Am I Mad Or Weak For Taking Antidepressants?

“So Hope we are going to prescribe you with antidepressants”

That was my doctor in the summer of 2016. But did I really need them?

I had spent my whole life being quite sceptical of taking medication. And whilst I would openly talk about mental health, I always struggled to voice my concerns around medication. Maybe it was because when I was 18 I had been prescribed meds and tried to kill myself.

So when the doctor suggested I went on anti depressants following my relapse of anorexia I was furious. I didn’t want to I was terrified. And I didn’t think it would help. Was I so weak now that I needed medication?

After a few more weeks I started to take Citalopram. I had joined the exclusive club of people who take medication! Delightful! I didn’t really know what to think and what to do. But in reality I felt like I had let down people close to me, my boyfriend, my family...

So day one, it was a Sunday morning and I popped my first pill. I spent the day feeling quite unwell and then had no sleep that night. I knew this was a side effect but I didn’t realise quite how bad this would be. Attempting work on the Monday was a disaster. I hadn’t told anyone at work about my medication so I battled through that day all up until about 3pm when I couldn’t face it anymore. The next two weeks were similar to this whilst my body adjusted to the meds. I was unmotivated, a placid being. I kept telling myself it was okay to be on them and that it would help. My mantra was you take medication for physical illnesses so why is a mental one any different? And I do strongly believe that.

After those first two weeks I began to feel like me again! And I had more energy and I became more able to tackle life. And they really did work for me. I had the strength to process my emotions and the strength to deal with those more difficult days.

When I went on them I told myself I would be off them in six months. But that time came and went. And I was still on them. I was angry and upset I hadn’t managed to come off them.

A year later I tried again reducing my dose to 10mg but still couldn’t do it...

“Argh! Come on Hope, sort this out!”

The biggest challenge was accepting that I needed the medication and it was going to take time and when I did just that it became easier.

But how frustrating because of the stigma of medication I had to break down that hurdle for myself.

I have now been off them for two weeks. It’s been hard at times especially as I have a lot going on but I am managing it. And I talk to all those round me when I am struggling. I have also learnt not to overthink it when I have a bad day. I can now rationalise myself that I am actually in a really good place mentally.

So for those of you considering taking medication - don’t feel ashamed! It is not weak!

For those like me who have tried to come off a couple of times like me - don’t beat yourself up but also don’t overthink those feelings.

And for those of you who are on them! If they work for you keep taking them (obviously I am not a GP so listen to your GP) but from my experience they did really help me! They cleared my head and gave me energy to tackle every day life and to help me get back on track!