Antidepressants

What are antidepressants?
I wanna believe that majority of you are familiar with the term antidepressants or have come across it once in a while somewhere. For the few that may not be aware of what exactly they are, they are medicine taken for different mental health illnesses. Most especially depression. That’s the lame man’s definition.

Why am I on antidepressants?

I’ve mentioned before that I have been on and off antidepressants before. I started taking antidepressants for my depression and anxiety sometime last year after a terrible episode that required me to see a psychiatrist and through that session, I was prescribed my first set of antidepressants. I was on Mirtazapine for my first dose and I’ll go into detail on the side effects in a few. For a first timer, I can say I took it like a champ. It’s a different experience to be on this medication but it might seem scary at first but I can assure or anyone who may be on the path to having it prescribed to them by their doctor, it will help. It is part of the means of getting better.

Side effects of the antidepressants

Disclaimer

The side effects stated below are mine and not a general over view of all the side effects one is prone to get while on any set of antidepressants prescribed to you by your psychiatrist.

My initial reaction to starting antidepressants was that it would minimise the depression I was feeling in a matter of days but I got to learn quite quickly that that wouldn’t be the case. On mitarzapine, the effects quite frankly hit me like a hurricane. The depression quite literally became worse before it became better. On most occasions, there is always a fluctuation in weight and sadly for me, I gained a lot of weight. My appetite sorta increased ten fold and I was eating on a constant. The hunger was on another level. When I mentioned earlier that I took it like a champ was because despite how gravely the side effects were, I never discontinued it and was on it for a month before I had my prescription changed by my then psychiatrist.

My second prescription was what I gotta admit taking was an extreme sport. I didn’t go long on them due to the grave side effects they had on my body. I won’t mention the names of the exact medicine I was on just in case it gives off the wrong depiction of the said meds. I remember on the second night of taking them, I began to have serious tremors. I couldn’t stop shaking and my teeth rattled, you’d think I was on the North Pole. In addition to that, my heart started pounding so heavily, I was sure I was gonna have a heart attack. With the side effects being that heavy, I had to discontinue the medication and it took me a whole nearly six months before I went on any other antidepressants.

Mid year of 2021, I got into another depression episode that required me to visit a new psychiatrist since I was home over that period. This time around, I got a better prescription than the last which is what I am still on currently. I am on 10mg Cipralex and 10mg haloperidole. The first one is majorly for my severe depression whereas the latter is for my anxieties and agitation. On the first take of this medication, it didn’t have much of a side effect that I could positively point out but now when I’m currently on it, there are a few new side effects that are damning to the soul.

This will positively be very inappropriate to whoever reads this but I’ll say it anyway, my vagina has been going through it with this current set of meds I’m on. Going through it, I mean it’s dead dead. Like I can’t seem to get aroused what’s so ever and trust me, I have tried. You name it, besides sex though… don’t gotta a guy for that, or a boyfriend too.

Not too long, I was ranting to a close friend how I can’t seem to feel the slightest bit of sensation down there and she had a good laugh out of it. Besides the dead vagina, I also can’t seem to feel much joy over anything which is a lot like a mild numbness. What I can’t truly stand though, out of all this, is the agitation at night, right before bed. It is darn right annoying. It’s such an extreme sport to get myself settled in bed when it feels like every thought is racing and none of them have got sleep in them.

So yeah, just thought I’d share my brief experience with taking antidepressants and hope it distigmatizes them for the better.

Save My Soul.

Trigger Warning.

‘’How do I begin to set out to the world this painful reality that even I aren’t sure I have fully acknowledged? Most nights, I am uncertain of whether I have the reality of a tomorrow. I can’t seem to decide if seeing the night through is my main goal or whether I am just being dramatic over my emotions. There is this unbearable need inside my head that tells me that nothing is right, that nothing I feel or do can or will make anything right.

For the past two weeks or so I have been fighting the reality of the fact that I have been feeling suicidal. It has no longer just been fleeting thoughts anymore but solid assurances that I no longer can decide on whether life is bearable enough to be lived. I have thought through it so many times, I have questioned myself on whether it is real in both my heart and my head. It physically aches inside me whenever I think that I could finally be ready to let everything go. It is a very unbearable burden to carry because I have found no means or way to tell this to anyone. I am convinced that either no one will believe me or they probably won’t know what to do.

