Continuing the fight…

Firstly, I would like to thank those who have taken the time to write to me on Facebook or via text message to offer their support to me during the past few weeks. Kind words of support or an acknowledgement of your struggle really does help when faced with tough anxiety filled days. A special thanks goes out to the pharmacists who have gotten in touch to offer advice and guidance on the best route forwards with the side effects I’ve been having. Your advice has been taken on board.

The last 3 weeks have been, in no uncertain terms, some of the hardest I have faced in the past 2 years. I believed prior to going off my medication, that they really didn’t have any effect on me from a physical or mental capacity. I was wrong and have no problem with saying that, for now, I need some form of medication to keep me on an even keel. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going mental nor will I in any capacity in the future. But, there still seems to be some stigma attached to anti-depressant/anxiety medication, not least with myself, and I’m taking them! When filling out a medical form for a health care professional, no one would have a problem putting down that they take insulin for diabetes, so why then is there some issue with writing down a tablet that helps with serotonin, the mood raising neurotransmitter that helps to keep your mood regulated? Well, from my personal viewpoint in the past, I was afraid of how I would be perceived by others, telling myself that a rugby player couldn’t be so weak as to have depression or anxiety! (What a load of hogwash that is.) I believe that the perceived societal norms that are currently being broadcast through advertising / TV programmes / movies that we should always be happy have a lot to answer for as well. This places a lot of pressure on the individual to feel a certain way at all times, and whenever there are deviations away from that ‘norm’ this causes suffering in us. Lastly, I think that men in Ireland have a distinct lack of ability to talk about our feelings. I’m not saying that we should continuously walk around telling just about anyone how we are feeling and what it truly going on for us, but when in the company of our close friends and family, why not say I’m feeling a bit low or anxious or annoyed at something. Talking about it is, for definite, the route out of what is bugging us.

Speaking of which, the last 3 weeks of overwhelming anxiety, depressive thinking and general levels of absolute unease in myself will need more work than a little mindfulness in order to get to a point where I will be off medication forever or for however long I can be off them. Feelings of isolation and loneliness returned with a vengeance that I haven’t felt in 2 years, and all of the reasons listed in the previous paragraphs were the things that weighed heavily on my mind during that time. Again, what came to the fore was the importance of talking about how you are to those whom you feel will not judge you and provide a space for you to be however it is that you are at that time. After this period,and after speaking to two pharmacists, a mental health nurse and a few close friends and family (one of who is a counsellor and psychotherapist) I decided to go back on a small amount of medication. At the start I felt like it was a bit of capitulation, but after 3 days of feeling a lot better, I let go of that inaccurate perception. In comparison to what I was on 18 months ago, I am now on 10% of that dose per week. In hindsight, I think my downfall was the manner in which I went from being on a regular night time dose to nothing at all over the space of 3 weeks. Too much too fast was the consensus from what I have read on the internet. I think that in the future I will have a more solid game plan in place than ‘Go off my meds and do more mindfulness’. I think I will have to be going to see someone on a regular basis for talking therapy / counselling / reiki, at least two lots of 30 minutes of mindfulness per day, the support of family members on a daily basis and maybe a few weeks off work to allow myself time to get out in nature and do more things I enjoy. I definitely learned a lot from this experience both positive and negative, and if this helps just one person in their approach to anxiety / depression management, then I think its worth it.


(If anyone wants to chat to me privately about anything that I have written, then please get in contact).

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