Better living through chemicals (initial impressions)

Ok, on Thursday I talked about the impact depression has had on me. Today, I am going to talk a little bit about my attempted journey away from that.

So, as I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned before, I have quite a history with both depression and anxiety. The earliest concrete memory I have of anxiety is from when I was four or five – my very first experiences with gym class and my refusal to even enter the gymnasium. I was too scared. The earliest I can concretely say I had depression is from when I was eight – when I first started to self injure. Suffice it to say, these have been very long struggles for me, and I don’t think it’s unreasonable to say that they have been with me my whole life.

In my adult life I’ve had people push me towards medications and I always resisted. I had a number of different reasons that I imagine getting into would call for a blog post all it’s own. Suffice it to say, I am a little leery of brain-altering chemicals. I am also leery of people who push brain altering chemicals on others. I still think my reasons were good ones and I intend to continue to respect my decision to try everything I could to manage myself without meds.

However, eventually I reached a point where I realized that I had gone as far as I could on my own, and I really needed help. The depression and anxiety were impacting my life in serious ways and I really could not continue to live like that. So, I finally decided to try a med that would act as both an antidepressant and antianxiety.

I haven’t been on it for long – a little over a month – but I am definitely feeling the effects and it’s kind of amazing.

Part of my depression was The Voice. The Voice was a constant in my life, screaming if it could, whispering if it could not, flinging a constant stream of hate at me. It would latch onto anything it could use to hurt me and would twist events around to insist that everything was my fault. Depression is a jerk, and The Voice was well and truly horrible. However, I had gotten used to it. If I could keep it to a whisper and lock it off into a corner of my brain, I figured I was doing good. When I couldn’t do that well… that sucked. But it happened.

However, lately The Voice has been gone, almost entirely. Once in a while I’ll get a second or two resurgence, a faint whisper of some of the things it used to say, and then it fades away again. I am able to go about my daily life without that Voice constantly telling me how awful I am, and I don’t even know how to describe the difference. My head feels so different. It’s kind of weird, honestly. So quiet. So still. I try not to think about it too much because I have some trouble wrapping my brain around the change. It’s such a relief, though. I actually, physically, feel like a weight that I’ve been dragging around for years has been lifted or taken away. I literally feel lighter on my feet.

The anxiety is dramatically improved as well. Talking to people is no longer a point of terror that requires working up to even ask “what’s your name” or something. I feel it significantly in my horseback riding – an activity that is legitimately nervous-making, but used to cause me intense amounts of anxiety. The past few weeks I still get nervous, but the level of nerves is, as far as I can tell, far more typical of your average person. Something I can easily manage, rather than needing to dedicate enormous resources to controlling. I like this change. I hope it continues.

Sometimes I hear antidepressants referred to derogatorily as “happy pills.” In my case, at least, that would be a serious misnomer. These pills do not make me happy. They do, however, allow me to experience happiness and joy and contentment in a way I never could before. They take away the constant background drag that had been trying it’s hardest to bring me down. They allow me to feel a healthier range of emotions, without the constant struggle that I had grown so accustomed to. I still have sads and I still feel nervous sometimes – but I don’t feel them ALL the time, and I am able to feel them in a cleaner way.

This is an interesting change. It’s a change I like and I’m glad I was able to reach a point where I could try it. I guess we’ll see where I go with it.

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9 Comments

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9 responses to “Better living through chemicals (initial impressions)

  1. PK

    I have a family member, now an adult, who has been recommended to take meds for anxiety. But as a kid, he was misdiagnosed with ADD and HATED how the meds made him feel (not like himself). I forwarded this to him, because it sounds like you had similar concerns, and that the medical professional who worked with you is looking to find that balance of getting the problem out of the way without changing the feeeling of “self”. Thanks very much for this.

    • Thank you for sending my post along, and I hope it helps!

      However, I find myself wanting to say that I am not actually a proponent of meds. I am also not against meds. I am for everyone doing what’s right for them. I think the choice to go on mind-altering medication really needs to come from within – I’m pretty sure if I went on meds because people were pushing me to, rather than because I decided it was the right choice for me, it wouldn’t have worked as well. So I would be delighted if my post gives your family member food for thought, but I don’t want it to be used to apply even a little bit of pressure on someone to take them. Your family member needs to make his own choices.

      • PK

        Totally get that. I sent it more from a place of “here’s an example of medication to get to baseline” rather than GO DRUGS if that makes any sense.

  2. What is the name of the meds you take?

  3. I think with all meds, WE need to be the judge of whether they work for us or not. That’s why I’m so hesitant to support drugs for children, because often they don’t have the means to articulate whether it’s an improvement or not. So when it’s classed as an improvement, whats usually meant is that the people around them feel better. And that’s not really the point.

    You have described really well how medication CAN help. As long as nobody is pressuring you. As long as you get to decide. As long as the evaluation of what works and what doesn’t is in your own words and experiences. As long as you get heard, and taken seriously in your concerns. That’s the most important thing.

  4. Pingback: Resisting Meds | Aspergers and Me