Happy Pills: Side Effects – Physical

Last time i wrote about the effects of sertraline/anxiety on my sleep. This time it’s about the physical effects. The things its done or doing to my body..or at least the ones that I’m aware of..

 

I’m now an amphibian.

..well not quite but i’m really dehydrated all the time, so i pretty much always have to have a drink with me or ill start to get a headache. my skin is also dry. That started almost immediately and hasn’t really subsided. I sleep with a glass or 2 of water next to my bed.

today is the first day I’ve felt cold in months, and i am usually quite a cold person. I constantly have to add/remove clothes to regulate my body temperature. I pretty much can’t wear clothes in my flat..(calm down). I love it when it rains. i don’t even wear a coat anymore.

My body decides that it wants to expel all moisture from itself each night, so i find myself waking up soaking with sweat. When i say soaking, i mean at its worst its like I’ve just stepped out of the shower. sometimes i have to flip my sheet because its so wet. I also have lots of little red spots on my legs from being so sweaty. yay.

I get the shakes.

At first this was pretty constant, but now its just when i get stressed. its most noticeable in my hands but i used to feel like my whole body was almost bubbling: at least thats how i can describe it best.

 

my pupils are dilated

doesnt affect me in any way other than looking a little wired to anyone who is lucky enough to be close to my face..

 

I’m have random adrenaline shocks?!

Thats the best way i can describe it. Every now and then i get a really unique, shooting sensation in a random part of my body, most commonly my hands and the base of my feet. The feeling is comparable to pins & needles but less ‘sharp’, and i can feel it move across my body. It makes me feel really dizzy for a second, and at it’s worst it stops me in my tracks and is accompanied by a “WOW!..what the fuck?”

The first time I got this was when i ran out of sertraline (don’t do that, its awful). I felt drunk and kept getting this adrenaline feeling really badly. It wasn’t safe to drive or even really walk anywhere. Work was horrendous.

Since then, i just seem to get it on and off with no real apparent reason. Sometimes if i don’t take my pills until the afternoon, it starts to get bad but it can do that with no trigger as well. I’ve had it a lot lately at work.

It could possibly be heightened by alcohol withdrawal (I’ve not had a good week).

IM NOT A DOCTOR!! DONT TAKE MY WORD AS FACT!!!!

I’ve noticed that a good way to reduce this adrenaline effect is to eat loads of food with serotonin in it. fruit, nuts etc (google it). The only problem with that is that you’re effectively overdosing on serotonin and that isn’t going to help in the long run. Thats why they say don’t eat grapefruit while on the medication, because it has super high serotonin in it.

IM NOT A DOCTOR!! DONT TAKE MY WORD AS FACT!!!!

 

I told you i was dizzy..

I smashed my head open at work in the first month or 2 of taking the pills. Could be coincidence but thats not like me to injure myself. I’m normally pretty stable and agile.
I was super stressed and walking quickly. I slipped on a manhole cover and smashed my head into a metal gate really fucking hard.

There was a lot of blood but i didn’t get concussion. I had to go to hospital to get it glued back together. I have a scar and its not even a badass one! shit deal.

 

thats about it for side effects i think

 

Happy Pills: Side Effects – Sleep

I take sertraline, a prescribed antidepressant that helps me with depression (duh) and anxiety. For the most part it helps, but its not without side effects. Most of these have now subsided but a few come and go and a few remain constant.

I’m going to split this up into a few posts to make it a tad easier for you to read (me to right write). So the first one will be about sleep.

Sleep

Loads of antidepressants mess with your sleep, and I’ve had a variety of weird experiences. It began with insomnia. I woke up ever hour or less and felt like absolute shit each morning. Not as bad as some have it i must admit.

after that settled down i started to have really vivid dreams, but unlike my normal dreams they weren’t at all abstract. In fact, they were often re-enactments of events that had happened that day, or impressions of scheduled events in the future: There was just always a little twist of anxiety-fueled fuckery in there.
This became particularly horrible when it got to the point where i would recall bad things throughout the day that i had said and done in the past, and panic about them. Only then would i realise that i was remembering the warped dream version of the reality. Fucked up I know! The worst instance of that was when i had to call my brother to ask whether what i was thinking was real or not. That was really worrying. Thankfully though, that symptom stopped occurring after a few months.

I am extremely tense when asleep. I grind my teeth in particular and those who have slept in the same bed as me (wink wink) have noticed, because its often audible. I wake up throughout the night and have to consciously, and repeatedly relax my face. So my jaw hurts a lot of the time. I can’t bite tough foods, like apples for example.

I sweat loads! I am literally soaking most nights, even with little or no duvet. I often have to turn my sheets over because they are wet, and i can genuinely scoop the sweat off my chest. Luckily the woman that i’m currently involved with doesnt mind, in fact she’s absolutely fantastic about the whole thing. That makes things a lot easier. see below.

