*Always discuss medication with a trained professional!*
I shared my concerns about starting antidepressants and I was overwhelmed by the number I received. It helped me so much to feel less alone in this leap, and to know that I’m going to be okay. One of the comments that stood out specified that they saw their medication as something that adds to their life, rather than stands in the way of it. I love that perspective, and after being on antidepressants for three months, I see exactly what they mean.
I’m not going to claim that everything is magically perfect now. But I finally feel like I have the tools, through therapy as well as my medication, to handle the hurdles right in front of me. I wanted to give an update on how it’s going on my antidepressants, and to share my experiences for anyone who is doubting it or still at that starting line.
I knew this going in and yet it was still a rollercoaster. Personally, I struggled most during the first month with nausea and exhaustion. I felt so nauseous all of the time. I made the mistake of going to a workout class on the third day, which I had to stop as I honestly thought I was going to vomit everywhere. It probably didn’t help that it was one of the hottest days of summer.
I also felt so tired all of the time. I was getting as much sleep as I usually do, and yet even the smallest tasks felt overwhelming. I struggled to give myself the compassion that I desperately needed in these moments, and I kept fixating on how little work I was managing. It took my best friend telling me to just take the day off and rest for it to finally hit home.
As soon as I accepted that I wasn’t running at 100%, things felt much easier. I took a lot of time to just slow down, read books, watch shows, and go for slow walks. I spent money on silly little treats like an iced coffee or a new lipgloss.
Before starting the medication, I had been warned that it could affect my libido. I kind of brushed over this as I’m single and not currently dating. I didn’t really realise that this would impact self-pleasure as well… That felt like quite a hit. This thing I had taken for granted, this relationship with my own body, suddenly felt so distant. I lost the urge to masturbate and when I tried, not much happened. It felt like an added loss to everything else.
But in my follow-up appointment, I opened up to the psychiatrist about all of this. I also opened up a lot with my closest friends, and they offered a lot of suggestions. All of the side effects felt manageable once I used the perspective of compassion with myself. It helped so much not to be suffering in silence.
On my one-month check-in, I acknowledged that while I was having fewer mood swings than before, I wasn’t really getting positive mood effects. I still had quite depressed days, which I had hoped to alleviate. This was also impacting my focus. I decided I wanted to wait one month more before increasing my dose.
A month later, I returned to her office and said that I was ready to increase my dose. I had started on the lowest dose possible of 5mg, which we now increased to 10mg. I was warned that I could experience a return of the side effects, which I felt prepared for.
Indeed, the nausea and fatigue definitely returned, though not as badly as before. I managed to do a workout class without almost vomiting on my mat. I also experienced the struggle with sexual pleasure, but not a complete block like before. My side effects were less than the first time and seemed to dim quicker as well, although not completely disappear.
With my increased dose, I began to experience some more of the positive effects that I had been looking for. I haven’t had any full depression days, where I just wake up feeling so low. While I’m still a human being with lower moods, they don’t feel as overwhelming as they did before. I’m tired at the end of the day, but it’s a satisfied kind of tired without any restlessness.
My psychiatrist specifically wanted me to try Lexapro as it’s been shown to help people with borderline personality disorder with mood swings. It feels like such a relief not to have such changing emotions and a general sense of calmness. I feel less overwhelmed by emotions, and more rational. I jokingly asked my therapist if this is how other people feel all the time.
Most importantly, for the first time in a year, my focus is back! I can sit down and complete a task, without having the constant interruptions of my mind and restlessness. This feels like such a relief. I love that I can write again and not feel like it’s a battle to stay focused.
I do still experience some nausea and definitely a lot of tiredness, but these side effects feel manageable, and worth the trade for my elevated mood. I had another check-in with my psychiatrist and we’re happy to proceed as we are. These side effects might eventually go or they might always stay that way, and that’s okay.
In regards to the other concerns I expressed before starting antidepressants, I’m coming to terms with it all. I haven’t had an alcoholic drink in three months, and right now that feels good. Maybe I will at some point, maybe I won’t, I’m just going to see as I go. I’m not sure if I’ve put on weight, as I don’t own a weigh scale, but I’m no longer secretly hoping I’ll lose weight or my appetite on this medication. I feel good about myself, and I bought comfortable pants that fit my body as it is now.
I don’t know how long I’ll be on this medication, but right now it feels good, and so I’m not in any rush to come off them. I’m letting things unfold as they should be. I’m honest about my medication, but I also know that it’s my information to share as I see fit.
Things feel okay for the first time in a long time. It’s tempting to worry that they won’t stay this way, but for now, I’m just allowing things to happen as they should. I don’t want to fight the tide anymore, so I’m learning to simply drift in it, and feel good where I am now.
Welcome to Symptoms of Living! A place where I like to relieve myself of the barrage of thoughts and ideas filling my mind. Here I'll take a look at various topics, from books to BPD, series to self-harm, there's nothing that we can't, and shouldn't, talk about.
Having struggled with mental illness since the age of 15, one of the hardest parts was how alone I felt in it. While mental illness is beginning to be discussed more openly, and featured in the media, I still think there is room for improvement. So whether it is mental illness or merely mental health, a bad day or a bad year, let's make this a place to approach it and strip it back. Everyone has their own symptoms of living, and you certainly won't be the only one with it.
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