At the start of the year, I agreed with my psychiatrist to go on medication to assist with my mental health. At the time I was terrified and unsure of what to think, I had always been so against medication, but at that point, it just felt like I was hitting a wall and nothing was helping. I went on antidepressants for my depression and mood stabilisers to help me sleep at night. The first few weeks on this medication was a nightmare, what they sometimes don’t tell you is that sometimes in the first two weeks of going on medication you can become more depressed before it starts to work, and boy was that true! So, I went into a deeper depression than I thought I was before and then thought there was no hope for me now, not even medication can fix me.
Slowly I did see some benefits of the medication, I was able to sleep at night without waking up throughout, my mind wasn’t as clouded as before, and I could have clearer thoughts. Of course, it has had its downsides, one being the very low sex drive which isn’t always great in a relationship but I am lucky I have a very supportive partner! Another thing has been that my mouth is always dry and I need to drink a lot more water than before, which could also be a good thing, I am now always very hydrated! It has meant I have not been able to consume alcohol, most of my friends understood this and were completely accepting of the fact that I could not, but it did fracture some relationships because I couldn’t go out and get wasted. Not that I went out a lot before and drunk a lot all the time, but while I have not been drinking at all I have got used to it and quite like it, I realised that I don’t need to get wasted to have fun and have a good time. When I was in a very dark place in my life when I did go out I would sometimes drink way too much, and that’s how I thought you had a good time, but now I have learnt there are other healthier ways.
I did expect the medication to make me better straightway and was confused when my anxiety was still around and I was still depressed. I for some reason had this rosy idea that my anxiety and depression would somehow just disappear once I started taking the medication. But that it is not true, it has helped lower my anxiety and improved my depression but I still have down days and can get anxious over different situations. I realised that the medication is there to assist as a tool for me to get better, but it is my own hard work that has seen me recover not the medication. At the start, I thought I owed it all to the medication for my improvement and didn’t give myself any credit for all the hard work and effort I had been putting in.
My psychiatrist now would like me to start going off my medication in December slowly, I didn’t realise how scary and anxiety provoking that would be for me. When she told me this, I did go home and cried because I was so scared I would go back into a relapse and be how I was before. It took a lot for me to realise that it has not just been the medication that has helped me get to this point. It has been myself as well wanting to get help, going to therapy regularly making changes and practising skills to improve my mental health. Yes, the medication-assisted when I was in a very low point in my life, but it does not deserve all the credit for how well I have been going.
To anyone out there who is going through their mental health journey, on medication or not remember to give yourself more credit for everything you have been doing for yourself, it is a lot of hard work to go through recovery, and you deserve to be recognised!