Antidepressants work differently for different people.
Let’s get this straight. One size does not fit all. So if you try one and it doesn’t work, do not give up. Everyone will go on a rollercoaster of ups and downs and deal with a number of side effects, but everyone will be working toward the same goal – to get better.
Trial and Error
This links to my first point. You will feel like your doctor’s Guinea pig at first. It can be a nerve-racking, anxiety fuelling experience; you’ve reached out for help just to be told it might not work the first time. Different medications effect different people in different ways. So don’t feel like a failure if it doesn’t go to plan on the first try.
Don’t freak out about possible side effects.
It’s not the best idea for an anxious person to read the list of side effects that could possibly come with any medication. And to be honest, sitting around waiting for a heart attack or a random nose bleed isn’t the best way to spend a day.
It can be easy to forget to take your meds, especially if you take more than one type. Set an alarm, try and take them at the same time every day and remember to keep an eye on when your prescription is due to run out. I’ve had A LOT of emotional relapses just because I ran out of tablets before I realised. If you miss some dosages and you’re worried, speak to your GP or psychiatrist – Google is not your doctor!
It’s like taking medication for any physical illness.
If you didn’t, you wouldn’t be able to live life the way you need to. It’s no different for mental illness. Just because you can’t physically see the illness that does not mean it can’t affect your life.
They aren’t magic pills that make you happy all the time.
Everyone has their good days and their bad days. Medication can help you cope with tough situations that your mental health would usually be vulnerable to. A combination of antidepressants, therapy, a healthy lifestyle and a support network is the best direction to go in.
“Are you off your meds?” is the most annoying question ever.
We still have emotions. If we get sad or angry, it doesn’t mean we’re not taking our medication. Don’t be a prick and dismiss valid feelings.
Don’t expect to feel hugely different from day one.
The first few days, or even weeks are going to confuse the shit out of your brain juices. Taking new antidepressants is really dramatic for your body as it figures out how to deal with a new influx of chemicals. Patience is a virtue at this point. It’s important you take notice of how your body reacts and if you incur any side effects. Antidepressants don’t start ‘working’ for 2-3 weeks after you start taking them.
You don’t have to reach a certain depth of depression to need them.
No one besides yourself can fully understand what you are feeling mentally and physically. There is not a degree of ‘bad’ in which is acceptable to take medication.
You don’t necessarily need to be on them forever.
Medication is like a cast. If you break your leg, you wear a cast for support so it can heal. You couple that with physical therapy to strengthen your leg back to health.
It works the same with mental health. You can take antidepressants, coupled with therapy and work towards a healthy state that you won’t need to cast anymore for. If you need medication for a long period of time, that’s okay too.
They don’t change who you are – but they will help you be the best, most capable version of yourself.
Don’t be afraid of taking antidepressants because you think it will change who you are dramatically. When I first started taking Sertraline, I was scared it would turn me into some kind of emotionless zombie. They will help you be happy and healthy. They will help you be your true self – the person your depression is shadowing.
Random crying is normal.
In a weird, backward way, it shows your body is taking notice of them. Even if it’s over silly things. Maintaining a sense of ridiculousness about my condition sometimes gets me through dark times. Sometimes it helps confront irrational thinking on a level of silliness. If you can look at it with a slightly dark sense of humour, why not.
Once, I bawled my eyes out because I was in a particularly dark place, and I saw a sad looking rock on the side of a road.
I just said that out loud didn’t I…
Lastly, taking antidepressants does NOT make you weak.
Asking for help when you’re struggling is one of the strongest things you can do.