I know this because I am forgetful and occasional have unfortunate gaps in my prescription over a weekend when I have forgot to check my quantities and renew in time.
I feel like a normal emotional human being, I can be happy and sad and all things in between but I think without the drugs I would just be sad.