[If you’re reading this to understand your partners anxiety, you are ace. The key to helping someone with anxiety (in my case) is to be patient (agonising at times i know) and give them space. When I’m really agitated, being presented with more options of things that may help only adds to the frustration. you’d be better doing something like getting them a glass of water and leaving them to it for a while.
also try not to get annoyed when they don’t answer your questions. Their brain is likely overloaded and they physically won’t be able to respond, or a best it will be short. Don’t be offended by that. It’s not personal, and the more you pull at that thread, the more agitated they will get. I’ve been in that position loads and completely blown up in someones face who doesnt deserve it. Its incredibly damaging to relationships.]

Recently the dreams have become more vivid again. I’m dreaming about situations that make me anxious like work, relationships, my ex’s mother, letting people down, stuff i have to do etc. I wake up at approximately 2, half 4, half 5, 6, 7, half 8,half 9, 10 (I’m off atm. I normally get up early!) and each time i fall back asleep, i have another panicky, anxiety-y.. stressful dream.

2 nights ago it was about work. I was the last one there and had loads of stuff to do, that i had no idea how to do. i went upstairs to discover a near-empty, forgotten canteen with 1 man in, who was chopping raw meat. All that was on offer was raw meat. Out the window was a long balcony that was flooded with water and full of the corpses of ex employees, their eyes open and flickering between “normal” and jet black.

LOVELY!

I think that my tablets are beginning to not do anything. Normally i would have my dosage upped but i think I’m on the max now and my new doctor is one of those ones who hasn’t got a clue about mental health.

Still waiting on therapy. 10 months in.

UPDATE:

I forgot to mention that i can now fall asleep anywhere and at any time of the day. Im always tired and all it takes is to lie down, or sometimes not even that.
I completely black out and I’m virtually impossible to wake. despite that, i still don’t feel rested when i wake.

the other day i was suppose to wait up for my friend to come over at about 1am. i fell asleep in my chair and she rang me 7 times. my phone was on loud but it didn’t even make me stir. when she arrived the door slammed (its really heavy) and i didn’t budge. she was shaking me and i still didn’t budge.

eventually i came round enough to fall into bed but i have no memory of it, or her arrival. when i woke up at 4am i panicked and reached across to find her there laying next to me. Im normally a really considerate person (if i say so..) and so i felt awful for it but i just can’t control it. i even fall asleep whilst playing guitar.

Focus

As said before, i find it almost impossible to focus on anything (see the picture at the top of the page..)

This made it very difficult throughout my education, applying for jobs and any other activity that requires concentration. for example, i’ve been writing music for 13 years and spend almost 100% of my time thinking about it. Yet i’ve never released anything of my own, because i can never finish it.

Throughout uni i thought that i must have some form of dyslexia.

I’ve beat myself up for my whole life for being lazy, bone idle, useless, or just plain stupid, and i’ve been called many of those things by others too. My reaction to sound and and becoming overwhelmed and practically immobile by the intensity of certain situations has always lead me to be considered as over-sensitive, quiet, short tempered, lacking confidence and a hypochondriac.

It’s only in the last year that I’ve began to realise the explanation for all this and the answer is anxiety. After speaking to so many people and professionals, and reading so many articles about it, everything finally started to make sense. Every issue could be connected back to the same source.

Despite being able to analyse this in such depth, it doesnt make it any easier to deal with. I can’t rationalise with myself. I know that there are many lifestyle choices that i can make that will help and i do as many as possible but its not a pleasant existence to feel like you have to  constantly, actively balance your life or you’ll feel terrible.

An all too common approach for myself and many others is to drink. Its an instant relaxant and i can feel all the tension from my body release, like taking a deep breath on a quiet beech.

Its a catch 22 though, because its also a depressant, and its a very slippery slope when you start using alcohol to cope with your day.

—-

!!This moment right now is something that i experience all the time and i fucking hate myself for it!!!

The moment i got to the end of the last paragraph, i froze because i was aware that i had to conclude and i had no idea what i was even talking about anymore.

Im always loathed to re-read my work because its such an ordeal to focus and write it. I’m so frustrated and exhausted by the end, that i never want to see it again.
Thats why the terms ‘incoherent’, and ‘careless mistakes’ have haunted my years in education, despite me spending weeks of 12 hour days in the library silent area, wearing unplugged headphones, and with an internet blocker app to distract myself from distraction.

that’s also why my posts here will be grammatically incorrect regularly because if i try and do it right, ill never do it at all.

Go Asda?!

Asda ran a ‘quiet hour’, in which to allow for those with autism to shop more comfortably.

But it isn’t just those with autism that will benefit from this.

Theres a really powerful video with it too and it really helps to visualise how I feel much of the time.

thats why I’m so stressed a lot of the time.

I’m useless at shopping with people.

I can’t make decisions.

I freeze when presented with options. for example if someone I’m shopping with asks what i want for dinner. or do i fancy a,b or c. i simply can’t answer. I am then really short and snappy with whoever I’m with, and they get offended or angry at me, making it even worse.

i get really irritable but can’t rationalise or explain why, even though i know.

i struggle with having the windows open in my apartment because of the noise.

i hate tv, especially adverts.

i don’t like repetitive sounds.

i hate the radio. especially at work.

i don’t like clubs.

working in a cafe was horrendous.

being in a cafe/restaurant can be horrible.

