One year on anti depressants – my experience of taking Sertraline

One year on anti depressants – my experience of taking Sertraline

Today is #TimeToTalk day, a day for shouting loud about all things mental health. The campaign is run by Time to Change and their aim is to help us all start conversations about our mental health, to break the stigmas surrounding mental illness and to raise awareness of what living with a mental health condition is really like. If you regularly read this blog then you will know that I have suffered from post natal depression and severe anxiety, it first began in late 2016 after the birth of my second child. If you are a really avid reader then you will also know that I didn’t start taking any medication until my son was almost 18months old, way over a year after my symptoms first began. It has now been a year since I first started taking anti depressants and I thought I would share with you what the last year has been like. I am going to try my best to give an honest account of what life on sertraline is like, I am not going to hide anything behind any dark corners or avoid talking about when things have been tough. After all, the point of #timetotalk day is to have honest conversations about mental health, with 1 in 4 of us experiencing some kind of mental illness, it is important that we speak the truth to help each other to feel less alone. 

One year on anti depressants – my experience of taking sertraline 

Alex was born in October 2016, by early December that same year I had been taken into the vice like grip of postnatal depression and my anxiety was causing me to have hundreds of intrusive thoughts every day. I was terrified something awful was going to happen to my children, thoughts of them lying dead would pop up into my mind at the most unexpected times. I’d see them drown in the bath, suffocate in their bed sheets, their pram roll into the road, strangers snatch them in the park and them choke on their food or own sick, turn blue and die. Except, of course, I didn’t really see any of this, none of these horrific things actually happened. These thoughts were sprouting from the deep rooted anxiety inside me that my babies were going to be taken from me.

Over the first year of Alex’s life I cried more than was normal. I struggled to enjoy my baby, I loved him fiercely and protectively like a mama bear loves her cub but I couldn’t bond properly, I was always so scared something bad was going to happen. I was too busy living a life that didn’t really exist in my mind instead of enjoying the small every day moments with him that should have made me burst with happiness. Every day was covered in a heavy dark cloud, there were obviously happy times but there was always this fear and sadness shrouding the moments we spent together. Postnatal depressions stole that precious first year from me, it is something I still struggle to  accept and I will probably grieve that snatched happiness and the joyful memories I don’t get to relive for a very long time (maybe forever).

Last January (over a year since symptoms of my mental illnesses first arrived), I saw an understanding and kind GP who urged me to start taking anti depressants. I decided to listen to her, I put my fear of mind altering medication aside and I did what was best for me and my family. The first month was hard, I didn’t experience many side effects but it took a while to adjust to the sertraline in my system. A couple of weeks after I started taking the anti depressants I did have a few days where I felt worse than before: uncontrollable crying and constant suicidal thoughts plagued me. This, thankfully, did not last for long and after about six weeks I felt the old me start to return. The clouds slowly parted and although there wasn’t a rainbow bursting through behind them, the skies atleast looked clear.

mum-on-anti-depressants

As the months past, more and more of my old self returned. I physically felt the weight lift from above me, I felt like I could breathe and move freely again. I could stretch my arms out to the sides, take a deep breath and feel grateful for my life, when not so long before I had felt so pointless and such a mess of a mother that dragging myself out of bed each day felt impossible. Smiles were no longer forced, laughter was no longer fake, I felt love and joy radiate from within me, burning down the house in my mind where all the dark thoughts lived. The shift was slow, I didn’t wake up one day and feel ‘fixed’, repairing the damage was more complicated than fixing a leak or changing a lightbulb. My whole sense of self had been compromised when I was depressed and I had to go right back to my foundations to build myself back up to the person I used to be.