How do I begin to explain this to anyone when I myself haven’t entirely come to terms with this frightening realization? How do I put this into words to anyone else when all I truly feel is shame over even feeling like this? I say this with absolute resolute, the only thing that I am certain about in the midst of all the turmoil going on inside my head is that I have absolutely no idea what to do or where to start dealing with these feelings or these thoughts of suicide. It scares me not knowing how or where to start. So yeah, that is right where I am.’’

The above text was written by a very desperate, sad, despaired and most especially depressed girl. I can’t say with certainty that any of those damning feelings are gone yet, or better yet, I do know where they are. They are retreating to the back parts of my mind now that it feels a lot like I have a bit of amour against them. When I read those words above, I remotely can’t entirely recognize the girl who wrote them. She looks and feels a lot like a hollow shell and it is terrifying to think that at any one point I was this girl, I am this girl. The emotions feel like a vague memory, it has the vagueness of a sketchy dream that only holds bits and pieces of what is to be recalled of it. I wish all the memories of that pain could be erased but some of it is marred on my arms as-a-result of trying to drain it out. The pain is stuck deep inside, deeper inside than the mere blood in my veins. The scars in my hand are just a reminder of a very short-lived relief that didn’t ever quite feel like relief at all.

There is a very stark difference between being alone and being lonely. My depression is always certain to make sure I feel the best of both worlds, at least in regard to those two aspects of isolation. The most singular of the two feelings is when your entire being is encased in a fog of loneliness. No sense of reassurance would convince you otherwise of the fact that you are absolutely alone and beyond lonely. This time around, it dawned on me that I wasn’t intentionally choosing to be lonely apart from the intentional choice I made to be alone. It took all the energy I had in me to have any conversation I might have kept up with during this time. I can say with certainty that I have not spoken to the few people in my life to whom on occasion have seemed to retain some parts of me as their friend.  The looming darkness is all that encases you, it is all I could think about. I was entirely convinced that nobody in my world would find a solution enough to save me from the dark pit I was in. I felt nothing beyond the scariest darkness known to my mind.

I feel like it’s important I make this fact clearer, depression is not just a bit of sadness. It is a lot more than even I can express. It is for sure something I still don’t think I have the full grasp over in regard to how vast of a feeling, an emotion, a concept, a thought, a sensation, an enlightening and a whole lot more. Depression is also quite invisible. It never is something graspable to the naked eye. For me, it is very suffocating. My mind never feels like it has any space to breathe, it feels like the only space I can afford to think is in remote gasps of air. It feels like it would resemble a lot of what I think it feels like to drown. The panic, anguish, despair and the complete lack of hope for rescue sounds a lot like how my mind is right now. Sally Brampton, the author of the memoir Shoot the damn Dog wrote in a very precise manner what it is like to experience the depravities of the mental fuck that is depression. She describes its most corrosive aspect as despair and catastrophic. She continues to elaborate on how impenetrable and unendurable it is.

I have experienced suicidal ideation before but never to its full potential as it was this time around. I knew I was deep in the gutter, submerged under when I couldn’t quit thinking of just how peaceful and pain numbing dying would feel like. When the thought became a permanent fixture in my mind, I knew there was no way around this. I didn’t want to be alive anymore. That awareness became the dawn of a new twisted kind of sorrow. I recall on some nights crying so deeply and feeling the pain and anguish so physically from knowing that I was lost in myself. I was lost in my hopelessness and my mind had resided itself to no longer living but to completely quit existing. To a degree, I thought if I hurt myself enough, it would ease that ache even just a little bit, enough to satiate it. Dull it down. It didn’t quite do it. It led me to commit my first suicide attempt. I remember the night vaguely but I recall the intent behind the pain I felt that night. I recall the finality to my thoughts when I placed the razor to my vein. I remember the soaked tears in my sheets from my wet face. It was a pain I can only describe as purely indescribable. 23rd of October,2021 I decided I didn’t want to live anymore, at least not in the state of mind that I was in.

I can’t say with absolute resolute that I don’t want to not live anymore. Am alive now, still in despair but alive. I’m on antidepressants currently so it is all I can hope that along the way, I find it easier to want to stay alive. A lot is still yet to be done and I can’t say for certain when any of it will be done. I still have struggles that play a major role in making it harder for me to fully get the help I need so it is all I can do but trying live a minute at a time. It has taken me nearly a month to write this and I’m okay with that. Writing and reading for me take quite the hit in periods of my depression so to an extent, I am proud I got to be candid about what it has and is still like for me to live with this unbearable monster that lives inside of my head. 

