Mental health · Rambling · Uncategorized

Getting my sh*t together

 

These past few months have been rough. I’ve struggled A LOT.
Fortunately, I am currently in the best place (mentally) I have been in a long time. Since April, my outlook has totally changed. I’ve truly been living my best life. However, I am still finding ~life~ challenging. The year is over half-way done, and still only half-way there in terms of getting my act together again!
My previous posts have sung the praises of my medication, but I have actually stopped taking meds for my mental illness. Whilst this has had positive implications (I’m able to cope with life, woo) it’s unfortunately made my insomnia a lot worse.

I’ve learnt the hard way that I can’t do it all. I’ve felt crushed to learn to respect my ‘spoonie’ life, to realise I have to stop ‘biting off more than I can chew’, and that there’s some things I simply cannot do.
I am so lucky in that I have received a lot of support from the staff at my university. My subject director held an intervention with me to discuss how best they can support me, and highlighted to me that I “need to ask for help”.
I’ve been making a martyr of myself in an attempt to ‘do it all by myself’. She showed me there’s no reason I shouldn’t ask for help, and that by striving to be ‘independent’, I’ve caused myself difficulties I did not need to.

In light of this, I am applying for PIP, to try ease the pressures I face. This is a very scary reality for me, regardless of the outcome. I will either qualify for PIP, and because of the stupid stigma my stupid pride will take a knock, or I won’t, and I will keep struggling on, physically, emotionally, and financially, (which is unfortunately where a lot of the health problems I face stem from in the first place!).

She also highlighted to me that the rather difficult situations I have found myself in late 2017/early 2018 take a lot to recover from. Many things in my life have been put on a “backburner” whilst I prioritised recovery. Some days getting out of the flat and down to the local shop to get some food was a huge feat. And that’s okay! Some horrible things happened that ripped me down to my absolute rock bottom but it’s meant I have had to rebuild myself. I’m stronger and better than I’ve ever been before, but instead of trying to ‘do it all’ I’ve been gentle with myself. I’ve taken things ‘one at a time’ to avoid getting overwhelmed. Each new thing I pick up needs to be carefully added into my life, instead of me running around, spinning too many ‘plates’ until they all crash and fall because I burn out (basically what happened for me to end up at ‘rock bottom’). Someone very dear to me who has come into my life recently has shown me I can “do more by doing less”, by committing myself more fully to one or two things, instead of spreading myself thin by trying to do it all. They encourage me to listen to my heart and follow my dreams, and I am very grateful to have them in my life.

I was granted a three week extension on my university deadlines, and was able to utilise that to finish my first year. Admittedly, I did not get ‘good’ grades, but I passed and I am working with my tutors to develop a support system and ‘plan of action’ to ensure I can tackle Year 2 without the problems I have faced in Year 1.

I feel that a weight has been lifted now I no longer have to tackle looming assessment deadlines. I have not allowed myself to despair over my somewhat disappointing grades, but instead, I’ve celebrated the relief the year is over and that I have actually passed! I have a beautiful summer stretched ahead of me; I am taking this time to set down the paving stones that will help me better access university when I return in September.

I have also learnt to ‘make time for myself’, so over summer, I will be attempting to practice better self-care habits to avoid future burnouts/breakdowns/bad situations.
I am also currently luxuriating in my free time, spending it with new friends and old. One of my favourite things about currently rebuilding myself is the opportunities it has presented me to begin fostering new friendships, and to spend time with old friends. I haven’t had the time to spend with friends prior to finishing university (expect for those who attend university with me, who I could see during my ‘breaks’ from studying). I feel very lucky now to have the opportunity to see friends over summer, but also very lucky I have friends who have understood that I have needed to ‘disappear’. In the past few weeks, I have been able to see 2 of my best friends who I haven’t seen since January. This has done me a world of good, and I am so so grateful to Euan and Liv for understanding that I quite literally haven’t had the time to see them. I’m so grateful too that they can understand that merely ‘keeping going’ can suck up so much time that trying to ‘make an effort’ is a mammoth task.

I have dragged myself out of hell over the past few months. I have had some horrible things happen to me (which I won’t detail on my blog) but they have shown me my strength, and to have self-respect.  I have learnt to re-prioritise my life, but that doesn’t happen overnight. Slowly, I have been “getting my sh*t together”, and I’m very hopeful about how the future looks.

Recovery is bloody hard, but I’m made of tough stuff.

 

On my way back to the light ❤
-Amari x

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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