Just Because I Take Anti-Depressants Doesn't Mean I'm Any Less Of A Person

Just Because I Take Anti-Depressants Doesn't Mean I'm Any Less Of A Person

The only thing that anti-depressants changed about me is my mood, for the better.

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When I was about 15, I had the reluctant discussion with my therapist about going on medication for my depression. I was going to therapy for over a year and it seemed like nothing was helping. I was having difficulty accepting that I might be one of those people who rely on medication to function. I had this stigma in my head that made me believe it was going to make me some kind of person that I didn't want to be.

Together, we decided that it was worth a try, despite my hesitation.

I am now 18 and have been on an anti-depressant since then. It has been the best thing for my mental health in supplement with regular therapy sessions and I am so grateful for what it has done for me.

I cycled through three different medications before I settled into a sufficient emotional baseline. Throughout this time, I went through a couple extremely depressive episodes, one resulting in me having to withdraw from school for some time to go to an outpatient program. I learned a lot about my depression and how I function during that time, including a Major Depressive Disorder diagnosis.

Since getting on the right dose of the right medication, I now can't imagine where I would be right now without that extra step. My depression has very little to do with my environment and is most likely a chemical imbalance in my brain that isn't going to go away. Therefore, the medication piece is very important for my everyday function and I have accepted that. It played a pivotal role in my pulling myself up out of a hole that was beginning to feel like home.

There is such a stigma surrounding medication for mental health that causes many people to not want to try it, even if it is the last step you have to take to save yourself. In conjunction with therapy and other self-care activities, medication can do wonders.

Taking a pill every day for depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, or any other mental illness shouldn't be frowned upon. Quite frankly, its no one's business but your own. Why should anyone care what you are putting into your body, especially when it is something as helpful as medication? Its the same thing as taking medication for physical ailments; its just concerning your mood, emotions, and thoughts instead of your physical body.

I have accepted that going off my anti-depressant probably won't make sense for me for a very, very long time, if not for the rest of my life. I can't see myself ever going without it and that's okay. Its okay to need that extra push in your brain to get you feeling better. Its okay to take it for an extended period of time because you need it to be okay. Its okay to need help in any form and we should always be encouraging those who need it to seek it out.

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What Losing Someone To Suicide Really Feels Like.

In Loving Memory of Andrew Allen Boykin (1997-2015)

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A word that describes what it feels like to lose someone to suicide? That doesn't exist. It's actually a whole jumbled up pool of emotions. Almost unbearable comes to mind, but that still doesn't quite cover it. You never think it'll happen to someone you know, much less a family member.

Let me start off by telling you about my experience. I was up late one night studying for a big nursing test I had the next morning. My phone started ringing, and I automatically assumed it was my boyfriend who knew I would still be up at midnight. It wasn't, though. It was my mother, who usually goes to bed before 10 every night. I knew something bad had happened.

"Mama, what's wrong?" I could hear her crying already. "Baby, Andrew shot himself," my mother then told me. I flooded her with questions. Where? Is he okay? Why was he playing around with a gun this late? What happened? She then said, "No, baby, he killed himself."

Disbelief

Disbelief was my first reaction. No, that couldn't be true. Not my Andrew. Not my 17-year-old, crazy, silly, cousin Andrew. Not the kid who eats sour Skittles while we walk through Walmart and then throws away the pack before we get to the register. Not the kid who, while we all lay in the floor in Grandma's living room, is constantly cracking jokes and telling us stories about how he's a real ladies' man. This can't be real. I'm gonna go home and it is all just gonna be a mix-up.

Confusion

It wasn't, though. I sat in the home of my grandparents, with the rest of my family, confused. We tried to go over what could have caused him to do it. Was it a girl? Did we do something wrong? He acted normal. Nothing seemed off, but I guess nobody will ever truly know.

Anger

For a minute there I was mad. How could he do this? Did he not know what this would do to everyone? So many people loved him. I just couldn't understand, but I wasn't Andrew. How could I understand?

Regret

Regret was my next feeling. Why didn't I do more? What could I have done? How did I not notice he was hurting so bad? There wasn't anyone who knew, though. For the longest time, I told myself that I should have texted him more or just made sure he knew I loved him. In the end, I always realize that there wasn't anything I could have done and that he knew I loved him.

