Thursday, August 11, 2016

In Defense of Antidepressants

It's strange the things that trigger our smallness, our anxiety, our deepest fears-- isn't it?

Today a friend posted that she is off of antidepressants. Yay! I was seriously so happy for her. She's worked hard to get to this place.

I commented on her status that I am currently on Lexapro but would like to get off of it soon. It seems frightening though, to try to wean myself off of that tiny white pill.  I only take the lowest available dose, but it keeps the Black Beast at bay and the thought of going without it is frightening.

So, other friend-- a good, kind person-- posted that her husband is off antidepressants, too. Of course she's proud. Their family has gone through so much. But, then came a comment that hit my heart HARD. She said that "it's all about how you work through the bad days." Which is certainly true, we have to learn to deal with the bad days. What my heart, the one that has dealt with depression and anxiety since my early teenage years, heard however was that because I have chosen a few times in my life to take antidepressants-- that I am WEAK. That's not what she meant, of course, but that was what my demons decided to whisper to me.

I just must say as one that has weathered PTSD, depression and anxiety for over twenty years, that sometimes antidepressants are necessary. In fact, they saved my life more than once-- when I was suicidal after being raped as a teenager, and when I had severe postpartum depression/anxiety/psychosis after my middle child was born. I truly believe that I would not be here if is weren't for the assistance of an SSRI(a type of anti-depressant that works well for me). I had a chemical imbalance that needed correcting. If that chemical imbalance were of a medical nature, not mental health, people would come out screaming if I tried to wing it med-free. They'd scream out for me to manage my diabetes, my cancer, whatever it was that were plaguing my body. However, if we take anti-depressants we are deemed weak.

I cry bullshit to that societal untruth.

There are certainly times that people can go without such meds to manage their mental health. And, dammit-- there are many times that they are needed. Clinical depression is so much more than managing a "bad day". Somedays I fight like hell simply to get out of bed and to go out in the world when the Black Beast looms over me. I lose control over my thoughts, my body, my relationships and my life. I start to think about ending it all. It's fucking scary.

So, I'm posting her just to give a voice to someone that needs a goddamned pill to make it through the day right now. I won't be on this med for life. In fact, the vast majority of my life has been med-free. But, I need it right now and that doesn't make me weaker than you because you can weather your bad days without a pill. Depression isn't a "bad day", it's a life-stealer. A demon that can steal everything from you so fucking quickly that it takes your breath away. A chemical imbalance that can turn your life into darkness in a moment. 

I stand here tall and say that I'm living my life with bravery, pill a day or not.

I stand here telling you that Lexapro saved my life.

I stand here asking you to have some compassion for those of us that are fighting to step out of the darkness, one step at a time.

I stand here with clinical depression and anxiety, still choosing to use my life to help others even when the Black Beast wants me to be silenced by the darkness.

I stand here in defense of those who need antidepressants to survive. We are not alone and we will not be shamed.


  1. Although I have never been on antidepressant medication and have never dealt with depression or anxiety, this post really resonated with me. I have ADHD. I take medication for it and I am constantly dodging ADHD medication debates within my family and group of friends. You aren't weak for taking medication. You are strong for recognizing that you need some assistance and taking care of your mind accordingly.

    Best of luck to you and thank you so much for sharing this piece. :)

  2. LOVE your candor...I have been on antidepressants for years and I would really like to get off them, but they truly help me. Like you said, if I had a medical problem that needed medicine I would take it. Why should this be different? I still think there is a stigma attached to taking antidepressants, and I'm sure more of our friends take them then we even know. Thank you:)

  3. I love this! My husband has severe anxiety and his family always make comments that make it sound like they think he just needs to have a positive attitude or something. Health problems that you can't see can be so hard for people to understand if they haven't been through them.

    1. Ugh. Those comments sound awful! I'm so sorry, Christine.

  4. Such a raw and honest post. Thanks for sharing your perspective!

  5. Amanda, thanks so much for your post and for standing tall....and you should. I proud you are choosing health.

  6. Wow, what an honest presentation of the challenges for living both on and off antidepressant medication. I am sure anyone with chronic illness can empathize as I am sure they too would like to be free of meds... and scared to be at the same time! Thank you for sharing your perspective and for teaching by example. Great post!

  7. Thank you for standing up for all the others that can't or won't. Medication is most definitely needed for some people, and taking it doesn't make you weak. It makes you strong because you are fortifying yourself against the demons.