Antidepressants. My dear friend and my arch nemesis. Every night I am confronted with the old “can’t live with you, can’t live without you” conundrum. But…every night I grab the pill and a glass of water and swallow.
Disclaimer: Before reading on, you must know that I am not providing advice or supporting one particular solution. This is simply me, telling my story. If you feel as though you or a loved one may need support, please see your GP or contact amazing places like BeyondBlue or Lifeline.
I have lived my life with and I have lived my life without antidepressants. For me, at this point in my life, taking antidepressants is a non-negotiable. It is the lesser of two evils.
Over the past two years, my prescription has increased and decreased along with my mental state and it genuinely scares me to think where I would be without antidepressants.
What I can tell you for certain, is that I wouldn’t have the partner I have, or the friendships, or even the job.
And while the little pillbox writes a list of possible symptoms. You know the ones… nausea, increased appetite and weight gain, loss of sexual desire and other sexual problems, fatigue and drowsiness, insomnia, dry mouth, blurred vision, constipation they are missing a few things. Don’t get me wrong, it is a fun list and I would’ve been happy if the list stopped there. But the biggest symptoms I have experienced were not written on the box. For me, the biggest symptoms have been losing my sense of self and the reliance that comes with the trusty little medical pellet.
Questions like these plague my mind at any given moment…
The person my partner fell in love with is not the ‘real me’ - it is the ‘leveled out’ version of me. What if I stopped taking antidepressants tomorrow? Would he still love me?
I am able to maintain my current job because antidepressants help remove the fog, get me out of bed and help me think clearly. Where would I be without antidepressants? I know I wouldn’t have the role I have now.
Am I taking the easy way out? Shouldn’t I just ‘tough it out’ and stop being so weak?
Side note: it is worth remembering that people have literally said these words to me. So you wonder why I am hesitant to disclose it?
Would I have the same friends around me? Before the support of antidepressants I was mostly withdrawn and when I was having a ‘good week’ I was out and about but mostly in a very destructive way. Would I have continued going down the path of chasing destruction and alienating the good people close to me?
What success belongs to me? And what belongs to the pill?
What am I missing out on life? Antidepressants act in a way where they ‘level you out’. So the lows feel less low. But this comes at a cost because it also means that the highs feel less high. When an experience happens, am I robbing myself of the full effect?
Intellectually, I understand that I need (yes, need) antidepressants. But that doesn’t make it any easier.
I struggle to separate who ‘Carly’ is from the pill I am bound to.
No one tells you this stuff when it comes to mental health. No one told me.
“Does taking medication alter who I am? Am I less authentic for it? Is it unnatural?”
- Sarah Wilson