Sheer desperation caused me to take antidepressants. I hated the idea of taking them. Well, at least the idea of me taking them. Outwardly, I was a gong-ho supporter of mental health campaigns, tweeting #BellLetsTalk, and dutifully listening whenever one of my friends felt down or stressed. But there was a dissonance between my superficial support of mental health and my utter denial of my own issues.
I was like the proverbial frog in boiling water, the intensity of my depression slowly dialing upward, until I was nearly cooked to death. Humans are adaptable creatures and I got used to my disintegrating quality of life. I knew I felt low but the changes were gradual enough that I could carry on ignoring my feelings and still function in everyday life.
Despite this charade, it was my drunken self who was determined to reveal the truth. To add to the festivities of an intoxicated Friday night, I began sobbing hysterically, alarming my friends with refrains that I wanted to kill myself. Not surprisingly, they were concerned and pressured me to seek professional help, which I did, but only to appease them. Internally, I simply cursed alcohol’s ability to let your guard down.
I attended therapy sessions, lied through my teeth about how much better I was feeling and instead fell deeper into depression’s depths. What is fascinating about denial is I believed I was the exception. Boiled down, my thought process was that antidepressants were a solution for everyone, except me, who somehow possessed the unique ability to master depression by ignoring it. It boggles me now because I had such shit self-esteem at the time but I still thought that I was somehow special enough to combat a mental illness without the resources I believed were important for others.
A few months passed in this haphazard way and I kept it semi-together. The alarm my drunken outburst caused was passed off as a freak incident and my depression remained out of reach of concerned onlookers. Until Halloween night, when the alcohol’s depressive qualities wreaked havoc once again and I cut my wrists bawling that I just wanted to die. As much as I tried to scoff this off, it was a pretty difficult task, as I had truly crossed the line into Not Normal. My friends were Concerned and I needed to Do Something. At this point, I was overwhelmed. My depression felt like the deep sea, impenetrable by light. Only looking back now can I see that my perception was altered, and I was not making rational decisions. My therapist urged me to visit my general physician to receive medical care. I resigned myself to the visit and was promptly placed on medication. Pill after therapy after pill after self-care after pill after supportive family and friends after pill, I started to feel better.
Now, I don’t think medication is the only solution available to those suffering with mental illness but I do believe it is an important tool. It can speed up recovery time and avoid falling so dangerously low. I exhausted all other options before taking medication but it was ultimately the tool that allowed those other options to be effective. I would never encourage anyone who is not diagnosed thoroughly to take medication but if administered with proper care it can be an effective option (even if you are stubborn like me.)