So the topic of antidepressants has been approached twice on this blog. The first time was by Jess in this post about her mental health treatment and the second time was just last Sunday by Laura in this post about how she loves her antidepressants. So today I wanted to write a response post to that.
I’ve just recently been prescribed antidepressants. I’m actually on the same kind as both Laura and Jess, Citalopram. Before being prescribed antidepressants, I was actually incredibly anti antidepressants. Not in general. But just for myself. In some stupid way, my brain told me that having to take medication to treat my anxiety was like losing. It meant that I couldn’t control my mental health myself, and my anxieties stem from having a lack of control so it was a really difficult thing for me to deal with.
Before being prescribed antidepressants, I did CBT, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. This was just under a year ago and it did help. But it also didn’t. It meant that I knew why I was anxious, it meant I could determine when I was having an anxiety attack but I still really struggled to get past it. I then developed habits to help me control the anxiety. Habits such as washing my hands, which has now turned into routine and has become progressively worse as time has gone on.
Then I went to a new doctor for a completely different reason and it was decided that I should try antidepressants to help control my anxiety. I stared at the doctor with a wave of anxiety running through me. Without medication I could control certain aspects of my anxiety. I could walk away from someone ill, I could wash my hands before eating, I could choose not to eat or drink something. But in taking medication, I feared that I would lose that control. That the antidepressants would take away the anxiety and the control and it would be hard to deal with.
Of course, this was also my anxiety talking to me. My anxiety telling me to be afraid of the unknown and I had no way of knowing what the Citalopram was going to do to me. The doctor warned me that the first few days would likely cause me to feel more anxious. This only made me more anxious about taking the pills so I had to wait until I had a few days off work to take them.
The week before that was to happen, I had no control over my anxiety. I knew why I was anxious but instead my brain was telling me I was anxious about other things and I was just crippled by it. Which, in a way was a really good thing because I suddenly wanted the pills. I wanted them to stop me from feeling this way, I wanted them to help make me better. Turns out I was actually fine for the first three days on the pills, but on the fourth and fifth day I had crippling anxiety again. Fortunately I was still off work. And that was the last time I’ve felt that anxious. And that was about six weeks ago.
And I cannot tell you how amazing that is.
Before taking the meds, I was overrun with anxiety and it has only been since taking the meds that I’ve realised just how much my anxiety was overruling my life. It was winning and I didn’t even know it.
I have now had my medication increased from 10mg to 20mg a day because while the meds are helping, I think there is still more that can be done and I’m looking forward to seeing if I’m right. Of course, I also had some anxiety about upping my dose but there was no need for that.
But what I really wanted to end this post with is that while I was worried, fearful and vehemently against antidepressants a year ago, I am now incredibly grateful for them and feel that it is likely I will be using this medication to help me for the rest of my life. Taking antidepressants doesn’t make me weak, it is treating an illness. Just as a diabetic has to be on insulin or someone with chronic pain has to be on painkillers, being on antidepressants is just a medicine that is treating an illness and it shouldn’t be looked upon in any other way. Because, at the end of the day, mental health is an illness. If you broke your leg and someone looked down on you for wearing a cast, it would be completely immoral and wrong. And that is how I feel about antidepressants too.
And if you are in the situation I was, worried about taking the step to antidepressants, please try not to worry but also talk to someone. Someone you know, a doctor, or even just someone you know who is also on antidepressants, talking to Jess before starting my meds was incredibly helpful. Also, please remember that while one antidepressant helps one person, it may not help you but don’t give up, there are many different antidepressants out there as well as many other treatment options. It is your body, do what works best for you. So don’t suffer in silence. Get the help you may need. Your mental health is just as important as your physical health.