Through my mental health journey, I’ve grown to learn that it looses it’s aspect of private and individual just cause of what & who it ropes in along the way. In my case, my ongoing journey has roped in a few people, some were strangers who turned into family and others were family right from the start. It weighs heavy on me as a person who struggles quite often with the mental battles I go through, and this is not because of what it’s done to me, but because of what it’s done to those around me who’ve stuck by me despite my ailing mind. I have seen it tear down my sister and it was for me more excruciatingly painful than any insition I’ve ever put on my body. I remember last year when I had my depressive episode for about six months. It was right about the time when my country was on a lockdown due to the pandemic. I was stuck in our apartment with my sister and we had no means to go home due to a cessation that had been implemented on my country which prohibited me to travel. I self harmed more during that period than I ever had before and it became an instinct & it was such an impulsive nature for me to do, I grew numb about it. I ratted myself out to my sister cause I knew if I didn’t, I’d have probably not so intentionally hurt myself beyond what my little first aid after care routine could handle. Even then, despite being so out of touch with anything else besides the throes of my depression, I could see just how much my battle was weighing in on my sister. She carries her emotions on her sleeve so it wasn’t so invisible to me just how exhausting it was for her to see me go through that gutter. It’s not until recently in one of the countless conversations we have about my mental health did she admit to hating her work over that period when we were quarantined together and that she wanted to cry her eyes out everyday she had to do her job. She wasn’t sure if anytime I wasn’t in her periphery, I wasn’t cutting myself and now me being aware of what it must have been like for her to go through that, genuinely breaks my heart.

My guilt in depression is tethered to what my battles have done to others besides myself. I can honestly say, I haven’t found love enough for me to feel guilty over what being mentally ill does to me. It’s what it does to those I care about that shatters me the most. To say I have tried to hide the ugly effects of my battles from my loved ones would be putting it lightly. Sometimes I just rather die with it and let it rip me from the inside out all on my own than let it seep out to those who matter more to me than anything. With my dad for instance, my old man doesn’t know just how much effort it takes his last born daughter to live through each day as a depressive. On some days, I want to shout it to him with such aggression about how I can’t seem to shake off this sadness that I’ve carried around for all my life. On other days, I can’t help but think he’s better off in the dark, from it all. Untainted from my demons.

It’s been both a blessing and a curse having my father out in the clear from my battles. It’s been a blessing because then he doesn’t have to look at me different. For now he knows the bare minimum concerning my depression. He would still be in the dark if I had never needed his help on buying antidepressants last year after starting therapy. It was a hard enough secret to keep cause then it was just me and my sister having to find means on how we would get money to take me to therapy and for me to see a psychiatrist as well. It got so hard every two weeks trying to figure out how to come up with the sum of money I needed for every therapy session because I couldn’t tell my dad that I needed money for something he was completely out of the loop on. When I finaly had to ask for his help, I came home with a prescription letter from a psychiatrist with a list of antidepressants I needed to start taking. This was right after my county opened it’s borders and the cessation that had been put in place due to covid was lifted hence why I got the chance to travel home which put a halt on me going to therapy because it was in different counties.

To say I was nervous bringing up that subject with my father was an understatement. I wasn’t sure he’d grasp what I was saying or if whether he’d even understand the gravity. This isn’t to imply my dad is slow or anything like that. On the contrary, my dad is pretty intelligent. What I was worried about was whether it would make sense to him the way it was meant to, from my understanding. It’s through him and our conversations together that the aspect of being an African and having a technically African raised father that I saw how much ones background and tradition affect different aspects and subjects which in my case was & is mental health. He actually took it quite casually which was what I thought I wanted but turns out it wasn’t what I needed. I didn’t see concern on his face when I tried telling him that I struggle with depression. Instead I got a speech on prayer & exercise and how much it would help keep me less idle. I told him that it had nothing to do with that and that it was a chemical imbalance in my brain that made me depressed and it still didn’t faze him. I was quite frustrated to say the least but I understood him despite it that he couldn’t just magically see it as I did. I gave him the prescription and told him that I needed him to buy me that medication and he was fine with it.

