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I wanted to share my story with you all start to finish as I promised myself as some of us do that when we felt better we would share our story to help others who need it. Remember that the reason you don't see many positive stories is because those who feel better carry on with their lives as I have and often don't want to recall bad times in their mind.
First of all, please do not think that you will not get better because you will. We all think 'this won't happen for me' and 'this is me now and I just have to live with it.' If I can get better then I promise you can too.
I have now been on Sertraline for 13 weeks. I had what I call a mini breakdown around 3 months ago which at the time felt completely out of the blue. However when many of us feel better we realise that we actually feel better than we did beforehand because there was some underlying anxiety/depression that we'd perhaps not noticed or ignored.
I had a severe panic attack one day that took me to a&e and it all spirraled from there to a point where I wasn't sleeping or eating, I was having many panic attacks a day and waking up everyday in tears. One day I cried for 7 hours pretty much continuously. I realised that the Propranolol and Diazepam I had been prescribed just weren't cutting it and so decided to go onto Sertraline with my doctor. I was absolutely devastated that I was on antidepressants and couldn't believe it had happened to me.
The next two weeks were the worst of my life. I was one of the unlucky ones who had awful side effects: complete loss of appetite, insomnia, headache, brain zaps, fatigue and the worst of all increased anxiety. I started on 25mg for a week then 50mg. I couldn't do anything but cry and panic all the time, I was terrified to leave my home even though I've always been an outgoing person. I completely isolated myself from everyone apart from a couple of close friends/family/boyfriend who had to basically baby me for these two weeks.
The third week, things really picked up and I started doing simple things with someone else such as going to Tesco or for a long walk. Then weeks 4,5,6 and even 7 I felt bad again. Not quite week 1 & 2 when I had all the side effects but still very anxious. I believe that I had severe anxiety but then developed depression from being so upset and self-pitying/blaming myself/feeling like a failure/feeling like I was going to lose everything.
Then week 8, I had booked a 2 week holiday earlier this year and I was sure I wouldn't go. But it came round and I did go and it was great. The anxiety was still there but I felt 70% back to normal which was just the most incredible feeling. When I returned, I slumped back down for a week. Back to reality and an increase in depression and anxiety. This was very difficult after feeling relatively better but I had still spent 4 weeks going back and forth on whether to increase my dose or not. My doctor said something to me which really stuck in my mind which was if you don't feel yourself yet then what do you have to lose? You can always go back down to 50mg.
The next day I took my first 100mg and was waiting for the horrific side effects to kick in. And absolutely nothing happened. However, after around 7 days on 100mg, my depression had completely disappeared. I had gone from thinking life was pointless and that I was worthless and a burden on everyone who I knew to feeling happy again, laughing, initiating plans with my friends, going on nights out. It was amazing!
I had a small set back when my tablet brand changed as I went to a different pharmacy. I was told that this made no difference by the pharmacist so thought nothing of it but within 2 days I had a splitting headache and the fatigue returned so I got a new prescription and continued with the same brand I was previously on. It was a bit of an annoying setback but within a few days I was back to normal.
I am now on week 13 and week 3 of 100mg and I feel 90% back to my normal self and I am positive with more time I will be 100%. I started a new job last week and have been absolutely fine. I feel confident again and looking forward to the future.
I wanted to write this post because I promise no matter how bad you're feeling now I have been there and it does get better. It is such an isolating illness that makes you feel alone. I would spend all day on this forum searching for answers and positive stories in tears and panic. And that's why I wanted to share my story with you all as so many helped me in my time of need and I hope this helps at least one person. I feel so narcissistic writing about myself for so long haha but I wanted to give a full overview to be as helpful as I could. Below I will write a few things I realised in my recovery and also some things that helped when I felt helpless.
1. Caffeine is a major cause of anxiety. I have completely cut this out of my life and now only drink decaffeinated and no fizzy drinks. It is a lifestyle change but you won't believe the difference it makes.
2. Things to do in the potentially awful first couple/few weeks: read, play a game, do sudoku and crosswords, knit, anything to occupy your mind.
3. I took up jogging once my side effects eased. Jogging is great as even when you're feeling anxious you can put your headphones in and put your head down and let all that anxious energy out.
4. Buy a self help book. I'm not sure if I can write which one I bought here but do some research online and see which have good reviews. It was brilliant at understanding what was going on and gave lots of useful and effective tools to help in your everyday life.
5. Do not be afraid to increase!! I spent far too long worrying about being on antidepressants and increasing my dose. Who cares!!! If you have a chance to feel better go for it!!!
6. Alcohol - I have found that I don't get any more drunk on Sertraline than without. If anything perhaps a little less. Just be careful because if you have depression, it's the day after drinking that is the downfall, not the actual drinking itself. But I seem to be fine now.
I hope that you all feel some relief soon. Do not worry about being on tablets, increasing if you feel you need to and panic when you don't instantly feel better. It is not a sprint it's a marathon as frustrating as it is. You will get there!! xx
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