Last year, in July, I hit a really low patch with my anxiety. My anxiety which, I thought, was getting better. In a way it was – at least I wasn’t scared to do EVERYTHING anymore. But deep down, I knew I was stuck. I had reached a wall that I just WASN’T getting past. My life felt completely halted but my anxiety and all the things I never thought I’d never be able to do and all the “normal” life I never thought I’d have again.
After a pretty severe bout of health anxiety which had me crying to my nurse, she promptly made me an appointment with the doctor to discuss medication and additional therapy. I’ve said it before but I cannot fault the care I received from my nurse and doctor during that period. They were so on the ball with everything and genuinely cared about my well-being.
So, after 8 years of refusing medication on the grounds of:
- I was scared of the side effects and
- I wanted to BEAT THIS ON MY OWN
- Being on my high horse
I finally started Citalopram – a common SSRI used for depression and anxiety disorders. I finally caved. And in a way, it felt freeing to finally admit and accept that I did need extra help, despite for so long convincing myself and everyone around me that I was “better”. I wasn’t. And anxiety medication taught me that more than anything.
So in July, I started Citalopram. I was put on a tiny 10mg dose to start which is apparently quite common to get your body used to the change in hormones etc, which I stayed on for around 2 months. A little longer than average because I was still worried about the side effects of a heavier dose and I also had a holiday planned, which I didn’t want ruined by nausea or feeling dizzy.
I didn’t have to worry because my side effects were very minimal – even when I did up my dose to the therapeutic dose of 20mg. I felt a little sick occasionally but nothing ground breaking. My main side effect was a dry mouth which I was warned could happen. I’ve never peed so much in my life because I can’t stop drinking!
So point 1) of being scared of the side effects: COMPLETE.
Of course this is a strong medication and everyone reacts differently. Some people have very little side effects and others have loads but considering asking for Citalopram is certainly not a decision you should make based on someone else’s experience.
As for the high horse… Well… I had been well and truly kicked off of mine. I’ve always wanted to “beat” this anxiety on my own – only with the help of therapists (the one I saw years ago was incredibly helpful) and herbal remedies such as Bachs and Kalms. I wanted to stay away from medication at all costs.
8 years I lived with this attitude. And whilst yes, I did get better over time, like I said, I’d hit that wall. I wasn’t progressing any further.
Until I started medication. And truthfully, I’m kicking myself that I didn’t get down off that bloody horse sooner.
Medication has been a life starter for me. This tiny white pill has given me my life back. Of course there’s been other contributing factors, such as extra group counselling and making new friends through the course. But I wouldn’t have gotten anywhere without this medication.
Over the last 6 months I’ve:
- Gone out for tea and cake by myself – something I haven’t been able to do in almost a decade
- Took myself on a solo cinema trip – one of my 2020 goals!
- I’ve started driving again. My anxiety made it impossible for me to drive but now I’m driving places on my own with little to no anxiety. Something I never thought I’d be able to do again.
- I’ve booked a trip away by myself. Something I wouldn’t have been able to even fathom a year ago.
- Started a new exercise programme and I’m getting fitter and healthier than I have been in years.
- I’m making more plans than ever and the best part, is that I’m not dreading them anymore. Before Citalopram, although I could make plans and go out, there was always a part of me that dreaded it because I knew I was going to get so anxious.
- I’ve started to enjoy my life. Finally. For the first time in almost a decade, I AM LIVING. Not just sitting in my bedroom, existing.
I am in a better place mentally than I have been in a very long time. I mean… almost a decade long time. The second half of 2019 was the most transformative time of my life. I feel like it was laying the foundations for me for 2020 and beyond. What a time for a transformation. A new year. A new decade.
I’m not sitting here trying to sway you either way. Medication for mental illness is an incredibly personal thing that only you and your doctor should be making informed decisions about. But I think it’s important to share your stories. I’ve been on both sides of the coin and I know what works best for me now. And that’s all you can do – find what works best for YOU.
I share more about my personal experience with a severe anxiety disorder in my book, Finding Your Way Back To You, which is out this September and available to pre-order here!