Antidepressants need to be accepted

Antidepressants need to be accepted

The first thing that I do every day when I wake up is roll over and take an antidepressant. The last thing that I do every night before I go to sleep is take another. Yes, it’s tedious, but it’s necessary. Without my medication, I’m a totally different person - to be honest, I probably barely even qualify as a person. Day-to-day functioning is impossible for me when I’m not on my medication. I can’t get out of bed, I can’t do my homework, I can’t even brush my teeth. A lot of people - both those who are aware that I live with mental illness and those who are unaware - would label this behavior as lazy. It’s not, though. It’s not a choice that I’m making, either. It’s part of an illness that I am only able to manage when I take antidepressants.

More and more college students are opening up about their struggles with mental illness. It’s very likely that someone you know - and in fact, probably multiple people you know - struggle with a mental illness. The high prevalence of these feelings on college campuses and amongst like-minded peers has led to many young people believing that they should simply accept these symptoms and try to “choose to be happy.” But these symptoms don’t have to be - and in fact, should not be - accepted. Nobody should have to live in fear, or in pain. Nobody should feel like they can’t get help.

Often, when I suggest to a friend who has been struggling for an extended period of time that they see a psychiatrist, they tell me that they don’t want to start taking anti-depressants because they don’t want to become dependent on them. Well, I don’t want to be dependent on them either, but I’d rather be dependent on pills than struggle with suicidal ideation. I have ended up in short-term in-patient psychiatric care on three different occasions - once for twelve hours, once for forty-eight hours, and once for a week. Each of these times I was not taking my medication. When I regularly take my pills, I still feel sad at the appropriate times, but at least I know that I will get through it and that there is still time to find joy in being alive.

It hurts me to watch young people accept that this is something that they just have to deal with or believe that if they act stronger and will themselves to get through it, they’ll be just fine. Mental illness is just that - an illness. When you’re sick, you treat it. Your emotions and your heart and your brain deserve as much care and attention as the rest of you does. September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, and it is imperative that this month we place a concerted effort on not just loving those around us, but making sure that we help them love themselves as well. Part of loving yourself is taking care of yourself, even when not treating your pain is the easier option. I don’t love the thought of being on meds the rest of my life, but I know that it’s a real possibility - and I’m okay with that. Antidepressants can be life-saving, and even though it does not always feel like it, the better option is always to live. The better option is to fall in love, to make bad choices, and to remember that hope never runs out. 

Caroline Builta is a senior majoring in social work. Her column runs biweekly. 

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