They might have saved my life, actually. I was in a dark hole, a black hole even, and I just wanted to crawl out of my own skin and disappear but still I wanted things to get better, I hoped for something to save me from myself. I had refused to take any antidepressants for years, the truth is that I was scared that they would make me fat and that’s why I didn’t want to take them. I wish that I didn’t want them because I believed that I had it in me to be free myself. Back then I didn’t believe in myself and my own ability to heal. Now I do.
I have been taking sertraline antidepressants since I was nineteen. I remember the day when I said to my mum that I had had enough; I couldn’t feel like this anymore. The pressure inside was too heavy to carry. I remember my doctor, Sigmund was his name (obviously), and he believed that it was a wise decision. I had been seeing him for about a year before I asked him to prescribe me something that could lift me up from the dark I was in. Before Sigmund I had seen the two ladies, Roland, The man with the moustache, the group therapy at the eating disorder centre, the anger management guy, Mia and Per; all with a different approach to handle…me.
“what the hell just happened?”
Today, in hindsight I know how I could’ve avoided the antidepressants and heal my own mind and body, but back then I believed that I knew it all, I believed that I had tried it all and nothing worked on me. I believed that something was seriously wrong with me but nobody seemed to know what. Now I know; I just didn’t love myself enough to look after myself. Two weeks after I started with my sertraline medication I remember smiling at dad in the morning, telling him some stupid joke and we both just looked at each other thinking, “what the hell just happened?”
See, for so many years, so many days, so many mornings I hadn’t been able to look anyone in the eyes. The anxiety was so heavy. Every morning I felt like I had to make myself breath or I would die. That morning was the start of a new beginning.
So what has happened since then?
Sertraline and antidepressants like that doesn’t work as an uplifter. You wouldn’t bring them to a nightclub thinking it would make you want to dance all night. Gradually it just protects you from falling deep into the black whole you have dug for yourself. So it’s more of a deep hole blocker than an uplifter. For me though I was just so excited not to constantly have one foot in the black mud and another reaching forward. I was so excited not to feel completely torn apart. For the first time I could make my body move with me, with all parts at the same time in the same direction. They united me with myself.
So what has happened since then? I mean it has been nine years and I still have anxiety from time to time. I used to have it more often in the first couple of years after I started. The thing is that it is so easy to track the anxiety now. I know why I have it, most of the times, where’s before, it was constant. After I started to eat Sertraline I still used to wake up on Monday mornings (usually) after a weekend out on the piss with that heaviness all over my body, weighing down my chest like a bag of mud. Everything once again happened in slow-motion. I’m sure that is common, the person who doesn’t get hang over anxiety after drinking, lacking sleep and eating junk is some kind of miracle or just completely emotionally unaware. I also get anxious if I stop caring about my health for a while, and/or if I start over-caring so much I forget how to live in society.
Anxiety for me comes with complete recklessness and loss of rules or when my rules take over my life completely. When I am somewhere in the middle, looking after myself and my health but not to the point where I miss out on the flow of life and try to control and be in charge of every minute of every day – I feel alive, happy, healthy and vibrant. It is a balancing act, and maybe my rope is slightly thinner than most, or I just over think everything more than others, I don’t know?
I couldn’t go back to that person who gets annoyed at nothing
Now I feel like I am done with my medication. I don’t want to rely on them anymore. Two years ago I tried to wean off them, but two weeks in I could feel the anger come back. It’s not just any anger it is a completely STUPID anger. I get angry at my dad for breathing loud or for trying to help me or for just living his life. I take my dad as an example because for some reason he usually ended up in the firing zone (probably because we are much alike and I see myself in him). I couldn’t go back to that person who gets annoyed at nothing. So I went back to my full dosage again, leaving the weaning off to the future.
The most important thing is that I know how much nutrition, probiotic and the right type of fibre and food can affect your whole mental state
There are a lot of things that I know now that I didn’t know two years ago, and I live a completely different life today than then. The most important thing is that I know how much nutrition, probiotic and the right type of fibre and food can affect your whole mental state. Two years ago I drank diet coke (a lot), ate a 90% protein diet including protein powders, heaps of canned tuna and other genetically modified meat, I didn’t care about the chemicals on vegetables or in supplements that I took and I constantly had something in my mouth weather it was coffee, tea, chewing gum, vitamins, coke, food or carrots; my senses and my organs always had something to work with which gave them no time to heal my body properly.
I know today that when I fast my body repairs itself. When I eat too much of anything it can cause inflammation in my stomach which can take away from or heavily affect my own levels of sertraline getting to my brain. Just looking at my diet and lifestyle back then I am convinced that my body was constantly inflamed and my body used up all the good chemicals to heal inflammation which lead to lack of happy chemicals getting to my brain.
Drinking alcohol is not a part of my weekly ritual anymore
Today I take care of my gut micro biome. I know that if I keep my gut happy my immune system and my brain will be happy. I eat turmeric, fermented food, kumbucha, broccoli sprouts and all green veggies every day to make my inner ecosystem happy and I am not scared of the good carbs. I avoid gluten, dairy and highly heated food because I know that they are cause of inflammation in my body and I have for the same reason reduced meat to almost nothing. I make sure that my body get minimum 15 hours of rest from anything other than water most days of the week. Drinking alcohol is not a part of my weekly ritual anymore and I probably have a slight hangover max 1 time every second month.
This might sound like a handful, but for me it is just the flow of life. I don’t think about all of this as something I have to do; I want to do it. It has enabled me to listen to my body for the first time and I can really feel inside when I am on the right track and when I’m on the wrong. For example, last week my body felt all swollen and tired. I had been drinking a lot of coffee and been long distance running almost every day; it was inflamed and I had to pull back the coffee and the running slightly. After two days without coffee and only stretching I felt back on track again.
So I am preparing to go off my antidepressants and start to communicate with my body for real and it scares me, but I know that I want to rely on nothing. I know that my body has got what it takes inside and it is up to myself to give it the tools that it needs to do its job.
Back then, almost ten years ago, when I started with my medication it did save my life because I knew nothing about my body’s own defence. I didn’t know that even breathing deeply (Wim Hof style) could help my brain and body heal. I did everything wrong but I did what I knew to do. I don’t regret starting with the medication at all, but with the knowledge I have today I need to trust that my body is its own pharmacy and I am excited to finally be able to rely on only myself to be happy.
If anyone has any experience with this, I would be so excited to hear what you have to say!