Why I'm not ashamed to take antidepressants
What are you embarrassed to admit? Personally, I am embarrassed to admit that I regularly pretend to text on my phone when I'm avoiding eye contact with someone I reaaalllyyy do not want to talk to. You know the type. I can't stand the idea of making small talk with someone whilst experience anxiety sweats and enduring the air of awkwardness that surrounds the conversation. No thank you.
Most people are pretty embarrassed about anything relating to their health, but I most certainly am not. I'm more than happy to admit that I, Soph Beresford, am a pill popper. Now I know what you're thinking and no, I'm not talking about illegal drugs. This is not going to be a 2019 re-adaptation of Trainspotting I'm afraid. The pills I chuck down the back of my throat come from the doctor and have, quite frankly, changed my life for the better and significantly improved my wellbeing.
There is still a great stigma around taking meds for mental health conditions and before taking citralopram, I had fallen victim to this way of thinking. I'd been led to believe, by both people and society, that taking pills was the easy way out and I'd be deemed weak for taking them. However, having taken anti depressants and greatly benefited from them, I can now see that this is simply not the case.
Taking medication was never my first choice. I gave counselling a fair share of my time and attention and committed whole heartedly to the CBT courses I was signed up to...5 times. A bit like Liam and Miley's relationship, I tried and tried to make it work until I decided to throw in the towel. Yes, counselling helped me to identify what triggers or originally caused my issues, but the skills I was given only worked for a limited period of time and I'd be right back where I started. I am not suggesting counselling doesn't work because I have witnessed first hand the positive impact counselling can have on people's lives. However, after 7 years of going round and round in circles, I needed something to convince me that I wouldn't be haunted by anxiety and depression for the rest of my life. This is what anti depressants have given me.
Taking medication has helped me get back to the sassy, confident, ambitious and bubbly Soph I know I really am and want to be, not the fragile, insecure and frightened girl who was constantly hijacked by overwhelming feelings of anxiety and paranoia teamed with an increasingly low self esteem and intense feelings of worthlessness. No one deserves to live like that. My health and wellbeing has changed dramatically and I now take great joy in the simplest things that taking citralopram has enabled me to do, like being able to go to the shops without analysing 650 different scenarios that could happen on the way, going to meetings without having an anxiety attack beforehand about all the things I could do wrong and even being able to spend time by myself without fear of being psychologically beaten to a pulp in the space of time I'm alone.
I cannot tell you how happy I am to feel like myself again after so many years of convincing myself that my life would always be riddled with and dominated by these mental health issues that just would rear their ugly head like clockwork. I can sing 'feeling good as hell' at the top of my lungs by my girl Lizzo and truly feel and believe every single word.
Like any medication, there are side effects to anti depressants. I don't think there are many drugs on the planet that don't come without their issues here and there. I am aware of the side effects my meds have, but the benefits heavily out way the slight changes to my body that I have experienced.
People expressed their concerns about me taking medication at the time, but it is easy enough to tell someone they don't need something when you aren't the one experiencing crippling feelings of sadness and you aren't the one who has lost every ounce of joy or motivation that you've ever felt to the stage where opening your eyes in the morning feels like a burden rather than a blessing. Sometimes, when you feel you have reached rock bottom, you have to explore all options available to you. You're the only one who knows what you're really going through, no one else. It's easy to throw in your two pennies worth and judge from the sidelines but it takes real strength and courage to look your issues dead in the eye, seek help and access the support you need.
According to the mental health charity, Mind, approximately 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year. If you are unfortunate enough to be the 1 in 4, like me, then please know that there is no shame in taking medication if you need to. Now really is a time to focus on you and what you need. No one else is battling what you're currently facing and different methods work for different people. That's the beauty of the human race, we are all unique. Seek help from professionals and find what's right for you. And remember, despite common misconception, they're not forever. It's only the fear mongering who like to tell you that.
When I was struggling to come to terms with taking medication, a dear friend of mine said the following, which I've never forgotten: 'no one would judge you for taking painkillers if you broke your leg. What is the difference?' In my opinion, never have wiser words been said in my company.