On the 23rd June 2015, I had an appointment with my doctor, where I was prescribed antidepressants (10mg of Citalopram).
The next day, the 24th June 2015, I took them for the first time. Today is the two year anniversary of this.
It might not seem like such a big deal, or something to celebrate, but for me, it was a huge deal, for two reasons:
Firstly, the prospect of taking antidepressants for lots of people can be overwhelming. There is still stigma attached to them. We are conditioned to believe that by taking medication for mental health problems, we are somehow weaker than those who do not. But, in reality, we are strong for realising that we might benefit from a little bit of extra support. There is nothing to be ashamed about, at all. I know lots of people who take antidepressants for depression and/or anxiety, and they really help them. For some people, they are essential.
And secondly, this was not just my first time taking antidepressants – this was my first time taking a tablet, full stop. I wrote about this recently in another post if you want to read a more detailed account of it, but basically, I had always had a fear of taking medication of any kind since I was very young. So, taking this first antidepressant was the start of me overcoming my fear! Over two years, I went from never having taken a proper tablet in my life, to taking a lot. Like I said in my previous post, the most tablets I have taken daily since then was nine. I currently take seven per day. If you had told me this two years ago, I wouldn’t have believed it.
So, that is one fear I have overcome within the past two years. But this occasion has got me thinking about everything else I have achieved or overcome since then.
Mental health wise, I have become MUCH better at controlling my OCD symptoms. From the point where my OCD was getting unbearable to now, where I still struggle but not nearly to the previous extent, I have come a long way. I feel like my confidence has increased, the way I perceive myself has changed for the better, and my mood is much more stable. Again, I have my bad times like everyone does, but they are easier to control.
And otherwise, I have managed to apply for university again and get offered a place. If you know me or have read my posts before, you will probably know that I am going to Winchester to study Psychology and Cognition. Even a few months ago, I would NEVER have considered this. My mindset has shifted in such a way that I actually felt like my mind would let me be happy again. And I have been given the boost I need to try and start again. These, I guess, are the main things that have changed for me in the past couple of years.
Back to antidepressants. Since that initial 10mg of Citalopram, my dose has been increased twice. A month after starting, it was doubled to 20mg, and then doubled again to 40mg three months after that. This high dose is what I have remained on since October 2015.
I find it hard to think about how antidepressants have actually helped me. Like, I started them at around the same time as starting counselling. So, how do I know which has actually helped me? I think it was a bit of both; I think the meds gave me a little bit of a boost. And frankly, I don’t want to come off of them yet.
I guess I don’t want to rely too much on them, but I am also very reluctant to ask my doctor about reducing or coming off of them completely. I am going through a difficult time right now (read my previous post to find out why!) and what with starting uni again soon, which I know will likely send my anxiety and stress sky high, I feel much happier staying on them until things become a little more stable. And my doctor has told me that staying on a high dose for this amount of time is absolutely fine, so, there’s nothing stopping me.
I am medicated and mighty!