#MedsWorkedForMe is trending on Twitter

So the hashtag #MedsWorkedForMe is currently trending on Twitter.

This is pretty cool, especially as mental health and medication are prettyyyy difficult subjects to talk about “in real life” (IRL, for the cool kids). I sometimes wonder what the point of Twitter is, so it’s nice when a really valuable purpose like this shows up.

I’ve just tweeted about my own medication, and then I thought what better time for an accompanying blog post.

For anyone who has struggled with their mental health, they’ll know what I’m talking about. I’ll even admit, before I went to group therapy – where I got to mix with all sorts of people from different walks and with different mental health diagnoses – I had made all sorts of unfair, negative assumptions about people with mental illness.

This was even after I’d received my own diagnosis from a psychiatrist (a reputable one who’d come recommended), of depression and anxiety – I didn’t believe my diagnosis at the time, I was convinced there was something just intrinsically wrong with me, and that depression/anxiety was just an excuse. When I got to the private hospital I was being treated at, as a day patient, everyone would talk about their medication. We were in a safe space. It was normalised.

I still find mental health a complex, confusing subject. Especially my own mental health. And I’ve studied a Masters in Psychology too.

Medication

When it came to medication, I was sceptical. However, the first time I saw my psychiatrist, I was feeling pretty low, and it had been getting progressively worse over recent weeks. So I was willing to try anything. (Sidenote: admittedly, I wasn’t overly-keen when he mentioned group therapy. Me. Talking. About myself. Deep stuff. In front of a group of people? Hmmmm).

For 4 months, I took sertraline along with group-therapy (2-3 days a week) plus 1-to-1 therapy (1 hour a week). It took a couple of weeks for me to notice anything, but even the structure that getting out of the house and going to group therapy for the day provided (on the days I went in) helped. About a month or so in, I was starting to notice feeling different. I was slowly beginning to open up and talk in therapy, and they say sertraline can take anything from 4-8 weeks to make any difference.

Sertraline caused diarrhoea, particularly right at the start. I also used to sweat a lot at night (even if it was cold!), and I started to dream more frequently, and more vividly.

After 4 months group therapy came to an end after consultation with my psychiatrist / therapists at the private hospital. I went away travelling for a couple of weeks, and – feeling better – came off the sertraline. Later that Summer, having felt better again, I took a down-turn which gradually saw me get lower and lower in mood again.

This time, due to sertraline’s side effects, I went on escitalopram. Even after 7 or 8 weeks, nothing seemed to be happening. Apparently, escitalopram wasn’t for me.

I went back on the sertraline, and also started 1-to-1 therapy with a new therapist. It’s been a couple of months now and, especially this last month, I’ve been noticing my state lifting again. I feel less depressed, less tired, and with more general zest to do things/see people/get out of the house. As I took last year off, and have only recently began looking for work again (in fact, quitting my job and studying, whilst “figuring out what I wanted to do with my life” and the associated disruption to my life/schedule certainly contributed to the bout of depression around a year ago which was the first time I was officially diagnosed. That’s for another post), I am hoping that work – in the right job/environment – and the structure that will bring will also further help with my mental health.

Both times I’ve taken the sertraline, it’s been accompanied by therapy. Interestingly, the second time around, the diarrhoea has gone/is minimal, though I’m still sweating (I’m taking milk thistle tablets which are supposed to help with the liver effects/sweating caused by sertraline).

It’s difficult to say whether it’s the medication, or therapy, which is helping. My psychiatrist always asks me whether he feels the medication is working, and I can never give a definitive answer. For me, as a “closed book” just having someone to talk to in therapy, especially someone who I can be open with and I feel “gets me” is so valuable.

But something tells me the medication is helping, too. My instinct is that it’s a bit of both.

For everyone out their currently taking, or who has previously taken meds, I hope it helps. It is amazing just how well/not well people respond to different types of medication. In my experience, there is something out there for everyone that help,s but it’s just a case of finding it.

I really hope more of us feel we can talk about our mental health with one another. Right now, it’s only close members of my family and select friends that know about my mental health / therapy / medication.