Pain

The funeral was almost insufferable. A church filled with people who loved Andrew. People that would never get to see him or hear his laugh again. The casket was closed and the whole time all I could think about was how I just wanted to hold his hand one last time. My brother, who spent almost every weekend with Andrew since they were little, didn't even want to go inside. They were only a year and a half apart. At one point he just fell to the ground in tears. This kind of pain is the heart-breaking kind. The pain of picking a 15-year-old off the ground when he hurts so bad he can't even go on anymore.


Heartache

This led to heartache. I thought so much about how his life was way too short. He would never get to graduate high school or go to college. He would never get his first grown-up job. He'd never get married or have children. Dwelling on these thoughts did some major damage to my heart. We missed him. We wanted him back, but we could never go back to how things were.

Numbness

For a while after, I could honestly say I was numb. It had hurt so much I think my body shut down for a little while. That disbelief would pop up again and I would forget it was real. I'd try to block out the reminders but that doesn't really work. Every time I see sour Skittles I think about him, or wear this certain pair of earrings he'd always try to get me to give him.

Longing

This past week marked a whole year since he passed away. What am I feeling now? Still all of these things plus a little more. Longing is a good word. I miss him every day and wish so much that he was still here with us. I'll see little reminders of him and smile or laugh. We had so many good memories, and I could never forget those or him. That's what I cling to now. That was my Andrew.


In Loving Memory of Andrew Allen Boykin (1997-2015)

"If love could have saved you, you would have lived forever."


If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline — 1-800-273-8255

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Jobs Need To Pay More Attention To Mental Health

We are more than just numbers on a spreadsheet.

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After working for company X for two years, I finally got promoted to manager. Of course, I was reminded of the extensive responsibilities that management holds and acknowledged that. I went through corporate training and went through training on how to be an effective leader. I enjoyed the training and enjoyed how the directors made us, assistant managers in training fully capable of taking on this new role in our occupations.

However, I found that many things were easier said than done. I ended up not returning to my home store and being in a new environment that had different ways of store operations than what I was accustomed to working under. I felt inferior and powerless. I was supposed to be an example for the crew but I could barely keep up with how much different the store was. I felt incompetent and had never been so disheartened about a job.

On top of working 50 hours a week, I attend school full-time and am planning for post-grad. Many factors cause this level of stress and anxiety but most of it stems from my place of employment: How am I supposed to function as a leader when I can barely function myself?!

I know what you are thinking: Well, what did you expect? Why did you do this to yourself in the first place?

Simple answer: A doable income to pay for school to get even more doable income..but that's another story.


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The fact of the matter is that with trying to be successful, burnout is real. When it burns, it burns deep.

There have been days to where I would have mini breakdowns on the way to work even at work, attempting to hide my emotions with an artificial corporate grin. With this being said, I began to reflect on how I surely can't be the one who feels this way. From being on the other end of the employee-manager spectrum, I can see how negative mental health impacts productivity. I reflect on my own in which I feel unable to perform to my own potential, and reflect on my crew members including one individual, who visibly showed symptoms of anxiety including having several attacks on my shift. I attempted to talk to her and effectively cooled her down while my own assistant griped about having to stay over and had little regards towards her feelings. I felt that if situations like those could be de-escalated and she would slowly bring herself back to work, at least through the shift. Others made me feel like I was a weak link for taking the time to listen to her rather than shooing her away and telling her to get over her issues.

Occupational stress can manifest itself into physical symptoms such as issues with blood-pressure and headaches. I can vouch for it being that I have seen cardiologists about my moments of shortness of breath and off rhythm beats. With a scan with a clean bill of health, I was able to contribute my symptoms to all the stress around me. I attempted to talk to people at my job about this but all they could say is shake it off and get back to work. Of course, work is never a cake walk. However, in this process of "shaking it off", time needs to be implemented.

Corporate society needs to see that its members are not robots and cannot strictly stick to expectations; human nature will not allow it. However, much like mechanical counterparts, humans need time to recharge.

Mental health recovery is important for vital functioning. When I was still a crew member, I used my days off wisely and regained mental clarity. Now that I have fewer opportunities for that, my days off consists of zero productivity and worrying about going to work the next day.

With the introduction of taking time off for mental health, I feel like both employees and managers could benefit in which employees are more productive and managers are able to operate as more effective leaders. In a perfect world, this would be a paid set of days. However, the benefit of mental clarity and freeing the mind from overload is still a bigger payoff. I feel like if the employees were taken care of, they would be more willing to take care of the company.

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