A shit two days, and your experiences with citalopram

The past two days have been shit. No poetics, they’ve just been very emotionally draining and I need to get into some sort of sleeping routine.

Today I’ve done almost nothing but sleep and cry (and ate a piece of cake in a cafe Robert took me to, but I was crying while I ate it, so it was 60% sobbing, 40% tiramisu. All my cigarettes have been 90% tobacco, 10% tears). I’m writing this largely to distract myself from crying, as within the gaps of doing nothing, I start to cry again. Which is why, “Come Dine With Me” is minimised in the background, ready to go. It’s necessary crying, it will pass.

Yesterday was an absolute mess that serves me remind me what a joke I am as a human being. I had wanted to be at my shiniest and most damnably charismatic at my Birkbeck evening. Instead, I was forty minutes late, I noticeably smelled and I spelled my own name wrong three times. In the end, I choose the natural course for me: access to nursing and health.

I had had eight hours sleep in the past three days, which, after some weeks of sleeping too much, was supposed to lift my mood. It did, at first, but yesterday I was chaotic and utterly confused, as well as rampantly irritable from sheer tiredness. My speech kept getting messed up and I locked myself out of my bank account online because I couldn’t remember my address. I was near-immobile but also agitated, which is not fun. The crisis team showed up at 4.40pm, when they were supposed to come at three. I know that they have other jobs, but I wish someone had let me know so I could have had a bath. I rang at 4.10pm to ask, and, when the nurse who visited me left, he rang me, saying they were on their way to my house, not realising, for a good few minutes, that he had just been with me and it was me he was speaking to. I wonder whose house they were going to? My behaviour when the man were there has probably cemented my borderline diagnosis. I was belligerent and extremely ranty, but it was down to stress, at needing to leave the house and total exhaustion. He was nice, but I didn’t feel like talking because I needed to get going, or at least get properly dressed or washed. I didn’t have time in the end so went looking like a tramp.

On my way to Birkbeck, I got completely lost. I just couldn’t understand the map when I looked at it. I finally got to it and stank. I sat down next to someone, and a look of distaste passed their eyes, before they edged away from me. I shrank with shame and then briefly considered wiping my armpit with my hand then rubbing on their face for a laugh. I hadn’t washed since last week, and that was only because I threw up on myself. A very jovial and kind-faced woman was giving a presentation about how great it is to study. Then we had to fill in forms and look at the timetable. It’s a one year course that would only put me out one evening a week and the occasional Saturday, but there is a lot of study and work at home. Then we had to write a personal statement explaining why we wanted to do the course and how we’d fit it into our life. I wavered over writing, “I don’t have a life so I could easily fit this course in to my packed schedule of fuck-all” but instead wrote I have no idea, because my brain was jumbled up. Something in spidery scrawl anyway. I had already written a far more articulate statement on my enrolment form a few weeks ago, so I hope they read that, too, and decide I am capable. I can’t keep bitching about my shit life and not do something about it. As much as I want to sleep for ten years and flip the world the bird, it’s not worth it. I’ll find out in a few days.

I had been fairly keen to meet someone afterwards, just to deflate and chat, but both people I asked were busy, so I was very happy to get a text from my friend Simon saying they had half an hour in a pub on my road before they went to a gig. I dashed there, received three giant hugs and had a pint. I didn’t want to go home yet, so I asked one of them, the one I know least, if she’d like to hang around after Simon and Jenna went to the gig. So we had another nice pint and some pizza. It was good to sit and chat to her, and get to know her a bit better. And by that time, I had been awake for 26 hours and had gotten my second wind (I had slept the day before after 40 more hours awake). It was very nice to see all three of them. I was told I looked really well, which means the smelly, skanked-out, badly dressed, fat look works for me. That is a bonus.

I got home, desperate to wash, and found that my cats had decided to poo over the last clean towel in the bathroom. Right room, wrong species. I found an unclean towel and finally cleaned then took Seroquel (by that point being too buzzy to sleep naturally) and went to sleep, sleeping all the way through my alarm and my appointment with the crisis team in Highgate, which will no doubt be marked down as non-compliance.

I have an appointment tomorrow with them and my social worker to be discharged, I hope. I really do feel like a tit being an unemployed 25 year old under the care of the crisis team. It didn’t seem so bad when I was 21, but now, I just want to not be in services anymore. It’s been too long. I know I’m being prescribed Citalopram- no mood stabiliser, by the way- by the psychiatrist. So, your experiences would be helpful, please.

