Once upon a time the idea of taking medication to moderate and aid my mental health terrified me. The notion conjured-up drastic and horrible images of people in their most desperate state from the most worried depths of my mind, probably because in the media we only hear about the most severe cases in regards to people with mental health conditions requiring medication. I never thought that medication was a route I would go down willingly, let alone asking my GP to lead me that way, however over time my perception of the issue changed and my understanding of my own mental health solidified. Once I was eighteen I was confident about what treatment I needed.
One point to make is that I only opted to start medication once I felt I had exhausted all of my other options (on the NHS at least). I had tried various talking therapies like Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and standard counselling, none of which had any positive long-term effect on my mental health. Some people seem to think that taking medication is the ‘easy option’, as if people use tablets so that they can avoid actually confronting their illness and issues but this is just quite simply not true.
One myth that I would really love to dispel is the idea that anti-depressants are ‘happy pills’. So many people I know use this phrase and it infuriates me constantly, not least because it shows a basic lack of understanding and complete ignorance about mental health and how anti-depressants are used. The SSRI that I take does not give me an injection of happiness everyday, instead it helps to put me on an even keel (for the most part) and then past that point it is my responsibility to take the initiative with my mental health (such as trying to keep my negative thoughts in check and reaching out for talking therapy).
Therefore, taking medication gives me a platform from which to build my well-being. Taking medication doesn’t mean you are weak and unable to confront your issues. It also doesn’t mean that you are taking the easy option and not working at your problems. Remember that people who say this evidently do not know you or your mental health as much as they assume they do.
“Taking medicine for depression and anxiety doesn’t mean I’m happy all the time” – Tabi Baker