It’s always funny to me when I tell people that I was treated for depression but now live life without taking anti-depressants. They immediately assume that I’m a loose cannon, or that I’m suicidal.
Spoiler alert: I am neither.
In fact, I’m horribly predictable, to the point of being boring.
That level of judgement that gets swung at you when you talk about your personal experiences with depression is the same one that stopped me from seeking help for so long.
It was only when I flat-lined at work and at home that I ended up wordlessly heaving myself into my doctor’s rooms and writing a note that said: “Help me”.
I was petrified.
I wasn’t necessarily suicidal (much), but it did take me a very long time to accept that the issue didn’t lie with me, but took root in a chemical imbalance that I didn’t necessarily cause.
When I eventually accepted it as part of me, I realised I could manage it.
Two years of therapy, five years of anti-depressants and more soul-searching than I ever expected, and I dropped the drugs from my life.
Therapy is good for you
The act of “going to see the shrink” is shrouded in some level of mystery and yet, I know it was one of the best things I have ever done, for me. The tools and skills I learnt there, were what made me feel empowered enough to one day, drop the drugs.
When my daughter quizzed me the other day on what it is therapists do, I explained my experiences and highlighted for her that, no matter what, I hope she sees someone like that too one day – even if she has no apparent issues to ‘deal with’.
Dropping the drugs
Long after therapy sessions had ended and about five years after I started taking them, I felt that I wanted to try life without medication. Life had thrown a significant bundle of curveballs at me by then and I felt strong enough to try life without my little helpers.
So, under the advice of my doctor, we began a weaning off process that saw me taking less and less of the drugs prescribed to me, slowly getting down to that day I would wake up and take nothing.
Five years since
It’s been five years since I stopped taking anti-depressants.
Has my depression disappeared?
But what I do know is that – for me (and everyone is different!) I can identify and isolate the times where I know I will battle. I know my triggers and my usual escape routes.
I also have people around me who are not afraid to prompt me into action if they think I’m in denial.
I also know that, the moment I feel I need to go back on to taking daily medication for it, or seek out therapy sessions again, I can and I will, without fear.