Antidepressants saved my life

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I just saw the Thought of the Week where Monique scathingly asks "whether life is that hard" that a third of the Survey respondents indicated that they took anti-depressants, and I had to reply.

My grandmother is 84 and very sprightly this year. I get compliments left, right and centre about how grand she is; how she is physically and mentally a lovely person.

She has taken anti-depressants for years. It began the year that her third child, an 18 year old boy who died in the South African Army training camps due to a little known heredity condition called Malignant Hyperthermia.

Shortly after this incident her grief was too much and she was prescribed anti-depressants.

I had undiagnosed postpartum blues after my daughter turned one. My son who was three at the time has been diagnosed with autism and I realised that the man I married is a selfish, cold man who cannot deal with his own internal strife, let alone love me and keep me on an equilibrium.

Bring in the anti-depressants for the next generation: after a few years of incorrect dosage that left me a bit of a zombie, gave me nightmares and kept me up at night, I swore myself off them without the advice of my doctor. Big mistake.

I did it for all the aforementioned reasons and for that little voice that kept telling me at the back of my brain that I was taking them because I'm weak. I couldn’t handle my life. I was happy to be that zombie on too strong meds.

I was less of myself without the anti-depressants, less of myself on them. I was in a real bind and just stopped.

After some time, I convinced myself that I’ve got some kind of disorder and I went to a female GP and told her all my symptoms.

In a very no-nonsense way she told me that I sound like I have depression instead of whatever condition I’d cooked up.

By then, she knew my history and told me that she’d get me started on anti-depressants again. I cried. I didn’t want to be that lesser version of myself.

I knew I was strong, resourceful and would ride out the storms. I didn’t want to depend on mood altering drugs. That is what I told her.

In her no-nonsense way she reached me with the words, "your brain is not producing enough chemicals to keep you in check, you would be assisting yourself in producing enough chemicals for your brain to work optimally".

What my GP said reminded me that in our family there are five known autistic people, my gran with depression and others who are probably undiagnosed depressed family members.

It just clicked. My little son’s brain has wiring that didn’t set down as per usual for whatever reason, and my brain is following the same pattern - not producing enough chemicals.

My greatest desire is to be the best mom and example for my kids. If that means being assisted by chemicals, so be it.

It’s been a few years and I religiously take my anti-depressants, even though at times I’d skip and go without it because of shortage of prescription.

I can attest to being that version of myself that I wanted to be. I have weathered a horrible car accident, a divorce and having to share custody of my treasured children with the man that I married and fell out of love with after a long time.

Mostly I forgive myself because have a goal – being the best version of myself, and for that I need some prescribed chemical assistance.

Amen. 

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