Back in February I made a post called "Time To Talk". I discussed finally getting help for depression and anxiety after suffering in silence for 8 or 9 years.
I've now been on medication for 6 months so I thought I'd give an honest update of how these 6 months have been for me.
I began my prescription of 20mg Citalopram at the beginning of January. The first day was horrendous. I felt very light headed, unbalanced and nauseous all day and I just spent the day laid on my bed. I did a lot of Googling (as always...) and this seemed to be a thing that happened to others so I just put up with it. I remember being a bit scared to carry on taking them but I did and the feelings from the previous day didn't continue.
However, the first week I got the majority of the common side effects stated in the leaflet. I felt sick constantly. I couldn't eat anything. And my main problem was that I couldn't sleep at all. In January I was still working and that required me getting up at 7am and being in work 8.30-5/5.30 but, I'd still be wide awake come 4am. I would be exhausted all day and my eyes would be dropping but the moment I got into bed, I was wide awake. I ended up sticking Netflix on for hours in the hope it would make me drop off. (I did find out that I love Brooklyn Nine-Nine though and powered through it very quickly. Swings and roundabouts.)
The other side effects of feeling sick and having no appetite went after a couple of weeks but the insomnia was destroying me. I wrote about not being able to sleep too, here.
An odd side effect I have had is that I've lost the ability to cry. I have Googled this but I can't find many others that have had this and other people I know on the medication haven't really experienced it either. It feels like all the emotions I could feel have just been drained out of me. The second week I was on the medication, I went to see The Danish Girl at the cinema. I am a crier. Especially a film crier. This is the kind of film I would have cried at. But I just sat there, and I felt nothing. My friend was sobbing and I knew it was sad but I just didn't feel anything. Since then I've only managed the odd few tears a handful of times. It sounds odd to complain about not being able to cry, when I previously spent so much time crying, but it's frustrating not being able to. Sometimes you just need a good cry!
In February I gave myself the whole month to do whatever I wanted; to be selfish. I let myself wake up whenever I naturally did. It was really nice to not have to be woken by an alarm, even though I wasn't actually getting that much sleep still. I managed to nap for an hour or so a few times during the day, which I never used to do. I just did whatever I wanted, when I wanted and I really needed that time to just feel relaxed and free. I also began my course of CBT. I was doing it online via an app. The app is full of programmes, tools and techniques to control and manage anxiety. My reviewer checked in every two weeks to see how I was getting on and ask me questions. I can send him messages and there is a journal I can put everything that's on my mind in that I find really useful.
In March I began working from home. For the first couple of weeks I left my alarm off and let myself wake up naturally. I put my alarm on from the middle of the month and have it on for the same time every weekday now. I make sure I get changed everyday even if it is just putting on my scruffy jogging bottoms. Just as long as I change out of what I slept in. I really enjoy the work I'm doing now and being able to do it at home in my own time. My bosses have been so supportive to me during all of this.
I could definitely tell I was feeling a lot clearer. My mind didn't wander off to dark places and make me think bad thoughts. I talked to my family a lot more and joined in conversations at tea time. The sleep problem was still bothering me and my doctor prescribed me sleeping pills for 10 days. I mentioned in the sleep post that although the tablets got me to sleep quicker, they didn't make me feel any better and once they ended I had the worst night yet. I decided with my doctor, and also my CBT reviewer, that it would have to be something I have to just let pass and use relaxation techniques etc to help make getting to sleep easier (easier said than done).
I have missed one day of medication and I was okay until later in the day when I didn't feel well at all. Could have been coincidence? There have also been a couple of times when I have taken the pill a few hours later than I usually do and this also makes me feel very sluggish and I don't tend to have good days then.
I have now finished my course of CBT and my results from it show that my anxiety levels have improved from when I started. I found it really useful and doing it online meant I could work through it in my own time. I still get access to the app and materials on it for another year too so I don't feel like I've been thrown into the wilderness to go it alone.
I definitely feel like working from home has helped. I love what I'm doing now but I am getting a bit worried about my financial situation and the future. With working from home though I do need to make sure I go outside most days. I've got really into walking around the park where I live but some days that seems like too much and I end up just walking to Tesco and back!
Also, after 6 very long months... this last couple of weeks I have managed to sleep!! I don't want to jinx this but I haven't struggled getting to sleep. I haven't lay awake wondering when my eyes will close. I haven't been tossing and turning for hours. I'm still going to sleep quite late but I've got into the habit of only going to bed later now, however I ham managing to get 7 or 8 hours in most nights! Hallelujah! Hopefully this isn't a blip and it continues...
And now, this last month or so I have noticed I have had a lot more bad days than I've had since beginning medication. Once I started medication I was just having the odd bad day and then I'd be good to go again the next. Recently it's been constant bad days for about 5 weeks. I was scared that I've got too used to the medication and the effect is wearing off but I did the right thing and went to the doctors before I started feeling worse and back to my old self. I have been prescribed a slightly higher dosage so hopefully this will have a positive effect. And hopefully it doesn't sned my sleeping crazy again..!
Overall I am pleased with my progress in such a short space of time. It makes me even more annoyed at myself that I let myself struggle for so long. I'm so lucky and grateful that I have good people in my life who have been supportive.