1. The Side Effects
There can be some pretty nasty side effects aside from the general ones a doctor tells you. The side effects also change depending on how long you’ve been on medication. I remember when I was first starting out I had headaches, stomachaches, nausea etc. Currently, I have been on the same medication for about a year and a half and I still suffer from side effects like fatigue and brain fog.
2. It’s Not a Magic Pill
Before I started my journey with medication, I had this huge misconception that taking a pill would solve all my problems. The first time I was introduced to the option of taking medication, I was very young and naive. I had no idea what medication really was and how it worked. I think the way doctors threw the idea at me made me believe that at the swallow of a pill, I would be better, healthier and less anxious and depressed. Once I had first hand experience with taking medication, I quickly learnt that it would be a long journey towards recovery.
3. Coming off Medication
Coming off medication is never discussed when you start medication. I have had two extremely scary and dark periods of my life trying to come off of my medication, both unsuccessfully. I wish I’d known how difficult it would be to come off of medication once you start it. Coming off medication is a lengthy process and involves slowly lowering your dose over a long period. When I tried to come off medication, it was scary because I didn’t feel like myself; my anxiety and depression was intensified. Looking back, it seems like a blur and my memory is very foggy about that time period.
4. Missed Doses
I think there has to be a tough diligence when you are taking medication. Forgetting or skipping doses can really affect your mental health and mental illness. I am bad with forgetting doses and I usually start to get side effects like headaches and dizziness when I go a few days without my medication. I think doctors fail to mention how important it truly is to stick to your dose schedule and what the consequences can be when you don’t.
5. It’s an Emotional Process
Going on medication can be a very anxious and overwhelming experience. Will it work? When will it work? When will these side effects go away? A lot of things about the process can actually make your anxiety worse for a bit which is really hard to deal with when your on medication to help reduce your anxiety.
6. It Doesn’t Always Work
Sometimes medication takes months to have its full effects, sometimes it doesn’t work at all and sometimes it takes many attempts at trial and error with different types of medication.
7. Follow up with a Doctor
It’s important to keep in touch with your doctor when you are making any type of change with your medication.
8. You are Not Weak
The most important thing I wish I’d known before taking medication is that you are not weak for taking it! Taking medication is not an easy way out and you are not weak for asking for help. Taking medication makes you incredibly strong and courageous. I have to admit that it took me a very long time to allow myself to start taking medication and part of that comes from the stigma that is attached to medication and mental illness.
* This is a personal depiction of my experience with antidepressants; everyone’s experience is different. Please consult a doctor before going on medication or stopping medication.
About Samantha MacDougall
I have dealt with mental illness my entire life and enjoy sharing my story with others! You can find me on Instagram @AnxiouslyAwesome where I fight stigma and share my stories and battles with mental illness. I have been diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder, major depressive disorder and depersonalization and I fully believe that talking about mental health helps to fight the stigma surrounding it! You are not alone in your struggles.