Trigger warning – the anti-psychiatry movement are at risk of foaming with fury at this one…
Sorry if the headline feels like click bait. Because no, this 40 year old is not pilled up in that sense. I spent my Saturday night reading my new Christmas magazine and wearing my new pink slipper boots (with added sparkle) while cuddling a cat. I now have many ideas of what Christmas treats I will be baking this year (or thinking about baking, because I never actually get round to translating domestic inspiration into domestic bliss if I’m honest).
Christmas treats of the all-night dancing kind are no longer something I could entertain as inspiring, let alone translate into actual clubland bliss (stuff of nightmares I say – they belong in the 1990s).
What I am on about is the fact that I’ve just decided to up my dose of antidepressants. And I actually feel way more controversial in doing so than if I were to drop an e in the Bigg Market on a Monday morning. Before work.
I shouldn’t though, should I? Firstly, let me make something clear, it’s not too clever to randomly up your dose without advice (DON’T DO IT). The thing is, I HAVE had advice. I was prescribed a higher dose when I was struggling a little while ago. And then I instantly dropped it thinking, I don’t need this anymore, I’m all fixed.
So I figured that, given my GP suggested it, I tried it for a couple of weeks, then dropped it like a rock (and not down my throat) I was entitled to actually take the prescription I was in fact prescribed just a couple of months ago and see if it makes any difference. It might. It might not. But I’m not committed either way.
And I am a goodie two-shoes. Years of health anxiety taught me not to mess with meds. I’ve refused my favourite fruit juice for over three years now for fear of overdose (we’re not meant to take grapefruit with SSRIs )
But today I knocked back 150mg rather than 100mg of Sertraline because I have been given permission by a medical professional to do so.
I’ve been full of anger, ‘everybody hates me‘, a need to react to very slight injustices (where’s that waiter, he said 5 minutes! It’s been at least 7!) and, worse than anything else, a serious lack of energy combined with a serious increase in comfort food.
I’ve never been diagnosed with depression, I will make that clear. Anxiety has always been my nemesis. And as my husband very rightly said the other night, I’ve been through a lot. It’s natural to feel like this. I need to listen to my body. He’s right. In some ways maybe I shouldn’t need to up the meds. I should try to commit to self-care, walks in the park, and yoga with Adriene. Sometimes, we shouldn’t medicalise how we feel, because there are reasons for it.
But I’m so blummin’ sluggish. I’m necking thyroid kick-starters every day (Levothyroxine – because my thyroid is medically proven to be sluggish), and I seem to be craving more and more caffeine. So I’m going to give it a go. Upping the SSRI intake by a third. And I certainly do not intend to stay on that dose forever. I’m doing it with my eyes open.
So much so, in fact, that I wholeheartedly acknowledge that I felt immediately better having taken my increased dose. And I know that’s not the drug, but placebo effect.
The other thing I am well aware of is this: meds should never be relied on as the sole solution to fix a problem. I know that. I am planning to do that walk today, and I am planning to finally give the house a proper clean and iron some stuff (can’t quite remember the last time I ironed anything – my wardrobe has been on repeat for some time – linen, of course, has not made an appearance).
So I’m writing this for two reasons.
Firstly – I need to hear other people’s experiences of med dosage. Have you been in this situation before?
Secondly – To challenge the stigma of antidepressants. DO NOT PILL SHAME ME. There’s far too much of that and I’ll never forget some of the responses I received on Twitter by the anti-psychiatry movement when I criticised Panorama’s pill shaming charade. I’m happy to take on board negative feedback to taking meds, but please don’t get aggressive about it. It’s not black and white and we are all different.
At the end of the day, I can do nothing, jeopardise relationships, let my rapidly growing muffin top force me to buy a whole new wardrobe three sizes bigger, and I can become an unwelcome visitor to my favourite local coffee shop.Let’s be honest, 7 minutes to take an order is not exactly a disaster.
OR I can try a range of different things I have in my arsenal to kick-start my way out of it.
I’ll try the latter. Do not shame me for it. Please. But I am very open to hearing experiences, good and bad – as I do have an open mind.