Sertraline and me, part 3.
So, here we are, at the climax of the trilogy. If you haven’t read my other posts then I’ll catch you up - (or go and read the other parts).
After a lifetime of feeling anxious and periodically depressed, my partner encouraged me to finally get help. I was prescribed an antidepressant, sertraline, in April 2022 to try and reduce my anxiety and depression - which for me involved low self-esteem, over analysing everything I did, general fatigue, anxiety attacks and the overall feeling that everyone around me was normal, living their normal lives, and I was unable to be part of that world.
It has been three months since then, which has included; ups and downs, side effects, and an increased dosage from 50mg of sertraline to 100mg. But here we are, 90 or so days down the line on my journey with antidepressants. There are three main questions that I find myself asking often.
These are; 1) Have I learnt a lot? 2) Is my anxiety and depression a thing of the past? 3) Would I recommend them to others?
The answers to those questions are; kind of, kind of, and kind of, respectively. I could leave it there but that wouldn’t be much help. So, here, in this little online pocket of space, is my most recent update about my experience with sertraline.
Last time I wrote of having interrupted sleep. This continued for a little while - which wasn’t incredibly pleasant, but if that was all I was to experience from increasing my dose compared with the possibility of reducing my anxiety and depression, then bring on the mediocre sleep! The truth is, this did actually last for a short while, right up until the point at which I thought it might persist. At that point, it stopped, and my sleep has been great. Not falling asleep too late, not staying asleep for too long, nor waking up too early.
If you’ve been reading this series, then you might be expecting some turn of events. Maybe the antidepressants were just a placebo effect and my symptoms came back? Or maybe I needed to increase my dose again? Well, the truth is, there hasn’t been a turn of events (yet). It’s been a positive month, full of; feeling more confident, not questioning myself all the time, having more energy and just generally having a more positive outlook about things.
Don’t get me wrong, just like anyone I have had various down moments. But that isn’t depression, that is just life. Generally, if your down moments are less frequent than both your content and happy moments, then I think you can consider yourself mentally healthy. And I think - I say with bated breath - that’s what I am. Mentally healthy.
I have also had a change of circumstances. My partner and I have moved into a flat together, in a new incredible city. I have found a job that is in line with what I want to do in the future. It could be that this change in circumstances has been the key to my happiness, no… my contentedness. The question also exists though - Would I have been able to change my circumstance if I wasn’t in a better place? Possibly? All I know is that since recognising and speaking openly about my mental health, it has improved.
Maybe that is the key takeaway from my journey that you might be able to incorporate into your life. The moment I opened up, I started to understand that other people actually feel how I do. I felt connected to people in ways that I maybe hadn’t before. Sometimes, low points still stop me from recognising that connection every now and then. But in the moments that I experience that connection, I feel as though - with all of my flaws, imperfections and insecurities - I belong.
So in answering those three questions posed earlier;
1) I would say that I have learnt a lot, but I haven’t learnt everything in relation to my depression and anxiety, and I probably never will.
2) The depth of my anxiety and depression is a thing of the past, but I wouldn’t be human if it was completely absent.
3) If you are at the stage where you feel like you might need support but have not spoken to anyone about it, then the first thing I would do is speak to someone. Whoever that someone is, their perception of you won’t change. From there, search what the next step for you could be. There are many different treatments available for whatever sort of person you are. I chose to use antidepressants because I would not have been able to put enough effort into a therapy like CBT with all the other bits going on in my life. If you find that you are able to commit to a therapy, then that might work better for you. Or you can enrol in both medication and therapy.
What is clear is once you set yourself on your journey to mental wellness, you take your mental wellbeing into your own hands. That act of challenging your thoughts and saying “I no longer believe that I deserve to feel like this” is, in-and-of itself, the biggest realisation that you can have.
And so concludes my trilogy. My journey continues, and I hope that the small part that I have shared with you provides some connection to how you are feeling. I hope that it encourages you to accept yourself and - if you are struggling - I hope that this helps you take the first step towards challenging your perception of yourself.