So this is a bit of a personal one for me. It’s about taking antidepressants and anti-anxiety meds.
A long time ago (11 years to be exact) I was put on antidepressants. I HATED IT!
I felt like I had lost myself.
I had in fact just lost my father. He died, unexpectedly in a car accident and his death was a HUGE blow to my life. I was 23 years old. I was just starting my life as an adult on my own and I was devastated. My world as I knew it ended.
Of course the logical thing was antidepressants because I cried. I cried a lot. Then I cried some more. And when I was done crying I drank a lot of alcohol because I didn’t know how else to numb the pain.
The pills numbed me. They took the edge off the pain and they enabled me to function.
Except they also stopped me from crying and my sadness and grief was trapped inside of me.
It felt AWFUL. So I made the decision to go off the pills. I wanted to cry. I WANTED to grieve and be sad about my dad because that’s okay! Going off the pills was a good call.
Fast forward just over a decade and I’m in a similar position but with a whole new view on things
A year and a half ago I went through a really traumatic birth experience. I nearly died and I was in ICU and I had so many damn surgeries and I missed out on mothering for the first few months of my son’s life.
I was traumatised. I was experiencing actual post traumatic stress.
I was living with guilt and feeling like I had failed as a mother.
I felt inadequate.
I couldn’t breastfeed because of the infection in my body. I felt like I couldn’t do the very thing my body was created for. Sustain the life of the child I had brought into this world. And nearly lost my own life doing so.
I would sleep a full night and still feel tired. The kind of tired where your soul feels exhausted.
I am a really positive person and I can always see the silver linings so it was really hard for me to understand that what I was going through didn’t make me a negative person. It was just my body struggling to cope.
I fought this feeling.
I lived with the exhaustion and just put it down to being a new mother. It’s normal right? Well that’s what I told myself for months. For a year. For over a year.
What felt like giving up actually saved me
Eventually, I couldn’t bear the thought of life anymore because I was just so freaking TIRED ALL THE TIME and I couldn’t cope anymore with day-to-day life.
One day I actually said to my husband that I wished I had just died and I knew something was very wrong. He was furious with me. And that’s perfectly understandable.
I had FOUGHT so fucking hard to live and here I was wishing that away. Wishing away getting to watch my son grow up. That was NOT me or who I was!
So I went to see my GP and I told him what I’d been going through and he decided we needed to run some blood tests. My thyroid was a huge consideration.
A few days later he called me to tell me that my blood tests had come back clear. There was nothing physically wrong with me and suggested that what I have might be depression.
There was no way that could be it I decided. I’m a fighter and people like me don’t get depressed.
He asked me to just try a short course of mild antidepressant and if that changed nothing he’d schedule me in with specialists to do more tests.
So I agreed.
I thought he was ridiculous but I agreed.
Within three months, I was feeling less exhausted. I felt more stable and less emotional. The feelings of constant guilt started to ease up and the best part was, the tears stopped flowing.
Suddenly I could get through a day without falling apart and crying over all the failures that my journey to motherhood had brought.
I was starting to feel okay.
I was starting to leave the house. I was feeling more and more like my old self. The happy version of myself.
I went in to see my GP and thanked him for giving me back to me. For allowing me to be happy again. For letting me see the world through new, coloured lenses instead of the constant state of grey that had become my norm.
He suggested we go for a year and I suggested we see how I feel when we get there. I wasn’t prepared to commit to coming off them when I was just starting to feel normal again.
You see, the first time I was on antidepressants, they numbed me when I needed to grieve. Grieving is a real part of healing. This time around, I needed to be myself. I needed to get over the hardest thing that had ever happened to me.
Taking these pills is probably the best decision I have ever made for myself
Instead of the sad and fragile person I had become, I’m me again. Confident in myself and my abilities. I am okay with talking on the phone (this had become terrifying to me) and I can go through my day knowing that I’m okay! That my son is okay and that the world is a better place. I’ve started working with people again and helping others do what they need to do. That’s huge for me.
I know a lot of people think antidepressants are a sign of weakness but for me, they are a sign of strength.
Admitting I need help to get through the day was the start of my new life
Saying hey look at me, I’m a bad-ass but I’m also struggling right now was huge for me. Knowing that making this choice was putting happiness first changed everything. There really is no shame in getting help.
It’s almost impossible to be a good parent when you spend all day trying to just hold it together.
Now, I can focus on my child. I can do the normal mom things I need to do and I’m not ALWAYS exhausted when he needs me. Sure I still get tired but it’s the tired after a busy day, not the tired after a busy life.
I can’t stress enough how important it is to get the help you need. Antidepressants might not be the best option for everyone, maybe therapy is enough to help you and maybe just talking about your problems is enough for you. I just want you to know that it’s not a sign of weakness to take them if you do need them. It’s not a sign of being an any less than version of you. It doesn’t say you’re a failure, it just sometimes helps to get a little help. Get the help you need. Whatever that is. It’s a sign of strength to ask for help!
Go do you. Go be you. Be the best version of you possible. Unapologetically!