I’ve had a rough few months. Well, a rough year really, but haven’t we all? Firstly, my wedding was cancelled back in July 2020. Then I was diagnosed with autism in November, and with that came a whole plethora of things. It’s been a minefield, to say the least. Then at the beginning of 2021 my fiancé and I broke up. And to top it all off, we went into another lockdown four days after I left him. I moved house, found a gorgeous little apartment to live in alone, and spent a month making it look beautiful and feeling excited about a fresh start in my own home.
Then the novelty of the new house wore off. I was alone, in lockdown, with no family close by, having just lost my fiancé and upcoming marriage. My entire world had been flipped upside down. Anxiety plagued my every moment. I couldn’t see through a haze of worries and nihilistic ideas. I became obsessed with looking in the mirror and started hating a body that hadn’t bothered me for a while. I stopped eating and plummeted very low. I broke, and under doctor’s orders, hauled my suitcase on a train home to live with my mum and dad for a few weeks.
Back in January, I decided to pack in my anti-depressants. I didn’t want them anymore. Felt shame in being on them. Not long after that my doctor prescribed me anti-anxiety medication that made me feel high and like my brain was shrouded in a thick fog. In April I caved and asked my doctor to put me back on anti-depressants.
Once back on them, I started meditation. I started to feel happy again. I did housework for the first time. I set up my printer and sorted out the ink. I did jobs that needed doing. Housework kept the anxiety at bay. Meditation is a wonderful tool for fighting mental health. But the ironic, and inherently frustrating, thing is when I’m anxious or depressed, I can’t do them. Medication clears the mind. There is no shame in taking it. It is a short-term tool that allows us to do the things that will help our minds long-term. Like meditation and talking therapies. Medication has allowed me to do the things that stop me being anxious. The thing is, without meds I can’t do those things, that stop me being anxious. It’s too much.
The fog lifted and one day I looked in the mirror and liked what I saw. My body hadn’t changed, if anything I’d put on a pound or two, but my mind stopped distorting what I saw.
People have told me depression is situational. That in order to be happy one must change their circumstances. Let me tell you, I changed my entire life. Almost three years ago I quit drinking and stopped taking drugs. I stopped smoking and went vegan. I did yoga every day and started working at a job I loved. I started university, a dream I’d had for years. I wrote every day and always exercised. I had a loving fiancé and the promise of a wedding. Depression was still close by. I was so tense and miserable all the time. I did everything right. One day I gave in and went to the see my doctor and came out with a bag of antidepressants. I thought my therapist, my fiancé, my family would all advise against the pills. But not one of them did. They could all see the way depression had manifested itself deep in my bones, even if I hadn’t been aware of it myself.
When the antidepressants kicked in, I swear I felt pure happiness for the first time in my life. Without it being synthetically shot through my bloodstream in the form of ecstasy or cocaine or wine. I promise you, there is a chemical imbalance in my brain. I have come off them once or twice since I started them and it’s just hell. I self-medicated from fifteen with alcohol and drugs. Now the doctor medicates me in a much safer way.
The stigma around medication must end. I still feel shame for being on them. I agree that they should be a last option. Before I took them, I disagreed with them. But now I understand how some people’s minds are just a little broken. That’s okay.