I feel that talking about it is really important, whether it’s in person, on Twitter, or in blog posts/discussions.

When it came to medication, I was sceptical. However, the first time I saw my psychiatrist, I was feeling pretty low, and it had been getting progressively worse over recent weeks. So I was willing to try anything.

For 4 months, I took sertraline along with group-therapy (2-3 days a week) plus 1-to-1 therapy (1 hour a week). It took a couple of weeks for me to notice anything, but even the structure that getting out of the house and going to group therapy for the day provided (on the days I went in) helped. About a month or so in, I was starting to notice feeling different. I was slowly beginning to open up and talk in therapy, and they say sertraline can take anything from 4-8 weeks to make any difference.

Sertraline caused diarrhoea, particularly right at the start. I also used to sweat a lot at night (even if it was cold!), and I started to dream more frequently, and more vividly.

After 4 months group therapy came to an end after consultation with my psychiatrist / therapists at the private hospital. I went away travelling for a couple of weeks, and – feeling better – came off the sertraline. Later that Summer, having felt better again, I took a down-turn which gradually saw me get lower and lower in mood again.

This time, due to sertraline’s side effects, I went on escitalopram. Even after 7 or 8 weeks, nothing seemed to be happening.

I went back on the sertraline, and also started 1-to-1 therapy with a new therapist. It’s been a couple of months now and, especially this last month, I’ve been noticing my state lifting again. I feel less depressed, less tired, and with more general zest to do things/see people/get out of the house. As I took last year off, and have only recently began looking for work again (in fact, quitting my job and studying, whilst “figuring out what I wanted to do with my life” and the associated disruption to my life/schedule certainly contributed to the bout of depression around a year ago which was the first time I was officially diagnosed. That’s for another post), I am hoping that work – in the right job/environment – and the structure that will bring will also further help with my mental health.

Both times I’ve taken the sertraline, it’s been accompanied by therapy. Interestingly, the second time around, the diarrhoea has gone/is minimal, though I’m still sweating (I’m taking milk thistle tablets which are supposed to help with the liver effects/sweating caused by sertraline).

It’s difficult to say whether it’s the medication, or therapy, which is helping. My psychiatrist always asks me whether he feels the medication is working, and I can never give a definitive answer. For me, as a “closed book” just having someone to talk to in therapy, especially someone who I can be open with and I feel “gets me” is so valuable.

But something tells me the medication is helping, too. My instinct is that it’s a bit of both.

For everyone out their currently taking, or who has previously taken meds, I hope it helps. It is amazing just how well/not well people respond to different types of medication. In my experience, there is something out there for everyone that help,s but it’s just a case of finding it.

I really hope more of us feel we can talk about our mental health with one another. Right now, it’s only close members of my family and select friends that know about my mental health / therapy / medication.

I feel that talking about it is really important, whether it’s in person, on Twitter, or in blog posts – and the discussion that can follow – like this one.

✏️ Written: Thursday, 22nd February 2018 @ 8.15pm

the abg | articlesawkward newsletter 💌

What about you? 👀
If you feel comfortable sharing, have you used – or previously tried – any medications? How have you responded to them? I’m fascinated to hear what others’ “magic drugs” are 

8 thoughts on “#MedsWorkedForMe is trending on Twitter

  1. I have been on so many meds… some don’t work, some work for a time and then others (like lexapro) I have been on for extended periods of time and they have been beneficial… i applaud you for trying the medication and toughing out the side effects (they can be pretty horrible, my right arm shakes when I am tired due to one of my meds) but in the long run, most of the time they help.
    I too hope that the stigma that surrounds mental health and the taking of medication changes and I think that is one thing that I hope to help change through my blogging.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, so strange that Lexapro didn’t seem to have any effect on me. My psychiatrist even seemed surprised at how strong the side effects were, especially to begin with. I just figured my body/system is sensitive, so I’m not overly surprised. Slowly, hopefully the stigma will chip away. It’s happening, bit by bit.

      Liked by 1 person

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