Whoever believes that they can go through mental health on their own have it quite wrong. I never knew just how much I’d need my father’s understanding until I finally brought him into the know about my struggles. A few days before my last birthday, my dad finally bought me the antidepressants I had been prescribed and I decided to start on them the day after my birthday. I’d already been on a different set of antidepressants two weeks before and they had really exhausted me out so I didn’t want to be loopy on my birthday since I was gonna have a little shindig going on that day. Cue to when I finally started my new meds did I see true & genuine concern which was more than his impassive nature had ever expressed. A few days in after I had started on my new meds, I got some really scary side effects after taking them and I thought I’d get them under control by buying some antibiotics. I had major and I mean major heartburn and aside from that, my heart rate was over the roof. I had heat flashes and I could hear my own heart beating so loud and quite fast, I was certain I was having a heart attack. My dad’s girlfriend is a pharmacist and I asked her if she could prescribe something for the heart burn and she asked me about the meds I was taking and I told her what I was newly on. Later that night when my dad came home, he was beyond agitated. Apparently, after my conversation with his girlfriend earlier, it was apparent to her that one of the antidepressants I had been prescribed to was very severe and was mainly for schizophrenics. In basic language as was explained to my dad, he was told they were for ‘crazy people’. That was genuinely the first time I saw my dad loose his calm and look so terrified. I believe it dawned on him that he’d just bought his daughter over the counter meds that were going to completely alter my mind and irreversibly damage it for life. For the record, I never once thought of it as my dad’s fault because it wasn’t, neither of us would have known. He felt responsibile for that mistake since he hadn’t done research or any enquiry about the meds he was buying me before he handed them to me. I on the other hand was more upset that a supposed legal & professional psychiatrist had prescribed to me medicine he knew wasn’t meant for me and which would probably have adverse effects on me but went ahead and prescribed it regardless of knowing all that. I was livid and after that, I quit taking the meds all together because despite how badly they were reacting to my body, they weren’t meant for it from the very start.

After that experience, I have not had therapy or been on any other antidepressants since. I soon after asked my dad if he could look for a different hopefully better psychiatrist to whom I would see and get a better diagnosis of my mental health as well as better effective treatment. This is where it has proven to be very difficult to get my dad on board because he quickly fell back into his slow paced process of doing things. It’s been a few months since that encounter with the antidepressants and after that, my life sorta fell back into routine. School opened and everything else took a seat at the back of my mind. I didn’t get better per say but the depression went back to being my day to day cup of tea, the one I was accustomed to. Now, due to different triggers, I am in the middle of another depression episode and I thought it would be perfect timing to see a new psychologist & psychiatrist but mainly the latter. I made my dad aware of my need now for a psychiatrist and told him I have been struggling again but he doesn’t seem to see the urgency of it. Even just thinking about it right now, is nerve wrecking. I’m triggered by his lack of motivation and urgency in getting me help especially now when I’m not at my best mentally. I admit he’s not fully in the loop of just how bad my mental instability goes, he is clueless of my self harm which has started again after I’d been clean for 98 days. I have racked my mind on how to bridge that information to him without alarming him but I just don’t know where to start. On some days, I want to just show him my arms and let them speak for me but I get scared of what he’ll think or do. It’s taken me a lot to admit that I am mildly suicidal as of currently and I am going through the days trying to find the will to see through the end of each day. He isn’t aware that I don’t know how much waiting I can do anymore before I can completely disintegrate. I am trying to be patient but it’s hard when my mind isn’t on board. So yeah, that’s where I currently am. Mental health is so contradictory in how personal & individualistic it is but also how communal it trickles down to. I hope that the wait isn’t going to be longer than my mind can hold off from completely falling apart.

So yesterday I did something very bold. I term it as bold because of how unconventional it was & risky since it would have turned out very invasive to some. I’m actively on Instagram & I was going through my followers instagram stories & I came across a picture of a girl’s arm that had marks on it. She actually wasn’t taking the picture of her arm, it just so happened her arm made a cameo and I just happened to see it. I wouldn’t say I was being observant, it was like a glance that led me to contemplating whether confirming my suspicions of what the marks were was a smart thing to do… Let’s just, my conscience didn’t fail me. That was last night and I was sure to include in my dm to her that she was at all under no obligation to answer back to me. I know I would be a bit skeptical opening up about anything remotely mental related to a stranger. Today morning when I woke up, it had completely eluded my mind that I’d sent her a message, that’s until I saw my message icon ping that I had an unread message. She was honest enough to acknowledge that what I’d seen was indeed self harm marks. Getting to the point of this story, (not really sure there’s one) , it was uncomfortable seeing them on someone else other than myself, but I twistedly felt connected to her by her self inflicted marks on her hand. I felt the bond of having another understand that one is capable of being a mess enough to hurt themselves. It was relieving but sad. I quit feeling sorry for myself after the first time I cut , I no longer chose to see it as a fault but as a survival coping mechanism. It’s just different because I relish in the feel of a cold blade to get some damn needed peace of mind.

