I remember when I first started taking antidepressants. It was perhaps 15 years ago after I’d had my first child at just 17. I was vilified for being a teenage mum, and for a multitude of reasons (including attitudes towards this Mum still in braces, by the medical staff of all people) believed that because I felt the way I did, I was failing as a mother. It was in fact post natal depression. Not my first dance with depression, which haunted me all my teenage years, even before my son came along. I saw my doctor when my son was perhaps a year old. He diagnosed post natal depression. I was given pills. I don’t even remember which ones in hindsight. My then husband and father to my son ridiculed me for needing them. I took one pack and was to embarrassed to go back for more.
My daughter was born when I was 20. I was older and a little more savvy. When the post natal depression came, I knew what it was and saw my Dr, who gave me pills. The depression went from post natal to just depression, and the pills continued. Chopping and swapping and changing, but pretty much always there, because I was always unhappy.
Fast forward to now. Up till ten days ago, I was still taking the pills. 15 years on and off, but mostly on pills. Wow! Thousands and thousands of them. Recently I’ve wondered why I am still taking them. I still have depression, yes, but it’s manageable. When I feel low I talk to people, something which I could never do before. Attitudes have changed a lot in those 15 years, but at one point if you even mentioned the word depression; conveyed to someone in any way that you didn’t feel right, that you were a little off kilter, that would be the last you’d see of them.
Today, I’m ten days with no antidepressants. The why is a multitude of reasons.
I want to see what life if like without them. Though SSRI’s are not addictive, you can become reliant on them.
They fog up your brain. This is a side effect you have to live with if you’re in a deep depression, but I’m not right now.
My life circumstances have changed. I was very unhappy for a long time for a lot of reasons. I’m not now. I’m happy.
The pills won’t make the past go away. A lot of things that have happened to me have messed with my head. I’m working to get past them, and for that I need a clear head.
Other side effects really suck. My last antidepressants almost killed my sex drive and took away my ability to orgasm. Something you can live with when you’re in a deep depression, but I’m not.
It’s not been easy. I’ve had a lot of support. I’ve had life issues that have upset and frightened me. I have cried and I have panicked. I have doubted myself. I have had the head shocks (a kind of cerebral ‘shock’ feeling that often comes with coming off antidepressants. That having been said, I’ve got past each issue, which is (and please correct me if I’m wrong) part of life. These things come at us, we deal with them, and we move on, and that’s what I’ve done, with a lot of help from a lot of friends, just talking things out. For me, this is something I need to do to stay well. I know from experience that is I bottle things up, I’ll eventually explode, and that’s not good for those around me. Some people aren’t to happy with my ultra honest way of talking, but that’s okay. I have lots of friends that are, and for that I consider myself very blessed.
Ten days SSRI free and I feel hopeful. There will certainly be more to come on this because it is something that I need to talk about, and it is something that needs to be talked about generally. We need to smash the stigma when it comes to talking about mental health issues. If I have to go back on the pills I will, but for now I’m staying accountable, using my support system, and feeling cautiously optimistic.
One Note: If you feel you have depression, please seek medical help. If you need to take antidepressants or any other mood altering drug, take them. There is no shame in it, that is certainly not why I am stopping. It’s just part of my personal journey. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask.