So, I have a chronic illness I left untreated for about seven years that has a pretty high death rate and debilitating consequences, and I’m catching it pretty late. In any ‘normal’ situation, the question you would ask would probably be isn’t there any kind of treatment, have you tried drugs, are there any therapies available.
If the response to a diagnosis of a physical illness was ‘are you sure’, ‘I doubt any drugs specifically designed to help you will work’, ‘you’re exaggerating’…well, it would be ridiculous. Just as it is ridiculous for anyone that doesn’t have a clue what’s going on in my mind and is not a trained medical professional to try and tell me that medication is dangerous, it won’t work, I don’t need it and it’s bad for me.
At first I was unaware of my depression, then I refused to acknowledge it, then I didn’t think I needed help, then I didn’t want help, and now I don’t know what will help. But I know that medication has improved my life, and has certainly helped me balance my mental state. I know it might not work for some people, or different methods suit different people when treating depression, but after a year, there is no question that being on Sertraline HAS definitely helped me. So when you start to blame everything going wrong in my life, or any minor illness/headache/nose bleed on ‘probably the medication’…just DON’T. Ok?
The stigma, certainly in the UK, surrounding any kind of reliance on medication only increases the already damaging stigma on mental illness, and increases the guilt people feel when the only option – and sometimes a pretty great option – is to start medicating oneself. And you know what, it’s pretty much the only immediate option because waiting times for any kind of therapies are just appalling, so trying out drugs and seeing if they work is all you’re left with, unless you would rather fall deeper into that dark pit of despair that happens to be inside your mind. I used to be afraid of ‘changing myself’ if I had medication. The only way it has “changed” me is by making my mood more stable, making the lows not last so long, and boosting my serotonin. No, it cannot ‘cure’ me, but it can help. So anyone who has never experienced any kind of depression, or tried medication to combat this, please do the world a favour and keep your opinions to yourself. The only opinions you should be considering are those of medical professionals, not those of ignorant family and friends.
I’m lucky to have some super supportive friends but talking about my medication with my family is an extra stress I do not need in my life. If people start meds-bashing your depression, turn around and say to them ‘would you rather I was on these drugs which improve my life and prevent me from spiralling into an even worse mental state or would you rather I was not on these drugs and spiralled and killed myself?’ Maybe they’ll get the idea then.Because when people say negative things about my meds, what I hear is that they would rather I didn’t exist. Because people truly don’t understand the benefits medication brings to those suffering from mental illnesses.