Why I don’t take anti-depressants

Once people realise that I’m pretty open about my mental illness, and they get over any awkwardness on their part, they quite often ask me about it, human beings being naturally curious creatures and all that. I do get asked a variety of questions but the two that crop up most often are, ‘when did you realise you were depressed?’ and ‘are you taking anything for it?’

The answer to the first one is simple, I was at a party and one of my mates said to me “you’re fuckin depressed you cunt”.  Until that moment I hadn’t consciously acknowledged it, but after ‘Trigger’s’ foul mouthed but wholly accurate analysis it all started to make some sort of sense.

In terms of the second question I have a stock answer which I give out, something along the lines of “not at the moment, trying not to rely on pills to keep me going but I know they’re there if I need them”. It’s a good answer, it makes it sound like I’m making progress but I know there’s a long way to go. It’s also total shit, if I was to be truthful, and the only reason I’m not is out of consideration for the person doing the asking, I’d say “no, and I’d rather fucking die than go back on those things again”.

I have already made the decision that if I ever again find myself in a situation where a doctor hands me a prescription for anti-depressants that I’ll put my affairs in order and say my goodbyes. I’d literally rather be dead than live like that again.

 

It’s quite difficult for me to describe my experience with anti-depressants because they fucked my head so brutally that I’m still not entirely sure what happened in the world you all inhabit and what was happened in the world inside my head. I know I was paranoid though, there’s fuck all doubt about that, I used to hide from noises, I think we can all agree that’s pretty fucking paranoid. Doesn’t mean they’re not after me of course. There was also a weird thing where the more of my skin was covered the safer I felt, used to doss around the flat wearing a hat, scarf and gloves. Looked fucking strange but it did save on heating.

The biggest issues I had was my complete inability to tell the difference between reality and my dreams. One example was the death of Osama Bin Laden; I was utterly convinced that was something I had dreamt, utterly convinced. It was only a few months after I had come off my medication that I saw an advert for a documentary about the mission (Operation Neptune Spear apparently) and I realised that after billions of dollars and thousands of lives that America had finally got their man (probably not worth it in the end). Also, in my mind John Major died in a car crash, evidently that isn’t true (please don’t analyse that dream, I really don’t care what it means). There are plenty of other cases and there’s probably a few things I thought were dreams that actually happened and vice versa.

If I have to live my life under the influence of these things then my life is not worth living.

Now of course medication is a great help to a great many people, in many cases it allows a resumption of ‘normal’ life and is quite literally a life saver. It is for this reason that I’ve put off writing this piece, I am very wary of saying anything that would stop someone going to get help. Let me be clear, if you don’t feel right, if you haven’t been yourself, go and get checked out. No matter how strong you imagine yourself to be, you can’t win this fight on your own. For a lot of, maybe even most people who feel like me, drugs are the only answer that makes any sense, they’re a marvel of medical science.

I do however have a real problem with how freely these things are doled out, I made an appointment with my GP, spoke for a bit, took a quick test and then 10 minutes later I was signed up for 6 months of powerful chemical alteration of my brain (in fairness it needed altered). I’m not having a go at my GP and I’m certainly not having a go at the NHS, they just don’t have the resources necessary to deal with such a complex problem. Because mental illness isn’t visible it’s easy to ignore, and with budgets being squeezed ever harder it’s pretty obvious which areas will be hit the hardest.

I’m not a particularly clever chap so I don’t have the answer, sometimes the drugs do work, sometimes they don’t. The only way this situation gets better and we wean ourselves of the pills is if mental illness is acknowledged as the serious illness that it is, and is accorded the relevant funding. If we can get people talking about it, if we can raise awareness, if we can increase early diagnosis then maybe we can break our addiction to all things medicinal. A doctor shouldn’t be asked to diagnose an incredibly varied and confusing disease in a quarter of an hour, they should be able to take the time to delve into their patient’s life or refer them to someone who can. You need money for shit like that though, and look around you, that’s quite clearly going to be a problem. Pills are cheap though, and quick.

If you’d like to follow me on twitter I’m usually cheerier than this https://twitter.com/AllorNothingMag

8 comments

  1. I’m struggling with something. I don’t know if it’s got a name. My family and girlfriend say I should take medication. I’ve been prescribed it but am very scared of being medicated.

    1. I would never tell anyone to ignore the advice of their doctor because I’m nowhere near qualified to say that, what I would say is if you’re worried about the possible side-effects or just the idea of medication in general you need to make an appointment with your doctor and discuss these issues, there might be another option. Stay well mate.

  2. Aye, I had the same issue. Last time I saw my GP she had a bit of a go because I refused to take more medication and so she said there was nothing they could do. She didn’t seem to realise that spending 16 hours a day in bed, completely indifferent to everything that was going on around me wasn’t necessarily an improvement.

    My sister, fortunately, has much better luck on meds and I know others do too, but I’ve taken 3 different types now and can safely say never again!

    1. Thanks for getting in touch James, I’d like to think that a GP would be more understanding but again their hands are tied to some extent. It sounds like we had relatively similar experiences and I can’t blame you for looking for another way to get better.

  3. Another view here: https://www.nsfwcorp.com/dispatch/war-again-antidepressents/e78f4fae6153249012a43f7450e3e912b59f2ebd/

    It seems to me that, given the enormous variety of humanity, the range of different people who are affected by depression, and the different ways in which they are affected, there is never going to be a one-size-fits-all approach to treating depression and mental illness.

    What works for me might not work for you and vice-versa. Worth remembering the millions helped by SSRIs and the good they can do (for those people who they do work for, obviously).

    1. Thanks for the link Rob I’ll give that a look when I get in from work. You’re absolutely right that there is no all encompassing solution and for many people pills are literally life savers, depression is a complex thing and each case needs investigated so that an appropriate treatment can be found. But like I said that costs time and money and the NHS has neither. Really appreciate you getting in touch.

  4. timmyintheusofa · · Reply

    Hi, I’m no mental health expert but I’ve been dealing with depression most of my life and specifically for the past 20 years. I too tried several anti-depressants and while there was no negative effect, there was nothing positive either. It wasn’t until I found the right type of anti-depressant did it make a difference. My life would be genuinely unbearable without them and I appreciate you mentioning the fact that these do work for many people.

    You need to see a psychiatrist (not much of a compliment, eh?). The pills you took should not have caused the severe side effects you suffered. A completely different approach should be tried to find what works for you. Only a psychiatrist will have the knowledge and history of medications to know which are right for you.

    Good luck

    1. Thank you for getting in touch, I really do appreciate it. That’s great that you’ve found something that works for you. The thing is, and this is a bit of a fucker, I don’t actually want to get better, I don’t want anything. So a psychiatrist would almost certainly be a waste of everyone’s time.

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