Antidepressants gave me my life back
Tell people “I’ve started taking antidepressants” and watch their reactions. You’ll soon notice that the taboo about the medication is still huge. This is remarkable, knowing that they are massively prescribed in the west. Recent estimations say that in the United States and Belgium (my country of origin) up to 10 percent of people, aged 12 or older, use them. Seriously, crazy right?
There is a stigma around popping a pill to handle mental illness. In the eyes of many, mental illnesses should only be addressed ‘naturally’, unlike other illnesses. Mental illness should be addressed with diet, therapy, exercise and maybe meditation and yoga.
And I have to say: I did share this view. I thought “if you take antidepressants, you are REALLY crazy”. This doesn’t correlate with the stats. Do you think 10% of Belgium and the United States is bat shit crazy?
I used to demonize antidepressants out of fear for the long term negative effects
Another reason for me to demonize these meds, is fear. Fear for the long term negative effects. More precisely fear for habituation to the pills. Will my body adjust to these pills in a way that it will be almost impossible for me to go without them? When quitting the medication, will I be worse of as compared to the period before starting the medication? This last concern is one I still have to this day. But after a while, the craving for relief from the pain begins to outweigh the long term health concerns. Let me take you through my journey.
As far as I can remember, I’ve been an anxious person. However, it only became particularly serious when I went to university. At university I met Natasha, my first true love. This first love brought along extreme feelings. Feelings of affection, love, but also anxiety. From this moment on, this kind of anxiety became a constant in my existence. More precisely, I became extremely anxious for events I looked forward to. The reason is, I really wanted these events to go well. I would also get this kind of anxiety when going on a holiday or in my professional career.
My first love brought along extreme feelings. Feelings of affection, love, but also anxiety.
By the end of the relationship with Natasha, the anxiety was so huge that I had problems going out of the house. I started to compare myself with everybody I came across and my conclusion was always that I was inferior to them. Less confident, less interesting, less handsome, less funny, etc. This insecurity played a big role in my break up with Natasha.
This breakup however was a big turning point in my life. I wanted to seriously address my mental issues with strategies which were scientifically proven. I started to eat really clean, work out even more and above all, I started meditating. Especially the meditation helped me tremendously. After a while I felt completely cured. I saw myself as a person without any mental issues and anxiety. I credited this improvement mainly to the meditation I implemented in my life. I never stopped meditating from this point on.
Later on in life I started working at my first job, which gave me a lot of stress. My anxiety issues started to reoccur again. They didn’t just reoccur, they spiked as they never had before. I still believed in my meditation and I started to increase the duration of my daily meditation. I also started to exercise more and take nutritional supplements (omega3, valerian, magnesium…). The following 2.5 years, the strategies made it possible for me to manage the anxiety to a level where I could just cope enough to work. However I wasn’t enjoying life at all. After 2.5 years of working, I couldn’t sufficiently cope with the stress anymore to do my work. I started having nervous breakdowns that would result in missing days at work.
All this time, since the beginning of university, my doctor tried to get me on antidepressants. But like mentioned before, I was reluctant to take them. I wanted to resolve my mental issues with natural healthy strategies. So I refused to take the advice from my doctor. However when my nervous breakdowns started happening, I was ready to try everything. I couldn’t cope with my strategies alone. I needed something extra, even if it would harm me in the long run. So almost 1 year ago I started taking Sertraline (brand name Zoloft), an SSRI.
A new beginning
The effects were fairly profound. It’s not that now my mood in general is lifted or different at all. But the big change is that I don’t get any deep dips anymore. When deadlines at work approach, I still get nervous, but they can’t drag me in a downward spiral of worries anymore
My dating life is now better than ever.
Since taking the meds I can enjoy certain activities to the fullest, instead of losing a lot of joy to worrying. My dating life now is better than ever. I don’t freak out when I really start to like someone. Also going on holiday all of a sudden has become a lot more enjoyable.
The past year, I have been able to enjoy life the fullest. I still don’t feel comfortable with the idea of being dependent on medication for my mental wellbeing, but for the moment I’m enjoying this breath of fresh air. I’ll (try to) go off this medication for sure, but not yet.