I’ve been peeking in on the #MedicatedandMighty thread the last few days but haven’t participated in it because, quite frankly, the anti-medication people fill me a lot of rage.
I started taking anti-depressants when I was 19. Do I think antidepressants are the solution for everyone? No. Do I think all antidepressants are good? No. Do I think medication can be detrimental? Yes. Do I think some people are capable of managing their depression just fine without medication? Yes. And most of the people that I have spoken to in my life who take medication for depression feel the same way. If medication helps, by all means, use it. If medication doesn’t work for you, by all means, don’t use it. I wouldn’t dream of telling someone how to manage their depression. Will I tell them about my experience if they ask, of course. Will I support them if they choose to try medication, of course. Will I support them if they don’t want to use medication, of course.
Which is where my rage with anti-medication people tends to start popping up. Because my experience with anti-medication people has been mostly being shamed for taking medication. Or being told if I just exercised or ate better or spent more time outside or thought happy thoughts, that I would be so much better than what my medication was doing for me. My experiences tend to get shut down or ignored and I’m told that I’m buying into big pharma or taking the easy way out. There is no live and let live with most of these people, there’s just I am wrong and bad for taking medication and they know much better. What is especially irritating to me is that many of the people I hear these things from have never actually struggled with depression.
My depression is stealthy and insidious. It’s quiet and patient. It sneaks up on me when I’m not paying attention. I just realize one day that for the past two weeks I’ve hardly slept, that eating seems like a lot more work than it should, that I’m spending inordinate amounts of time on my couch staring at my tv and thinking about all the things I should be doing but not actually able to muster the will to do any of them. I realize that I’ve stopped talking to people, that I have no interest in going out or working on projects. I find myself putting things off over and over again. I find myself constantly wanting to talk to someone but not being able to find any words to use.
My medication does not make me happy. It does not turn me into a peppy, upbeat, Stepford wife ready to tackle the world. But it does mean that when my depression rears its ugly head that I can still get out of bed in the morning and go to work. I can still make sure I’m eating enough to not make myself sick. That I can function enough to keep my job and pay my bills. That I can make it through the work day being grumpy instead of crying in my car during my lunch break.
Could I survive without my medication? Yes. But I don’t see any point in making my life more difficult than it needs to me. Even when things are going well my depression makes things difficult. Even when I exercise every day and watch what I eat. Even when I spend at least an hour outside a day in the sunshine. Even when everything at work is going well. Even then my depression still makes things difficult. And if medication makes it easier for me to handle that depression, makes it easier to keep going, then why would I not use that? And more importantly, why should I feel ashamed of that?
My depression isn’t ever going to get better. It’s not going to pack up one day and go away. It’s going to be with me forever. It’s going to live in my head and follow me everywhere I go. That’s what depression does. Shaming people for taking medication to deal with that makes them less likely to ask for help. It makes people less likely to open up and talk about their depression. Writing this makes me want to vomit because in the back of my head all I can think about is, “No one cares about your problems” and “Oh ffs, how much shit am I going to get from anti-medication people because of this?”
If you don’t believe in medication, fine, that’s your right. But you have no right in any situation to dictate how other people manage their depression. And when you choose to take something like #MedicatedandMighty and try to use it to make people feel shitty for taking medication or to tell them they’re living their life wrong, then you’re contributing to a problem and doing absolutely no good whatsoever. So please stop. Spend more time listening to people and less time trying to be right.