In my pervious article, I described the breakdown I had during 2013, how anti depressant medication helped me on the road to recovery and helps me remain healthy to this day. I currently take 20mg of citalopram, and that’s honestly one of the best life decisions I’ve ever made. But not everyone feels that way. The following is a list of the comments/questions I get when I reveal I’m on anti-depressants, and my response to each of them.
“Aren’t you worried the drugs are changing your personality?”
I’m not worried the drugs are changing my personality. I know they’re changing my personality and I’m very grateful for this. The person I was pre-breakdown felt uncomfortable in almost any social situation, and was prone to self-harm, screaming and throwing things at the walls. She was also incredibly self-centred and found it hard to see past her own sense of inferiority. The person I am on the drugs doesn’t self-harm, scream or throw things. She’s much better at empathizing, able to hold down a job, has lots of friends, is very close to her family and well.. just happier.
“Aren’t you worried about the side effects?”
To be honest… I’ve avoided researching the side effects of my meds. I’m a bit of a hypochondriac, and if, for example, I read that citalopram causes hot flushes, I’d immediately start to feel hot, regardless of whether the drugs were effecting my temperature. If I had a health problem that could be related to my meds, I’d look into it. But for now, I’d rather not give my imagination something to run away with. I know that Prozac caused dizzy spells and messed up my sex drive, but once I switched to Citalopram these issues disappeared. The only side effect that currently affects me is weight gain. But having to buy clothes in a size 14 is a small price to pay for a healthy, happy life.
“As your body gets used to the drugs, you’re just going to have to take more and more until you’re too doped up to function.”
This argument is something I hear a lot of, and I can’t relate to it at all. Okay, I did have to up the dosage from 10mg to 20mg in the early days of my recovery, but since then I’ve been on the same strength. That’s three years without needing to increase my meds. I’m on a relatively low dosage, but it’s still effective, and I certainly don’t feel too doped up to function. In fact I’m functioning better than ever.
“Drugs don’t fix the problem, it’s like prescribing pain killers for a broken leg instead of mending the bone.”
I understand this analogy. I really do. But while there’s one obvious treatment for a broken leg, with a broken mind it’s not so simple. Treatments that provide the solution to one patient might be completely useless to another, even if they have the same disorder. And while you’re busy looking for a treatment that does work, you’ll find you need to take something to ease the pain, give you energy and get you through the day, just as you would if you were searching for the right treatment for a physically ailment.
As mentioned in my previous article, anti depressants weren’t the only treatment I used to get my mental health back on track. Physical exercise helped to tire me out, reducing the potential for meltdowns and panic attacks. Art therapy provided me with a creative outlet and a sense of accomplishment which boosted my self-esteem. Talking therapy, journal writing and poetry provided me a chance to work through my emotional issues and come to terms with my diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome. Once I understood how autism affected me I was able to manage my condition, and no longer felt scared and miserable every time I felt the urge to tap an object or flick my fingers. I now accept any additional support I’m offered, and try not to compare myself to others. I’m different from others, and that’s ok.
Before you criticize someone for being on anti depressants, try to think about what led them to try medication in the first place. I am not doing this for attention. I’m not a drug addict, I’m not self indulgent and I don’t think that my mental illness makes me deeper or more interesting. I’m just someone who’s recovered from a serious illness, and I’m trying to live a normal life despite being just a teeny bit abnormal.
Do you have any questions about anti depressants, mental health or autism? Comment below, and your question may be answered in my next blog post.