I’ve not exactly made it a secret that I have struggled with mental health issues for as long as I can remember. First it was the OCD, then the general anxiety, then the emetophobia, then the social anxiety, then the depression, then the suicidal thoughts. These developed over a period of over 15 years and I had tried every therapy option available to me. 3 therapists and god knows how many doctors later, I was sick of being alive but not really living so I decided that it would be in my best interest to ask for some medication, the very thing I had been trying to avoid my whole life. And thats where Sertraline came in.
Now before we start, I am in no way a health professional and I know that tablets effect everyone different . This is also still an ongoing process as I have only been on it for 3 months so far but I just wanted to voice my experience even if it helps just one person. I know I read blogs posts that scared me and reassured me so I wanted to add mine to the mix.
The doctor I got for my emergency appointment was the BEST doctor I have seen to date for my mental health, there was no judgement – just understanding and a reassurance that we would persevere until we found something that works. I came away with one months worth of 50mg to start with and I took my very first tablet on a Saturday morning. The first few weeks are the real test of wether the tablets work and I have to say myself and my family noticed a difference in my mood and behaviour within about three days. But as someone who has never experienced medication side effects I think I was being pretty naive with what to expect. My experience falls into 3 categories – the good, the bad and the ugly
THE GOOD: I have been extremely lucky in the fact that my behaviour changed pretty much straight away. I feel much lighter and like there isn’t this giant knot in my stomach all the time. My anxiety has been at the lowest I have ever experienced in my entire life and I have gone the whole 3 months without a single panic attack – which is unheard of for me. Even simple things like, I don’t spend as much time on my phone, I am more engaged in family activities, I actually read again, I’ve watched movies I have been meaning to for months if not years. I have reconnected with friends I haven’t spoken to, I have attended events and been on press trips without a single anxious thought and most importantly I actually have my smile and laugh back!
THE BAD: I have NEVER experienced medication side effects. Period. But I know a few people who have been on these tablets so I was warned in advance. But even with the advanced warning this was quite rough for me even resulting in me having to take some time off work. Piercing headaches that come on in an instant, zoning out (honestly I don’t know how many times I have opened the internet and forgot what I am there for), loss of concentration, forgetfulness, the shakes, nausea that lasted for hours, loss of appetite which resulted in me losing half a stone in weight and the night sweats – boy the night sweats were hard, the first time it happened I honest to god thought I had had an accident EEK! But I have been extremely lucky that these have pretty much all warn off. The night sweats make a reappearance every now and again and iI get the odd headache but these are nothing more than an inconvenience now.
THE UGLY: ‘This too shall pass’ is thankfully something I can also apply to the side effect I had the hardest time dealing with and lets be honest this isn’t a topic we as humans particularly like divulging information on but I am going there. The upset stomachs where by far the hardest to deal with. For the first month, I would take my tablet at 7.30 am and like clockwork between 10.30-2pm me and the toilet would be fairly well acquainted. I was also feeling hot and sick at the same time and spent most of that time at work lying in the staff room with a mug of hot ginger tea.
THE VERDICT: The first few weeks are ROUGH! There is no disputing this, they were hard and I was so close to giving up but I was surrounded myself with people who looked after me, kept an eye on me and pushed me to persevere and I am so grateful. Three months on and of course I have my off days but I honestly cannot tell you how much of a relief it is that Sertraline has worked for me. I tried explaining it to someone the other day, it feels like I am finally ME again. But I have lived with my Mental Illness for my entire life that I have realised that this is the first time I have really ever met the real ME. The girl under all the stress, anxiety and fear. And you know what she’s alright. She’s chilled, she’s less argumentative, she is more social and she is actually LIVING her life again.
So there it is, my honest opinion on Sertraline. I had tried therapy so many times and it wasn’t really working and this was the right decisions. I am so proud that I made that decision and my decision to be open and honest about it in my real life and online. I will keep you guys updated, the real test for me will be when I go to Australia for a month where we will see if the time difference and jetlag make a difference.
Have you tried sertraline or another SSRI? Let me know in the comments below.
Until Next Time,
Laugh, Love and Shop