I’ve now been three weeks without Citalopram (aka Celexa) after taking it for two and a half years; the effects have been interesting. Firstly, I should explain why I have been taking them for so long. I have a history (even at 27) of depression and when I realised I hated my teaching job so much that I couldn’t do another lesson in January ‘10 and went into crisis mode, I was put back onto anti-depressants - ‘just-in-case’. I’m not sure now I really needed them, I knew how to ‘fix’ the problem - get another job; I even knew what job I wanted (teaching assistant) but the drugs make it a little easier to cope with the drama.
Now I have a job I love but the Citalopram was increasing the frequency of my migraines, which I didn’t need and it didn’t look good taking time off in my new job. I also discovered that it was slowing my metabolism down whilst increasing my appetite, explaining (partly, at least) why my weight had exploded. So, started decreasing my dosage and a little over three weeks ago I took my last half-pill. It’s not been fun and games since, the withdrawal effects have ruined most of my summer break so far but the physical symptoms are declining and I’m left evaluating how different life is without the drug.
My appetite is normal now, I crave fresh rather than processed foods more often now and I have less inclination to eat for the sake of it. I feel a much wider range of emotions and to greater extremities; I have mixed feelings about this…
The anti-depressant acts like a buffer of sorts, it keeps your feelings in the ‘neutral zone’, you are always ‘okay’, you can cope. Removing this buffer means I’m being sensitised to lots of things that might have just passed me by in the ‘neutral zone’. It takes nothing to make me teary these days; with the Olympics being on I’ve had a constant lump in my throat!! I’m so much more sensitive about myself, about my appearance, about how people think of me, about how I might be a failure, about a lot of things which just aren’t good. In the ’neutral zone’ my self-esteem had bubble wrap to keep it intact and now there isn’t any and people keep walking into it and I keep dropping it.
Without my buffer life is harder, far more uncomfortable and confusing; the temptation to return to the ‘neutral zone’ is a lot stronger than I expected. It is definitely easier in the ‘neutral zone’ but I will miss out on things in the ‘positive zone’ as well as the ‘negative zone’. I’m sure I’ve missed out on a lot of life in the ‘neutral zone’; I’d like a few excursions to the ‘positive zone’.
I just have to find a way to spend less time in the ‘negative zone’; if I can do this I’ll be good because the ‘negative zone’ is a horrible place to be. People hate me (most people), I hate me, I’m a failure, a waste of space, I’m unloveable, unlikeable in the ‘negative zone’. It’s been a while since I’ve spent much time there but lately I’m a frequent flyer and it’s a lonely place. It’s not a place anyone should have to be in for long.
This experience has really clarified for my how anti-depressants are only a band-aid, they solve nothing. They just stem the flow of unhappiness and anxiety so you can deal with the underlying ‘injury’. It’s criminal how millions in the UK are prescribed these drugs as a false cure because it’s cheaper than real cures (e.g. CBT, counselling). My doctor sucks so I too have to find a way to fix myself on my own.
People don’t like talking about depression (including many of those who have or have had it), I know this from years of experience, sometimes even people who love you can’t cope with it. Here is one way of talking to those who don’t always want to or know how to listen, the internet can be a wonderful thing.