I take a pill every day to feel normal.
Over the weekend I forgot to get my prescription refilled and missed my medication for a couple of days. The result is that today I have had that light-headed feeling that you get when you haven’t eaten enough – as well as the sensation of sporadic mild electric shocks. I am experiencing SSRI Withdrawal Syndrome.
“What’s an SSRI?” I hear you ask. It stands for Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitor – in other words, an anti-depressant.
It’s a pretty serious medication. But it helps me. And at the moment, I’m struggling to imagine my life without it – a dangerous dependency, perhaps but my other options are being too fatigued to get out of bed in the morning and too anxious to even leave my apartment.
I suffered with both throughout high school and university – where I had a very casual fling with anorexia and a serious relationship with self- harm. It all came crashing into one big meltdown when I returned from a year living overseas as part of an exchange program.
I felt like my whole world had been turned upside down. All the friends I’d made, the serious relationship I’d embarked on and a home I’d created – all collapsed and I had to return to my old life as if nothing had happened. This whole other world I’d lived in became just a blip on the radar and the brand new person I’d become was gone. Now I was back at home – it felt as if the whole wonderful experience had been a cruel dream.
After some fairly disastrous decision making that involved too much alcohol and far too little common sense, I decided I needed to get some help. I was sick of feeling like shit when, quite frankly, my life was peachy compared to the struggles other individuals go through. A sense of perspective saved me and that’s what motivated me to see a doctor and a therapist and begin taking anti-depressants. The particular brand I’m on also has off-label uses for anxiety.
Within a month, I felt a huge change. The first thing I noticed was my ability to speak up in class. This may seem like a small thing to you but for me, speaking in class was a big deal. I couldn’t raise my hand without my heart pounding in my chest and the colour rising in my cheeks, like I’d made some terrible faux-pas (because I was convinced that I would). I assumed that everyone was obviously judging me. They probably thought I was a silly girl with a pretentious accent. Anything I had to say was worthless and unnecessary anyway.