*If you’re interested in hearing about my first month’s experience while taking Sertraline, you can read about it here.
Although I’ve been aware most of my life, I was recently diagnosed with General Anxiety Disorder and prescribed Sertraline, the generic form of Zoloft, to treat it. This time, I’ve been upgraded from 25mg to 50mg doses per day. This article series is to explore its side effects, the mental changes I notice, and ultimately, see if I will continue taking it.
It’s my second month of taking this pill, and while my muscles may be revolting against me, I am seeing small signs of improvement. I thought for this month I would try to detail my side effects instead of going through a week-by-week play-by-play (got to add some quasi-first-class hyphens to jazz up this article).
You can also take a peek at my TL;DR at the bottom for some quick takeaways (and then you can go back and read the whole thing, you monster!)
My neck has exchanged its sharp and stabbing pains for the continuous kind that make me feel like I slept with my face hanging off the bed. And also like I’m 90. And named Agnes.
My sweet boyfriend, always one to lend a sympathetic ear, surprised me with this massage thingy he bought online. You wear it like a scarf and let the little nubs turn against your muscles. It’s rather small and nice to use, plus you can control the pressure. Also, if you use it while laying down, it makes you look like you’re practicing your very lame dance moves, making it an all-around good purchase.
That being said, while I’ve coupled weekly massages with yoga and icing my muscles, I don’t feel too much lasting relief. In fact, that leads me to my next major symptom…
Random Muscle Pain
Like wtf, Sertraline? I thought taking you was supposed to help me relax, not turn me into a human knot ball. I think the most frustrating muscle pain I’m experiencing is in my legs, specifically with the various muscles located behind my knees (a part of my hamstrings). And you know when I feel these hammy pains the most? When I sit on the toilet, and boy, do I sit on the toilet often. My child’s sized bladder has caused me problems before, but never quite like this.
I feel as if I’m coming off as the world’s best complaining potato, however, I want to note again that I’ve been practicing preventative care in attempts to counteract the medication. Yoga, mindful stretching, daily movement, etc. There are other elements of my life that classify me as a potato but this is not one of them.
These muscle pains happen randomly throughout my body, making life feel like a moving train that I can’t run quickly enough to catch. It’s definitely frustrating to feel like, while my mind may be experiencing some improvements, my body feels as if it’s doing the opposite.
Weird Sleep Schedule
All of the muscle tension I feel in my body makes sleep a cruel mistress. I have always been someone who enjoys being up at night and sleeping during the day. However, since beginning Sertraline, I feel like my whole sleep schedule has shifted to mimic that of someone who works a night shift. Now I can pretend I productively woke up at 6am when I’m really just headed off to bed.
Dizziness and Nausea
Taking Sertraline before bed has definitely been helpful to cut down on the amount of dizziness and pukey feelings. But also, I have a difficult time falling asleep, so the feelings of both creep in often. This is why my new favorite nighttime snack is having a bowl of dry Rice Krispies and glass of ginger ale.
I never liked milk in cereal, so the dry part is just a preference thing. Having a very plain (but tasty!) food to take a pill with, plus drinking a reliable tummy-soother, makes a load of difference for stomach and brain pains.
Unfortunately, the discomfort is only soothed, not eliminated, which is why future ideas include pouring ginger ale directly onto my cereal and drinking an 8 oz. glass of Pepto-Bismol as a chaser.
A Small Moment of Hope
One positive that I was really proud of was when I woke up to pee and happened to catch an email that my agent in Pittsburgh sent me for a last-minute voice-over audition, due in a few hours. Usually, I would feel a horrible pang of fear in receiving an audition request, and the time difference between there and LA would mean I was already behind schedule for the fast-approaching deadline.
I think my mind went through the normal anxious checklist; I thought about the likelihood that I could have missed this deadline altogether if I kept sleeping, guilt for sleeping at all, concern for what my voice would sound like, worries about the professionalism of the recording, all that jazz.
But it was like, instead of being afraid, I just felt…nothing? Calm maybe. But I didn’t feel fear, and that allowed me to send two takes I was proud of. Hopefully, I can expect more of this in the future.
But now I have another month of pills to get through before I check in with my doctor again. In the meantime, will I become a Zen master? Or will my neck muscles go on strike, leaving me to hold my head up with a conveniently-placed stick? Stay tuned, y’all.
-This month’s dose: 50mg per day
-My neck pain is deep and stubborn.
-Muscle pains throughout my body are common and preventative care doesn’t seem to help ease the discomfort.
-Messed-up sleep schedule
-While I often feel dizzy and nauseous, I find dry Rice Krispies and ginger ale help.
-I was able to feel calm under pressure when faced with a surprise deadline.
-One more month of 50 mg pills to go before another check-in with the doctor.