Mental Health

6 Months On Citalopram: Why Anxiety Medication Was The Best Decision For Me

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:

  1. I was scared of the side effects and
  2. I wanted to BEAT THIS ON MY OWN
  3. 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!

I’d love to hear about your experiences with medication for mental illness – the good and the bad. Leave me a comment and let’s have a chat!

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Jenny in Neverland

Twenty-something lifestyle blogger from Essex. Book lover, Slytherin, organisational wizard and enjoys Motorsport, Disney and Yoga.

85 Comments

  1. I’m so glad medication worked for you. My dad refused medication after a breakdown and I don’t think he’s been the same person since 😢

    1. I’m so sorry to hear that. That must be difficult. It’s such a personal decision and not something you can force anyone to take. But I hope perhaps he changed his mind about medication in the future.

  2. Maxi says:

    Great to hear you’ve found something that has made a big difference to you. Onwards and upwards. Enioy your holiday and just being able to do the things you’ve wanted. Congratulations and good luck 😊

    1. Thank you! I’ll definittely try!

  3. aimsysantics says:

    So glad that you feel like you are finally living rather than just existing! Medication isn’t for everyone, but it sounds like it has definitley helped you on your journey. Also I think you are brave booking solo trips…I don’t know if I could do that!

    Thanks for sharing your story!

    Aimsy xoxo
    Aimsy’s Antics

    1. Thanks so much! It definitely isn’t for everyone and it’s a very individual thing. I can’t believe I’m going on holiday alone still haha!

  4. This was such a great inspiring read! I am so happy for you that the medication worked for you, such a big accomplishment to have even tried it!

    You’ve achieved so much, especially for this year alone! You should be so proud!

    Jessica & James | http://www.foodandbaker.co.uk

    1. Thank you so much! <3

  5. Julia says:

    This was such an inspiring post to read Jenny, I’m so glad the medication is working for you! Such an honest post, I can understand why medication can appear so daunting, as I said I do think it was really inspiring that you took that step with going to a nurse and getting help. It can be hard to admit when the high horse is no longer working for us, especially when it comes to mental health. Thank you for sharing your experience and story in such a good post. I hope you enjoy your holiday you’ve got booked!

    bumblingalong.co.uk

    1. Totally agree. My horse definitely knocked me clean off!

  6. Oh wow, I’m so glad it has worked for you so well and that you’re able to do so much what you couldn’t do before! Booking the solo trip especially, really inspiring and brave. xx

    1. Thank you so much!

  7. This is so amazing for you. I’m not on any medication other than pain killers for my knees and ankle, but I can imagine how amazing it must feel for you ❤️

    1. Thank you so much xx

  8. This is so amazing! I know it can feel like you’re admitting defeat when you ‘give in’ and start taking something but the way this seems to have given you your life back is truly incredible! I’m so happy that you’re in a place where you can try new things or do things you probably thought weren’t possible now. Such a great post that I’m sure will encourage people to get help if they need it x

    Sophie

    1. It really did feel like that at first but that’s so not the case at all! Thank you so much! x

  9. I’m so glad to read you are doing so well, Jenny! It sounds like the last six months have been amazing and you have achieved so much. I’ve been on medication for anxiety and depression in the past, and it definitely helped me through a low point and gave me the motivation to make changes 🙂 It’s great you have found something that works so well and has enhanced your life so much. This is a really encouraging post, especially for those who are unsure about medication – thank you for sharing your experience <3 xxx

    Bexa | http://www.hellobexa.com

    1. Thank you so much! <3 xxx

  10. I absolutely loved reading your achievements over the past six months, it’s so uplifting! Medication didn’t work too well for me personally, therapy seemed to be the answer, but I’m glad to hear it’s a method that works! Love the honesty 🙂

    Anika | chaptersofmay.com

    1. Thanks so much Anika! Therapy is amazing too. I definitely wouldn’t be where I am without it either! xxx

  11. I’ve been on Lexapro for about 18 months now, and it’s help a lot. It’s really help me with coping too. The only side effect dislike is the weight gain! But I am SO glad to hear this is working out for you.