38 Responses

  1. i hope the birkbeck evening has a good outcome 🙂 it is bloody easy to get lost around there especially since they remodelled the building – the entrance used to be in malet st, but now it’s kinda tucked into a square that isn’t even on the map! (i’m assuming you were at the main building).

    as for citalopram, all i’ll say is it was responsible for me getting section 3….

    • Did it make you manic? Effexor fucked me up and Paxil gave me utter rage so I’m worried. I’m not surprised, though. I don’t know how they got from inpatient Bipolar I to BPD. They keep saying, “So you’ve never been in hospital…”

      • yeah it did – the first 5mg did naff all, ditto 10mg so they put it up to 20mg and that was that, i was sectioned within a few weeks. and it didn’t get rid of the depression, it was a proper mixed ep. hurrah!

        have they not read your notes? i hate it when they’re like that, it’s so frustrating! don’t they realise that that’s what the notes are for, so we don’t have to repeat every tiny detail over and over? it’s fair enough to repeat some stuff but they should know the technical stuff.

  2. It sounds like you have had a hideous few days, I am really sorry you have been struggling so much. I don’t have anything helpful to say I’m afraid – I wish I did, but I just don’t.

    I have been on Citalopram twice – it was the first anti depressant I was ever prescribed, at 17, and it was also the one I was most recently prescribed, although have since stopped it – the first time was 40mg and the second was 60mg. It didn’t seem to help me much, which is why I have stopped it, but neither did I get much in the way of side effects – I seem to recall some odd dreams, but that was about it I think. Obviously I am no Doctor, but is it a good idea them prescribing you an SSRI without a mood stabiliser? I would have thought that would just make you manic?


  3. I’ve found citalopram brilliant, with few side-effects, but I’m on it for anxiety and depression. It makes me feel quite high and I’ve started to be super-productive, but as I’ve never been manic it’s just a nice lift without any negatives. I’m a bit concerned that you have been prescribed it to be honest, but who knows? Maybe it’s THE drug you’ve been looking for.

  4. I know you probably don’t think so, but I think you’re so brave for going to the Birkbeck thing after all what happened.

    I hope the Citalopram helps. Take care. x

  5. I have tried Citalopram. Worked brilliant really (I am now on Escitalopram, which is kinda a Citalopram reformulation of sorts). It has made me less impulsive, productive and holy shit. HAPPY! I say give it a try. Taking it has really reduced my depression and elevated my mood… And I am no longer irritable and on edge. It has given me some wicked trippy dreams though.

  6. Am sure your Birkbeck experience was not
    the worst those tutors have seen hun,
    the normal standard for teenage boys is stereotypically
    Citalopram didn’t work for me, please be careful,
    I had a ‘mixed episode’ on it. Was terrifying.
    Loved the energy it gave me, not the mood swings
    Racing thoughts, anxiety, paranioa and inability to
    eat and suicidal. Hope it works for you.
    H x

  7. PS Just re-read that comment, I def don’t mean I hope it does to you what it did for me….

  8. Don’t feel bad about being with the crisis team at 25. I’m with them at 38! Depression knows no age boundaries. I’ve been on citalopram for 3 years and there have been times when I’ve thought it was either making no difference at all or making me worse – but then I’ve realized, after stopping taking it, that in fact that was definitely not the case, and that I’m better off sticking with it. Big hugs to you, and I hope you feel more like yourself soon. 🙂 x

  9. You are a fantastic creative writer and probably too clever to be a nurse. Christ, you are never going to be a nurse. You have to think of something real to do that is also realistic. Stick to your writing. Contact the newspapers. Look into researching for mental health charities. Do what you’re good at. And yes, you’re exceptional at what you do.

  10. I do not take citalopram … i take a concoction of lithium risperdal and edronax… i was diagnosed bipolar 2 and borderline and major depression… my mental health nurse says i am no bipolar that i am borderline… i say that because your description of your sleep patterns and fluctuating cycles mimics mine and so am i bipolar … pdoc says yes.. mhn says no… i also think that i have a cycle and it does not matter what meds i am taking i will follow the rhythm of that cycle… so maybe you need to be mindful of your own rhythms of mood… the meds might affect you or it might not matter what meds you take you will cycle …
    i hope you do not listen to Charlotte… i hope you do what you want to do… and sleep is an imperative… cake is too of course… love tiramisu… take care… read some of your diaries for more insight into the past … on meds and off meds… bipolar and/or borderline…

