Before we get started, I’d just like to point out that everybody’s experience of medication will be different. That being said, this is how citalopram has gone down for me personally.
I’ve been taking citalopram for probably about seven or eight months now. I’ve struggled with anxiety for years, but it has taken until this year to give up my fear of a pill controlling the chemicals in my brain and just accept that I need it. It’s a scary thought, having a tiny white circle messing about with your brain’s chemical balance.
My first month or so on citalopram was bloody hard. I felt as though I had every side effect on the arm-length list that came with the box of pills. I felt sick, tired, lost my appetite, couldn’t sleep, got hot way too easily, was always thirsty, had a constant dry mouth, had no energy whatsoever, suffered with headaches, and my anxiety actually got way worse. Imagine a really severe hangover for six weeks, laced with panic attacks and dread. Yeah, it wasn’t pretty.
After that initial period of horror, things started to get better. I noticed small changes at first, like how going to the supermarket didn’t seem so scary anymore. I know that’s a really basic daily task, but it’s one that I couldn’t really do before. I found myself tackling that giant pile of laundry and cleaning up my room. Then I started to find it easier to be around people for longer amounts of time. Things just started to ease up in general, and my life got easier and easier by the day.
However, that little bubble of joy and happiness didn’t last forever. A couple of months ago, I found myself slipping again. I started getting anxious for no reason at all, broke down in my manager’s office, cried a lot, had more panic attacks, felt like the world was probably falling down around me. Medication was failing me.
Solution? Sadly, more scary medication. Twenty milligrams of citalopram a day.
The side effects were less severe this time around. I had a few hiccups, but they were nothing compared to when I first started off on ten milligrams months earlier. Twenty milligrams came with its own problems though.
I was tired all the time. I mean, I’ve always been a bit sloth-like, but this was ridiculous. I could sleep for an entire day and still be exhausted. Sometimes I had to take a couple of naps a day to keep myself going, depending on how bad I was feeling. On top of that, everything just felt a little bit dulled down around me. Not quite numb, but my emotions were pretty flat. It did mean that I didn’t get that horrible, anxious, tight feeling in my chest, which is always a bonus, but I also felt really disconnected from everything.
I am now back on ten milligrams. Being on twenty was just too much for me. Being on ten again means that I can feel things, connect with people, and I have a lot more energy. Sometimes I get a little anxious, but it’s something that I’ve learned how to control a lot better than before.
Adjusting to medication can be pretty difficult, but for me it’s been worth it. I feel emotionally normal. Putting up with anxiety can be so draining, but citalopram has really helped me to tackle that problem and function like a normal human being. I can give myself a pat on the back every day for getting in the shower, going to the supermarket, tidying my room, bashing out some work, and doing things that are used to be a challenge for me, no matter how small they may be. I can finally be productive and useful, and it feels great.