4.11.18

What nobody tells you about taking antidepressants



They tell you nothing. That’s what.

Since I started taking antidepressants just over one year ago I have made a deliberate effort to be as open as possible and talk freely with basically anyone who’ll listen about my experience, because quite simply no one ever does.
Or no one ever did with me at least.

My understanding of anyone taking a pill for something like ‘their emotions’ was only ever as a result of something really terrible happening in their lives - severe hardship or a truly traumatic event. Or the other extreme was that of someone being carted off in a straight jacket … but that was just in films.
My general thoughts - which I know is totally awful - were that people who took antidepressants were probably just avoiding actually sorting their lives out and taking a pill was the easiest option to solve all their problems. (lol, if only)

In general mental health just wasn’t discussed whilst I was growing up.
Nothing more was said than the odd jokey comment here and there that ‘someone’s had their happy pills’ if someone was being particularly cheery. I don’t remember ever discussing the sadness that was evident in their lives to warrant the comment of why suddenly being ‘happy’ was out of character for them.

Leading up to me actually asking for help I don’t even know if I knew I was miserable.
Which sounds kind of ridiculous. But it was all normal to me.
I was constantly comparing my sadness and anxiety to other people’s and convincing myself 'it’s not that bad’ and totally envisioned any doctor would tell me that I just need to ‘cheer up’ and ‘get over it’.

Generally the initial reaction I get when I tell people I take antidepressants is that of surprise - ‘But you don’t seem like the type of person who’d need that’.
I get it.
From the outside I seem pretty put together. I had a successful business. A seemingly happy relationship. In general I didn’t have much to complain about.
But that’s the point isn’t it. Mental health problems can happen at any time. To anyone.

When I’ve spoken to friends and they’ve opened up about their own struggles their main concern and reason for not seeking help through medication is that they don’t want their life to be controlled by a drug. Not gonna lie, I thought the same too.
But then I had to seriously ask myself, what was the alternative?
Taking a tablet in the hopes that it made me feel ‘normal’ or allowing my depression and anxiety take over completely and control every aspect of my life. Hmmm, tough choice.

Now I try to look at it like any other problem you’d go see a doctor for; If I broke my leg I wouldn't close my eyes and pretend it was all fine and hobble on regardless hoping one day it will fix itself.

The first time I approached my doctor for help (whilst ugly crying, obvs) I turned down the drugs option because I still didn’t feel like my need was that severe … despite an actual doctor telling me it was.
Instead I tried a few CBT sessions. I spoke to a councillor
... I subsequently also cancelled a lot of those appointments because again ‘I didn’t think I was that bad’ to warrant the need. I felt like I was wasting people’s time. I was probably just being dramatic. Surely I can sort this out on my own?

Turns out the answer is nope. I definitely can’t.

So what have I learnt since I started taking antidepressants?
First of all the main thing that surprised me was the number of people who - since hearing I have chosen to take medication - have told me they have / do or have considered taking it too.
Ermm. HELLO. Where were these people before? *upsidedownsmiley* If anything I hope that me blabbering on about all this on the internet normalises it enough for you to go seek help if you feel like you might need it, because jesus did I feel like I was the only person this was happening to at the time.

Secondly, I can without a doubt confirm they haven’t changed me as a person. If anything I feel more ‘me’ than I have in a very long time.
I definitely envisioned taking any kind of medication for my mental health would result in me acting out of character to the point of becoming unrecognisable, like a totally different person. I guess in some ways I am very very different now, but all of it genuinely feels like me. If that even makes any sense at all.

Oh and btw, they don’t magically solve all your problems. I still get sad. Shit still happens.
I was worried I would feel numb to all emotions, or that I would be permanently happy, or just totally oblivious to my feelings in every way that I could just breeze through life on some drug induced cloud. Sadly that’s not the case.
I feel like I am just more able to cope with situations that would have otherwise made me feel super overwhelmed. I can recognise more easily when I’m talking to myself negatively. And I have the energy now to make positive changes.

However I am over the moon to say that my anxiety has pretty much disappeared. Things I don’t think I ever really appreciated were anxiety just aren’t an issue for me anymore -  worrying about every word I said when speaking to new people, feeling like a total fraud because I didn’t know absolutely everything, feeling like everyone knew what I was thinking, believing everyone was judging me, the list goes on - all that was just normal for me for so long.
But now, I guess I just think differently. I have less obsessive thoughts and it’s easier for me to notice when I'm getting in a bad place.

Something I very much appreciate - whether it’s a coincidence or not I think it’s worth saying - its almost impossible for me to sleep in now.
I’m not sure how but I’ve actually become a morning person.
I still LOVE sleep. It’s my number one favourite activity. But I don’t feel the need to stay in bed all day snoozing. I'm frequently -voluntarily- up before 7am. WHAT.
And I actually have some motivation to do THINGS now.

Obviously I should share the downsides too - but thankfully for me there haven’t been very many. The first few weeks of taking the medication I thought I was gonna vom at any moment. But apparently that’s normal and I can confirm it passes eventually.
Also my jaw ached so much for the first few months as I found I was clenching my teeth together a lot (mainly in my sleep, how stressful!) - It was only temporary though and it stopped after the Dr increased my dose.
But like seriously, that it?! It’s just left me feeling like I should have done this many years ago.

Just gonna throw in a disclaimer here that I’m not advocating for everyone to go out and start taking medication - it’s not a magic cure and it can take a while to find something that works for you - and sometimes it’s not the right choice altogether. I feel I have been very lucky finding something that works so well for me.
Overall I’m very happy (for want of a less ironic word) with how my treatment is going.
I have gone through a huge unexpected changes this year, moved home and basically had to start again with so many aspects of my life and despite all that I haven’t wanted to disappear off the face of the Earth, which is a huge step forward.

I’m not sure when you’re supposed to know when the right time is to stop taking medication for ur feelings, but I’ll update you if I find out. Right now though I’m doing good.

But I guess all I’m trying to say is that it’s not as scary as you think it might be.

Oh and one last thing to note - since starting medication my house has stayed superbly tidy; however I’m not sure if this is because I’m now living on my own...

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