Hello lovely humans! It’s taken me longer than usual to post this week-primarily due to it being the anniversary of my dad’s death on Wednesday. But eventually, I’ve forced myself to open the laptop and write. I hope you are all well, and, as always, let me know if you need someone to talk to 🙂
As somebody who consumes antidepressants as a means of coping, I am often on the receiving end of a lot of questions, and, occasionally, criticism.
With record numbers of people thought to be taking so called “headmeads”, it is no wonder that we are a nation engulfed by fear. Panflets line the inside of prescription packets, screaming out warnings of an increased risk of suicidal thoughts, self harm, infertility, heart disease and sudden death. And yet, with a single visit to the GP’s, we can walk away with happypills in hand within a number of minutes.
To millions across the world, it begs the question are antidepressants a lifeline-or a fast- track to physical and emotional destruction?
We all know of a friend, a friend of a friend or a family member, who, at some stage, has had a terrible experience with psychological medication. Last year, my stepbrother’s friend took his own life, possibly following a suspected change in dose. It was horrific-distressing and deeply traumatising on many levels. A twenty year old discarding their future in such a violent and self destructive way inevitably leaves a bitter and acidic after-taste. It was nothing less than a terrible, heartbreaking tragedy.
It is more than evident that antidepressants have many side effects with devastating results-but the question is, just how common are they?
The bad news is that, often, reasonably frequent (but still not particularly high) side effects can include symptoms such as nausea, dizziness and headaches; just to list a few. But there is a less-discussed silver lining to the cloud: the more serious ailments are far less common. Often, when researching the facts, cases that lead to an increase in suicidal thoughts are minimal. And, if the patient is informed of the potential risk, they can be trained to look out for specific negative changes and abnormalities.
It is horrific when something goes wrong; it feels as if a great injustice has been served to all involved-but that does not necessarily mean that it will repeat itself again in you. In fact, the chances are, it won’t.
As with any medication, there is always a risk involved. And yet, we don’t deprive high-cholesterol sufferers of statins. We don’t resist paracetamol when we have the flu. We do not say “no” to the mother who asks for morphine shortly after her c-section. Ultimately, the pros and cons must be weighed against each other-is your mindset in such a poor condition that antidepressants might be an option worth considering?
From my own, personal experience, I have no regrets and feel no downside present to taking my daily 150mg of Sertraline. I’ve never suffered any side effects and, although I still have down days, my medication generally enables me to live a relatively normal life. I am as certain as I can be that the pills do not effect “who I am” or any aspects of my personality-more accurately, they assist me to moderate my moods. As someone with clinical depression, a chemical imbalance in the brain, taking antidepressants has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made for my emotional and psychological health. They have saved me more times than I can care to remember. They have been an absolute blessing.
Despite the fact that I am, we need to dispel the misconception that medication must be taken long-term.
Even if you do decide to begin the course, it is not as if this must be a life-sentence. Many, many people, at some point during their lifetime, have taken some form of mood enhancer, even if it was just for a short while. The saying “once you’ve started, you’ll be on them forever” does-by no means-have to ring true.
Turn the situation on its head: if you had an ongoing ear infection, you’d most likely attempt antibiotics with very little consideration. The importance of your mentality should be no different, even if, generally speaking, we are far more apprehensive and heedful when faced with decisions about how best to treat it. Mental health and physical health are intertwined and both equally valid.
It is important to acknowledge and embrace that fact.
I’m not, by any stretch of the imagination, suggesting throwing caution to the wind. As with any medication, it is essential that you are aware of the side effects and seek professional attention as soon as you suspect something might be slightly out of the ordinary. Even if it’s just a gut feeling, or if something merely doesn’t sit right, it’s better safe than sorry.
As to whether or not you wish to go ahead with the decision to seek antidepressants is down to you, and only you. Listen to others and consider their concerns-but keep it in mind that nobody should coerce you into or out of such a personal decision. They have not experienced a day in the life of your psyche; at least not internally.
My suggestion-if only as a humble piece of advice-would be this:
Perhaps, if you’re surviving alongside such a dark quality of life in which you cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel, it might be worth taking a leap of faith.