Disclaimer: If you are considering starting or currently taking prescribed psychiatric medications, please READ TO THE END. Also, I’m not a doctor. This is personal opinion, not medical advice. Please consult a doctor if you feel you may need help.
Every day I think about going off my medication. Every. Single. Day. That’s crazy. I know it is. I won’t do it. And yet this very real, very strong temptation is ever present.
There are a number of reason why it is hard to stay on antidepressants. These don’t all apply in my case, but I’ve had a number of people ask why it is so tempting not to adhere to the recommended dosage schedule, so here are some pros and cons to taking antidepressants:
It’s a pain.
As with any daily medication, it becomes so routine that it is easy to forget. And as your brain chemistry normalizes after you have been taking them for a while, and you start to feel normal, it becomes hard to remember why you ever started taking them in the first place. You’re healed, right?
Negative side effects.
Each medication comes with a comprehensive list of possible side effects ranging from barely noticeable to bad. These effects vary from medication to medication, from person to person, and from dose to dose. You may have several, or you may not have any. Sometimes you have to weigh the positive against the potential negative and choose which one you can live with. My choice was life or death, so it was an easy choice for me. But there are a ton of options out there so if one medication doesn’t work, there are plenty more to try.
It makes you feel weak.
There is this thing about your brain that you cannot control or fix on your own. That is a difficult thing to accept. You feel like your mind has betrayed you. The part of you that defines you is malfunctioning and you have to rely on medication to balance you out.
It is different (not necessarily harder) than physical disorders because all of the other organs feel like ancillaries to the “headquarter” of the brain. They are all important, but the brain is what defines who you are. If it doesn’t work, if it breaks, then who are you?
You worry people will think you are crazy.
Or broken. Or both. Mental health disorders are still not very well understood. They’re just not. I mean it makes sense that you can have a chemical imbalance in your brain that would affect how it functions. Your brain is an organ just like any other organ. But the concept of not having complete control over every aspect of the mind is a terrifying possibility.
I think many people are afraid to acknowledge the reality of mental disorders because these disorders do not discriminate. That means that anyone could develop one at any time. It’s easier to discount them as a fraud because then you never have to worry about having one. But it also makes getting treatment more difficult because of the perceptions of others.
You are afraid of the unknown.
As bad as depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, and schizophrenia and other mental health disorders are, when you have lived with them for as long as many of us have, they become your normal. It is human nature to prefer the known to the unknown. And it is terrifying to imagine yourself or your life being different.
What if the medication just masks the real me? What if it changes my personality? What if people like the medicated me way more than the non-medicated me? Which one is the real me? What if antidepressants make me a zombie?
When you find the right ones they really do help.
I let fear prevent me from taking medication for my depression for far too long. I wish that I hadn’t. I wish that I had those years back. I wish that I could have been as balanced as I am now. I wish that I had some of the confidence that I have now. If you are considering going to a doctor and seeking out medication, please don’t be afraid. It may take some time to find the right medication, but I can honestly say that it’s worth it.
I need them.
I may wish that I didn’t, but my brain needs medication to work right. I hate taking medication in general, but when I’m sick (which I am) and my body needs it (which it does), then I do it.
They make you stronger.
Being on medication has had the opposite effect that I thought it would. I was afraid that it would change my personality. But if anything, I feel more like myself, more at home in my skin than I did before I started taking them. I can’t guarantee that that will be the case for everyone, but I can offer the hope that it is possible.
Light the Darkness,
If you are hurting, please don’t let fear stop you from asking for the help you need. It will get better.
If you are in crisis, please call 911 (US) or contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1-800-273-8255. If you are in another country, please call the corresponding emergency number for your country.
As with all of my posts, please share this if you think it might help someone you know.