The very first time I went to a shrink, he prescribed a generic form of Zoloft; Sertraline to be exact. The Sertraline worked very well for a long time. It stopped my crying jags and kept my emotions on an even keel. It allowed me to hold down a job and live in the same house with a husband. It also completely killed my libido and made me a bit of a zombie. I skipped almost 20 years of my life. I worked when I had to, but did little else. I lived twenty stagnant years on Sertraline. What should have been my most productive years passed by with little input from me, and I’ll never get those years back.
I could have lived the rest of my life like that and never missed a thing. Unfortunately, or fortunately, according to how my story ends, a little known problem developed with the Sertraline. I never knew it could happen. Neither did my doctors. The Sertraline developed a taste for my blood platelets. Our body requires blood platelets for blood to clot and wounds to heal. After 20 years on Sertraline, I started feeling weak and tired. I developed reddish, purple splotches on my skin when I bumped into something. Soon the big red splotches oozed blood. I went to my family physician and he uttered the word “leukemia.” That word terrified me. My favorite uncle had recently developed leukemia and died soon after the diagnosis.
Fortunately, I had a new psychiatrist. She was diligent and concerned. She took the time to do a little research. She discovered that Sertraline had a little known side effect. It could cause blood platelet loss in older people who took it for a long time. It could also cause blood platelet loss in younger people who took it for a short period of time. In other words, the stuff was going to get me sooner or later. Who knew? Certainly not me. The doctor’s immediately changed my prescription.
Ironically, when I first starting taking antidepressants I had never been suicidal. I was blue a lot, but I was young. I had a young daughter. I had much left to live for. Depressed, yes. Suicidal no. I guess you could say I failed to thrive. In hindsight the antidepressants were a huge mistake for me. My theory is that I should have exercised more. I should have spent more time in the sun, and I should have worked toward learning better coping skills. This is why I’m here. Mental health is not an exact science. What helps one could destroy another. My goal is to share my experience so that others may benefit. We are all responsible for ourselves. Doctors are not mini Gods. Drugs are not always miracles.
The worst is yet to come. Don’t stop here. Read on…