Medication. The single most fearful word I’ve heard this year. When the Doctor first said it to me it felt like a huge slap across the face, how could I have reached the stage where I couldn’t control my emotions without the use of medication? Such a strange emotion, because lets face it, you wouldn’t expect to control pain with will-power alone would you? Or fight diseases without innoculations and sympathy from your friends and family? We are biological entities after all, and what’s the harm in taking medication to help us through these difficult times? But it was still there in big flaming letters in my head. MEDICATION.

The first time I was medicated for the illness, I was placed on Citalopram an SSRI – a low dose at 20mg, but I am very susceptible to drugs as I try my best not to use them to keep my tolerances down, so I was under no illusion that they would do whatever magic they did rather well. In fact they did what they were supposed to do rather too well. They numbed my emotions down so much that I started to panic inside, I knew I should feel things, and react to situations, but I simply wasn’t. I started to push myself to see what the limits of my feelings were, but nothing worked. The only thing that would penetrate the fog was serious sadness. Worse than before, and well, it made me feel even worse to contemplate that being Depressed got me into this state in the first place. So, I convinced myself that I would be fine without the drugs, as other situations in my life had improved, so I had no need to be numbed from it any more, and off the drugs I came.

Not such a positive experience with my first medication round I have to say. The side effects of going on them were quite testing – sickness, shaking, dizziness, dry mouth, yawning, extreme lethargy and jaw clenching were what I experienced the worst… But after a week they did go and I was left with yawning and tiredness and fog. And no libido. However this is only MY experience, I know of others who are successfully on much higer doses of this drug, and they sing its’ praises. No loss of libido or any of the other issues which I encountered. Definitely a case of what suits one does not suit another. Coming off the drug was interesting but no where near as bad an experience as I was expecting. The brain zaps as they’re nicknamed occurred for me in the form of almost dizzylike spells where my balance would just ‘shift’ momentarily. This actually did last for about a month. But no other ill effects, so I consider myself lucky.

Medication round number 2. This time I was placed on Duloxetine – an SNRI. The Doctor thought it might be good for me to try a different group of anti-depressants, and start off on a really low dose to allow tolerability and try to get the dose right this time. Cymbalta which is the brand for anti-depressant availability was only in a 30mg dose, but Yentreve, the brand for Stress Urinary Incontinence starts at 20mg. So we decided to start at 20mg. Problem was that I even had bad side effects on such a low dose, but I was determined to keep trying so I went on one day on one day off. Then up to one a day, and now i’m on 30mg a day. And tolerating it well. And feeling myself. No fog like last time, and although I sometimes have a little nausea and diziness, this medication is DEFINITELY better for me than I could possibly have imagined.

So – it left me thinking – would medication be my only option? Are there actually any other realistic options available to me? Would counselling work for me if I know how I should be thinking and what I should be doing anyway? So many questions… but for now, medication is working for me, as it does for many many others in my position.