A girl with too many thoughts...

Monday, 5 September 2016

Why I Shouldn't Be Ashamed of Taking Antidepressants

My last post on antidepressants became my most popular post, so I thought I would talk about them a little more. It also led me to have some interesting conversations with people about the topic of antidepressants and I like to talk to people! (Well, not in real-life, but on social media I can just about cope).

So, today I wanted to speak about why I'm not ashamed to be taking antidepressants. I've heard all sorts of opinions about these drugs. 'They are over prescribed', 'They don't really do anything', 'It's just the placebo effect!' etc. etc. And I'm not going to sit here and tell you that any of those statements are incorrect. But the fact of the matter is, antidepressants seem to help me, so I take them.

Just like with any medication you may take for a physical condition, I need medication for my mental health condition. So why, I ask, is that such a problem?! Why should I feel ashamed about that? Why should I feel like that is a dirty little secret that I shouldn't tell anybody, just in case they judge me? (And I wouldn't want anybody judging me, now would I?).

It's ludicrous really. Could you imagine having diabetes and feeling guilty for having to take insulin injections? Or having somebody tell you that you really shouldn't have to rely on those insulin injections, just to be able to function. You just wouldn't. So why is it any different when it comes to medication for our mental health?

(In fact, I was having a conversation with my Dad about this and when I used the diabetes analogy, he replied with: 'yes, but diabetes is due to a physical imbalance in the body'. I just looked at him with confusion and said 'SO IS A MENTAL HEALTH CONDITION!? It's due to a chemical imbalance in the brain?!' Safe to say, he couldn't really argue back).

But it doesn't matter how much I tell myself that I shouldn't be ashamed. I can't quite seem to shake that feeling off. Even when I go to the chemist to pick up my prescription, I feel like they are negatively judging me when they look at the little piece of paper and it says 'Fluoxetine 20mg'. Or like the other day when I had my eye test, and the optician asked me if I'm on any medication. I actually felt embarrassed to 'admit' that I was taking Prozac. And when he asked me if that was a 'long-term' thing or not, I felt like he was suggesting that it shouldn't be. 

When people take medication for their physical health, they are being 'sensible' and 'responsible'. We commend them for looking after their health and their body. In fact, if they have a physical complaint, we actively encourage them to go to the doctor and get something for it. Or if somebody has a headache, we say 'I have a paracetamol, do you want one?' as if it is nothing. However, when people take medication for their mental health, it is viewed as 'a failure' or 'a weakness'. 

I'm working on getting rid of that feeling of shame when I tell somebody I'm taking antidepressants. I've slowly come to realise that I shouldn't feel ashamed about it at all. A mental illness is an illness just like any other, and sometimes it needs to be treated with medication.
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