Diary of a depression fighter: Medication

Right from the start I had a love/hate relationship with antidepressants. I knew it was necessary, but I hated to use it. Still do, but not as badly. Deep inside I still want to conquer this thing on my own. Rather strange that on the one hand I so badly wanted to do it on my own, while on the other hand I did not really understand how much I could DO about my situation (that is over and above taking the medication.)
This pride/stubbornness kept me trying to cope without medication far too long. I had been raised not to seek medical attention if it was not serious. And with an acute terror of being seen as a hypochondriac. One good thing was that the stigma still surrounding emotional sickness was not really a problem to me, because I had studied Psychology and understood that it was not something to be ashamed of. In theory, that is.
Of course the issue of side-effects was the first implication when I started taking medication at last. Unpleasant is a very mild word to use in this case, but I’ll stick to it. Through the years I handled some serious and some less serious side-effects. All of them unpleasant. But my point is that it was worth it. (And I try not to think too much about the pharmaceutical firms smiling all the way to the bank.) Of course the good three weeks you usually have to wait before the positive effects really kick in, only make things worse. And of course it is such a subjective issue – it is very difficult to be sure any improvement is really because of the medication and not about any of all the other factors in your life.
For years I took the medication reluctantly and diligently kept on hating it. Today I can see how I kept feeding myself a steady dose of negativity, instead of being grateful for what is available. And then there is the very real danger of not taking it regularly. I think it is crucial to take it as prescribed and NOT to change your dose without consulting your doctor. And NOT to stop taking the stuff every few months, just to see if you can’t maybe cope without it this time. Every time you put yourself through the whole painful cycle of stopping medication, then the gradual slide back into the stinking darkness if the pit of depression, the process of convincing yourself you do need help again, the feeling of defeat when you make that appointment once again, the process to become used to the new medication. And then there is the other great stupidity I also tried – to just stop the stuff because you are utterly and finally sick of it. This is nearly guaranteed to land you deeper in that slimy pit than any other trick you can try. Very much wiser to start gradually and to stop gradually, as your doctor has prescribed.
To sum up: The years have taught me that medication is essential. I still take it, although in a lower dose. My big mistake was to think that taking the medication was the only thing that I could do. Please do not make the same mistake! In my view medication is the starting point for the fight against depression, not the end.
Next week: More about therapy.

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