There are still dark days, days when the storm feels like it is coming back with a vengeance. I’m stronger now though, I am armed with a raincoat, umbrella and supportive homes to run to for shelter, I no longer stand alone and afraid in the downpour. Speaking about my mental health struggles was hard at first, I worried what people would say and what repercussions admitting I was so unhappy to my family would have. Now though, now I won’t ever keep quiet again because talking helps, it doesn’t completely solve your problems but it is a vital part in the healing process. I would urge any of you reading this to talk to someone, to share your problems with a supportive ear, to stop letting the depression win by allowing it to keep control of you. Speak up, don’t be embarrassed or scared. Remember, you are 1 in 4, that’s how many people struggle with mental health problems so you are not on your own, there is someone out there who knows what you are going through.

I am still taking my anti depressants after a year of first being prescribed them, they are small little pills that keep me going, that keep the anxiety at bay and have managed to help me see all the good in life again. Sertraline helped me to see that death isn’t the only way, that although life can be overwhelming and scary at times, it can also be wonderful and joyful and amazing. I now know more than anything that I want to spend every day of this glorious life with my family and if I need to take anti depressants for the rest of my life for me to continue to feel  this way then I will. As for the intrusive thoughts, all I can say is intrusive thoughts who? I don’t witness my children dying in horrific ways several times a day anymore, I don’t fear leaving the house with them both after worrying all morning about the dangers of the world outside our front door. I can’t say I never have them, but they are mild in comparison to what they were, now only a scene from a PG kids scary film instead of a whole entire 18 rated horror film. If one pops up, which is very infrequently, I just think oh, hi intrusive thought, I sit with it for a second before carrying on with my day. A couple of years ago the intrusive thoughts and depression held me in their unyielding grasp, now I hold the power again: I am the one in control.

mum-on-anti-depressants

The depression has been obliterated. The anti depressants have reset the balance of serotonin and other chemicals in my brain and this have given me the strength to grab back onto the positive side of my personality with both hands. Of course there are days where I feel down but these days aren’t debilitating, I can make it through them and see the hope in a better day waiting for me tomorrow. Anxiety has been harder to shift, it still appears again in stressful situations but I am able to stop myself falling into a black hole of ‘what ifs’ and catastrophising. I am pregnant again, with the positive result on the home pregnancy test came an onslaught of anxiety and fear that lasted intensely for the first couple of weeks of my pregnancy and has only really started to ease over the last month or so. I accepted this small relapse, how could I not be scared after the postnatal depression I went through last time? How I could not fear the future when there is a possibility it could consist of more storms and sadness? Like I said repeatedly through this post, I am stronger now. I feel like a have a full arsenal of tools and knowledge to help me if the worst does happen again. Postnatal depression might try and get me once more but I fought it once and I am fully prepared to fight it to the bitter end. Talking, medication, support networks and sharing honestly are what has helped me through and I am ready to do it all over again, if I have to.

A year on anti depressants may sound like a long time to those of you scared at even the idea of contemplating taking medication but I have made so much progress over the last year and I will be forever grateful to the doctor who gave me the gentle push I needed to start taking them. Dr Terry, you saved me and you helped me find myself again when I thought I was lost forever. Thank you.

***

***

If you feel like you may be suffering with post natal depression here is a list of resources and charities that can help and support you.

If you are feeling suicidal or need urgent help please ring 999 or speak to The Samaritans 116123 

You can find many honest posts about postnatal depression in the mental health section of my blog.

***

Pin ME!

a year on anti depressants

If you enjoyed this post you may also like to read

Recovering from post natal depression

How you can help a mum with post natal depression

Social media made my anxiety and post natal depression worse

14 things you can do to become a happier and more positive mum 

The day I asked for help

Mental health after pregnancy – it’s time I came clean

Reflecting on the darkest days

Post natal depression, it’s not how I imagined

When you have post natal depression at Christmas

For exclusive content and to be the first to hear about upcoming giveaways, subscribe to the monthly Naptime Natter newsletter




facebookinstatwitterIf you enjoyed this post I would love for you to share it 🙂

Follow:
Share:

Leave a Reply to poor orphanage Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge

