I’ve always tried to be open and public about my dealings with mental health which is why this post is probably the hardest I’ve ever written.
It started a few months ago when I noticed that stress from work was building up to a point where I couldn’t handle it anymore, depression and anxiety hit hard and I lost control again. While not as bad as my first breakdown what happened after was the worst experience of my life.
When I knew things had got to breaking point I packed myself off to the doctors to get some help, this time it was in the form of medication since I’d been seeing a private therapist in Leeds and planned to see a new one in Manchester. I was perscribed Sertraline since I struggled with the last time I had Citalopram and Propranalol.
I started off on a fairly low dosage - 50mg.
The following side effects are considered common (https://beta.nhs.uk/medicines/sertraline/):
- feeling sick - check, luckily after years of stomach problems I can handle severe nausea.
- headache - check, it messes with the blood vessels in your eye so it feels like they’re being squeezed.
- being unable to sleep - check, slept patchy for a good few weeks steadily getting better.
- feeling sleepy - check, although I’m always tired (CFS sucks).
- diarrhoea - not yet but I’ll come to that later.
- dry mouth - check, so much water was drunk!
- dizziness - check, coupled with the eye thing it was horrible
- feeling tired or weak - check but I guess that’s because I wasn’t sleeping
- in men, problems ejaculating - no comment.
So overall I started having a pretty crappy time on them.
There’s also a set of less common side effects:
- thoughts about harming yourself or ending your life
I’ve never had thoughts about self harm before let alone gone through with it.
My wife was away for the night so my usual ritual is get a few beers in and settle in for a late night of gaming. A few beers in I started feeling extremely depressed, I lost control of how much I was drinking and moved on to whisky. Around 10pm I knew I was going to hurt myself. I went downstairs and grabbed a knife from the kitchen and took it into my office. It sat on my desk for two hours while I drank whisky and slowly got worse. It wasn’t a matter of should I do it was when should I do it. I tried to message my family but they were all in bed by midnight. I started to cry and beg myself not to do it but I knew that wouldn’t work. I then started to cut the top of my arm. The knife wasn’t sharp enough so I only ended up scratching the surface. I was distraught I needed to feel relief so I grabbed my razor and broke it apart and started again, this time it worked and I managed to cut all the way down my arm multiple times.
It’s not something I’m proud of doing and the subsequent times I’ve harmed since have felt horrific. I’m still scared of that feeling that it’s not if but when.
My arm is now scarred and there are patches that still haven’t healed fully. I’m ashamed to show my left arm in public now which drives me crazy because I hate having it covered.
The day after I went back to the doctors and they doubled my dose of Sertraline (to 100mg).
I started seeing a therapist regularly after that, I knew what I had done couldn’t happen again for the sake of my life and family. I’ve managed to curb thoughts of self harm now but it’s always there at the back of my mind.
After a few weeks of taking the higher dosage I started to get severe dhiarrhoea, 5, 6, 7 times a day. Any mental recovery I’d done was undone by not being able to leave the house and the constant rushing to the bathroom, it left me mentally and physically drained. After 2 weeks of this I decided to stop the medication completely. Finally after 2 full weeks of being clean (4 weeks of none stop toilet trips) of it my bowels are finally healthy again and I can go back to living my life outside the confines of a bathroom.
Through all of this I’ve had so much support from my wife and family. I have a great therapist who I’m seeing regular and I have support mechanisms in place to help when this get bad.
Hopefully for anyone who’s wondered where I’ve been for the past few months this should explain that. I’ve pretty much stopped using twitter now but will push this out on there, if I can disable disqus on this post then I will.