Not too long ago I had a friend of mine frown upon the fact that I recently got a new tattoo. He’s exact question was ‘You enjoying hurting yourself with this tattoos?‘ He didn’t realize how close to home he hit by asking me that… In my own twisted way, I love the feeling of the needle skim through my skin, it’s just that this time, I’m left with a beautiful artistic reminder of things that mean more to me than others. They are the murals to those I love and to the times in my life I can never seem to erase from my mind. They are my stories, I just receive the both ends of the stick when I get them, the pain that comes with getting them, and the artistic beauty created.

It amazes me how I can never seem to let go of my mental struggles even when I’m not in the gutter . I can’t cut loose the strong hold at which I hold them close to me & how much relevance I constantly give them. I’ve written before that I felt special being ill, I felt like I belonged being depressed & fucked up generally. It gave me a sense of purpose. I was constantly sad & I got to write the best of my blogs while in that funk. Call it fear of the unknown, which in this case is anything that’s remotely good and happy… that damn H word I never seem to like very much. I just can’t grasp myself not unhappy & miserable. No need to pity me, I don’t pity me either. The most surprising thing is, despite not wanting good change, I feel inadequate for depression. I feel like I sometimes lack the magnitude needed to be special enough to be depressed. Like I can’t just catch a break with the inadequacies in my life ; I’m just not cut out for happiness or depression . Really beats the point of why I got my damn enough tattoo in the first place. I need to find a bearing of where I belong, in the darkness or the overly bright light .

Tonight I wasn’t really writing as a means to vent, I guess I just needed to release myself a little. I had a relatively good day, went out to a lovely ice cream parlor in town that touched my old soul. It’s entire vibe and setting was the eighties and it’s ice cream was as legit as legit can be. I honestly didn’t wanna leave because for those few minutes I was there ,the world around me seemed right and peaceful… content even. I wanted to stick there and live on ice cream for as long as my mind chooses it’s ready to go back to our sad reality… Sno – Cream parlor was my heaven in hell…

This is getting exhausting. I’m all too familiar with this feeling, it’s soon going to drive me to the blink of death. It’s beginning to physically ache me. From the not so subtle tummy aches, to the sleeping too much. That’s when I know I’m drowning all over again. Just when I was beginning to catch a bearing in my sea of monsters, just right when I was rising above the swarm of hands working extra hard to pull me down. Here I am now ,back to feeling broken. Maybe I was just never put together as I thought. It just needed a little nudge to break me further into tinier pieces .

Allow me to make a confirmation here and now. If I never get to figure out what happiness for me will entail, allow me to walk into death at least peacefully. I rot inside each time this tide chooses to hit me every so often. Eventually ,a girl’s gotta give up and quit trying right?! No longer will the nudges from friends hold me together forever. If I can’t fucking stand on my own, when I’m I ever gonna learn how to walk away from this.

Twenty minutes later….

I wanna say I feel a lot more relieved but it’s just the ache in my chest that’s gone. The demons in my head are having a field day since they succeeded .I gave in to what’s become a part of my sad reality. I gave them my pain & my blood. They seem to only feel a sense of satisfaction when I feel a fraction of physical pain. They are appeased when I trade mental calmness for a few drops of my blood through my hands. I’m weak and I know it. I no longer fight it since its my only solace for now. I wish I could quit having “normalcy streaks ” every so often. It would make it less hard for me when my demons awaken. It would lessen my anxiety a notch enough for me to figure my way around it. The sense of normalcy just becomes a mirage since its so tuned out & blurry when my demons awaken. It’s truly not worth the feeling of a false sense of reality and relief.

I have no apologies anymore to give to anyone for my choices. Only in my cage, would one understand that you gotta do what it takes to survive.Even if it rips you apart .This, this is my survival.