Unlike a lot of people in today's society, I will happily admit to taking anti-depressants. A mental illness is just that - an illness, which needs treating. If I had a physical ailment I wouldn't think twice about taking the medication, so I don't understand why there is such a taboo on medication for mental illnesses. We haven't mastered the cure for cancer yet, but we are fortunate enough to have discovered chemical solutions which can, for example, block serotonin re-uptake to stabilise moods. It's a simple, scientific formula like any other drug - so why should we feel the need to keep it a secret?
I may have recovered from anorexia, but the underlying biological (arguably genetic.) mechanisms which triggered the corresponding depression haven't gone away. In order to maintain a stable, happy lifestyle (and more importantly cope with the pressures of studying for a degree.) I still need a daily dose of fluoxetine - otherwise known as Prozac.
Yes, Prozac is portrayed as the drug that celebrities turn to when life gets a little too hectic. But the misconception is that they do so for attention, or to join a craze, when in reality it shouldn't be so surprising that they often become depressed when they lose control of their own lives to the media.
The last couple of days haven't been great - I've started to feel down and the body/food-related thoughts and temptations have been creeping back in. Today I tried to work out why that might be, when I've been doing so well for so long. It suddenly occurred to me that I picked up my latest prescription on Monday but haven't yet taken it to the pharmacy. Unbelievably, after just 4 days without the medication, I am reminded of just how much difference it makes to my life.
Of course, there will be sceptics reading this and viewing me as a drug-dependent hypochondriac, but the truth is these drugs work. They have a medical purpose, and they genuinely help. I'm not dependent - I'm following doctors' advice. Once before I made the decision to stop taking them because I was worried that this would be how I was viewed, but I later realised I wasn't ready. The body and mind let you know when they can cope on their own and mine couldn't. Since restarting the course of treatment I have regained my optimism about life and ability to deal with difficult situations without turning to the formerly automatic, self-destructive coping strategies.
So, if you or someone you know is on (or should be on.) anti-depressants but you still have doubts, re-think your attitude today. In an age where same sex marriage and international adoption have become the norm, there is no valid reason for the continuing taboo on mental health issues.