When I first had emotional support, I refused to take medication. I believed that if I was taking pills, that was it for me; I would lose the only bit of control that I had – my ability to regulate my own feelings and emotions and this would mean that I would have to admit defeat and I would become a failure. I couldn’t have been further from the truth. The thing is, I was in an extremely dark place and wasn’t regulating my own emotions at all and it took a few tough counselling sessions for me to realise and accept that before I finally gave in and started taking medication – or that is at least how I saw it at the time.
The thing is with depression is that like with any physical illness, there is a chemical imbalance within the body. Taking medication can help with that and you are by no means a failure for accepting that you need that help. In fact, you deserve that help. What it is important to know though, is that what it doesn’t do is put happy thoughts in your head and change you in a way that you automatically get better or become a brand new person. In some ways I expected this myself and found myself at an all time low when it didn’t have the desired effect. However, what people don’t realise is that there isn’t one medication that fits all. It can be a real battle to find the right one for you. What may work for one person may leave you feeling completely numb, tired and out of energy for example and this is exactly what happened with me. I gave 3 different medications a good go before I finally settled and felt stable on the 4th one I tried and I am pleased that I stuck with it to find the right one with the help of a doctor and CPN who monitored my side effects.
One myth I have found that people around me have in relation to anti-depressant medication is that you shouldn’t have any bad days because you’re taking ‘happy pills’. When I had time off work and went back, I would often get asked “aren’t you on medication for it?” which was met with confusion as to why I wasn’t coping when I told them that I was. This in itself got tiring as I felt I had to justify and explain how I was feeling and sometimes still do. However, if you fall over and cut yourself, you can put a plaster on it. It is not the plaster that makes it heal, it is merely a form of protection from the surrounding environment. I take the same view on medication. You can take anti-depressants as a way of getting through each day in order to simply survive, but they do not heal. Like an open wound, the healing process requires breathing space and some care and attention. That’s where emotional support can help.
Medication can be there as the driving force to get you going in the morning and keep you functioning throughout the day, but it is not the whole answer. In order to recover from what you have been through, you deserve a holistic approach. That is involvement from your doctor to help you consider if and what medication is right for you and to monitor this, as well as help from an experienced support service like sarac who are specialists in helping those who have been raped and/or sexually abused.
One thing that is always important to remember is that it is your body and you have the right to decide whether to take medication. Whatever you choose is up to you and you don’t have to justify your choices to anyone. I can tell you that both medication alongside emotional support has been invaluable for me in my recovery, but like any individual, I still have good days and bad days. Don’t expect too much from yourself. If you are reading this, you are seeking out support and doing so much better than you realise.