07 December 2017 // At Fairleigh Dickinson University

It's Time to Stop Demonizing Medication

Taking prescription medication has saved my life. Stop demonizing me for my choice.

Amanda Thomas

I began taking antidepressants in February of 2015 and they saved my life.

Freshman year of college was a rough time. I wasn't happy with the friends I was making, I felt lonely, and my great-uncle passed away the week of finals. The grief of it all piled on top of me and I felt a misery I hadn't felt in a long time. I had gained more than the Freshman 15 and felt uncomfortable in my body. I didn't know who I was or what I wanted anymore. January brought terrible habits and I began to punish myself. I felt weak, exhausted, miserable. When I came back to school, I had no idea how to feel about anything. I began to isolate myself and the future I saw ahead for myself was very bleak.

Choosing to go to therapy was the first step in saving my life. I had researched antidepressants in the weeks since I had gone to therapy but there was a part of me that thought I was weak for choosing that route. I read the experiences of people online who said that antidepressants made them feel even worse; out-of-touch with reality, nauseated, and in a deeper hole than when they began. Some even said that the medication had no effect on them at all. I panicked. I felt myself teetering so close to the edge and I needed something to save me.

When I met with my psychiatrist, he said I needed to go on medication right away. I refused only because I was thinking about what other people had said about antidepressants. What was the point in trying something that didn't work?

Both my therapist and psychiatrist spoke to me, calming me down and giving me necessary information. They even called my mother for me and explained everything while I was a sobbing mess in the chair beside them. Days later, I started on medication.

It was hard at first. I felt dizzy and nauseated just as the people online had said. However, I had also been warned for the side effects by my doctor. I was helped through the exhaustion and sickness and a week later, I felt better than I had in months, perhaps years.

With so many young people choosing to take medication, and myself taking medication on-and-off for two years, I have seen the unintelligent criticisms. "This is what is causing the opioid crisis" or "This is the problem with doctors in America; they prescribe medication instead of dealing with the actual problem".

Stop demonizing life-saving medication.

Without my medication, I wouldn't be able to function as a human being. I don't want to think about what would have happened to me if I didn't start taking medication. I'm stable thanks to my psychiatrist's intervention and the advice of my therapist. Of course, the first week of medication is the worst but don't discount how your body adjusts to it. And sometimes it may not work for everything and that's fine. But don't demonize me for taking medication that has saved my life.

My life is not yours. Other people's lives are not your own. You never know why someone is on medication and it is not your place to judge unless there is reason for concern. Medication is not an evil; it can be a necessity for recovery. There may be a day where I will not need medication. Until that day comes, respect my choice for taking it.