Do You Need Antidepressants ?
An Accident Changed Everything
I was a passenger in a one vehicle accident in 2000. The car rolled several times, landing upside down in a creek bed. Luckily the creek was relatively dry otherwise I may have drowned. I had passed out during the roll and so don't remember much about the actual accident and I did not regain consciousness until I was asked my name in hospital. I was given a brain scan and xrays and fortunately there was no damage. I was very lucky to only have a badly lacerated head, my long hair was shaved off and I was stitched up. A week later I was released but me mental recovery was slow. I was capable of showering myself and this was the only place of privacy I was able to shed the many tears of frustration, embarrassment, disappointment and anger. My friend had been driving the vehicle and felt so guilty, every time he looked at me I could see the torture in his eyes.
Before the accident I had been studying full time with the prospect of having my own business helping others overcome depression. Now here I was, being the one who needed help and I felt so powerless to help myself overcome the feeling of drowning in sadness and disappointment. I suppose I was also grieving for the life I knew I wasn't going to pursue as a counsellor to others. I could not bring myself to discuss my feelings with friends or family and I gave a good impression of being happy and healthy minded to all who saw me, until the day my own daughter caught me out in the bathroom sobbing, she held me silently. She was only fifteen but she knew to send me to my doctor.
Go Home and Get Over It
Sadly for me, my gp of many years told me I should just go home and get over it, he said " you have been through a near fatal accident, of course you are going to be feeling out of sorts but you will feel better in no time" So I took his advice, went home and and tried to "get over it". Of course it didn't work and I quickly realised that my doctor who had been good with diagnosing minor ailments and giving prescriptions over the years left a lot to be desired when it came to "real" issues.
Of course there was an insurance claim and during the endless and grueling round of visiting doctors and solicitors I was directed to see a psychologist and eventually a psychiatrist who assessed I should be taking antidepressants. One of my problems since the accident had been a severe lack of motivation to take up where I had left off in my life. I had no motivation or passion for things I had once enjoyed. My memory and attention span had been severely depleted. My psychiatrist explained to me that it had been proven that people with depression often experienced problems with memory, attention and motivation and these could be improved with antidepressant medication. And so I agreed to take them even though I had doubts as to why I was really being prescribed them. I was also to visit the psychiatrist once a week for three months so he could assess my improvement.
On first taking the medication (zoloft) I felt quite ill most of the time and very light headed, I was told this was normal until my body became conditioned to the drug. I hate taking tablets at the best of times and to have to take a pill that had me feeling worse was almost enough for me to flush them down the toilet. But I persevered and after about three weeks I was indeed feeling better. In the process my emotional state had improved as well and whilst I hadn't returned to my studies I at least was reading magazines and starting to visit friends again. I was gaining weight too but this was probably because I was using food to soothe my soul and not exercising, not a good combination. On a return visit to my psych he suggested an increase in my dosage of zoloft due mainly to me becoming distressed when I talked with him about the way my life had been turned upside down by the accident. I again agreed with this.
Why Do I Not Care? Feelings - It Is Better to Feel Sad Than To Not Feel At All
I slipped into a routine of eating, sleeping and visiting doctors but not really getting involved with life. By this stage I had been on medication for over a year and I felt like I was stuck-not getting worse but not getting better either. At first I didn't really notice how far I had fallen and my first indication that something was really wrong with me was when my daughter became extremely upset over the death of her cat. Usually when my daughter is upset for whatever reason, I empathise and sympathise with her. I hate when she is upset. But this time I felt unable to offer her any emotional support, beyond listening to her cry. This was not me. A small part of me quite liked the idea that I wasn't feeling the usual angst over her situation, however the better part of me knew, the real me was locked away behind the Zoloft. It was time to take control of my life.
Finding Me Again
There were times when I would become frustrated and a little angry with myself, if I forgot something I felt I should have been able to easily remember. At these times my boyfriend would ask "have you been taking your meds?" Oh! how I hated that. As if I had no right to have any emotions apart from happy ones. "Yes" I would answer between clenched teeth. The antidepressant may have been aiding my memory and depression to some degree but the cost was too great. I wanted to feel again. If I couldn't feel I wasn't really alive and living. I wanted to cry again in sad movies and feel sorrow for the lady on the news who lost her husband to cancer. I knew I should not just stop taking my medication so I asked a trusted source the best way to wean myself off them with little or no side effects. I very slowly cut back on my tablets and this took quite a while to reduce to taking none at all. I told no one what I was doing as I really believed that if I did and then showed some sort of emotion I would be talked into resuming my meds. There was a time of "release" where I felt overwhelmed with emotion, almost a rebirth into the world of feeling, but it was great. I mean after all there are times when a good cry feels so right. I started eating less and better, taking long walks (excellent for mental health) and meditiating. I am now at a good place and believe, for whatever reason, I wasn't meant to pursue a career in counselling. I am very happy with my life and am truly blessed. Lots of people still ask for my advice with their problems and assist them as a friend would and if necessary advise them to seek a more professional answer.
Antidepressant drugs have their place and are extremely beneficial to a lot of people, however I think my situation did not warrant such extreme measures. I tend to think more sessions with a psychologist would have achieved a better and quicker result. Sometimes all we really need is for someone to really listen to us. I don't regret ever doing this. I don't regret giving the medication a try either. It is all a part of experiencing life and learning from it.