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Taking fluoxetine and mirtazapine: Rachel's story

Rachel shares her experience of taking fluoxetine and mirtazapine for anorexia, OCD, depression and anxiety.

Hi, I’m Rachel, I'm 20 years old and I have been taking fluoxetine and other meds since I was 12.

I had just turned 11 when everything I’d been holding together for the past few years fell apart in a kind of catastrophic, scary, isolating mess of fear and starvation.

I was then diagnosed with anorexia, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), depression and anxiety. That’s quite a lot to take when you’re 12 years old and scared.

Taking fluoxetine

I remember feeling you don’t get much say when you’re 12. I was prescribed fluoxetine, and to me that was almost THE scariest thing. I knew nothing about this medication at all, or any of my diagnosed conditions. The things I was being told I was feeling and experiencing felt alien and patronising, and I was so terrified of the medication having side effects that it made me ill.

I was so terrified of the medication having side effects.

I’m sure for a long time my anxiety about taking fluoxetine must have undone any good it could possibly have been doing. Luckily, I didn’t really experience any side effects at this point. My ability to handle my OCD - which had become so difficult to manage that I couldn't go out in public or leave rooms - actually did start to get better, although to this day I'm never sure whether that was influenced by the fluoxetine or by the art therapy I started receiving.

Trying mirtazapine

When I was 18, my doctor started trying to wean me off fluoxetine because I was in a ‘better place’. My mood plummeted and so did my ability to cope with food. I was put on mirtazapine which made me feel like I was drunk and completely spaced out - and not in a good way. I was numb and couldn’t control things properly. I felt completely disassociated - it was terrifying. I refused to take it again.

Since then, I never have come off my medication again. I’m trying to juggle growing up and doing a drama degree and performing too. But I have dark days and have relapsed a few times, which has sometimes made my doctor increase my fluoxetine dosage.

Taking medication is about helping to make day-to-day living better.

I don’t want to be on medication for the rest of my life, but at the moment I know that without the meds I’m definitely worse.

Being on mental health medication isn’t about making ‘it’ go away, it’s about helping in any way to make day-to-day living better. Mental health medication never really will be, I don’t think, an ultimate cure or a solution. Some days I even feel as though my pills feel totally useless. But if and when they do help - even a tiny bit - they can help you get a little step closer to living a life that isn’t defined by your disorder. I think that’s positive.

Author: Rachel, 20

Questions about mental health medication?

If you would like to know more about the different types of mental health medication you could be prescribed, how they help and what the side effects could be, have a look at our guide to medications.

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