It took me years of silently struggling with mental illness before I sought the help I needed. It was one of the hardest, but best, decisions I’ve ever made. I began attending therapy and learned that I had chronic depression and generalized anxiety. I was then referred to a psychiatrist to see if medication may be beneficial to my treatment. I had a hard time accepting my diagnosis and the thought of needing medication made it that much more difficult. Even though I wasn’t comfortable with the idea of taking medication, at that point I was willing to try almost anything to help me feel better, so I ended up taking anti-depressants.
Many of the reasons I was uncomfortable with taking anti-depressants coincided with the stigma and myths attached to them. I was scared that they would change my personality. I feared having to take anti-depressants for the rest of my life. I was ashamed and thought people would think I was “crazy” and look at me differently for being on anti-depressants. These reasons that made me hesitant to take anti-depressants ended up being the reason I stopped taking them for a period of time which only made me go back in a downward spiral.
Eventually I began taking anti-depressants again, and I’m still taking them to this day. I realized that there is no reason to be ashamed being on them. Needing medication for mental health is no different than needing it for physical health, like high blood pressure or diabetes. I don’t know how long I’ll need to be on anti-depressants which used to bother me. Now I realize that the most important thing is that I’m taking care of myself and my mental health and the amount of time I’m on anti-depressants doesn’t matter. I learned that being on anti-depressants doesn’t change the core of who you are. It changes the chemistry in your brain which changes how you may feel or behave, but it’s still very much you. I’ve come to think of my anti-depressants helping to bring out the best version of me.
If you’re suffering from depression, don’t let the stigma of anti-depressants or therapy keep you from getting the help you need. One of the hardest things about anti-depressants is finding the right kinds and dosages that are right for you. Sometimes it requires some time and patience because the effectiveness of different kinds of anti-depressants varies from person to person. It’s important to be as completely honest with your psychiatrist when it comes time to evaluate how the anti-depressants have been working for you in order to find what works best for you. Sometimes it’s hard to notice changes within yourself and it may be helpful to confide in a few people close to you and ask them to let you know when/if they see changes in you.
Know that there is always hope and you are never alone.