…And unfortunately I don’t mean that in a good way. What happened to me while taking this medication still remains the most intense personal experience of my life so far. So for this medication more of a story-like approach is needed, well, here goes…
Warning: If you’re prone to health anxiety then read with caution and remember my experience is that of an extremely rare frequency.
It was an early spring when I was prescribed Citalopram 20mg, my first ever psychiatric medication.
On day one I took the prescribed dose and within two hours my mood had began to rapid cycle from higher than I’d ever felt before to lower than I even knew existed, for an hour I’d be shouting and laughing feeling like I was in control of everything around me and the next I remember sitting at the desk at work not being able to physically lift my head out of my lap for streaming tears and sadness. Later that day I noticed a strong deep stabbing pain in the lower right side of my head just behind my ear, I’d never felt anything so excruciatingly painful before – but luckily the episodes only lasted 3 to 6 seconds.
Day two and the same routine again, I remember sitting at the staff room table musing over the patient information leaflet trying to look for anything listed about that strange “headache” from yesterday. Dinner break wasn’t long so I took the second dose without any more thought, however my appetite had rapidly began to decrease and all I seemed to be drawn to were carbohydrate rich foods, so I ate only a few crackers. This time the mood swings were a lot stronger than the day before, I burst out shouting at another member of staff and left work early. Once again the strange stabbing headache in exactly the same area began, this time gaining more frequency and even more focussed pain. I hardly slept and ate nothing more that night.
The third day and third dose taken once again, same time, same place. I woke up absolutely shattered, eating hardly anything again and with only two hours sleep. The high this time was immense, I began to hallucinate and become mildly delusional, I had ideas our home was a hotel in London and I vividly remember seeing the sky in a light rose-pink shade even though it was midday. I felt the greatest ever and on top of the world, I threw some boxes at a member of staff I didn’t even know in the stock room and talked rapidly to everybody I met before deciding to take myself home early – one thing here that really makes me laugh in hindsight, I remember feeling like the area I lived in was almost as good as heaven, when in reality its an industrial nightmare! When I got home and spoke to mum as usual the first thing she asked me was had I taken any illicit drugs, I thought she was being ridiculous and I was perfectly fine, but she replied worriedly and told me my eyes were “all over the place”, that I seemed “over excited about everything” and told me to “calm down”. I recognised that I felt slightly elated, but not as extreme as others saw it. I was sitting down and the headache hit out of nowhere, this time it was more excruciating than any pain I’d ever felt in my life, in total anxiety I rushed off to find mum whilst clutching my head and wincing. She was in the bathroom, when I opened the door I saw mist everywhere and all kinds of shades of lilac and purple, her skin was whitest white and eyes dark sparkling black like Jet. I sat down on the floor next to the bath and things rapidly deteriorated from here on. She told me to read her the patient information leaflet and tried to calm me down. However the pain hit once more yet this time unlike anything I’ve ever felt it spread outwards through my head and face, over my skin, down my throat and into my chest and lungs, like a wave crashing in the sea. I fell to the floor and began to blackout, I had difficulty breathing and tightness all around my throat and intense dryness in my mouth.
An ambulance arrived in ten minutes, with firm instructions to rest and immediately withdraw medication. I visited my GP the next day and after months of endless neurology refferals and investigation (which is a whole story in itself..) both NHS and private, a diagnosis was made by a consultant neurologist of partial seizure onset due to use of Citalopram.
So there you go, a story from one of those “2 in a 10,000” statistics which unfortunately had to be me.
Good? 🙂 Bad? 😦 Shocking? 😯