Over the past few months I've come across at least a half-dozen posts about depression. Some of these writers have expressed hesitation to use antidepressants. Reasons vary; people are wary of side effects, or of the social stigma, or they feel that it's more authentic to deal with life without those drugs. I respect these considerations. But after writing a lot of comments on other people's posts, I thought I would tell my own story here.
I was diagnosed as clinically depressed about a dozen years ago. For months I had been fatigued, forgetful, weepy, irritable, and unable to concentrate. Making the simplest conversation took a huge amount of effort...I felt like I was standing in a trench several feet below ground level and had to haul myself up to make eye contact before falling back down in a heap.
I was putting all my effort into doing my job, which of course suffered from my lack of focus. I had nothing left by the time I got home, which created more problems. I fixated on every big or little thing that went wrong in my life, failing to realize that most were things I should be able to take in stride. Finally a friend, herself a therapist, spelled out the obvious. I had Seasonal Affect Disorder, a chemical imbalance not uncommon in places like Minnesota, where daylight is in short supply in the winter. I realized I'd been getting sad and irritable every year from November until April; this time it was simply worse than usual.
I never hesitated to take antidepressants. Fortunately, they worked. I was lucky that I didn't have the dangerous side effects some people have suffered. TMI warning: Some antidepressants also suppress libido, but you know what REALLY suppresses libido? Sobbing and griping and hiding under the bedcovers and being so dazed that you drive past your own house. Yes, please, I'll take the drugs. I did swallow hard at the prospect of seeing a therapist in order to get the prescription, but I soon got past that. After a half-dozen superficial sessions (or maybe I really am remarkably well adjusted other than the SAD), I just have to check in every year or so to have the prescription renewed.
I used to hear people say they worried that an antidepressant would deprive them of experiencing normal feelings. But I still feel appropriately sad when sad things happen, and elated by happy things. The way I see it, my meds have simply straightened out a chemical imbalance and allowed me to be the person I am meant to be.