Firstly I want to make it clear that I’m most definitely not the type of person to ‘fashionalise’ mental health illnesses or discuss depression in the hope of recieving sympathy. Infact to recieve sympathy would make me feel worse about myself, I’d feel horridly guilty of taking someone’s time and impacting them with such negative concern for me. Whenever I write about anything concerning depression, I do so in the hope of encouraging people who live in silence to obtain the help they need and deserve.
It wasn’t until the start of this year that I opened up about my depression. Of course I’m still not too free with mentioning it, it’s not exactly necassary to open a converation or introduce myself by saying ‘Hi, I have depression and am crippled by social anxiety right now’. Even if emotions and mental health are majorly important aspects of our lives, it’s not lying or untruthful to keep ourselves secure by mentioning how you feel to everyone and anyone; that would be like randomly telling someone your inner monologue.
I stayed almost in utter silence, only close family, a few friends including a friend who I worked with at the time and my boyfriend knew of my emotional state. The first time I recall feeling depressed (not sadness, there is a big difference) was aged 9. On and off the depression would reoccur spontaneously or be triggered by bad events in my life. The reason why I hadn’t consulted the assistance of a professional or taken medication prior for aiding my depression is because I pretended like it wasn’t happening. My ‘self treatment’ was ignorance and I could help myself with distractions: I still believe it isn’t wrong to approach my feelings this way. Afterall I felt comfortable solving the issues myself or with limited amounts of people surrounding me, just there comes a point for some people when secluding yourself escaltes the depression and you regress in recovery and productivity.
This stage happened to me around 12 years after initally experiencing depression. I was becoming weaker due to the fact that physical factors were having an impact on my mental health management, so I went to a few doctors and I was prescribed Citalopram which other than Fluoxetine is one of the most commonly prescribed antidepressants.
One of the doctors honestly wasn’t that helpful. She spoke to me like I was some naive child who didn’t understand anything about mental health. She said something along the lines of: ‘depression isn’t going to solve itself just with antidepressants, it’s about your outlook on life. Is a glass half full or half empty?’ To some extent I agree with her. Antidepressants aren’t a cure and therapy is a good outlet: but not for everyone. I just wish she would realise that not everyone can be helped with therapy, self help plays a big part and medication might be helpful. You can talk about how you feel without constantly expressing events which made you depressed, there is no need to forcefully relive those times by resurfacing them unwillingly.
Citalopram is a Serotonin inhibitor. If you don’t know, Serotonin is one of the hormones our bodies naturally produce. It controls how we feel. A lack of serotonin can make us feel anxious, negative and overall just low or depressed. Too much serotonin makes us feel ‘high’ or could have the adverse effect of that ‘good feel’ feeling. It’s theorised that more people are suffering from depression thesedays not just because of more modern world pressures, but also more people are being born with or having a sudden change of their serotonin levels through age. Taking antidepressants helps restore serotonin to a ideal amount inorder to feel like ‘ourselves’.
It takes 3-4 weeks for antidepressants to fully take effect. At first they can make you feel worse, be aware that suicidal feelings and confusion are some of the side effects during the first few weeks of taking antidepressants. During these first few weeks it’s important to stay in the company of people, rather than being alone.
Personally I did feel like the antidepressants help ‘lift my spirits’, but at the same time I felt too numb towards feeling some emotions. I managed to get through my days continuing to distract myself as I had been, but at least in the first few hours after taking the antidepressants at the same time each morning as guided, I felt too controlled by antidepressants. I just wanted to be me without the depressing part.
After a few months, I took the antidepressants like a routine. Alongside vitamins my energy levels peaked.
Note: just because you feel better it doesn’t mean you can break the cycle of taking your medication.
I broke the consistency of taking Citalopram. My depression became the worse it had ever been. I did take another form antidepressant for a while but it was making me feel physically ill.
Nowadays I have found alternatives to medication to cope with depression. One major difference is I don’t suffer alone. My loved ones encourage me to speak to them when I relapse. Its not shameful to admit that you aren’t totally fine. I also use this blog as an outlet, by talking directly about how my issues or turning my thoughts into some sort of poetry.
If you take anything from this post, is that the cliche ‘you are not alone’ phrase isn’t so sickening or disheartening. It’s so true. Talk to someone. Whoever you feel like opening up to, just do it. You aren’t going to burden them, they can help you or help you get help. There is always someone out there for you.