  11. I’ve been taking citalopram for the past 3 and a half years at 40mg per day. It was up at 60 for a while but my psychiatrist started becoming concerned because it has been known to induce mania, so it got dropped back to 40. Currently he wants me to come off of it and try something away from the SSRI’s for the depressive episodes – something like Mirtazipine – but I refuse to come off of Citalopram. It’s a strange one because I don’t feel as though it does anything to help me, I still have awful prolonged periods of depression, but I do find it helps take the edge of the anxiety side of things; and so, when I try to withdraw from it so that I could try another anti-depressant, the anxiety comes back with a vengeance so I refuse to lower the dose and go back to 40mg. But that’s just my experience! As for side effects it made me a bit hypomanic for about the first week and then it went away and I haven’t noticed any other side effects at all. I still say the best thing in my medication cocktail is Lamotrigine, both for helping depressive and hypo/manic episodes and for very little side effects.

  12. I know I only have a mild mood disorder, but Citalopram was the first drug to land me in a psychiatrist’s office. It made me slam into ultra-rapid cycling, as do all SSRIs for me. However, looking back I think it was the least fucked-up of all the SSRIs so… er… woo?

    • This is exactly what happened to me; as someone with bipolar disorder, taking citalopram without a mood stabiliser caused ultridian cycling, resulting in me self-harming because I was so desperate to feel in control of *anything*. That was the only time I’ve ever felt the need for an emergency session with a psychatrist.

      Having said that, who knows it may work brilliantly for you! Remember that we all react differently to meds, and be aware of self-fulfilling prophecy caused by a negative expectation placebo effect. I’d suggest the best approach is to keep an open mind but know what the risks are 🙂

      And about your story about Birbeck; you had a horrible time that day but you’re missing one thing: you did it! I’ve just returned to education myself so I know what a massive step it is, to throw yourself in there and dedicate that time and energy to doing something like this. Give yourself a little credit hun, despite how you felt you actually achieved something pretty darn impressive! 🙂

  13. I was down as ‘mild depression’ before taking citalopram . . . wasn’t so good for me – the end result was getting a bipolar II diagnosis which, a few years later, seems to have stuck. In that sense it was a bit of a (good) turning point – but the taking it itself wasn’t fun.

  14. Citalopram – didn’t do shit.
    Escitalopram (which I think was just a cheap ploy on the part of the drug company to extend their patent after it ran out on citalopram) – I thought it was helping until I stopped taking it and realised that it wasn’t. The two and a half years I was on it is a hazy period in my life when I wasn’t really myself and it wasn’t great for my creativity. At the outset however it gave me my first six month stint of being well in four years. Swings and roundabouts.

  15. Citalopram came to an end for me after I wound up spending a weekend in the hospital. I’m afraid I don’t really have anything good to say about it, except that the tablets were small and easy to swallow, and it didn’t send me quite as obviously bonkers as Prozac did (which is… somewhat of a mixed compliment)

  16. Oh yes, if you want more info on our experiences with “Tally”, quite a few of us have blogged about it.

  17. I’ve been on it for a year and a half, minimal side effects I think, I think it works, if not then I’ve been wasting my money! (It’s hard to judge, I think, I’m always wondering whether things happen naturally or not…)

  18. Citalopram made me manic then mixed up then psychotic. After 5 days of such, I was dealt an emergency prescription for Olanzipine to bring me down.
    My advice would be to be very very wary and have some downers at the ready just in case.

  19. Sorry about your night. I’m sure it went better than you thought.
    I took Citalopram for about three months over the summer. I didn’t notice much of anything while on it, but I was on an extremely low dose. 5 mg. I’m highly, highly sensitive to medication so I definitely couldn’t take the normal therapeutic dose. My psychiatrist wanted me to get up to 20 mg, but when I upped my dose to 7.5mg, I had a lot of unwanted side effects (zombie-like effects like what Zoloft gave me) and I eventually spiraled out of control into a deep depression. I had to get off of it. I can’t totally blame the drug, though. I’ve been diagnosed with Social Anxiety Disorder and Cyclothymia, and I’m going to start taking Lamotrigine. I may get back on the Citalopram after the Lamotrigine takes effect.
    Good luck!

  20. P.S – I take Lamotrigine now, have done for almost a year. It’s a very effective mood stabiliser, particularly for bipolar depression. On the plus side it has very few side effects and is weight-neutral (I actually lost weight initially). On the down side it takes a couple of months to titrate. Good luck, whatever you decide.

  21. One note, you probably know it but just be careful about other people’s experiences with Citalopram, because what happened to them is not necesarily going to happen to you, and if this medication has any chance of being beneficial, it wouldn’t be good if you were excesively scared because of the experiences other people had.

    The funny thing about psychiatric medication is that it acts so differently on every patient…

  22. I was on citalopram 20mg for a while, and seemed ok for a few months; hit a rough low patch and it was put up to 40mg to see if that would help, but instead I ended up feeling worse. It’s impossible to know if the citalopram was just not working for me and I would have felt worse anyway as the depression worsened or if the citalopram somehow made me feel worse. I did feel more energetic on the higher dose, which unfortunately resulted in self harm – before I’d just felt like shit and had no energy to do anything, but then I felt both awful and able to run around being a twat at the same time.

    It did absolutely nothing for my insomnia/sleep problems, either.

    I’m on mirtazipine now, but it’s only been two weeks so I’m reserving judgement; I still feel exactly the same as when I started it, except with some side effects thown in as well. I hope you have better luck with the citalopram than I did.

  23. Oh and one more thing, and you may already know this, but with SSRIs they generally give you energy before the anti-depressant actually kicks in. Having energy but feeling depressed can be a dangerous combination and can drive some people to carry out suicidal fantasies. I’m sure your doc will explain this to you if he or she hasn’t already.

  24. Had escitalopram and it didn’t do much – very minimal side effects but not much of an anti-depressant effect either. I have bipolar disorder and anti-depressants usually make me very edgy and unpleasant so I was surprised by how little of an effect it had on me. A friend who is also bipolar had citalopram and loved it – apparently it really worked for her anxiety. Another person I know who has PTSD and regular depression liked it, was on it for years and found that it helped (again mostly for anxiety) but gave it up after taking five years or so. Hope that helps.

    Birkbeck has a very confusing campus. I think it’s great that you’re starting a course. Good luck!

  25. I just wanted to say that I know exactly what it feels like to cry into your tiramisu.

    • I’m jealous of all these people crying into their tiramisu – I don’t think I’ve ever cried into anything half as classy more, like crying into my spag bol or beans on toast.

  26. My mum says that citalopram is a good leveller-outer. She used to be on it.

  27. Things cant be that bad that you are actually reading your own blog. If I was a public school educated Cambridge graduate that would be funny and so would that.

    I was looking through my old certificates the other day, the certificates that got me a career and allowed me to further that career. They are now essentially worthless and if it wasnt for all the hard work they represent I would chuck them all away. In time someone will look through them and toss them to the bin pile. Perhaps the only ones of value relate to catering that I did at college and I know that if push came to shove I wouldnt starve – possibly.
    You are clearly capable of passing this course but if you did do you think that you would be able to secure a job ahead of the 50 other aplicants. Its dog eat dog now and I dont think anyone will risk their neck when there are plenty alternatives.
    When I held a full time job most of the time I was fine but then there were days I wasnt up to it I turned up of course but the work piled up creating more pressure and mistakes it was a downward spiral.There isnt much sympathy in this type of environment.
    My advice would be find something that interest you that will provide an income by working for yourself and do that course, if that excludes writing so be it.If you work for yourself it allows you to take time out you may not need it but it reduces the stress.
    At 25 you still have plenty on time to make these decisions.
    You should respond to my E mails my therapist (stalking) believes that I now only pose a threat to 1% of the population.

  28. Sorry I’m late to the party on this. Took Citalopram at 40mg between January and June 2009 (when it was decreased for a month to see if I noticed a difference). I found it useless; I was as depressed and low and lethargic and unmotivated and as anxious as ever. However, I know a couple of people personally – and about five or six others on Twitter alone – that claim to owe their very lives to it. Usual bollocks with psychiatric medicine…different horses and all that jazz.

    Good luck with it hun. xxx

  29. I was started on 20mg citalopram back in april and it made me agitated, sleepless and nauseas for about a week. Then it totally levelled me out and I felt fabulous. I had a few issues with weight gain but apart from that, its been great for me.


  30. I was diagnosed with depression, high anxiety, OCD and mood lability and initially prescribed 10mg of Citalopram, put in control by my parents after my suicidal and self-destructive behaviour for more than a year prior to prescription. I had been addicted to legal opiods for a year. I am an obsessive and self-destructive creature and I crave this.

    I was told I was to take 20mg instead because I have been obsessed with losing weight and becoming boney.

    I am a musician/poet and I cannot write a thing. On anti-depressants, I feel rather numb to emotion. Everything just exists but without it’s beauty or ugliness.

    I miss being myself so I can’t wait to come off the medication at the end of the month. I feel as if I’m wasting time right now.

  31. wow a’ couple of people wrote some thoughtless comments in this post!

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