In an age where everyone is encouraged to talk about mental health, it seems to be recovery that’s our biggest problem.
The media portrays therapy, rehab, and medication as personal failures, and a total dependency on an outside force in an attempt to be ‘fixed’. The damaging stigma surrounding antidepressants has led to people feeling ashamed to admit to having them; or even refusing to take them at all because they feel it makes them weaker.
In an age where suicide rates are at an all-time high, it’s time we stopped demonising the use of antidepressants.
I was one of those people; I was diagnosed with depression and generalised anxiety disorder in 2014, a time when doctors were practically throwing antidepressants at you at the first sign of a psychological problem. I didn’t want them – but what other choice did I have? I wasn’t referred to any counselling, or told about other treatment options, just “Take these pills and you’ll start to feel better.”
The attitude surrounding medication and the ‘happy pills’ scrutiny that followed made me view mine in a negative light; ‘I don’t want to become reliant on these – they’ll turn me crazy!’
People were misinformed; and misinformation led to fear.
For years I never admitted to anyone that I took antidepressants. It was bad enough opening up about a mental illness, never mind the pills. Sometimes I even tried to wean myself off them so I didn’t have to lie any more (Which is definitely not advised – please speak to your doctor if you want to stop taking your medication).
The important thing to know is that you’re not alone, most people with a diagnosed mental illness would have been prescribed antidepressants at some point. And while it might not work for everyone, we mustn’t forget the lives that have been greatly improved (even saved) because of medication. For some people, they need antidepressants; sometimes a chemical imbalance can only be controlled with medication, and that’s okay. What works for one person doesn’t have to work for everyone, and that doesn’t make it wrong.
I have a much more positive attitude towards taking antidepressants now, and I’m happy to say that I’m not ashamed of them, or myself for taking them, any more.