ANXIETY MEDS

I’ve been taking anti-anxiety medicine for one year now. When I got back from DR Congo, I immediately went to see my GP in London to discuss how I was feeling. Exhausted, stressed, overwhelmed, with panic attacks, nausea, migraines. The works – to be described in another post. My GP told me that I’d been running on adrenaline for so long, and that I was completely depleted. He prescribed Citalopram (20 mg/day), a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI).

I immediately cried. I felt weak, like going on medication was a cop-out for not dealing with my real problems. Why would I want something false to make me feel better? Why would I want something messing with my brain’s natural chemistry? Surely our bodies are designed to heal on their own naturally.

However, the GP explained that the medication works by helping to restore the balance of a certain natural substance (serotonin) in the brain. He said to think of it like a multi-vitamin – I could of course heal on my own, but it would take much longer to feel normal again. This would simply speed up the process. That comment may spark debate, but I decided to give it a go. That was 10 months ago today.

Now, I’ve been through therapy for my PTSD, removed myself from DR Congo, ended a toxic marriage. I’ve moved home to Canada, been surrounded by family. I have been feeling a lot better, and decided to try to go off my meds. Of course, I didn’t do this overnight. I read and researched, and decided to slowly reduce my intake.

After 1 week, I hoped I’d feel better. I didn’t. I felt dizzy and weak, two major side effects. This was quite shocking to me, actually. I only take 20mg a day – surely I shouldn’t be so attached. I guess I was wrong.

Again, I felt like a failure, asking myself “why can’t I feel normal?” I went back to another doctor, who laughed and said “don’t stress, you’ve just moved home, and don’t even have a full time job yet! Why not just wait until you are completely settled and have been feeling better FOR A YEAR, then consider going off?” This wasn’t what I wanted to hear. However, now it’s been another 3 months. I have just started my new job, and am battling with anxiety, here and there. I feel like the meds keep me leveled. So I’ll stay on them, for now.

What experiences have you had? How do you feel?

Sending love, as being on meds is always a tricky one, but also, so needed in the right context.

Much love,

Ella

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