"Chemical or crutch?" - Lynn Bodkin

It really irks me when people say anti-depressants aren’t the answer. I should be exercising more, practice Mindfulness, get a hobby blah blah blah. To me, those things are complimentary to my pills. My pills, without trying to sound dramatic, save my life. Every day. I have been persuaded several times in the past, against my better judgement, to reduce my dose. It doesn’t work. I crash pretty fast and hard. I will not be persuaded anymore. I will be on them for the rest of my life and I’m happy about that. I know I’ll have a line of stability where suicide or self-harm isn’t an option. Sounds dramatic? Well, that’s just how my anti-depressants save my life every day. 

I went to a mental health day earlier in the year where service users were invited along with professionals. A couple of guest speakers were brought in. One lady took to the podium and told us about her post-natal depression. Her GP wanted to prescribe her anti-depressants which she duly took. She then went on to tell us that after a while she thought she didn’t need them. She decided she would travel the world in search of what worked for her and write a book about it. She didn’t want to depend on chemicals. Now, that’s very commendable for her but only a small number of people can financially do that. Also, I was always told, and still believe, that depression is a chemical imbalance in the brain. Google it and it tells you a million different theories. I’m sticking with what I truly believe, the chemical imbalance. My anti-depressants stabilise me and fill the chemical gap that my body can’t produce. You wouldn’t ask a person suffering from thyroid issues or diabetes to try alternative treatment rather than rely on medicine so why is it ok to tell me to do it? I practice mindfulness, I could do with a bit more exercise but on the whole, I look after myself well. What’s your problem with me taking pills? Have you read my medical notes? Have you talked to me and listened to my story? Please don’t try to make me ‘feel better’ with your ignorance, I refuse to be ashamed of taking anti-depressants and I refuse to be ashamed of my illness. Like the saying goes........until you’ve walked a mile in my shoes....

My point is, don’t let anybody make you feel ashamed or any less of a person because of your illness and how you treat it. You are the expert of your mental illness, you’ve lived through it, you’re surviving it and that takes courage a lot of people don’t recognise.