herald

Monday 5 December 2016

'Without these drugs I would end up back in a psychiatric unit'

case study

Fiona Kennedy
Fiona Kennedy

"I have borderline personality disorder and clinical depression, and after a lot of trial and error, have finally found a combination of medication that seems to be working for me - an SSRI antidepressant, and an anti-psychotic/mood stabiliser.

I can't begin to describe how much I fought having to take these drugs, and how long I tried to deny my need for them. For a long time I didn't believe that depression was real (something I frequently told my psychiatrist) and still struggle to accept that borderline is real.

stability

Around February last year I was allowed a trial period off medication, and to say it didn't go well is putting it in the most polite terms possible.

Once I got over the withdrawal (which in itself is quite an experience), my moods began to swing wildly. I could go from top of the world to rage to extreme depression in the space of an hour, multiple times a day. I could barely function at work, and maintaining any kind of stability at home was extremely challenging. After about two months of this, I agreed to try one more combination of drugs. Thankfully this was the one that has worked the best.

While medication has been a crucial part of managing these conditions, it's certainly not the only one. I think that can quite often be the problem when looking at this subject -‑ people can tend to have a very black-and-white view of it. For me, it has taken medication, ongoing therapy and lifestyle changes to try and manage these conditions, and at that, there are still times when it just doesn't work out. It's also so important to remember that there's no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to mental health.

sanity

I would rather I didn't have to take these drugs. I worry that they'll impact on my health long-term, and there are always side effects to contend with, wicked night sweats being just one of many. But the alternative? Without these drugs as part of an ongoing treatment plan, there is no doubt in my mind that I would end up back in the psychiatric unit of UHG. So for the sake of my sanity, and that of my family, I'll keep taking them as long as I'm told to. Night sweats are a small price to pay for being able to live a fully functional life."

Fiona Kennedy is a mother-of-two who writes about her experiences on her blog Sunny Spells and Scattered Showers

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