My Life on Mental Health Medication

DISCLAIMER: For those of you who don't know either from conversations with me or from my previous posts, I am and have been for about 6 months now, on a drug called Lexapro.
It is an anti depressant and anti anxiety medication that is quite common for people with my disorders and so I just wanted to make it clear that this post is all about MY experience with Lexapro and MY own personal interpretation of the differences that it makes to my mental state.
Everyone experiences and interprets the affects of this drug differently and I just wanted to make that clear.

Mental Health Medication

The amount of stigma and prejudice behind those three little words in unimaginable for someone who has never had to experience it.
It tends to instill fear, judgement and a sense of unpredictability on the general public about the people that take it.
I wanted today to describe my experience on mental health medication and hopefully clear up some of that bias for those of you who have been lucky enough to not need or experience this side of the world.

I have been taking Lexapro for roughly 6 months now and I have never been able to deal with my mental health issues in a better way.
My mental health struggle started at the age of 18 months old when I was diagnosed with Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD), but I had never turned to pharmacuticals until mid way through 2017 when I just felt as though I could no longer wage this war inside my head on my own.

Instantly, after I started taking them, I felt a sense of calm wash over me.

To give those of you who haven't studied mental health drugs in the past, an idea of what these do from a biological perspective, here is a quick run down:

Lexapro is a type of anti-depressant called an SSRI or a Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor. In a nutshell, an SSRI decreases feelings of depression by increasing the amount of Serotonin in the brain at any one time.

The basic idea of why larger serotonin levels in the brain tend to relieve the symptoms of stress and depression is impossible to say, because even scientists themselves have no real idea why. It just seems to work...
Welcome to Psychology.

Anyway, as I was saying, as soon as I started on the pills, I instantly felt different. I'm not sure 'better' is the correct word to use for those first few weeks as the pills instantly slowed me down. Mentally, which definitely improved my anxiety as my thoughts were not running as quickly as they usually did, giving me a better, more relaxed outlook on the world.
But also physically. It put me in what I can only describe as a 'fog' for the first week or so where I was reacting slower to things around me, I was working a lot slower and talking a lot slower.
I also didn't feel comfortable driving at that time as I felt my reaction times were not as quick as they needed to be.

Still to this day I'm not sure if that feeling of fogginess went away with time or if I just got used to it and don't notice it anymore. But that feeling of uncomfort in that state did only last about a week mentally. Physically, it was a bit different.

For the first time in 21 years, my muscles were getting used to the feeling of being relaxed and calm for the majority of the day. My arms and legs were incredibly heavy, I constantly felt uncomfortable as my body was just in a different position than I had gotten used to over the last 21 years.
This lasted about a month.

Once I settled into the life of someone who takes mental health medication, my quality of life instantly rose.
For the first time, I wasn't waking up in the middle of the night having panic attacks a few times a week, I felt like I could take on life head first without being too stressed about what it might do to my mental health.
Yes, I still did feel anxious everyday, but the intensity of that anxiety was turned way down. And when it did get turned back up, there was a logical reason for that. It wasn't a game of chance, I didn't wake up in mornings that should have been relaxing, wanting to vomit from stress over nothing! It was a heaven that I had never experienced.

However, one thing that I'm now realising about my medication is that not only did it turn down the volume of my anxiety, it turned down the volume of a few other things as well. And Mum, I'm sorry if you're reading this, if you want to skip over the next paragraph, I totally understand.

1. My Sex Drive - one thing that I had always experienced at quite a high level was all of a sudden out of my mind. I wasn't thinking about sex as much, I wasn't feeling that need for it as often and when I did have sex, it took a lot more to get me excited and A LOT more to get me to the point of orgasm.
Now, this I was ready for, as it is a general side effect of a lot of mental health medication.

2. My ability to feel excited - I am the worlds most excitable human being and don't get me wrong, I still am incredibly excitable, it just takes a lot more to get me to the point that I used to be every day.

3. My ability to feel emotional pain - now this one is a new discovery for me on the night that I am writing this blog post. To give you guys a bit of a backstory, the man that I was dating and I decided to call things off today for some reasons I'm not going to go into. Anyway, it did come as a quite a shock to me and I assumed (and was prepared for) the heartache and the emotional pain that came along with that, as I am an overly sensitive person.
But sitting here right now, writing this in bed, I have the most strange sensation.
I can sense the heartbreak, I can feel the tears and I can feel the emotional pain sitting in the back of my brain, but for some reason, it's not reached the point were I can actually FEEL it. It's as though my emotions are behind a glass door. I can identify that they're there, but I just can't reach out and touch them. I can't have a good cry, my eyes are bone dry, even though I can tell I desperately need to.

And the scariest part? I can't tell if this is a good thing or a bad thing just yet...


Sophie Wuthrich said…
Love the meaning of this post. I am someone who although calm, I cannot relax. I have always been an anxious person but it wasn't diagnosed until senior high school and by that point it was quite late and 'turning it around'. So I have been working on my anxiety and panic. I actually haven't had a panic attack in a few months which is amazing for me. I still have those small anxiety attacks but they're two totally different things as you would probably know. Also, I follow you on Instagram and I think we might go to the same uni!

-Sophie xx
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