Douglas Bastard's Rants of Rage


This article was written on 02 Aug 2016, and is filled under Uncategorised.

I’ve been sick in a bin

The time has come, the walrus said, to come off Citalopram. Well, it wasn’t actually a walrus, but the estimable Dr Crabtree who noticed that it was affecting my heart function and suggested that I might like to change, in that way that doctors say you might like to come in or that you might like not to jump off a tall building. I’ve been on Citalopram for a long, long time, and it seems right to revisit why I’m taking it.

I was married for a long time to someone who was bipolar. This manifested itself in several ways, one of which was anger, which finally left me shortly before I had a massive breakdown, and the other of which was anxiety. This manifested itself as a huge concern with my health to the extent that I became convinced, as an article of faith, that I had multiple sclerosis. My beloved Nana had it and when I noticed that a toy lobster which hung from my desk light looked a different colour through different eyes, I became convinced I had it, too.

Such was the course of my massive hypochondria that I cherry picked events to suit a narrative that was internally coherent but which wouldn’t have lasted seconds if it was subjected to rational analysis. I thought my pupils were resizing at different speeds when subjected to light and dark, I often felt dizzy and my fingers tingled. I used my private healthcare to see an eye specialist and then to see a psychiatrist at the the Priory who prescribed Citalopram.

In time, I screwed up my courage and saw a neurologist who told me, definitively that no, I didn’t have MS and that I should keep seeing the psychiatrist. He referred me, in turn, to a CBT therapist who helped me spend BUPA’s money and, once we’d bowled through my allowance, my own money as well. I was cured. At least, as far as the world of psychiatry and CBT was concerned. My anxiety was gone and I was, to all intents and purposes, better.

Except, of course, I wasn’t. In time and with horrific pain that comes back on a daily basis, the marriage ended. I tried to come off Citalopram and nearly killed myself. I went back on it and stayed on it like a drowning man who knows that if he doesn’t cling to this piece of driftwood, he may not find another. That was some years ago. And then, when I changed GP, they saw that I was taking ‘pram and suggested an ECG. I had one and it showed that my heart was taking longer to recover from a beat, me and the doctor had a chat.

It turns out that Citalopram is quite an easy drug to overdose on and that the thing which kills you when you do overdose is that your heart stops working. This doesn’t strike me as especially fun, so I decided that I’d come off it and take Sertraline instead with a view to, one day, coming off anti-depressants for good. This is the theory.

In practice, it’s proving to be somewhat harder to achieve. Citalopram loves me too much and doesn’t want to let go, which it’s telling me by giving me brain flashes, in which my brain seems to surge brightly for a millisecond and then go back to normal. Sertraline, meanwhile, is arguing with it. The first day I took it, I became so nauseous I thought I was going to vomit and a few days ago, I was sick into a bin. For two hours after I’ve taken it, I produce unbelievable amounts of flob and nausea regularly swans through to see how I’m doing.

Tomorrow, me and Dr Crabbers are meeting to see how it’s progressing.  The answer is that I feel, amazingly, better. I’m less numb than I was on Citalopram and feeling a bit sharper, which I’m well aware could be wholly psychosomatic. I’m also getting bleak thoughts from time to time, but those thoughts are no less bleak than when I was on Citalopram. Overall, I’m winning. I faintly wish that I’d never seen a sodding anti-depressant, but I doubt that I would have got through the separation without them.

All of this is, I suppose, a very circumspect way of saying that for people with depression, and that is certainly me, the path we find ourselves walking is bastard hard. Without medication, it’s often insuperably difficult. With medication, it’s still bloody difficult and there are side effects that become a trap, whether you carry on taking them or come off them. None of us choose this and, far from being weak, people with depression are some of the strongest and yet most beautifully empathetic people that I know. Onwards, upwards and let’s see what tomorrow brings.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.