17 Comments

  1. February 8, 2019 / 8:27 am

    Thank you for sharing your experience. I was on sertraline when I had PND, unfortunately my experience wasn’t as positive, but I’m glad you found an antidepressant that works for you and can give you happier times with your little one xx

    http://www.digitalbutterfly.life

  2. February 8, 2019 / 9:23 am

    Sorry to hear you had such a hard time. Great that you found a GP who listened to you! I hear so many stories of GPs and health visitors brushing of new mums’ concerns and telling them”it’s just the baby blues, everyone gets it.
    Jenni recently posted…Our Top 12 Scottish Picture BooksMy Profile

  3. February 8, 2019 / 11:41 am

    You are so brave to speak out so openly about your experience. I’m sorry you had a hard time before, I think in general there’s a lot of ‘just get on with it’ feelings triggered by that social need to say everything is fine… when maybe it isn’t. It sounds like your medication is working well though – here’s to a bright future
    Annette, 3 Little Buttons recently posted…Bloggers #DreamTeam Linky 144My Profile

  4. February 8, 2019 / 7:21 pm

    Well done for sharing. So many people suffer in silence, anxiety and depression are very real and it is something that is often out of our control. I am so glad you sought help and I am glad that the medication is working for you x
    Sabina Green recently posted…7 Feng Shui Tips to Bring More Luck to your HomeMy Profile

  5. February 9, 2019 / 11:37 am

    Aw such a brave post. I have always suffered with extreme anxiety and like you really suffered after the birth of my first child. I spent more time in A&E thinking there was something wrong with him (there never was!) than enjoying time with him. I too now take anti-depressants which have helped lift the clouds. Thanks so much for sharing, it is good to speak out! #blogcrush

  6. February 9, 2019 / 8:42 pm

    I know most people refuse taking meds for depression but in all honesty, if it helps with your mental health then do it.

  7. February 9, 2019 / 8:50 pm

    Thank you for sharing the links, it’s led me to look at one of the charities you posted. Although I’m lucky I don’t have PND sometimes I do feel overwhelmed and upset. You are very brave being so honest well done!

  8. February 9, 2019 / 11:29 pm

    I have done PND and Anxiety both on and off meds and also taking the same meds. I find they worked well for me, mind wise, but some of the side effects made them not the best choice for me. It’s frustrating that somehow magically they can’t find a med that doesn’t have the side effect downside. I am glad they are helping and well done for seeking help and looking after yourself

  9. February 10, 2019 / 2:15 pm

    I am adamant that sertraline saves my life before I had children. If it wasn’t for those pills, I wouldn’t be here and I would have two gorgeous children. I had PND with my first and I never went to the Dr about it. After having Oscar, my HV was the nicest person ever and she spent a lot of time with me talking about mental health and how I hadn’t ever really gotten over it. Anyway, I think that antidepressants are amazing and I love reading personal accounts like this where it has helped people as much as they helped me.
    Rachael recently posted…Learn To Be ConfidentMy Profile

  10. February 10, 2019 / 5:54 pm

    And by you talking about this subject will help so many other Mums with postnatal depression. This shows them that it’s nothing to be scared off. I am so glad it’s helped you so much

  11. March 7, 2019 / 5:26 am

    I know sharing this story is not an easy thing to do! It takes a lot of courage to share this. I think this post will definitely inspires a lot of people. Thanks for sharing this!

  12. May 1, 2019 / 11:29 am

    Thanks for sharing this valuable information with us. I am truly hoping that these tips will work for those people who are suffering from mental health and really appreciate your suggestions.

  13. June 1, 2019 / 8:04 pm

    I appreciate you for sharing your story, few people have the courage to tell their experiences openly. I also suffer from anxiety and negativity but never discussed openly with anyone which I think was a bad thing I have done to my own self but now after reading your story, I decided to consult to get a consultancy. wish you a happy life with your loved ones!