nhs posts

Anti-Depressants: A Love Affair

October 13, 2018

If you’d told me even six months ago that I’d be writing this, I’d have undoubtedly scoffed and begun reeling off tales of how Sertraline made me hallucinate white-noise and blew my anxiety off the charts; staunchly proclaiming that I wouldn’t “touch the shit with a bargepole” again. Until about three months ago, medication just wasn’t a plausible option in the arsenal against my wonky brain. The Sertraline stint had seen me living on the constant verge of panic attack; completely dependent on my ex-boyfriend – around the clock – for the entirety of the fortnight I stuck with taking them for.

Fast-forward seven years and the situation had hit a breaking point. My mental health was plummeting, what with balancing a full-time job and learning to navigate a brain I’d been told was fundamentally broken, without the cognitive tools needed to begin fixing it. NHS mental health waiting lists became ever-more astronomical: I’m still, to this day, waiting to start Dialectical Behavioural Therapy over a year after my diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder.

The avenue of medication was scarcely even considered, given the uneasy marriage of my past bad experience and the fact my diagnosis was borne off the back of an overdose that had left me hospitalised a year prior. Medical professionals offered a mixed bag of opinions, ranging from the endlessly helpful “if you won’t take medication, you’re not trying to help yourself, so how can we help you” assessors, crisis team psychiatrists who tried to put me on Mirtazapine before discharging me to cope with side effects alone, to my own GP, who expressed decided hesitancy whenever we even danced around the subject.

By this point, I was a high-functioning wreck. Frequenting A&E fortnightly, experiencing an absolute rollercoaster of emotions within each mere hour, struggling with self-harm and putting such considerable strain on those around me that people were beginning to throw the towel in, as I’d already done on myself. Imagine living with and loving someone who can go from unnaturally hyperactive and giddy in one moment, to scathing and moody the next. To whom you have to posit every sentence with learned consideration, lest they take something out of context and fly off the handle. All whilst trying to remind yourself that they’re not the living nightmare that increasingly inhabits both their tongue and their actions. Something so desperately had to give.

My GP offered me 10mg of Citalopram, an SSRI anti-depressant that I’d actually heard good things about, in the smallest available dose to lessen the impact of side effects. The first couple of days were surprisingly smooth-sailing – a bit of tiredness here, arguably psychosomatic anxiety there – then it started getting interesting. The tiredness became exhaustion; rendering me essentially bed-bound for nearly a fortnight, with anxiety that morphed into creeping nausea that saw me lose almost a stone in the same timeframe.

I won’t lie: it was hell for almost a month. Once my appetite came back in the third week, it brought with it a pervasive sense of doom that sat heavy on my chest at all hours of the day – warning against absolutely nothing. I did nothing but sleep, watch bleak documentaries and convince myself that I was never going to get any better. Until one day I did.

Day by day, I began to feel that the world became slowly more manageable as my energy returned. The heavy, rotting sensation in my chest that had presented so regularly for as long as I could remember waned, until one day it just wasn’t there anymore. Neither were the occasional bouts of mania that had led to stupid impulsive decisions and the guaranteed decline into heavy self-harming episodes. The easiest way to describe it is that it feels as though someone’s taken the edges off the dangerous sides of my emotions, like the aspect ratio crops itself when the cinema switches to a letterbox-style film; the highs aren’t as high, and the lows most definitely are not as low.

It’s almost three months since I began taking Citalopram and I can quite confidently say that I’ve never felt as consistently mentally well since I was a child. The only danger with this inviting sense of new-found normalcy, however, is that it can make you complacent. ‘Oh yeah, I’m cured now – I can definitely get completely blind drunk, or knowingly mess up my sleeping pattern, or skip meals – without fearing consequence’. Not quite. The only occasion of relapse since I started my medication was due to drinking far too much on an empty stomach.

