Mental health · Uncategorized

The truth about prozac

“Prozac”, like many forms of antidepressant, is a very controversial medicine.

Late last year I was prescribed fluoxetine (to give it its medical name). (Prozac is a brand name, and like ‘hoover’ has come to refer to various vacuum cleaners, ‘prozac’ refers to fluoxetine, which is made by many different brands. The brand I was taking was actually called ‘prozep’ until I changed to a gelatin-free form).

And the truth is this medicine has saved my life.

It’s as simple as that. The best way I can describe being on SSRIs is like after you have a cold for a long time with a constant blocked nose, and then you are able to breath clearly again. I was not suddenly happy, or magically ‘fixed. But I felt ‘normal’ again – life was manageable, instead of being a whirlwind of emotions. Prozac gave me my life back.

But the truth is also that this medicine has also made some of my friends feel ten times worse. If you’re reading this as someone potentially trying fluoxetine, please don’t let “horror stories” put you off as they affect the minority of people. If the medicine doesn’t work for you, an alternative can be found. Your health takes priority.

Prozac can have nasty side effects – luckily my only side effects have been nightmares, but they are infrequent, and the benefits outway the cons for me. However, for some people, the cons are unbearable and that just means this medicine isn’t the right medicine for them. It’s not possible to say whether the insomnia I suffer with is a side effect of the prozac or just a continuation of the insomnia I suffered with prior to taking prescription – but this leads me to add that many “side effects” are listed due to the technicality that they can’t be ruled not to be side effects. For example, bulimia is listed as a side effect despite prozac/prozep being used to treat bulimia, this is because the disorder may still occur in the patient despite being on medicine, and it cannot be decisively concluded if prozac is causing the disorder due to it being taken by the patient. So that doesn’t mean prozac causes these disorders, just that it doesn’t help everyone with their mental health problems in the same way it has been helpful for me.

I am a little bit scared about the day I come off fluoxetine as it is ‘addictive’ medicine. But I have also made peace with the fact I may never come off it; There’s no shame in taking medicine if I need it to help me function. The past week has been very rough as due to administration issues, I was without my medication for 8 days. (And you could tell.) My poor boyfriend had to handle a lot of my mood swings and irritability, which could have been my mental health problems that were not being managed by medicine, or could possibly have been withdrawal symptoms.
If you are on antidepressants it is so so important you take them regularly!

The reason I was placed in this precarious situation is I found out my medication had gelatin in (something I’m not okay with consuming) and had to faff about getting veggie alternatives. I was very peeved that no one had informed me that my medication contained gelatin (but also annoyed at myself for not checking the ingredients). My medication was initially handled by my dad, so I wasn’t aware of the ingredients, and only recently actually read the box. (Always read contents before you take any meds kids – Lesson learnt!). The pharmacist I spoke to also implied I wasn’t told that the capsules contained gelatin as “all capsules do” so it’s common knowledge (that I was not aware of.) I’ve luckily been able to source an alternative I’m happy with taking so for the foreseeable future, taking a dose of fluoxetine is as much a part of my morning routine as having breakfast and brushing my teeth. It’s helped me immensely, and countless others. There should be a push for more medication to help those suffering from mental health issues, as as I have outlined, fluoxetine isn’t a “cure” and does not help everybody.

I truly hope we can tackle the stigma about mental health and medication, so that one day, my being on SSRIs is viewed no differently to me taking medicine for a physical illness and maintaining my health and wellbeing in other ways. I also personally hope that medication also moves away from using animal produce unnecessarily.

Sending love to all my mentally ill babes, medicated or not. Please seek help when you need it! Although I cannot help, I’m here to listen if anyone wants to get anything offrom their chest! -A x


Charity work

World Literacy Youth Ambassador 2017

I am very proud to announce that in May I was selected to be a Youth Ambassador for the World Literacy Foundation 2017. This means for the next few months, I will be dedicated to raising awareness (and money) for the World Literacy Foundation.

