What a year it has been. I have gone full circle. At the beginning of this year I deleted all my blog posts on here and decided to start fresh. I felt I had perhaps over shared on my life and my struggles with mental health. However tonight I was reminded that actually me speaking, well openly and honestly about how I struggled and how I deal with things sometimes actually helps others and I often get reminded of this from people coming to me to say how I have helped them. Which is quiet nice given where I was mentally a few years ago I never for one second thought I would find myself blogging about my mental health journey and speaking so openly about it, as all I felt at the time was shame.
This post I’m going to write about the side effects of a medication given to me last year when I felt I had exhausted every avenue of help I was given. I tried the apps, the therapy, the meds and more meds and no meds were working anymore. I was seeing my nurse weekly and it was decided I was going to try Quetiapine for those who want to know what kind of drug this is I have attached a link below.
Below is a before to the left and during to the right on Quetiapine.
To be prescribed these I had to be seen by a psychiatrist first, as I had tried every other antidepressant I was willing to do this if it made me feel better. I was soon prescribed this Quetiapine medication along side my normal antidepressants. I wasn’t told of any side effects just that I could get insomnia for the first few weeks and given that with any anti depressant that is the main side effect I knew this could be one.
Within weeks my body gained rapid weight. My body ballooned in size. I went from my normal size 10 waist to a size 16, which is 3 dress sizes for a woman! I gained so much weight within 3 weeks none of my clothes fit me. I couldn’t believe what was happening to my body. It was making me worst not better. This wasn’t meant to happen. Everyone around me was noticing. I went into my normal shop to top my electric card up and the man behind the counter told me I had got chubby. I turned around and walked out crying. For weeks I couldn’t look myself in the mirror. When I say none of my clothes fit me anymore that was no lie. I began to sell all my clothes thinking this is it for me I am never going to fit back into them again. I may as well buy bigger ones to fit into. I started buying baggy tops. I wore hoodies. I lived in leggings. I avoided any kind of social activities and cancelled any that meant meeting up with friends. I couldn’t bare for anyone to look at me when I couldn’t even look at myself.
At this time I had just gotten into a relationship, and spent a lot of time around his family. I kept thinking what are they all thinking of me. I kept myself as covered up as possible. It was the height of summer and we were all meant to go swimming when all I wanted to do was lay in bed or jump on the first fucking train home! I decided to sit at the side and watch instead of taking part. Where normally I would of loved nothing more than to be taking part.
This was tearing me apart and it wasn’t the girl I knew I was. I felt mental health was really starting to change me as a person and I was actually letting it than fighting it. I was believing that medication was meant to help me. So I went back to my nurse ( several times ) and asked to be taken off this Quetiapine because I felt it wasn’t working. In fact it had the opposite affect and was making me fucking fat! Something had to give. The nurse suggested I gave it some more time to settle and work, but I didn’t have time my appearance was changing and body was changing before my eyes, my moods weren’t improving and I felt my mindset needed to change so there was only one thing for it.
Cold turkey. Now I wouldn’t advise this at home so please if you are reading this and want to come off any medication ALWAYS follow doctors advise. I felt I just had enough I had spent years and years on medications for mental health. I had therapy I tried all the apps but it was time for a real big shake up. Was I ready for it? Probably not. Was it the best thing I ever done? Absolutely.
Last summer 2019 I decided to flush all my medication down the toilet. Quetiapine, and all my antidepressants. I also decided to come off the depo injection ( no other reason than hormones can be linked to depression and I wanted to test to see if this was correct ) I will write another post about birth control. What shocked me more is days later the Quetiapine was still not dissolved down the toilet bowl. So if this was down the toilet after bleach and everything what was my insides like?
For weeks I was sick as a dog. Every single day. I was sweating, headaches. I couldn’t travel at all. Whenever I was in the car I had to have a bin with bin liners. Most journeys were very short lived including meals. At first I didn’t want to explain to people what was going on. I just let them make there own assumptions. Some thought I might be pregnant as I was sick that much. I had to cancel plans all the time and last minute because I couldn’t travel at all at one point. So yeah cold turkey really is bad. Your insides hurt. Once I got over this stage it was time to change my mindset and focus. The gym became my new drug. My focus was to get back to my weight I was before the Quetiapine. That is it.
For me the gym has been a battle for years. Like others it is the anxiety of not knowing what machine does what. It is the fear of people staring at you. The fear of using the machines the wrong way. Be seen without make up (as much as that sounds shallow it WAS an actual thing for me). If the gym was too busy. So many factors caused me to not go to a gym. I would join and pay memberships and not go. Last year I joined pure gym. Built up the courage to go walked down typed my pin in and froze at the door when I seen how busy it was. I felt people staring at me, I turned on my feet and walked straight home and cancelled my membership. I needed to stay within my comfort zone so my nurse put me on a health active mind plan which is accessible to anyone who has ill mental health and is available on the NHS. This is through Edinburgh leisure and I started to attend this with one of there trainers who worked out a plan for me to work on. The gym was small and friendly. It wasn’t too overwhelming. It was something I could work on. Daily I chipped away at the anxieties and even if I got to the gym for 20 mins and sat on the exercise bike it was 20 mins out the flat. The next day I would try do 30 mins, and each time I went I would build that confidence up a little more. My face became a regular so people began to say hello. This gave me a little more confidence too. I downloaded apps that helped me navigate the machines.
What I realised was I was pushing myself to do things I thought would help me when in fact they would make me worse. When my healthy active minds plan came to an end instead of coming away from something that has helped me find confidence and will continue to help me grow I joined as a member. It would be pointless to take 10 steps backwards for me by joining a massive gym and knowing the anxieties I have. Unfortunately I just can’t use any other gym apart from the one I use and I am fine with that because from the progress I have made I know I wouldn’t of made that in any other gym.
I have been medication free since last summer and it was for me the best decision I made. To me the drugs didn’t work. They suppress how you feel for a short while, but in turn comes a lot of side effects. I always remember at the start of seeing my mental health nurse she kept pushing the gym and being active on me and at that point I kept thinking you try being active when you feel how I do. Looking back I wish I listened and put more effort in because exercise was the only drug I needed. Now I am not saying I might not ever need to be medicated again I might and I won’t turn my back on the help however I also know when an episode is coming on because of the work I put in daily so I can reach out to those support networks I have in place and I can take a time out to connect with my nurse if needed. There is absolutely no shame in needing help. There is no shame in needing medication. What works for me is different for others. Where I am in my life took me years and years to get to the point of where I am not to be able to come off medication. I was strong enough to also come off them because I have the strong support network in place should I have an episode that does come on and I do need that extra help. It is super important that the people you are surrounding yourself with are supporting you. If the people you have around you are negative, bringing you down, are not there for you. Then let them go don’t chase them because it is these people who can be detrimental to your mental health and you matter more. This is basic self care! Don’t be afraid to reach out for help. Again what works for one might not for another. So be mindful. Everyone goes at there own pace in life so if you feel yourself comparing to others stop, pause and breathe. Count to 10 and unfollow the persons social media page your on. Or look closer to the photo your looking at comparing yourself too. No one shows everything online. Life isn’t a race. Go easy on yourself.
A year ago I wouldn’t of thought I would be in this mind frame of where I am now. I have lost all the weight I have gained and more. I am down to 11 stone! Happy dance to myself. I have challenged myself and signed up to do the tough mudder this year. I am mindful of what I eat and put into my body in general health wise and chemicals. I a the happiest I have ever been. If I can get through this last however many years but more importantly this last half a year unmedicated and bossing life without meds then trust me anything is possible.