I’m incredibly tense all of the time. that leads to physical symptoms. My jaw really hurts every day because i grind my teeth. I wake up a lot in the night and have to consciously relax my face.

I breathe irregularly.

i can’t focus.

i can’t read.

i can’t be productive.

 

every day is absolutely exhausting.

 

//players.brightcove.net/624246174001/2d3d4a83-ba40-464e-9bfb-2804b076bf67_default/index.html?videoId=4828903119001

Background

So this is my situation:

I’ve struggled with various mental challenges (shall we say) for as long as i can remember

anxiety has been the most consistent, but i also had crippling ocd in my teens, and I’ve have periods of depression that have varied in intensity and longevity.

Last year I got to a point where I noticed just how much anxiety affected my day to day life. Having lived with it forever, i had always just felt that it was my personality. It took my girlfriend at the time to notice that this was really affecting me, and also my gp for simply asking me straight, ‘are you an anxious person?’ At first my answer was ‘not really’ but that question still resounds in my head now, and it was only after i left that it all began to start making sense.

Ive spent my whole life wishing i was the other side of every event or commitment. I look forward to nothing, and i mean that in both ways. I literally look forward to when there is nothing, because it makes me feel so tense knowing that i have commitments, even if those are leisurely “enjoyable” activities. Even now, sat here at my computer on my day off with nothing to do but collect my car from the garage, I am;

breathless

tense

my heart feels knackered and completely full of adrenaline

I’m even rushing writing this because i feel like i need to be productive with my music (i write music).

 

 

i take 200mg of sertraline per day. Prescribed as a “crutch” until I could begin cbt (cognitive brain therapy). I also have beta blockers and an inhaler but I’ve not used them because i don’t want to fill my body with drugs any more than it already is. I’ll go into all this in more detail on another post. long story short, i’ve been waiting for 10 months for therapy. Most people are taken off the drug after 9. 200mg is a high dose that I’ve increased over the time from 50mg. the effects seem to where off after a few months, max.

I’ve tried loads of self help. I’ll post links to all that too:

so far I’ve tried

no caffeine

no alcohol

exercise

breathing exercises

yogo (kind of)

books

articles

 

Until i recently moved house, I’ve also had regular doctor visits to monitor my progress. My new doctor gave me the impression that that isn’t necessary. I feel like I’ve regressed to a level of anxiety that is similar to how i felt a year ago. my previous doctor was fantastic.
So now I’m just waiting on a letter with an appointment for cbt. It could be 2 months +, but i have no idea.
My options in the mean time are private counselling, free group sessions or to just ride it out.

I can feel this affecting my current relationship and that makes me feel like shit.
I suck the life out of those around me when I’m like this and I need help before I push another person away.

I hate it when people conclude that i just moan all the time, but when I’m like this, they’re right.

That conception leads to invalidate my concerns and beat myself up about beating myself up.

its a vicious cyclical nightmare, and its fucking exhausting.

 

 

Today

Right now i’m sat here, on sunday, in my city flat, at my computer. Today i’ve done very little. I’ve not been at work, i’ve looked after a friends cats and been to the supermarket, played some guitar, had sex, and now I’m having my dinner made for me.

the traffic noise is driving me insane
my mouth is dry and itchy

my chest is tight

im breathless

im tensing my jaw and grinding my teeth to the point that it hurts

the sound of music in another room slightly interrupting my music is irritating

the mess (its really not a mess) is making me feel frustrated and uncomfortable

my mind is constantly flicking between loads of different things, and I’m worried or apprehensive about most of them.

im conscious that my friend may read this over my shoulder

the idea that she may be doing so, is also making me really tense

i don’t want to upset her

she’s already noticed that something is wrong but i don’t have the heart to tell her because i hate that my chosen subject of conversation is always negative

it always upsets people because they think its there fault

i feel like I’m sucking the life out of people by dragging them down with my misery

I’m known as negative, cynical and a moaner to all of those around me

Its a miracle that i haven’t got up to do something else, or changed tab to stare at Facebook for an hour

the beer I’m drinking has probably taken the edge off.

………so yeah, why the fuck would all that shit be on the mind of someone who is having what is by most peoples standards, a really nice, chilled out day. I don’t have an answer to that i’m afraid, at least not on that I’m happy with. i’m going to try and focus (lol) and continue to blog about this until i feel that i do.

 

 

 

Fuck it, I’m doing it

yeah this isn’t going to be written in a “conventional” way..

I have anxiety and depression.

no I’m not here to moan and mope.
I’ve decided to create a blog as an account of my day-to-day life and how the workings of my mind affects that. Hopefully it will allow me to get some perspective on my thoughts, and also give some people with similar problems, something to relate to. You’re not broke, there’s fucking loads of us. We can’t all be broke. I just want to find a way to cope with it, as I’m sure you do to.