Ever since I was little I’ve been around the stigma that ‘medicine is bad’ and that you should only take it if you really need it- this applied to colds, headaches and all the other little illnesses we get from time to time, but recently I’ve started to reevaluate this way of thinking.
When you Google medicine what comes up (after some rather lovely songs) is the definition which is, according to Google: ‘the science and practice of the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease. Medicine encompasses a variety of health care practices evolved to maintain and restore health by the prevention and treatment of illness’ and that’s exactly what it’s used for- to make us feel less crap. So to me, this whole proud way of thinking that we should only take meds when we really need them is a bit silly. Meds are there to prevent and treat illnesses and I think it’s a bit obnoxious of us all to assume we can get rid of these illnesses by ourselves. Sure, a headache could go away with after some extra hydration, but I’m talking about illnesses and conditions that can really be detrimental to our quality of day to day life- things like anxiety, depression and lots of other mental health issues.
what my mornings look like!
As I was brought up around this whole idea that we shouldn’t use medicine, when my doctor first suggested for me to go onto antidepressants I wasn’t having any of it. I thought that me taking the meds would be a sign of me ‘giving up’ and not putting in enough effort my end to get myself better. I thought that I would be seen as crazy, that if people found out I was on medication for my mental health they would treat me differently and really count me as ‘ill’. So, for ages I struggled on by myself, trying CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) again and again but nothing seemed to be working. Now this wasn’t just not being on the meds as I was going about therapy the wrong way, what I should’ve been going through was grief counselling but anyway…when I finally realised I didn’t want to and couldn’t do this by myself, I spoke to others who had been on antidepressants and thought about if it might be the right direction for me.
The people who I spoke to all said that the meds had really helped them, albeit some side effects like gaining weight, mood swings and feeling sick at the start. I was also dealing with emetophobia (the fear of being sick) at the time so this freaked me out a bit but after talking more in-depth about it, my friends said it didn’t last for very long so I decided to give the antidepressants a go. I started on 20mg of Citalopram a day and I’m going to be honest, the first week I was on it was hell. I felt so so sick and nauseous all the time which wouldn’t have been that bad if I didn’t have a chronic fear of it, and I also felt really sad, but this was probably more due to dealing with my crippling phobia every day. I went back to the doctors after a few days to ask if this was normal. They said it can be and the side effects at the beginning are different for everyone so I was just particularly unlucky that my side effects were worse.
But, I stuck it out and honestly I am so glad I did. I no longer feel ashamed because I know just how bad I was and that I needed a bit of help from medicine, just like we all do sometimes. I overall feel so much better in myself, partly due to the meds I am sure of it and the side effects stopped after about a week and I haven’t had any since (apart from when I don’t eat- my body and the meds together don’t like that, whoops). I am so so grateful to pharmaceutical scientists for working so hard on medication for mental health and how it can help so many people- according to ‘The Guardian’, four million people in England are long-term users of antidepressants- that’s a lot of people being helped each and every day by a small pill.
So if you’re thinking of taking meds because of mental health issues, please don’t be ashamed as you are most definitely not alone as we all need a bit of help sometimes. Make sure you talk it through thoroughly with your GP and family and make sure it is the right decision for you. I get not everyone wants to be taking antidepressants but I’m just here to say I used to be one of them, and I’m so happy I took the plunge as a year later, I’m ready to down my dose and feel so much better.
I’ll also list some charities if you want to get in touch with any of them, please look after yourselves, you are very loved. My email is always open if any of you want to chat to me too, or there’s a ‘contact’ box to the right of this post.
I’m sending all my love out to you guys, you are amazing,
All my love,
https://www.mind.org.uk – for all mental health issues
https://www.samaritans.org – for all mental health issues
https://www.bipolaruk.org – for bipolar
https://www.thecalmzone.net – for young people
https://www.depressionalliance.org – for depression
https://www.menshealthforum.org.uk/beatstress.uk -for men’s mental health
https://www.nopanic.org.uk – help with panic attacks
https://www.ocdaction.org.uk – for OCD
https://papyrus-uk.org – helping to prevent young suicide
https://www.time-to-change.org.uk/what-are-mental-health-problems/mental-health-help-you/other-useful-organisations – a list of numbers you can call if you need immediate help