For the past week or so, I’ve been feeling like a mess. I’ve been withdrawn, I’ve been throwing my money away, I’ve been tired, avoidant, anxious and panic-y, I don’t have an appetite, and I’ve been isolating myself. Honestly, I’ve even been thinking about how I’ve had a good run, and I could just call it quits on this whole life thing. Then, I could escape this discomfort. It’s incredibly important that I note: I AM NOT SUICIDAL, I just thought for a moment that not living would get me out of dealing with my life. I need to be transparent that this is something that comes along with bouts of depression and mental illness. My intent is not to worry anyone. We clear? Good.
With this post, I intend to be honest about my struggles with my head. It might make some of you uncomfortable, but I’m kind of not sorry about that. I think bringing more awareness to mental health is something that will help us all evolve. I want to shed some light on a way of living that may be unfamiliar to you. Or, maybe, it’s too familiar and reading that you’re not alone in your feelings (or lack there of) might comfort you in some way. Anyway, we’re doing this.
This past November, I made the decision to start taking antidepressants again. The choice was one that I was hesitant to make for more than a year because I didn’t want others to assume that medicine eradicated my troubles. What’s more, and somewhat tragic, I was off my meds for the majority of my relationship with my ex.
Prior to that, a psychiatrist and I found a dose of Prozac that helped me. I will never forget when I realized that the medicine was working. It was the week before finals of my Junior year, and out of nowhere I had the energy to study, go to the library, and socialize. This energy convinced me that I was manic, and that I must be bipolar because I had never lived with myself so easily.
I checked with my therapist and my psychiatrist– they both reassured me that I was definitely not manic, but that I had lived my life with a baseline for depression much lower than what is average. In my excitement for this new way of life, I began openly sharing my success with antidepressants and advocating for their use. Guys, it didn’t go well.
Sadly, people have a lot of negative opinions about antidepressants. I cannot tell you the amount of times people told me that I was too jovial, that I was cheating with medicine, or that I should be ashamed that I need pills to be happy. Honestly, any combination of this was often screamed at me early in my relationship with my ex. This led me to stop taking my medication so that he couldn’t belittle me for it.
So, when I began therapy again in January of 2017, I wanted to lift myself up completely on my own. I didn’t want anyone to be able to attribute my healing and growth to anything but my own inhibition. And, I did it. I crushed it– clearly, I’m really proud of myself. Unfortunately, despite the stability and serenity of the life I reconstructed, I remained depressed. Rather than being proud of my accomplishments, or invigorated by my trajectory, everyday life exhausted me. I would wallow in the plethora of emotion I felt for knowing that it shouldn’t be so hard to get off the couch or make myself food.
At that point, I decided that I couldn’t continue living that way. I knew that there was medicine that could help me. My therapist helped me work through my fear of judgment in deciding. Ultimately, I felt that my quality of life was more important than the insults people throw at me out of their own misunderstanding.
Since then, living hasn’t been a burden. Much like supplementing insulin for diabetics, antidepressants level out serotonin for depressed people. I have felt none of its symptoms until now. You can understand that recognizing its presence lately has had me panicked. It’s also had everyone closest to me worried, which probably freaked me out more (don’t feel bad friends and family, you did what I needed you to do– you sounded the alarms). This week I went into therapy in tears that my state of mind was deteriorating, and that my depression had returned with a vengeance.
My sweet therapist calmed me and explained that all people feel depression. It is a normal thing, and that it’s only an episode if these feelings persist for more than two weeks. My worries have since settled, (mostly) and I’m trying to go through the motions that I know will maintain my health. Another notable revelation from this session is that we realized that I don’t trust myself. It’s a bummer, but we’ll talk about that later.
Thank you so much for reading this. I hope that we can all be more gentle and patient with one another as we struggle. I hope that more of us grow to express our mentality, and that describing feelings that some struggle to empathize with becomes a normalized conversation. There shouldn’t be any shame in this– theres enough to work through without it.
Wishing you all a lovely weekend. Get chatting with one another.