I’ve been trying to write this blog post for a while, and a mixture of fear and inability to convey what I wanted has been holding me back. However, I weekly receive requests from people wanting me to further explain my Chemical series, so I figure the interest is there, and I have made no secret of the fact that I have depression, so I guess fear should no longer be an aspect.
So here goes. *takes a deep breath and a long drag of a cigarette*
This was a very personal series for me, and sharing it with you in such depth feels akin to giving part of myself away. It needs to be said, that whilst one chemical may react well with someone’s system, and may be beneficial for their depression, it may not be for someone else. And vice versa. This is by no means a post saying which drugs work/don’t work, it’s purely my own personal experiences of them.
This is a series I’ve simply called ‘Chemical’ and it’s a narrative about my journey through medicating depression, and the side effects that the different chemicals in anti depressants gave me. Finding the right chemicals to treat depression is very hit and miss, sometimes you find the right one straight away, and sometimes, like me, it can be 8 different kinds down the line and you still haven’t found the right one. One day I was sat thinking about all the chemicals that have been given to me by the health system and I thought, “Hey, why not make a photo series out of it” so here are the results, illustrated through makeup and photography.
Sertraline’s brand name is Lustral, and it was the very first chemical to be put to trial in my system. The mixture of chemicals was a complete and total shock to my system, as although I’d been told side effects would happen, I wasn’t expecting them to be so intense. I’ve since come to expect nothing less. Because the side effects took me by surprise, they felt amplified. This brand made my already very pale skin, practically pure white. It also gave me an incredible insomnia that would leave me awake for days at a time, which left me in a state of constant exhaustion. The last of the side effects reflected in this image is an insatiable thirst; no matter how much water I drank, it just wouldn’t go away.
Paroxetine, or Seroxat, is a chemical I found particularly hellish. It has been featured on many news programmes, such as Panorama, due to it’s life sucking, zombie inducing side effects and high suicide count. I found it erased who I was, I became a completely different person, and I have little to no memory of my time on it, except blackness and living in a constant nightmare. The people who knew me at the time do not like to discuss it, as it was so painful for them to watch.
Fluoxetine is commonly known as Prozac. This particular brand was very effective, and calmed my depression down a great deal. But it also reduced every other emotion too. I felt like I was numb, just a walking nothingness, looking through a window.
Amitriptyline is also known as Elavil. This brand made me put on a lot of weight in a very short amount of time. It’s also commonly prescribed as a painkiller, so it left me rather spaced out almost 24/7.
Venlafaxine, or Effaxor, didn’t affect my personality at all, it merely gave me the most mind screaming, brain splitting migraines which would leave me curled in a ball in the dark, vomiting from the sheer amount of pain.
Escitalopram, or Cipralex, was described to me as ‘the stronger sibling of Citalopram’ and was a very simple brand. Pretty much the only side effect it gave me was an incredible exhaustion. I could sleep for 18 hours at a time and still not feel rested. Even when I was awake I was fighting to keep my eyes open.
Duloxetine is also known as Cymbalta. The side effects of this brand are almost entirely physical. They made me feel very pale and washed out, but also gave me an incredible nausea that I’ve never experienced before, as well as near constant hot and cold sweats.
And I’m very grateful to Vicki Blatchley, who volunteered to model for me, and let me attack her face with makeup over and over again, that girl is such a trooper!