Depressed About Anti-Depressants

This week I got another prescription for anti-depressants, upping my dosage to double what it was previously.  That sucks, because one of the hardest things about depression is being depressed, and somehow being told to take drugs to help and then take more is a further kick in the proverbial testicles.  It’s also the case that I have to admit to being depressed to someone else.

The thing about having a physical illness is that I can blame my body or an outside influence.  If I have a bout of gastro, I can blame my digestive system or bad food.  If I have a broken bone, I blame a circumstance or the person who fell on me.  A cold is the fault of my immune system.

However, with a mental illness such as depression, I somehow can’t blame my brain, because my way of thinking feels to be more quintessentially me than my ability to keep food down, heal breaks and stop sneezing.

When I’ve been to my doctor or the hospital, I can point at something and say “it hurts”.  On New Year’s Day this year, when I felt I had no-one to talk to and ended up going to Samaritans, I got to the door and didn’t know what to say other than “I’m broken”.

It wasn’t my brain.  It wasn’t my mind.  It was me.

To add to that, I can hear something when I think about it.  I can hear people talking about me and one asking the other “What’s the matter with him?”

“He’s f*cked up,” comes the reply.  I don’t mean to continue to use bad language, but with a physical illness or injury someone might say “His shoulder’s f*cked,” or “His hamstring’s f*cked”.  It’s not me that’s f*cked in the case of physical illness, it’s part of me.

It’s more evidence to the fact that a mental illness is personal.  It’s saying that I can’t be the person that I want to be.

I used to have a friend who would tell me about certain problems.  They would sometimes be simple to solve practically.  They were not quite as simple as “I have no milk” but some were close, in that they could be solved by simply buying milk, if you get my drift.  Often the reply I would receive after a bit of conversation about buying milk was “Stop trying to fix me.”

In my own head I wasn’t trying to fix my friend, I was just trying to fix certain situations that would remove a problem so my friend had one less stressor.  The hardest thing for me was understanding whether this was a cry for help with something deeper than running out of milk, so by trying to fix the problem presented I was also trying to say that I’m there if you want to talk about anything else.

I didn’t want to say “What a shame you have no milk” and leave it at that.  That’s just being ignorant.

I also didn’t want to say “What’s really happening?” because I know that I want to talk when I want to talk and I don’t want to talk when I don’t want to talk.  I also didn’t want to say that my friend was over-reacting, and I know now that my own problems feel small and pointless despite what other people tell me.

And this is what’s quite pertinent about this new prescription.  I don’t want to have to tell people that I’m depressed and by handing it over, that’s what I’m doing.  I can talk about it over the anonymity of t’interweb and with my GP and with my counselor, but telling a stranger in person that there’s something fundamental up with me is horrible.

This leads me to the final point about why anti-depressants are depressing.  I can pinpoint exactly what would make me happy again without 20mg of Citalopram a day.  I know it and it’s a tangible.  It has a name.  What’s more, if everything aligned, it’s attainable.  My problem is that I can’t make things align and it’s hard accepting that.

That’s where my problem lies.  I want someone to do for me what I did for my friend in helping me remove physical, tangible problems. Anti-depressants feel like a cop-out, a confirmation of “it’s gone, you can’t have that” so all you have to do is wait.  All you can do is wait.

It’s like when those helpful souls, who I know are trying to be well meaning, say “Go out and get some exercise,” or “Do some cleaning,” or “Just do something to take your mind off it.”  The anti-depressants are that alternative to doing what needs to be done but can’t be, because if I could take my mind off it, I would.  That would be perfect.  Forgetting all the rubbish happening would be absolutely perfect.

I know that they’re supposed to help, but anti-depressants just tell me that all I can do is wait for things to go away.  “I know you’re getting wet and your house has blown down and you have nothing left, but don’t worry, the storm will pass.”

In a very circular way, that makes me feel helpless which perpetuates my need to take the anti-depressants in the first place.  I do and don’t know how to break the cycle and that’s what I need help with.

I suppose I just need to keep faith that I do have something that can be fixed which I don’t need to hide or be ashamed of, and that’s what I’m trying to do, just not in the way I would immediately think about.

I’ve given my heart and can’t get it back.
I’ve had too many knives thrown at my back.
Wouldn’t it be easy to throw it all away?
Wouldn’t it be easy to call it a day?
How do you love when you’re broken?
I’ve had enough, I’m only human.

I can’t control what is out of my hands
But, God knows, sometimes I just don’t understand.
So wouldn’t it be easy to just turn the page?
Wouldn’t it be better to throw the book away?
How do you love when you’re broken?
I’ve had enough, I’m only human.

I’ll see in time that there’s a reason and a rhyme.
It’s just a season with some lessons for your life,
But I want to know why today got so much colder.
And I want to know when the storm clouds will be over.

I want to love when I’m broken.
I want to love – I’m only human.

When I see the sun I am starting again.
No matter the luck, it’s never the end.

Only Human by Delta Goodrem

Comments 7

  1. Thank u for sharing. I was on happy pills for two years and while I get where you are coming from, keep in mind that these will help correct a physical imbalance your brain might be suffering. The fact that you acknowledge it and are getting the proper treatment are milestones in themselves. I hope you feel more you soon.

    • Thanks Sara, much appreciated. You’re absolutely right, of course. It’s been a little bit of a low week (as you may have gathered!) where frustrations about not being able to deal with the cause have been getting to me.

  2. Thank you for sharing this. It’s brave of you to talk about something so personal, and it helps people who don’t suffer from depression understand a little more. It must be so hard to deal with a condition that people can’t see, and therefore probably brush off like it’s nothing. Not all ailments are physical or visible to the eye, and it’s great that you’re helping people understand this. Just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

    • Thanks Sam, as you may see from my reply to another comment, it’s been a rubbish week so it might not be so much bravery in the sharing as me just having a rant! Why it’s sucked a bit more this week is that I’ve been up and down so sometimes I don’t see it and then something hits me, hence the reason for the increased prescription. Again, thanks for your words and encouragement!

    • Eleanor Parks

      I fully agree, Sam. I remember someone telling my husband to “pull his socks up”. To which I stepped in and replied that “Pulling your socks up might keep your legs warm, but it does sod all for depression!” (I may have used a stronger word than “sod” though).

  3. Christine

    A brave and honest post that needed to be read. Thanks for putting into words and posting for all those who cannot express these thoughts. I also agree it is educational for any who cannot understand depression.

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