Hmmm, so this posting once a week thing isn't going too well is it?! Let's put it down to the 5,000 word piece of group coursework I've been working on and the overwhelm of a new intellectually stimulating job shall we. My brain has been fried from all the thinking and any downtime has been committed to catching up on Madam Secretary (highly recommended).
Anyway, I thought it was time for a catch up and a chat about how I'm doing after the nightmare that was paroxetine, or rather my reaction to it (which you can read about here). I won't lie, the reaction to that medication, and the period of withdrawal afterwards, really knocked me for six. I felt truly awful, my body was beaten up, I was tired and mentally it's exhausting dealing with that type of thing. Throughout it all I was exceptionally well looked after, my doctors called regularly to check in on me (big up the NHS) and have been monitoring me ever since, and everyone around me was so kind and caring, but it was still shit.
After coming off paroxetine I had a week or so of not taking anything, I decided to give my body a break and not even a vitamin passed my lips. To be honest I'd been popping so many pills I felt like I was rattling and it was nice to have some space from all of that. I then went on to sertraline, another similar drug but which doesn't cause side effects as often as paroxetine (as far as I understand - not a doctor, talk to your doctor) with some very careful monitoring from my doctor. For the first couple of days I didn't feel amazing, and my sleep wasn't very good for a few weeks (hello waking up spontaneously at 3am), but all in all I felt pretty ok on it. I have had one upsetting side effect, my libido and interest in sex dropped pretty significantly. It really got me down, but with some dedicated work I think I'm getting there with managing it. From what I've read this is a really common side effect, and I will write a post about how I've been dealing with it.
Now that I've been settled on medication for a few weeks I can say that it's done me the world of good. I feel a lot more like myself, I have the space to take better care of myself and life is just a lot less overwhelming. It scared me how difficult I was finding things before Christmas, and now I feel better placed to overcome that sense of overwhelm and frustration. Drugs aren't the answer to everything, but in my case they've given me some crucial room to help myself better, and I am not ashamed of that. At some point I am sure I will write something about the stigma of being on medication for a mental health condition, but right now know that I am not ashamed, either of my condition or of my choice when it comes to how to address it.
If you're curious about anything to do with anxiety please get in touch, it isn't a sensitive topic for me (I mean, here I am blogging about it!) and I am more than happy to chat away.