To Get To The Other Side

It’s been a long time since I last posted. I intend to fix this. But first I need to get some stuff off my chest.

I wrote at the start of the pandemic about how things had gotten very hard over the first lockdown, and frankly things didn’t let up. I ended that post with “it’s been (and continues to be) an extraordinarily difficult and dark time”.

I don’t like being right, it’s been a difficult and dark two years.

The job I had at the start of the pandemic went to shit and I had to find a new job for my own sake. The pandemic had been hard on everyone, and the working environment had suffered. Most of my team had already quit and I was the last one to see the writing on the wall.

I got a new job, which was stressful but interesting at a company doing trade finance compliance. I was asked to help get their development organisation into shape as a modern software org, whilst also trying to hit some pretty sharp deadlines. The company ended up in financial trouble and I got made redundant for the first time in my career. They were very apologetic about it though.

That did however put me in a position to get my new job, which has been excellent and I’ve been there nearly a year. It’s been a difficult adjustment, going to such a small company but I’ve enjoyed it.

At the same time though I’ve been dealing with stuff on the personal side. A pandemic related incident in late 2020 destroyed nearly £5k worth of stock from the business I was running on the side and I’m still not allowed to talk about it more than that. The price of MDF has gone so high my previous business selling laser cut kits isn’t feasible anymore and the company I had been working with to get designs on sale has wound up for similar reasons.

And then on top of that, it turns out I was being poisoned. This is only slightly hyperbole.

I’d been on SSRIs for over two years, and in December 2020 I had a major adverse reaction to citalopram, one of the most common antidepressants on the market in the UK, which was initially misdiagnosed as a potential heart attack. I was switched onto sertraline, another common antidepressant, which I took for a little over a year.

At the start of the year, I was suffering badly from increasing anxiety and went to see a doctor about it. I got given more sertraline. Eight weeks later I ended up very ill and a doctor diagnosed me with Serotonin Syndrome, a severe but generally uncommon complication to many SSRI medications and also very common in people who take recreational drugs like MDMA. The “treatment” was to come off of the medication as soon as possible.

Let me tell you. Coming off of SSRIs was hell. It took over a month of being functionally housebound and largely unable to work. I’m still not fully recovered, there are still days where everything is awful. But now on the other side, it’s night and day how much better I am off the medication. I don’t want to be one of those people who renounces all of modern medicine, but it’s also very hard to come to terms with the fact that actually a lot of the issues I was having with anxiety and concentration over the last two years were likely because of the medication.

It is frustrating to know that at no point did anyone meaningfully ask any of the questions that would have told me this. General Practice in the NHS is in crisis, so I don’t hold much ill will towards the doctors who saw me. In fact several told me straight up that they were not trained in dealing with mental health issues (an issue recognised across the NHS) and didn’t know what they could offer to help.

Things are looking up though. I am refocusing on working on wargames and miniatures, I’m talking to publishers, I’m doing well professionally and I’m getting there personally. It’s a long road to recovery, but you’ve got to start somewhere.