Recently, I have seen a few memes circulating the world of social media.
These memes angered me beyond belief. As someone who fought so hard against medication only to realize it was actually my saving grace. News flash: depression is a chemical imbalance. Second news flash: trees do not produce the same chemicals needed to fix that chemical imbalance. Third news flash: while exercise does release endorphins, it does not permanently fix the chemical imbalance, either. Fourth, and final, news flash: if you actually believe that you can compare depression to the inability to get a boner, then you need some help.
I have suffered from depression and anxiety since I was around 13 years old. Unfortunately, most of that time went untreated due to the stigma that is placed on anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications. I always believed that if you take medication you are weak, out of control, and it was going to mess your body up. I tried every alternative method I could think of; yoga, tai chi, exercise, going on walks, journaling, oils, special candles, and chiropractic treatments.
For years, I masked my depression and anxiety, except to my mom who, unfortunately, got the brunt of my anger and mood swings (once, again sorry mom). Finally, I got the nerve to get some help. I talked to my MD and she prescribed Prozac. From freshman year of college till the middle of my junior year, I took 40mg of Prozac every day. Unfortunately, my body got too used to it and it became ineffective. So, I tried several other medications and nothing worked. I had almost given up.
That’s when my life changed and I couldn’t take it anymore. Every day felt like it wasn’t my own. I was out of control, and I felt like I wasn’t even living. My therapist told me to talk to my doctor as soon as possible and get back on medication. I felt like I was giving up. Thankfully, my mother convinced me to do it. The doctor prescribed Zoloft this time. Very soon, I felt like myself. I felt in control, calm, even happy.
I was lucky. I had support in my battle. For many people, that support doesn’t exist. Many people don’t believe in medication; some don’t even believe in depression or anxiety as legitimate diseases. Due to many people being told to ‘get over it’, they do not receive the proper treatment for these very real disorders. I have been told to ‘get over it’, ‘just exercise more’, ‘get a grip’. However, I happened to be stronger and know that what I was experiencing wasn’t something I could just ‘get over’. Many teenagers don’t realize this. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for college students and students age 12-18 and four out of five of teens who attempt suicide show clear warning signs (The Jason Foundation via CDC, 2014).
Please, for all of those people who are too afraid to stick up for themselves, stop posting these memes. They cause people who battle depression silently and otherwise feel uncomfortable and invalidated. Depression is real and no tree, or dumbbell will cure it; support will.
If you or someone you know is suffering from depression or has suicidal thoughts, please reach out for help. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255. Remember, you are not alone.