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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

My View On Medications (For Depression)

Some people say “I don’t believe in medication.” That is a ridiculous statement, because medication exists, regardless if you believe in their proposed benefits/effects. But that’s just me being a technical word snob.

This post is not meant to demean anyone or their opinion on the subject, and it is not endorsed or sponsored by any type of pharmaceutical company. This is about my personal opinion of the proposed benefits of medication for mentally ill individuals. Ugh, I hate that term, “mentally ill.”

But, I digress.

For now, let me focus on anti-depressants. It’s what I know personally.
Photo by e-Magine Art via Flickr
There are some people out there who truly believe that anti-depressants are not necessary, or they act as a placebo, or they give people a “crutch”. While I won’t speak for anyone else, I can tell you in all honesty that anti-depressants saved my life. Not in the sense that they stopped me from committing suicide (because I don’t know if I ever really wanted to or would have gone through with it if I did want to), but because they allowed me to live my life.

Let me give you some context here. When I was 14 years old, I realized that something was wrong. All of my friends at school seemed like happy, normal people (which I later learned was not necessarily true). And then there was me. I never smiled or laughed, because I had no reason to. I was cynical, pessimistic. I was also really sad, all the time. Now, this wasn’t just your run of the mill teenage angst. I was extremely sad, all the time. I had no energy. All I wanted to do was sleep. I used to drag myself out of bed in the morning, get ready, and walk halfway to school, to my friend Dan’s house. At first, I would try to wake him up to go to school. Then I just stopped trying, and would crawl into bed with him to sleep the day away (don’t worry, he’s gay).

This was also one of my first experiences with the all-encompassing obsession over something small.

I was dating my first boyfriend, my first love, and he lived an hour away. This was my first taste of the dating world, and I quickly realized that there was more than one guy I liked. I had been talking and flirting with another guy, and I felt awful. When I couldn’t take the guilt anymore, I told my boyfriend about it. Naturally, he was upset, and wanted his space. Now, from what I have learned, this should have been something that a normal teenage girl would have been upset about, sure, but not to the extent that I was. I was living in a black hole. It was all I could think about, all I could talk about. I couldn’t eat, or sleep, or go to school. My only comfort was sleeping in my parents’ bed, reading old horse magazines to distract myself. I couldn’t be alone during the day, so my mother took me to my grandparents’ house. This was clearly not healthy.

These anomalies developed into patterns. At first, I thought it might be seasonal Depression (more on this later). I seemed to be alright from late summer, through the fall, and through the winter. But, when spring came around, I spiralled, big time. So, I thought, I get depressed in the spring. I began to wonder if I was getting depressed in the spring because that’s when my first episode happened. Weird, but I could live with that.

After a few years, it became evident that it wasn’t just during the spring. It was all the time. Every minute of every day, I was sad. I couldn’t cope with even minor negative events. My doctor and my mom suggested taking Vitamin D supplements. I didn’t notice a difference. My mom suggested I get some sunshine, so I forced myself to sit outside and cry in the sun. No difference. I spoke to my doctor countless times, and each time he told me to take Vitamin D. Finally, I stopped trying. I figured I would just have to live with this demon. But how could I? I wasn’t really living. I was simply existing.

Finally, years later, after (or was it during?) a particularly awful breakup, I went to see my doctor. I told him, yet again, what my symptoms were, and he advised me, yet again, to try taking Vitamin D. That’s when I broke down. I was sobbing uncontrollably. I couldn’t believe that he still didn’t take me seriously, or just didn’t care. At last, I was able to compose myself enough to tell him that if I ended up dead, it would be my blood on his hands. Finally, he agreed that I might be suffering from Depression, and agreed to prescribe me an anti-depressant. It saved my life.

Within a month, I was seeing improvements. Contrary to popular belief, the anti-depressants didn’t turn me into a zombie, and they weren’t simply “happy pills.” They allowed me to cope with everyday living. They allowed me to feel the sunshine again. They allowed me to feel at peace.

So, for those of you out there who don’t “believe” in medications that address mental health concerns, how else would you explain all of this?

What's your opinion of medications for Depression? Share and comment below.

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  1. drugs should be taken.but the society where you live matters.If they are the tormentors then the drugs wont have the desired effect.Escalating the dose wont help.

  2. inadequately treated cases end up as vegetables.Outwardly they will look well groomed but from inside they are no better than vegetables.Its called an apethetic depression.Drugs seldom correct this condition.In your country,the psychiatric speciality must be well developed thats why you have survived and achieve a good qualityof life.Here the incidence of morbidity and mortality is very high despite drug treatment.So the society where you inhabit is just as important as the drugs and that area cannot be disregarded.People who do not understand the mind tends to destroy it.

  3. You have a point there! There can be very different experiences with mental illness and medications depending on where you live. I consider myself very lucky (most of the time) to live in Western society when it comes to mental illness.