A friend of mine likes to refer to antidepressants as “brain candy.” I hate when he does, because it oversimplifies the very complicated science of mental medication. It’s not about seeing flowers and sunshine where neither exist.
There is this notion that taking antidepressants is a sign of weakness. I come across a lot of people who see the medicine as something to take out of desperation and to get off of as soon as possible.
There are very legitimate reasons to want off of the drug prescribed to you. The most obvious is that sometimes the drug doesn’t work. I know plenty of people who have tried a litany of medications without success. I can’t blame them for wanting to be done with them. One friend has tried every antidepressant under the sun and still struggles with crippling depression.
Another good reason is that some of these drugs have side effects that the patient just can’t live with, like excessive weight gain or loss, headaches, acne or loss of one’s libido.
But if you and your doctor manage to find something that works and you get obsessed with getting off that drug simply because you don’t like the idea of needing it, that’s foolish.
It’s easy for me to say that because I’ve been fairly lucky. Prozac was the first drug I tired and it started working within a couple weeks. When it first kicked in, I felt like it was the first time I truly felt comfortable in my own skin. I’ve still had bouts of depression, especially during winter, and dosage adjustments have been required. This past January, I went on Wellbutrin as well, the idea being that it would help the Prozac work better. It worked. I either have a powerful army of guardian angels looking out for me or am just insanely lucky.
But I’m not a special case, either. I know plenty of people, including the friend I mentioned at the start of this post, who have gotten good results but wanted off as soon as possible.
If I thought I could manage my own issues without the drugs, I’d want off, too. But I don’t think I’m there yet. Not even close.
My attitude is simple: As long as the drugs work, I’m going to keep taking them. It’s better than feeling fear and anxiety again. It’s better than being a miserable bastard whose a beast to his family, friends and colleagues.
If I have to take the medicine for the rest of my life, so be it.
Those who want off the drugs simply because they fear the stigmas or feel weak if they can’t manage without it are barking up the wrong tree.
Stop worrying about your destination and focus on the journey instead.