I feel that medication for the mind is a very touchy subject since for some it works really well and is the best thing that has ever happened to them, and for others it doesn’t. Personally, I have never been a fan of medication, even before I was diagnosed with any mental illness.
During my first major depressive episode I just accepted the medication for lack of a better solution since I was so desperate to get better. I was at an absolute loss and in my mind going on the medication admitted final defeat. Unfortunately, the meds did more wrong than right, and I remained extremely depressed while on them and started to lose my sense of reality. Anti-depressant medications take at least 6 weeks to kick in, and there are so many types that it usually takes a couple tries to get the right kind and dose. After a couple months, I was admitted to hospital where I had a new psychiatrist who put me on medication that had minimal side effects, which helped (I suppose).
I am still on the meds today (about 3 years later), but in the process of weaning off them. I’ve recently convinced my psychiatrist to start lowering the doses since I would like to be completely off them soon. His argument is that it is a good idea for me to still stay on them as a shield in case large stressors enter my life again. On the other hand, I feel that the medication is only a small part of my recovery, and that everything I have learned and done for myself has made me a much stronger person that will be able to handle life’s obstacles. Maybe the medication did help to stabilize my mood, so I could be able to do things, but I’m the one who made that photo collage, went to peer support, joined a gym, started volunteering, working and going out with friends. Having all of this balance in my life played a huge part in helping to make me feel better. In the grand scheme of things the medication is only a small part of this balance, and if a large stressor does arise I will just have to make more effort towards the other parts of my life balance.
Although I am a bit skeptical of how big or small of a role the meds played towards my recovery, it is still scary at the thought of how I will be when I am completely off them. Right now I am almost half off my regular dose and everything is fine, and hopefully it will remain that way.
In general, medication is a risk. You risk getting worse and experiencing bad side effects, but there’s also a chance of it really helping you get better. Same with getting off of it, you are risking another relapse but there’s also a chance that you’re strong enough without it, and then you will never find out. At the same time you shouldn’t feel ashamed to be on medication (like I was). If you’ve gone through the pros and cons and feel it’s the best decision for you, then go for it.
About Elena B.
Elena is a 21 year-old college student, sales associate, and volunteer living with depression and generalized & social anxiety. Formally diagnosed with social anxiety in high school, Elena has struggled with it for the majority of her life. During her first year of university she experienced high levels of anxiety and had her first major depressive episode, which was followed by another the following year. Since then she has been recovered and focuses on her recovery daily. She currently runs a tumblr blog, where she shares inspirational quotes, images, and tips to help others with their recovery. Follow Elena’s story on HMC’s Supportive Minds Blog.