• Rachel Rutherford

Depression.. Where am I now?

Updated: Jun 24, 2021


I recently heard a quote: ‘Depression is sadness without any hope’ and it’s really stuck with me. We all get sad, we don’t all get depressed, and I really think it’s important to remember this.


My MH Journey:


Some of you will know about my journey with depression. Ironically the 5th July (My Birthday) 2017 was the day it properly all fell apart, so I will never forget it.


In 2017 if you had asked me, I would have had myself down as 'highly functioning with depression'. Looking back now, I was very much the complete opposite.


Asking for help just wasn’t part of my way of life. I would spend every single day in tears and wouldn’t be able to pinpoint why. Imagine that, sitting there crying, but feeling helpless to do anything about it.


At the beginning of 2018 (6 months after it all fell apart) I made the decision to go on Citalopram, one of the most popular anti-depressants in the UK (It is a SSRI and I have put a link to another blog explaining what this means at the bottom of this article.)


I didn’t take this decision lightly, and had said no for years. I was SURE I could beat it on my own. I even tried taking them while I was at university but stopped taking them after a few days as the side effects were so bad! Ironically, it’s the side effects/ withdrawal symptoms that have made me write this.



Side Effects:


Short Term:


The first 2 weeks of taking an anti-depressant are HELL. This is no understatement. They do however vary for everybody and this isn't a reason to not consider them. My key callouts are:

  • Exhaustion: this isn’t limited to mental, my whole body ached, and everything felt like a lot of effort. For someone used to being very active this is exceptionally hard

  • Significantly worsening mental health: I wouldn’t recommend starting to take these during an abnormally busy/ important time at work. In fact, I would recommend taking a few days off

Longer Term:

  • Weight gain: Having been on them for several years I feel I can pass comment on this

  • Struggling with focus

  • Numbness: complete lack of emotion. I went from crying every day to just not feeling anything one of the drivers for coming off them now

Are They the Solution?


Can you beat depression without medicine HELL YES. I wish I had been able to take a more holistic approach, but I was living on my own in a new city and didn’t have the support from friends and family that I would have needed. In addition, there were so many other parts of my life that were making me unhappy I felt like I had run out of options.


It's not a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength and to anybody thinking about whether to take the plunge, you are the only person that can judge whether you need support from medicine!


Coming off & Withdrawal Symptoms


I made the decision to come off the tablets earlier this year, having now been on them coming up 3.5 years. Once I set my mind on something I drive towards it with passion (which has its plusses and minuses). I spoke with the doctor and was recommended:

  • Take 10mg/20mg on alternate days for 2 weeks

  • Take 10mg every other day for 2 weeks

  • Stop taking


In reality it has been something more like:

  • 10mg/20mg every other day for a week

  • Drop down to 10mg for 6/7 weeks

  • Take 10mg every other day (because I forgot to take them)

  • Realise I hadn’t taken them for 4 days and decided to just stop

I have now been off the tablets for 3 weeks. I have certainly felt some withdrawal symptoms, but for the same period I have been taking a drop or two of CBD 1000mg before bed. This has really helped me sleep and has also relaxed me. The only thing I will say it does make me a bit groggy some mornings, so I certainly haven’t found my perfect dose just yet.


I will be writing a bit more about CBD and my experience in another blog, as the topic really intrigues me and I think it can have some real benefits to everyone.


Withdrawal Symptoms:


In reality these have been pretty similar to the side effects when going on the tablets and I have had 2 bouts of these, when dropping from 20mg to 10mg and then coming off of them. I can certainly still feel some of them now:

  • Unexplained exhaustion

  • Brain Fog – this is something I have had a lot more strongly than I did when I went on them

  • Lack of Motivation to do even the things I love

  • Feeling some intense emotions – although I have to admit this has actually been really nice


Coping with Side Effects/ Withdrawal Symptoms:


While you can't get rid of them, there are things I do to try and keep positive:

  • Get out in nature. Even if I'm too 'tired' to run or cycle, I will just get out for an easy walk. Fresh air helps everything!

  • Talk. A lot of people won't understand what you are going through, unless they have been through it, but this doesn't mean you can't confide in the people you trust! Just knowing someone is there for you can help massively

  • Keep your eye on the long term goal. Like everything in life, sometimes you have to go through short term pain for a long term gain

  • Remember however hard it is, you are never alone. Even if there are no friends or family you can talk to, there are a number of charities out there that exist to help you through this. I have linked a through at the bottom

Thanks for reading guys, if anyone has any questions about the process of going on or coming off anti depressants (or depression and methods) feel free to drop me a message.


PRR x


SSRI'S:

https://www.nhs.uk/mental-health/talking-therapies-medicine-treatments/medicines-and-psychiatry/ssri-antidepressants/overview/


Charities:

https://www.mind.org.uk/

https://www.samaritans.org/

https://mentalhealth-uk.org/

https://www.rethink.org/

https://www.time-to-change.org.uk/

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