Depression: Why Taking Medication Isn't a Cop Out

iStock

Recently a friend of mine texted me asking how my heath was. I told her fine, I had switched meds again for my depression and schizophrenia. She then proceeded to tell me how she chose to deal with things on her own and medication was just a crutch for the weak. Now I know she honestly meant well and was trying to inspire me to take charge of my life. Because to her, me being depressed meant I was down about my life and unhappy.

“The past two weeks there have been only a few times when I wasn’t scared of my reflection, and even if it’s not constant, it is still a small relief,” I said to her. “I was looking in the mirror the other day thinking, this is what normal people see. It was cool. Not today. I have already done my makeup twice because my face looks like it’s not attached. Like it was cut off and laid back on badly.”

Her response was along the lines of “…oh.”

Zoloft, the sad bouncing cartoon ball, and me

I was first put on an anti-depressant at age 17. Zoloft, the sad bouncing ball commercial was on TV constantly. As a teen, I would watch the commercial in fascination as the sad black-and-white cartoon ball would become happier and gain color. It seemed like magic. I wondered, Could it fix me? I have been on and off medications since, plus therapy, electroconvulsive treatments, and any other random thing you can think of.

Diet Changes? All of them. No dairy—no change. No gluten—no change. No meat—no change. Exercise? Yes, a lot. Great for the body but has no effect on me wanting to kill myself. What about yoga? Wonderful for my back but doesn’t address the sleepless nights lying in bed begging for sleep so I can be gone for a moment. I don’t drink, I don’t smoke, my attitude is very upbeat. What else should I do?

Getting help isn’t a crutch. It’s brave. And it’s okay for things to not work. It’s okay if you have to be on medication for the rest of your life.

Every month I go to the doctor for medication roulette—randomly trying everything to figure out what works. A medication will usually work for a few weeks then I become immune to it. So it’s upped until I am on the maximum dosage then on to a new one. I am on three different antidepressants at the moment—the maximum dosages of two and I will go up to the max dosage of the third next doctor visit.

I have schizophrenia. When you add depression to it, the hallucinations start to play. I can hear the buzz of the drill taunting me, my reflection in the mirror mutilated, urging me to cut, the burning in the back of my skull seeking release… I could keep going but I don’t want to “trigger” anyone. Nor do I want to be morbid. But know if you are out there and the urges to hurt yourself are that strong, I understand. I understand and you are not alone.

The Self Destruct button: Why getting help is brave

I think there is a Self Destruct button inside all of our heads, like the ones in a bad sci-fi space movie. You know, our heroes have defeated the villain, but in a last-ditch effort, the villain hits the ship’s concealed Self Destruct button and now our heroes must rush to escape the vessel! They barely make it out, shooting away triumphantly as everything explodes behind them. For some of us, our Self Destruct button was accidentally hit.

I can’t will this away. Don’t you think I would if it was possible? Trust me, having depression is not about a lack of trying to get better. I have yet to find that magical medication concoction that takes my depression away. Just a few glimpses here and there, moments of relief.

Getting help isn’t a crutch. It’s brave. And it’s okay for things to not work. It’s okay if you have to be on medication for the rest of your life. It’s okay if you have to try every medication out there. It’s okay if you have electroconvulsive treatment. It’s okay if you are in therapy. It’s okay if you have to be hospitalized or go to a mental health center. Because despite everything you are still fighting, doing whatever necessary to resist the urge to self-destruct.

My god, that is brave.