I initially saw that WLF were recruiting Youth Ambassadors on their Facebook page and after spending some time umm-ing and ahh-ing over applying, I decided to go for it. As my previous blog posts show, I am an advocate for education, and have been involved in fundraising for the Memusi Foundation. I am also a massive lover of books, and the idea that someone cannot access fictional worlds in the same way I can breaks my heart. So I applied to be a WLF Ambassador to give me more experience in advocating for children’s rights, fundraising, and more importantly, to give myself a feasible goal. I have a tendency to be a somewhat capricious individual, meaning that whilst I’m full of good ideas and intentions, sticking them out can be a different story. Being a Youth Ambassador sets me an attinable fundraising goal, and I have lots of support from the WLF team to motivate me.

Literacy is a skill I have long taken for granted. Being able to read, and to write this very blog post come as naturally as breathing, yet it’s a privilege seldom recognised as just that – a privilege. In Northern Uganda, the adult literacy rate is roughly 64%. It is here that the WLF will be channeling funds raised by Youth Ambassadors this year, to provide education to children and help them build better futures for themselves and their families. We often forget how much literacy plays a role in our ability to communicate with others, aiding social mobility.
It’s not just ground-breaking things like being able to attain academic success that literacy skills provide. “Simple” things like being able to administer the correct dosage of medicine outlined on the packet, being able to follow a recipe to cook a meal, and being able to use a map or follow signs’ directions, are not possible without basic literacy skills. And in many parts of the world, children are not accessing these skills, as they are not accessing the education they deserve.
Every child deserves to be able to read. With your help, we can help more children access education. Please donate if you are able, like the Facebook page, and stayed tune for more of my campaign.

-A x


York meetup – July 2017

On Monday I met some of my housemates for the first time! We’ve all been chatting over Facebook since being allocated the same accommodation at YSJ, so nine of us met up for a day in York. (We won’t all be sharing a house, but will be living in the same accommodation, as it’s sort of like a row of terrace houses).
To my delight, everyone is super lovely and it calmed my nerves about moving in. I am now so excited for September!
Early Monday morning I traveled to Wakefield to meet Lauren. She drove us to York. We parked at the YHA we were staying at and had a pleasant stroll along the river to York city centre to meet the others. In true English fashion, we met Clare, Holly, Daisy, Phillipa, Tony, Mónica (who is Spanish) and Thomas at Gregg’s.
We all introduced ourselves and had a pleasant stroll around the open market, the Shambles and the Disney store. I am in love with all the cute things in the Disney store!
We mooched outside the store for a while chatting and I got a really bad craving for ice cream so suggested it to the others. We got ice cream from an ice cream parlour and munched it on our way to everyone’s favourite cheap-and-cheerful pub-chain Wetherspoons. 

We spent a few hours chatting in Spoons before heading to YSJ for a look around our accom. It looks really nice and I will be happy to call it home in September!
Following that, we strolled around York for a bit, stopping for a drink in a few pubs and buying snacks from a Sunday-roast take-away. At around 7, Clare, Lauren and I walked the others to the train station and had a big group-hug goodbye before nipping to Sainsbury’s for snacks and heading to YHA York. Strolling along York with a very tipsy Lauren was very funny, and it was great to spend time with just those two as I will be sharing a house with them come September.

