Monday, April 1, 2013

So what! I take antidepressants

Good morning!

If it is indeed morning where you are reading this right now. I'm just sitting here doing my morning thing, trying to think of something to blog about and I thought why not tell you about my morning routine.

My morning pretty much starts the same way every day. My four year old, who sleeps below me, wakes me up with "what are we going to do today?". We chat about what is planned and what the possibilities are for the day ahead.

Next, I climb down from my loft bed, go to the loo and head straight for the kitchen. Pretty normal stuff really. Kettle goes on, coffee gets spooned into the plunger, porridge gets made and I throw back a handful of tablets of various sizes, colours and shapes with a big slug of water. Ok, so that is the bit that is probably different from a lot of you out there.

I have been taking medication for my mood since mid 2007 when I first started skidding towards Rock Bottom. That's almost six years of popping various pills into my system in order to keep me from being depressed. This is my normal.

After trying many different types of antidepressants over the years I have finally settled into one that suits me and has been effective in keeping my mood as stable as pharmaceuticals can. Yeah, I still have ups and downs, as any regular readers would know. But those ups and downs are nowhere near as extreme as they were before I took my pills.

People often ask when I might consider getting off my meds. My answer is always the same: never. I have accepted that I will need to take brain chemistry altering substances for the rest of my life in order to maintain my current state of well being.

I take 40mg of Citalopram (antidepressant for depression and anxiety), 36mg of Concerta (psycho stimulant for mood and ADHD), 20mg of Pariet (for reflux) and two Super Krill oil tablets which are suppose to help with depression, anxiety and ADHD.

Please no stigma

Unfortunately a lot of people think that taking pills for my mind is bad. I don't understand what the problem is. Do they think I must be a crazy person, likely to do something weird or erratic if I forgot to take my pills? Or that I should just get over myself, toughen up and deal with life without the help of psychiatric medication?

There is still so much social stigma associated with taking antidepressants and of course with mental health in general. I've talked to a lot of people who feel shame about taking antidepressants. They do all they can to go off them or avoid taking them in the first place. Stigma sucks because it causes too many people out there to suffer unnecessarily. Some people might even avoid getting help at all because they don't want to appear weak or be judged badly by their friends, family or at work. In my opinion it is stigma that is crazy not the person seeking help.

I was so stoked when mental health issues were bought back in the spotlight with the movie Silver Linings Playbook. Jennifer Lawrence plays a widow who suffers depression after her husband is killed and who falls for a guy who is living with bipolar disorder. Jennifer's wonderful performance won her the Oscar for Best Actress. After accepting her award she was asked how the film might help the people with mental illness. Her reply was golden:

"I don't think we're going to stop until we get rid of the stigma for mental illness. I know David [the director] won't. And I hope that this helps. It's so bizarre how in this world, if you have asthma, you take asthma medicine; if you have diabetes, you take diabetes medicine; but as soon as you have to take medication for your mind, there's such a stigma behind it." - Jennifer Lawrence

It is bizarre!

I've attended three blogging conferences over the last 12 months and at each we were asked to think about what goals we have for our blogs. At the Digital Parents Conference I was able to cement at least one of my goals for By writing about my personal issues with mental health I hope I can help, even just one teeny tiny bit, to break down the stigma of depression, anxiety and ADHD.

I am not ashamed of taking psychiatric drugs every day. But I do feel shame that our society still stigmatises people who do.

What do you think about the stigma of antidepressants and mental health?


If you are having trouble with mental health issues the following links may be helpful
Life Line
Beyond Blue
SANE Australia
Black Dog Institute

These sites are great for younger people

If you have a friend who you think might be in trouble


Laney | Crash Test Mummy said...

My post last week was about how I felt like taking anti-depressants was failing. The stigma is so strong. I don't now of course. I blog to take the stigma away. Thanks for adding another voice to the cause :)

Nicole McLachlan said...

I also take a cocktail of medication, including an anti-psychotic. No matter how good I feel (which has been fantastic for about 5 years) I have no intention of ever coming off them. The reality is that there is no downside to staying on them, and a crapload of possible downsides to coming off them. Simple. x

Jeanie said...

Good on you V. I have finally got my script made up, and remember why I tell others why it is a good thing to occasionally turn to the drugs when you have a depressive spiral.

Lydia Lee said...

I think the more open people are on this subject, the more comfortable people will be getting the help they need. I am a big fan of medical intervention - you break a leg, you get it fixed. Everything about the human body is the same - if it isn't working for you, see a doctor and do what you need to.
We are taught what is 'normal' as tiny kids, and what we're told may not be right. Not that long ago, women couldn't do anything as well as men, and people should only marry into their own race, dads couldn't possibly stay at home to look after their kids...we still have such a long way to go. This move to rid mental illness, depression and medication of their stigma may not appear in our current generation, (as Crash Test Mummy points out, it's drummed in us even tho we intellectually can understand it's not right), but hopefully, all this talk is educating us to educate those coming through the ranks...
And as I said elsewhere, if all this talking about it openly helps just one person deal with their own personal struggle, then surely it's all worth it? said...

Like Jennifer Lawrence said it is weird that it is ok to take meds for a physical condition but if we take meds for a mental one we feel bad about it. I'm really glad that you're feeling better about making the choice to get more help. V. said...

That's exactly how I feel. The only downside for me is the cost. At $100 a month for my meds I am always wishing it was less expensive. Although we are lucky with our healthcare system that it isn't more than that. Thanks for stopping by. V. said...

Good on you Jeanie! Even if it is more than 'occasionally' if it works do it. V. said...

Absolutely worth it. Thanks for the comment. V.

Miranda @ Sweet Mother of Blog said...

Hats off to you lady. Just came across this post as I'm about to write about the blues i've experienced after having both my wee ones. Not post natal depression or expressly depression, but certainly some intense blues, not helped by insane hormones. I know how the blues feel and have tended to just deal with spoken therapies to work through stuff in the past. But anti-depressants most certainly have their place. I have countless friends who have at one time or another lent on them and thank god they're there to help out. It has literally given some friends new leases of life and they've been able to gradually wean. Hats off to mummas dealing with depression while raising the sprogs. Full on. Crazy full on.

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