With said lessons learned, life looks so much brighter since I started taking Citalopram. Not the garishly supermarket-bright of anxiety, but a welcoming lightness filled with prospects. One that uncovers enjoyable things that had lost their shine to my illness – such as writing this post right now – something I haven’t done in over nine months. But most importantly, it’s a light that illuminates the future that I’d so desperately tried to end.

4 Ways In Which The NHS Mental Health Service Is Making Us Sicker

April 28, 2016

An uncomfortable cocktail of depression and anxiety has been dubbed the most common mental disorder in the UK at present, the International Business Times reported during Depression Awareness Week (18th-24th April). With around a quarter of the population set to find themselves in the throes of some mental disorder guise in the coming year, the UK’s collective mental health is deteriorating – and quickly. This would be disconcerting enough, had Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt not decided to all but obliterate the mental health budget, slashing a £1.5 million chunk in Manchester recently alone, to make up for a 7m budget shortfall.

Having suffered with a veritable smorgasbord of mental health issues since my early teens, I’ve experienced firsthand the gradual, crushing damage that has been done to the NHS mental health system over the past decade. As someone looking once again for assistance to get myself back on my feet, finding a wall built with more reinforcement than that of my depression itself; it’s become apparent that the their shortcomings are not only failing us by ignoring the issue: they’re worsening it.

So today I thought I’d pull some absolute corkers from my own little collection of frankly terrifying anecdotes, to basically remind you that we’re all absolutely screwed and thanks a fucking tonne for voting the Tories in:

  • Of all the people I know – friends/colleagues past and present/family/Internet folk – I haven’t met a single person who has gone to the GP with a mental health issue and left without being essentially told to ride it out for a couple of weeks and slung a prescription for anti-depressants/anxieties. And this is including people who have attempted suicide or overdosed – of which I know somebody who is STILL waiting for an appointment for psychotherapy MONTHS after the incident…

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  • The fact that GPs are now more hesitant to prescribe antibiotics than they are anti-depressants/anxieties is alarming. That’s before taking into consideration the fact that these mini mind-fucks may sound to a suffering person like a miracle quick fix, but that isn’t always the case. In my third year of university I finally succumbed to the lure of medication after seeing no way out and, upon taking them, found myself 3598347598745% more unwell than before due to an influx of panic attacks and hallucinations…

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  • I once got told “Next time you feel like doing this, just go out with your girlfriends and have a glass of wine!” by a nurse in A&E after self-harming so badly I couldn’t walk properly for a week afterwards. The amount of horror stories flitting around surrounding ineptitude when dealing with those in vulnerable positions is genuinely frightening – especially for those suffering from eating disorders, often sent away from GPs for not being ‘thin enough’ for treatment…

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  • Waiting lists. These were the inspiration behind this post and I could write an entirely separate one solely on this bulletpoint. After finally admitting that I needed a therapist again after 3 years of insisting I was a-ok (funny joke), I recently got myself referred by a GP for a new round of counselling/CBT sessions. After inevitably being thrown a prescription for medication (deftly binned), they told me to contact a service for a telephone triage – which I did. It then transpired, after a very personal and uncomfortable 30 minute interview, that I needed a different service and would need to SELF-refer, despite being initially referred by a GP. I’m now waiting for a self-referral form and have to send that back for consideration before even being placed on the 6 week+ waiting list. This is now commonplace…

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  • The worst part is: it isn’t even their fault. With only 5.5% of the country’s health research budget going into mental health, we’re being set up to fail on a longterm basis. Not to mention a 10.8% decrease in practicing psychiatric nurses across Britain in 2015 alone. Nice one, C-… Hunt.

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If you’ve found yourself in any situation akin to the above, please drop me a comment or tweet me @Ebzo – there needs to be more dialogue about this and less apathy (says the depressive).


Ebony. 25. Manchester.
Marketing Manager who likes to mouth off on here about stuff she cares about. Expect mental health, Borderline Personality Disorder, and reviews - from restaurants, to books, to fashion. Talks to cats more than people, but seemingly has a lot to say.
ebonylaurenn@gmail.com