I think if you ask most people with anxiety and depression, they ideally wouldn’t want to be on prescribed drugs. They would rather just be well and coping with life. But what if you are not coping. What if you need that further support – should you take them? Should you avoid taking them because of social stigma? “Oh you are on happy pills are you?” or “Why don’t you just cheer up?” and “What have you got to be down about?” *throat punch*
Ultimately, it’s your choice – you know yourself better than anyone out there. I’m not going down the route of ‘big pharma’ or ‘chemical cosh’ statements that you see in the media. If you think meds will help, why should you feel stigmatised or pressured by so called friends not to? They could potentially save someone’s life or help turn around a shitty time to being able to cope and move forward. That first stepping stone to being better. I’m not saying cured as I don’t believe people will ever be 100%, they just learn better coping strategies. I was having a good chat with someone recently about things that help elevate your mood and produce those feel good chemicals. Exercise has some amazing benefits, but you need to have the personal strength to get out and do it. If your mood is that low, it is a million times harder to get started. The thought of leaving the house can induce panic and anxiety. What may help is setting small goals before working up to hitting the gym or doing a run. Only you can get yourself in that better place to be able to progress. I know what it’s like to be rock bottom though, so if you are in that place now, it will happen. You will have a day that you can do more. It may be that the following days you do nothing. What is important here is that you don’t batter yourself emotionally for perceived ‘failure’. Don’t beat yourself up and take each day as it comes. Remember, all things start with Day One!
So what are my own experiences of medication? An emotional crutch but a bit of a sticking plaster too I found. I think the first time was after muddling through with growing stress and bereavement. Sinking, sinking, sinking. I resisted getting any form of help and didn’t want to take any ‘happy pills’. I’d seen people I knew on them and just recalled them acting a bit zombie like. Why would I want that? Yes I endured the odd comment (literally) of “why would you need them?” and “You’ll get over it without pills”. But I didn’t “get over it”. After speaking to my GP, I agreed to get on board and try them out. This was the start of being on and off them as I wasn’t doing anything else about my issues. (Hence the sticking plaster comment). Time passed when I felt better, so came off them. But when the clouds started reforming, I was back on them. What I did find, was that over time I was increasing the doseage or the type of medication as I didn’t feel as though they were working. I was plodding on with life but I was riding the emotional treadmill. Yes I was moving, but not in a beneficial direction i.e. forward!
What I found though, was that eventually I was able to take some positive steps. I accepted the way I was and embraced self help. I’m grateful I was able to get to that position. It would’ve happened quicker though had I taken responsibility for my own wellbeing. It would’ve happened quicker had I not been so emotionally unavailable. It would’ve happened sooner had I seeked counselling or other talking therapies. It was a long time to get to that position, but I cannot change the past. One big thing I have learned is not to stress about things I can’t change or have no control over. The past is one of those things. Use the past only to learn from and move forward.
So, medication yes or no? There have been positives and they helped trigger the desire to change. If you combine them with self help, therapy and finding what strategies work for you, then there are benefits. Will I ever go back on them? I don’t know but I won’t be swayed by other people’s thinking. I know myself better than any other chuffer. You have to find your own path on your current journey. I will in no way say yes take them or no don’t. What works for you is important and I can only speak from a perspective of my own journey. Just don’t bottle everything up! I cringe when I see social media posts about a smile, a cup of coffee, a hug, a run or a song being the best anti-depressant. Yes they have their place, but life is little more complex than that.