Lately there’s been a lot of debate about whether antidepressants are a good or bad thing. Many argue that meds are what saved them, others say they cause more problems and feel that they are too easily dished out. To be honest, I am of the opinion that whatever works to help with your mental health condition is going to be unique to you. I’ve done the therapy only route before and it did help me. However, I’ve had to go down the combined route with antidepressants this time. I’d tried all the techniques I’d learned from therapy previously, but for whatever reason I could not pull myself out of the spiral I’d gone down. I recognise that with the help of medication I am improving. But I am nagged with worry; what happens when the drugs don’t work?
Irrational Fear or Genuine Concern?
What’s plaguing me lately, is that despite being on a high dose of Sertraline and receiving counselling, I feel like I’m drowning. I know I am making progress. After all, I have returned to work. But I constantly feel like I’m fighting just to keep my head above water. Work is leaving me exhausted. Family stresses have been crazy lately. Any tiny glimmer of happiness seems to just get torn to shreds by others or by my own insecurities.
One argument would be that the drowning feeling is coming from trying to deal with too much at once. True. It very well could be. But what if it’s not? What if, for whatever reason, the drugs don’t work for me anymore? I’ll be honest, I find that thought terrifying.
Now before anybody starts panicking that I’m going to ditch my meds, please don’t worry. Thankfully, I know that without them at this point I would set myself back even further. Coming off antidepressants suddenly can have disastrous side effects. But that’s why I want to document how I’m feeling. I know plenty of sufferers who are tempted to just give up on their medication without speaking to a medical professional first. Some even do it and it tends to not go well.
At some point in everyone’s journey with mental health issues, we can feel that nothing is working. Not therapy or mindfulness or medication. It can all feel futile. After all, why bother with antidepressants or therapy when you don’t feel any better?
Who Says the Drugs Don’t Work?
You see in some respects when these sort of feelings creep up, it would be all to easy to give up and just sink further into the darkness. It can feel inevitable that the illness will win.
If that’s how you are feeling right now, please just hold on. It’s what I’m doing too. I am persevering with my medication and therapy, no matter how pointless my dark passenger tells me it is. I will not let it win. It’s just harder right now, because there is more to deal with than before. Like I told my colleagues on Time to Talk day, I am not fully recovered but I am better than I was even if some days I can’t see it.
I refuse to be the person who says the drugs don’t work. My own experiences with them tell me, whether it’s for short or long-term treatment, they do. They help. I don’t necessarily want to be on them forever and if I can find a way to be able to push back my depressive thoughts and anxiety without them, I will. But if it’s the case that I need them for the rest of my life then that’s okay too.
So instead, I’m going to try something pretty radical for me. I am going to stop saying I’m fine, when I’m anything but. I am going to let myself rest if I need to and not feel guilty for it. Practising self-care even when I’m on good days, as well as the bad ones.
In short I’m not giving up. Maybe the drugs don’t work all the time, but I know that without them I’d be a whole lot worse right now.
Take care, guys.
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