Yes, I am on Zoloft. (Sertraline in its generic form.) I have been for almost 20 years. In conjunction with years of cognitive behavioral mental health therapy, this antidepressant has kept me sane. I’ve gone off it on my own several times, thinking I feel better and I don’t need to be on an anti-depressant! I always end up back at my doctor’s office in an anxiety ridden state, crying and feeling like I don’t belong on this earth! I am promptly put back on Zoloft.
I ran out on Friday. (I always use one of those pill holders but I had been lazy and hadn’t filled it last week as I should have.) Friday is a bad time to run out of a medication, especially when I know my doctor works Monday thru Thursday. I did a Hail Mary and called her office to request a refill, but we all know there was no chance… what could three days off my Zoloft really do to me? Would it really affect me? I wasn’t very worried. I knew I’d miss my morning doses Saturday, Sunday, and Monday.
What is Zoloft? Zoloft is a SSRI, a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor. This means it increases the amount of serotonin in my brain. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter important in maintaining a feeling of well-being. So think of a serotonin as a baseball, the pitcher throws the ball (serotonin) and the catcher (Zoloft) catches the ball… Now take the catcher who is Zoloft out of the game. The serotonin is thrown but never caught. The game can’t be played unless the ball is caught. Zoloft is my catcher. This is what allows my brain to play the game. The game is, of course, a life with a feeling of overall well-being.
Saturday, the first day without Zoloft, the day went fine, by 5 o’clock I felt like I was getting a sinus infection and I was very nauseous. Sleep was difficult. Sunday I woke up agitated, I was extremely tired and felt like I had just gotten off a carnival ride that went very wrong. I was so dizzy and nauseous. I took some Dramamine and Tylenol PM praying for sleep to just return. The day was lost, I was achy, agitated, sad, and sleeping on and off… Monday! I had made it to Monday, I called the pharmacy, no the refill was called in, what? I’d never make it another day (…add capitalization and drama here…) I finally asked the pharmacist if I could have an emergency refill as I was completely out. I could, but I would have to show up in person, not my husband, and sign for this. This seemed like an unreasonable request (which it really was not) and I cried for an hour before I got myself together enough to go and get my Zoloft.
At 4 pm on Monday, I took my regular dose of Zoloft. By 8 pm life was as it should be, I did some dishes and cooked a late dinner … now it took only four hours for my Zoloft to work again, but when you start a new antidepressant it can take up to two weeks to fully reach its beneficial properties. My body was used to having the benefits of Zoloft and it was welcomed back quickly.
I want to end with reminding you, as well as myself, once you find what medications work for you, it is your responsibility to take it as directed and on time. The repercussions of not doing what you are supposed to only prolongs the battles we fight for a normal as possible life we live. It was my fault I ran out. There is a reason I started using pill organizers and it was for that very reason so I wouldn’t run out! But I got lazy, I didn’t follow my own rules for wellness, and I paid a high emotional price for three lousy days. It happens. It is over. But I am going to once again be diligent with my medication responsibilities!