So… I’ve developed this habit of putting aside my sarcastic and self deprecating nature for what tends to be one status a year on my experience with mental health. I’ve decided to do this one a random number of months early because today is exactly one month since I started doing something that I always told myself I wouldn’t do.
I started taking anti-depressants.
It probably seems a bit hypocritical coming from me to hear that I always told myself I wouldn’t take them. I was scared to be honest, for two main reasons. I was worried about how they might change me or make me feel. If they would affect my mind. Like how I originally felt about talking about my depression and mental health in general, I was also very aware of the stigma surrounding anti-depressants and afraid of how people might treat me if they found out.
So why start taking them now? Well, I’d been feeling pretty shitty again for the past while. By past while, I guess I mean constantly / always. Although I’d learned how to make it more manageable, my usual methods of coping weren’t working the same way they used to. I was heading down the same route I was nearly 3 years ago but I’m (slightly) more mature than I was then and recognised that I needed to do something. The constant feeling of depression was exhausting and I just wanted it to stop.
So after talking it through with some good friends and a doctor, and with the finest pill popping music I could find at my disposal (bitta Le Galaxie), I reluctantly took the first one. I’ve always described the physical feeling of depression I felt as something like this presence or pressure in my mind. Something that was always there and had the ability to turn even the happiest moment into something I would hate myself for. I won’t lie – the first few days on these anti-depressants were shite. It felt like that presence was put into a cage and it wasn’t happy about it. It started kicking up an unholy fuss and major temper tantrum in my mind. I’ve never really experienced anxiety before but my God that first week was hell, and anxious is the only way I can describe it. I literally couldn’t stop shaking.
And then, just like talking 3 years ago, something amazing happened. The anxiety went away and what followed was another feeling I now realise I had never experienced before – normality. This might sound silly, but I had always expected anti-depressants to make me feel happy. They didn’t. They just took away the presence, the pressure, the depression. And it felt amazing. My mind and thoughts didn’t change but the relief was overwhelmingly good. I don’t regret it at all.
Certain things did become a bit more clear though, like the incredibly negative effect alcohol would have on me. I’ve had a few nights since then that I know would have been a lot worse if I wasn’t on these. Maintaining a good level of self-care as well has also become more apparent. It’s like suddenly being behind some big see-through wall and seeing all of the things that were bringing me down before outside and trying but being unable to get back in.
Granted I’m posting this to help reduce a bit of the oul’ stigma I myself recently felt towards anti-depressants, I still don’t advocate their use lightly. I don’t believe they should be considered a quick fix solution to a long-term problem; but more so a means to an end that should be thoughtfully considered for individuals without the fear of judgment. Before I started taking the medication I talked to many people about it; friends, a doctor and a counsellor. Where my friends and the doctor explained the physical and the day to day effects of it, the counsellor explained it in a slightly different way. He said that it was the equivalent of someone looking to build muscle taking protein supplements – you can take as much protein as you want but you won’t build muscle with that alone. You need to do the exercise otherwise you won’t get the effects you need. Anti-depressants are a lot like this in that they assist you get to a certain place that you want to be, but you still need to do the ‘exercises’ as well. There are a lot of those exercises for me but the one I always go back to is simply talking. It always helps relieve the pressure for me. Even feeling as I do now I can tell the work on my mental health is yet to be done. The idea is for the anti-depressants to assist me in getting to where I want to be, but I still have to put in the effort to talk and do the exercises which help me on a daily basis.
Like I said though, I don’t regret it at all.
All the best,
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