I’ve been on antidepressant medication for almost a year now. And it’s only when you start talking to people about depression, anxiety, and antidepressants, that you truly realise how many people it affects.
People whom you may have known for many years may be on medication and you may not even know about it.
The sad reality is that people don’t want others to know that they are so depressed that they struggle to get out of bed in the morning or so anxious that they can’t do a simple task that they have done many times over previously. And what’s even sadder (excuse the second use of the term there) is that these people are many often the happiest people you would meet.
Unfortunately, there is a negative stigma attached to mental illnesses as a whole, there’s certainly less desire to understand an illness that cannot be seen. My parents are guilty of this, I can tell that it’s difficult for them to understand and come to terms with the fact that they have a child who suffers with a mental illness because whenever I bring up the subject it’s clear that they feel uncomfortable talking about it.
What is anxiety?
Anxiety is a tricky one. Some say that they’re anxious, when in fact they are generally nervous about things that the average person would get nervous over – like a job interview for example. But those who do suffer with anxiety know that anxiousness is not just feeling nervous about a particular event or task ahead of them or having the odd panic attack (note: panic attacks are different to anxiety attacks, to read more about the difference between the two read this article). But then on the other end of the scale it’s not rocking back and forth not being able to complete the simplest tasks (some people may experience this when anxious, but it’s not a general thing that happens with everyone suffering with anxiety.
Scientifically, it’s just a chemical imbalance in your brain – reminding myself of this when I’m in a bad place with my anxiety sometimes helps put things into perspective.
My anxiety went undiagnosed for a few years, so I certainly think that we need to talk about it more so that there’s more awareness surrounding it.
What is depression?
Depression – in basic terms – is the feeling of low mood, which sometimes is difficult to understand why. It’s waking up one morning and struggling to get out of bed because you simply feel like you cannot face the world and everyone in it.
And when you have anxiety AND depression it’s like fighting a constant battle in your mind. Wanting to do something to combat depression but feeling too anxious to actually go out and do it. Like wanting to go out and socialise with friends but feeling undeserving of their friendship so you end up staying in – making the depression worse – and if your group of friends don’t know how you’re feeling you can start to feel anxious about what their thinking/saying about you – such a vicious and exhausting circle! It’s a horrible feeling of detachment from the world surrounding you.
Being on medication
Taking the step to go and speak to a doctor/mental health nurse/therapist is not an easy one to make. On my first appointment there was a lot of tears. It was a strange feeling because on one hand it was relieving to be able to get all the terrible thoughts in my head out in the open but at the same time, I also felt daft; thinking why on earth am I crying about this, I’m just overreacting. But honestly, even the doctor was surprised with the things I was coming out with.
Medication isn’t the first stage however, as it’s certainly a big step to take and it’s not an easy one either. First, they recommend counselling or therapy sessions. Then depending on how well you get on with this, they’ll go from there. Personally, counselling didn’t work for me because talking about my problems certainly isn’t my strong point, and meditation just didn’t work for me either. At this point, my mental health nurse decided to put me on antidepressants.
Types of medication
There are so many different types of antidepressant medications. And it’s important to note that certain antidepressants will not work for some, and it may take time to find the right type that works with the chemicals in your brain. It can take a few weeks for them to get into your system properly, but if they’re still not working for you after the typical period then speak to your doctor/therapist/mental health nurse because they can recommend a different type.
Most people don’t get on with the first type of antidepressant they try, or maybe even the dosage so it’s important to speak to the professional about how you’re truly feeling being on those tablets.
What it’s like to be on antidepressants?
Honestly, it’s not all rainbows and roses. It’s a massive misconception that, because you’re on antidepressants, you should be happy all the time. Which certainly is not the case. You have good days and bad days just like everyone else, it’s just that you’re able to cope with the bad days a bit better; they become a little easier and a little more bearable.
It’s also important to note that at the beginning, it will be tough. So tough. The chemicals in the medication are trying to work their way into your system so will mess with the chemicals in your brain big time.
The first two weeks of being on medication, I was a nightmare. No one needs to actually tell me that I was, because I know I was. I constantly felt nauseous, I had a permanent headache (making me extremely grouchy), and my mood swings were intolerable. Ow and I actually experienced our worst argument to do date, and it’s one that is going to stick with me but thinking about it logically, I really was not in the right frame of mind.
What should I do if I think I have anxiety or depression?
It’s really important to talk to someone you can trust, someone who is not judgemental, and sometimes it can be easier to talk to someone who you don’t know neutral to the situation. For example, if your parents are at the root of your anxiety or depression then it may not be the greatest idea for them to be your first talking point, unless of course you want to air your feelings to them and they’re understanding enough to want to help.
Remember, doctors and mental health nurses are there to help. You don’t need to feel like you’re wasting their time if you feel like you’re suffering with anxiety or depression. There are also other organisations out there, such as MIND, who are a charity led organisation out there to help those suffering with mental illnesses.
Please don’t suffer in silence. I’m also here to lend an ear if you need to chat, just drop me a message!
It’s really important to talk about mental illness, so if you want to join the conversation, leave a comment below.
Disclaimer: I’d just like to point out that I am by no means a professional when it comes to mental health (despite my many years of suffering), so if you’re really struggling please seek professional medical assistance.