Health

Let’s talk something unglam – Getting rid of my sleep and anxiety medicine. For good.

Rosie
14th May 2019

Behind the happy, hippie girl that I consider myself to mostly be, I do have something I haven't shared much at all. I, as anyone, have a past. Let me take you around for the backstory first... Promise, I'll try to make a very long story as short as possible.

When I was 16 I had my very first panic attack at boarding school. Time flew, stuff happened and I ended up being diagnosed with panic attack disorder, which later on became a generalised anxiety disorder. I got mental therapy throughout the years, but around 4-5 years ago it got the best of me. My anxiety controlled me, I didn't control my anxiety.
I ended up being almost bedbound by anxiety. I couldn't sleep, but I could also not get out of the bed out of severe fear of... well, everything, almost. Anxiety is a struggle to explain. I still get mental therapy, but it just didn't cut it. After a long period of struggles sleep and complete breakdowns I gave up and gave in, and had my mom drive me to the psycriatric hospital.

An array of leftover Sertralin and Quatipin

They gave me quetipin that night, and an appointment to get a "proper" medication to use. The quatipin was supposed to make me sleep - and it did. This small 25mg pill knocked me out within an hour exactly, and I slept like I was dead for 12 hours. Yet woke up feeling even more tired than when I went to bed - that's just what this medicine does. I took those for a bit to get some sleep, despite not feeling like I got any.

After that I went on to take Sertralin, which needs to build up in the body, where as the quatipin works right away. Slowly I got off the quatipin (and back to 2-4 hours of sleep) and increase the amount of Sertralin. A very common side effect of this medication is weight gain. Why? I don't know exactly. Don't know if it sparks the lust for salt or sugar, slows down the metabolism, but regardless that side-effect hit me. Like. A. Rock.

Within just 6 short months I had gained over 30kg, and went from slim and healthy to overweight. I did not recognize the girl I saw in the mirror, and it crushed me.

Now the medication it self doesn't do it, it only aids it. My diet consisted of mostly pizza and Ben & Jerry's and although that's what I mostly ate as a slim person too, this new medicine and a lack of activity spiruled my weight out of control, leading to an obvious yet to me shocking weight gain. My weight topped at 100kg... After that I went a very long time without weighing myself.

The thing is, I'm quite excellent at keeping my weight, no matter my level of activity and diet. But I have a very hard time losing it.

A picture of me, a size EU40/UK 12 just before getting on Sertralin. At my very lowest point in my life.

I've since weight a maximum of 104kg, being 171cm tall. That sparked my BMI up at a dangerous 35,6 - and causing me to be, not just overweight, but obese.

As I'm writing this my current weight is 88kg, meaning my BMI is now a, still heavily dangerous but abslutely more positive, 30,1. I'm 1kg away from being "only overweight", and I am frilled that I'm this close to my first mini-goal. But I didn't get here within a day.
In fact it took me 3 years of being a 98-100kg, constistently keeping my weight but not losing it, getting off Sertralin (best thing I ever did for my body), getting even more mental help, getting away from what I knew, learning, travelling, working on myself and getting some success in my life.

And that takes us to today. Where I looked through and decluttered my overgrown medication box (pregnancy tests, cough syrups, nasal sprays, etc. And in the bottom, I found these very bad memories in the shape of pills...

I kept them for so long for a reason. Having not touched them, not once, since I quit them several years ago I always kept them in case of what if. But for almost a year I haven't suffered out of hand anxiety. I still get it from time to time, and I probably never will get fully rid of it. But I control my anxiety. My anxiety doesn't control me.
I kept them incase I'd come to a point in my life where I would once again feel so bad that I'd have to take drugs again (this isn't a shameful thing, and please take your medication if needed be! This is purely my bad memories with it). But today was time to let them go.

A happy, healthy, drug-free hippie.
Photo by: John Naldal

I finally threw them out after years. When I did so, it sort of stung my heart and I actually felt anxiety doing so. They had been laying in there as a hidden security, a hidden "what if" for so long, and now, just like that, they were gone. But so is the majority of my anxiety, and all I have left to do know if to keep working on my success, my self-worth and just keep moving forward.