    tonyalee @ http://vivaciousbibliophile.com/

    1. Awh so glad to hear that’s helping you! Shame we can’t skip the side effects!

  12. Lellalee says:

    I’m so glad to hear you’re doing so well Jenny. Anxiety is just plain horrid. Like you, I have avoided medication for a long time. Perhaps a little assistance is just what I need to start taking some steps in the right direction. Thank you for sharing xxx

    1. I hope this can encourage you to at least speak to your doctor about it! A little conversation never hurt 🙂 xxx

  13. I’m a psychiatry resident going to complete my degree in psychiatry in coming years. Your post of how these SSRI helped you. It felt relieving to me. Keep up. Go strong. And remember dont just depend on medication. 😊

  14. katy gilroy says:

    so so glad it’s working well for you lovely! x

    1. Thank you x

  15. This was a really good read, thank you so much for sharing your story – I’ve gone out of my way to avoid medication (in my case, for depression) for years and am now just starting to discuss my options. I am pretty firm on my decision that this is right for me and my situation, but reading this helped me to feel a little more at peace with it. It was nice to connect with the story of someone else that has dealt with a similar situation and had a positive outcome like that!

    1. Oh I can definitely relate. I was adamant for so long but honestly going on it was the best thing I ever done. It’s definitely worth exploring your options. Having a conversation with your doctor or therapist never hurt anyone! xxx

  16. I genuinely couldn’t have read this blog post at a better time. It’s so nice to hear from people who’re in a similar situation and have similar thoughts having a good experience. I had a complete mental breakdown just over two weeks ago and since then, every mental health service I’ve interacted with has pushed medication and I’ve denied them every time (I had a really bad experience with sertraline in 2017/early 2018, but that’s only part of the reason I said no) and this has made me seriously reconsider/re-weigh up my options. I think there’s so much stigma when it comes to medication for mental health purposes but this post just proves that if you find the right one for you, at the right dosage, it can be completely transformative and can literally change your life. I’m so glad to hear it’s worked for you and from one anxiety sufferer to another, I’m proud of you for how far you’ve come! Here’s to a great 2020.

    1. I’m so so glad you read this at the right time. I’m sorry to hear about your breakdown. I hope you’re taking it easy and taking care of yourself. I totally relate to feeing adamant about no medication but I’d highly recommend at least having a chat to your doctor. A conversation never hurt anyone 🙂 And there are SO many medications out there to try. They won’t all work for you but some absolutely will! Do let me know how you get on, if you decide to go to your docs! xxx

  17. I’m glad its helping you and you’re feeling better x

    1. Thank you x

  18. I am so glad you found something that works for you and that you are able to to do these things now!

    1. Thank you x

  19. So good to hear how well you’re doing. I couldn’t take this one, it made me so sick 🙁

    1. Ah that’s a shame! It works so different for different people!

  20. I’m so glad to hear it’s helped you Jenny! I used to be on that one and I don’t think it did anything for me 😩 but I’ve just started Sertalin or something like that and I’m excited to see how that works! So lovely to hear you’ve managed to do all those things! I also find driving really difficult due to my anxiety, hopefully one day hey! 💕

    Ashleigh – https://www.ashleighsmoments.com

    1. That’s a shame but that’s the great thing about medication, is that there’s so many to try! Hope this new one works for you xxx

  21. This was lovely to read! So glad it helped you ✨

    1. Thank you x

  22. Such an honest post, thank you for sharing. I’m on sertraline for my anxiety and it’s the best decision I’ve ever made.
    Wow, you’ve made amazing progress, we’ll done!!

    1. Thank you and so glad to hear that!

  23. I am so glad to hear it’s had such a positive effect on helping you with the tools you needed to get back a balance, I found similar when I had a few months of propranolol.

    1. Thank you! x

  24. It’s so great that you have been able to do things you once couldn’t and by taking this medication it has given you a ‘boost’. I think medication is always quite a daunting thing especially when it comes to side effects, then throw your anxiety in the mix and it can become very terrifying but I am glad you were able to overcome this.

    1. Very true, it can be so daunting. But if you don’t try you’ll never know!

  25. This is amazing to hear how well this medication is working for you! I’m so glad you decided to give it s go as it seems to be working wonders. Citalopram didn’t do much for me so my doctor switched me to escitalopram and it’s working so so well!

    1. So glad you’ve found one that works too!

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