I Don’t Understand What Is Happening

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I Am A Burrito of Sadness by Jillian Fleck

Hi there. As you may be able to tell from the title, this isn’t going to be a particularly positive post. I’m not usually one for trigger warnings but I completely understand and respect why some people feel they’re important. Therefore if you are someone who might be distressed by talk of suicide or self-harm, I would probably skip this post. But please do come back – here is a website of funny pug pictures to make up for the inconvenience.

Now, my current predicament is that I am unable to place how I feel. I’m sad. I’m low. I feel empty. But I’m numb at the same time. Let it be known that I do not like this feeling. Just a moment ago, as I threw my paintbrush at the wall in frustration, I contemplated the idea of my own death. I closed my eyes and put my forehead to the table, and when I looked up again I found myself searching the room for anything that I could use or that could inflict pain. I know now that doing things like this is part of self-harming, but until recently I never considered myself in that category.

‘Sure, I’m depressed and have suicidal tendencies from time to time, who doesn’t! I mean at least I don’t cut my wrists and all that wild stuff so it’s all fine right?… guys?’

Little did I know that acts such as digging my nails into my skin, or stabbing myself in the thigh with pens (a personal favourite) were all types of self-harm. Funnily enough – well, it wasn’t very amusing at the time – I eventually did end up using cutting as a coping mechanism and it’s something I’m still struggling with now. What changed is I basically think I reached such a low point with myself that suddenly it all made so much sense. I didn’t acknowledge the other acts as self harm but in no uncertain terms I knew that this was. But it didn’t matter anymore, because I needed it. I needed it to cope with all the negative thoughts and emotions I was experiencing.

‘Job interview tomorrow? Well, I know I’ve been thinking about killing myself, but if I do then I’ll miss the interview and everyone will think I’m an inconsiderate bum and my family and friends will hate me. No, I should stay. But instead I’ll do something else to create a new pain and distract myself. Yes, that makes sense. *searches for coat to go and buy bad things from tesco*’

It’s strange and almost humorous typing that out, because like most things in my head it seems like a perfectly logical thought process until I’m forced to look at it more objectively. But I can’t stress how much being in the moment it all makes sense. And when you’re fighting against the urge to take your own life, suddenly a ‘smaller’ act like cutting yourself becomes the coping mechanism you desperately need right now. Nonetheless, part of me wondered if my numb feeling was some sort of side effect of Mirtazapine. After all, while taking Sertraline I was thinking and feeling all sorts of crazy things. So I had a glance over a little leaflet thingy on Mirtazapine given to me by a Psychiatrist. I would like to point out that I strongly suspect this is a biased information sheet because in some parts it almost makes taking antidepressants sound fun. But after further research I doubt this mood has much to do with the medication. Which makes me more sad, because that would have been more straightforward at least.

Therefore in an attempt to keep distracting myself where art has failed, I’m going to look up psychological theories around this and see what I come up with. Be right back – hopefully with more pugs.

Ruth’s Disjointed Alphabet Series: M is for Mirtazapine

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Illustration by Olaf Hajek

Due to a series of unpleasant, negative and fairly painful thoughts that don’t seem to want to leave me alone, I have done what any other normal individual would do who can’t properly concentrate during their attempted watch of 21 Jump Street – I have created a wordpress blog.

I’ve decided to kick things off with the first of what I hope will be an alphabet series centered on mental health matters. Only we’re going to start with M first because leave me alone.

As it stands now it is currently 12.04am and I am sitting in bed waiting for the supposed drowsiness effects of Mirtazapine to kick in. For those who aren’t aware, Mirtazapine is an antidepressant. For those who may not have connected the dots, that means I have depression. A fairly new antidepressant, I thought it might be interesting to compare it to another antidepressant I have experience of: Sertraline. I first took Sertraline during my third year at university, in part due to the added symptom of depersonalisation to my usual depression. Depersonalisation is something I intend to talk about separately in the future – given that we have a considerable history together – but to summarise it is the overwhelming feeling of you and/or the world not being real. Despite being a disturbing experience, it is a fairly common occurrence that can be seen with anything from borderline personality disorder to the use of psychedelic drugs. In my case I tend to experience it during periods of extreme anxiety or depression, and it usually serves as a self-indicator that I’m likely losing my mind and should do something. Therefore given what seems to be the NHS’ eagerness to administer pharmaceutical drugs for any and everything, after speaking with my university GP I was given a choice between Sertraline and another antidepressant, Citalopram. It didn’t occur to me at the time but I probably should have questioned why the medically-trained professional was asking me to randomly pick an antidepressant rather than deciding which was best for me based on, you know, knowledge or something – but I digress. In the end I think I chose Sertraline because I liked the name more; it sounded like it could be an energy drink or something equally exciting. After coughing up my own money for drugs I didn’t particularly want to take in the first place, I began treatment. I had done enough research on antidepressants both personally and as part of my psychology course to know that side effects are quite common. But interestingly enough Mirtazapine and Sertraline seemed to be quite different.

Sertraline vs Mirtazapine: Death Match 

Personally Mirtazapine immediately has the advantage for me, because as someone who has felt body tremors with Sertraline (along with suicidal thoughts, insomnia and nausea)  they are, in no uncertain terms, a can of nope that I refuse to deal with again. Of course everyone is different, and I’m sure Sertraline has been great for at least someone out there. Additionally from what I’ve gathered from various internet forums, the most prevalent negatives cited for Mirtazapine seem to be either the inability to sleep for anything less than 12 hours, or the gaining of 20 stone in a week. I have yet to experience any of this, so I am either fortunate in that respect or someone with mutated genes. Regardless these aren’t things that would bother me too much anyway, especially the weight gain considering I have lost quite a bit in my current crisis.

Therefore as it stands I am quite happy with the bond me and Mirtazapine seem to be building together. However that being said I may just be experiencing some delayed effects. If so I will likely provide an update in a few weeks time to share my new side effect of inverted nipples or something else only I would be unlucky enough to develop.