7.Off your Med

Someone said something yesterday that has stuck in my head, and I felt it was a good way of explaining mental health medication to people who don’t get it.

When you have a hangover or headache do you take painkillers? …Yes why? Well I also have to take tablets to make my head feel better. They help this thing called a chemical imbalance in my brain.

When you get ill you make a doctors appointment, and you see this doctor who writes you out a prescription for medication to make you better and sometimes you might also get this thing called a sick line to cover you if you need time off work to get better. Well so do I but my illness isn’t always as visible as a broken arm or a chest infection etc.

Mental health is just as important as physical health!

What is a chemical imbalance in the brain? A chemical imbalance in the brain is said to occur when there’s either too much or too little of certain chemicals, called Neurotransmitters, in the brain. Neurotransmitters are natural chemicals that help facilitate communication between your nerve cells. Examples include norepinephrine and serotonin.

Over the years I have tried many different medications, so many I can’t even name them all. I have tried counselling, downloaded apps, tried self help and many other things to alongside medication make me feel better and be in more control. Only recently I have found one that works for me. If you do feel you are on medication and they aren’t working for you speak up and change them. There are so many out there now that there will be ones that work for you. Always remember no two people are the same, so friends and family might suggest ones they have tried and that is great but don’t be angry if it doesn’t work the same for you.

Side Effects Oh how I hate them, however unfortunately this happens with nearly all of them. Just roll with it. Educate yourself on what you are taking. These silly leaflets you get with the packaging are side effects from say 1 out of 1000 people who tried them.

For the first 2- 4 weeks side effects will be in full swing. The ones that always got me was change in eating habits ( normally less ) and insomnia that little bugger. These side effects will die down once the medication starts to work in your system. If however after 4 weeks you notice you are still suffering side effects then it is worth a trip back to the GP.

Little tip keep note daily of how you are feeling. There are so many apps you can download onto your phone now to track how you feel daily. This will help you to reflect back and see if you can pinpoint any triggers. It can be changes in day to day life or even behaviour changes. It is also good to track the days you feel good and what you do on those days. This can help you write a little list of the things you know makes you happy. I found doing this enabled me to have an A4 sheet of paper of all the things that make me feel calmer or happy, and this is on my kitchen wall as a little reminder if I am feeling down I go to it and pick out something simple to do that will lift my mood and make me feel happy. It can be as simple as running a nice bath or reading a book. ( both my favs)

Changing Medication is never an easy process however it is also essential sometimes if you feel what you are on isn’t working for you. You will know your own body so listen to what it is telling you. Unfortunately changing medication isn’t as easy as going to the doctor and saying okay this doesn’t work what is next. I know this as I learnt it the hard way. What the doctor will do however is have a chat with you and see what has been happening that is not working for you. If a medication change is then agreed you will be weaned you down over a course of a week or sometimes more, again this is dependent on what you take and how long you have been on it.

You will start to feel withdrawals with some medication changes and this is normal. Look after yourself during this time and always remember to keep eating as normal. This in itself can be very difficult and may be a good time to let a loved one know what is going on to remind you to eat or do a meal prep ahead of the week. I remember I had to change medication and I was at work my hands starting going numb and my head felt like it would roll off my shoulders I suddenly didn’t have the energy to keep my head up. I was sick and shaky and although it didn’t feel normal to me I was always reassured this is what can happen during a medication change. It is also VERY IMPORTANT to never ever try this process without the help of a professional take it from me I was ill for weeks. You cannot stop taking medication like this suddenly so please let the professionals help and be patient.

Tips Always remain consistent with meals. Skipping meals can make you think differently as the body isn’t getting what it needs to function properly. Try meal prepping a few days in advance to save cooking when you are feeling low so you still stay on top of meals. Without eating properly you will notice a change in the way you sleep. This is because you WON’T sleep without the body getting what it needs.

Apps to download  

  • Daylio this will help you quickly track everyday how you feel. I do this every night before bed it takes minutes. It will update you with a report from the overall month from what you have tracked . I find it helpful to look back and see triggers or changes and even see my good days. This app is FREE
  • Moodspace Write three good things that happen to you every single day. Identify and challenge your thoughts. Calm your mind with a simple meditation exercise. This app is FREE
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