If I had known what a difference antidepressants would make in my life, I would have started taking them years ago.
I spent years putting it off, telling myself medication wasn’t necessary. I’d have day-, week-, sometimes even month-long periods of feeling awful and hopeless, and then a patch of “good days” would come along and convince me that I was making mountains out of molehills. I couldn’t possibly be truly depressed; I just let myself think negatively too often.
During the bad days, the internal debate of whether or not I should give antidepressants a try seemed like an obvious choice. I’d keep telling myself “at the next appointment” I’d ask my doctor about it, just to find myself in a better mood when that appointment came, and change my mind once again. At one point I actually did ask for my doctor’s opinion on me trying medication, and she was very much in favor of it. I told her I’d think it over, and of course by the next time I saw her, I’d chickened out.
Looking back, the things holding me back seem incredibly petty. I was afraid antidepressants would make me gain weight. I worried that I’d become a kind of pseudo-happy, and be reliant on drugs for the rest of my life. Even the issue of how much medication might cost went on my list of objections.
The factor that I’m most sheepish about letting stop me, however, is the worry that I’d be judged for needing medication to deal with my seemingly wonderful life. I’m a privileged white girl, with a lovely family and good friends, a good job, a good life overall. What right did I have to be depressed? Even the people around me who “understood” depression told me all I needed was some fresh air and exercise; think positive and you’ll feel better. All that did was make me feel worse when I tried my best to do those things, and still felt terrible on a daily basis.
All the sunshine and inspiring Eckhart Tolle books in the world won’t pull a person out of depression if the brain chemicals aren’t behaving.
I’m constantly amazed at how much easier life is with the help of my antidepressants. The facts that daily life doesn’t have to feel struggle-y and grey, and that it’s not normal to be sad and anxious for the majority of your life seemed like brand new information when I started to feel better. I didn’t even realize how low I had been until I began to feel…normal.
It’s the absence of the bad things that I notice the most. I don’t have days on end of crying before work, and faking smiles to get me through the day. I don’t feel like crying and completely on edge when mom starts cooking something oily and stressful for dinner. I don’t see my future as bleak and hopeless.
Instead, I’m beginning to feel like a real person. Joking and laughing and being fully present with a person, rather than being stuck in my head worrying about how much they hate me, feels good. Being able to look forward to things, even the small things, feels good. Simply being able to enjoy my life, relax a bit, and not have a constant torrent of negative thoughts flooding my brain, feels amazing.