After checking in, we went to the youth hostel bar for another drink and played a round of pool. We stayed up a while chatting and playing “Never Have I Ever”. Clare and I got ready for bed at around 11 but Lauren, self-proclaimed party-animals made mates downstairs and stayed up drinking til 3. Although she did hang out with us in the room for a little while which was really nice, Clare and I had to rely on each other for support as we started mortified as one another as a lady we’d been having a pleasant conversation with started taking her clothes off mid-conversation. (I’m all for body-positivity but nearly naked strangers isn’t my cup of tea, especially when they start undressing whilst having a chat with you.)
The bed was a lot comfier than I was expecting, and the Youth Hostel really exceeded my expectations as it was really good quality, which i wasn’t expecting given we’d only paid £13 each for the night. Drinks were cheap too which is always a bonus!
I woke up the following morning and got dressed as the other slept. We got ready and checked out, and the bartender informed us Lauren had been up til three but had stayed in the hostel as promised. (I made her promise to stay on site – I’m a killjoy only because I care haha).
We walked back along the river into York for breakfast. We had full English breakfasts (mine was veggie) at Bailey’s cafe, before going back down to sit by the river and chat.

Lauren and I saw Clare off at the train station before walking back to the car and driving home. She kindly dropped me off at my house. We will hopefully meet up again before September but they all seem really lovely.
I’m so glad everyone was so friendly and easy-going. It was great meeting Tony, a fellow enby, as well, as coming out to new people is always daunting and I sort of followed their lead as I wasn’t planning on telling the group but they did first and reacted well. Thank you Tony for letting me ride your coattails haha.

If everyone is as sweet as they seemed, uni will be awesome! I cannot wait for September!
Uni will be brilliant and I’m lucky to have met amazing people to share my experience with!
A x


June 30th 2017

Yesterday Benj and I went to support my fabby mate Isaac at a fundraiser gig he’d organised. I was super excited to see Isaac’s band Emergency Exit live for the first time and they did not disappoint!
Proceeds from the night went to the British Red Cross’ Refugee project – you can donate here to help support this amazing cause!
After work, I got the train to meet Benji and show off my new pink hair. He didn’t know I had dyed my hair pink, but got very excited and ran his hands through it when he saw me.

We got our connecting train to Huddersfield and asked the conductor for directions to Byrham Arcade. A short ten minute walk later we were jamming to Emergency Exit playing King of the Swingers, Toto’s Africa, Just the Two of Us and other funky hits. Although I only drank water all night, I was rather giddy, jumping up and down to the bands (and losing my sh*t when Slurp Dirty played their song “2 cheeses but only one cracker”), leading Isaac’s mum to think I was intoxicated (oops). On the alcohol-drinking-front, Benj had a pale ale from the cutesy-kitsch Panda’s kitchen bar. We also had to help a rather drunk American lady into the gig, where she danced with the young girls merrily. My giddiness was probably not helped by Benj and I leaving the gig briefly to get some dinner – dinner which consisted of cookie dough and waffles at this gorgeous ice cream parlor.

Although Benj and I left early to get the train home, it was a really good night. (Made even better by our taxi home from Dewsbury only costing us two quid because a random bloke asked to share with us – score!) Through Isaac’s amazing hardwork, over £200 was raised. I am so proud of all the hard work he’s put in. He’s a beacon of light, as we should all aspire to be.

An awesome night for an awesome cause! Thank you and well done to all the amazing bands that played! 10/10, would definitely bounce around and shake a collection tin to those funky tunes again.

Cute nights like this remind me of how much positivity and fun exist in the world. A tiny hall full of teenagers dancing and singing and giving money to a good cause made me reflect on how powerful our youth are, and how everyone deserves to feel safe and enjoy their teenage years. The air felt electric, and the joy was radiant. The money raised will go towards combating the issues that have barred others from being free and dancing in the same way as us.
The refugee crisis is real, pressing and present, but this event reminded me we can honor them and combat the negativity through hope, positivity, and joy. The negative news constantly blared in the media fails to show the compassion and community we all inspirit.
I often have felt guilty about having a “good time” whilst others out there suffer, but I know now that doing good feels good, and empathy doesn’t mean we should feel negative too. We are giving others a helping hand from our position of privilege; this privilege we should recognize, but more importantly, revel in, whilst helping other access this.
Keep the refugees in your minds in the coming weeks, don’t let their struggle go unheard as the news coverage of their plight declines.
We can make the future a much brighter place
-A x