I’ve been on antidepressants for approximately 18 months now. And look at all the crap I’ve already been prescribed.
To me antidepressants are like a thick block of ice covering a dark, frozen lake.
The freezing cold water represents my depression. The ice symbolizes the antidepressants.
Generally, the ice is strong and resilient and I can skate on it without falling into the cold darkness below.
The ice is keeping me safe. Without it I would drown. Yet the ice is unpredictable too because it can crack and in some places its thin and unstable.
But it’s better than nothing.
Without the ice I would fall into the darkness and be swallowed by the freezing cold waters and I would die.
There was a time a few months ago where I thought, I don’t need to be on antidepressants anymore. I don’t need the ice.
So, I reduced my dosage and felt fine for a few days. Fine – even cocky. I was like “Hey depression, you’re not the boss of me”
But BOOM! after a few weeks, my depression was like “ehhh yeah I AM actually the boss of you and now you’re gonna pay for your disobedience”
So I paid. I felt heavy, empty and crap. And vowed never to stop taking my meds again.
It was a very valuable lesson. Because it reminded me that I need this medication. Without antidepressants I just don’t trust myself. I’m scared of the void. Of the dark, frozen lake. I fear that my only way out will be to self-medicate.
I don’t trust myself to look after myself properly when I’m not on medication. I don’t trust myself to eat, to exercise and to do all the normal things people do. I’m just healthier on antidepressants and I don’t understand why so many people have a problem with me being on medication for a legitimate illness.
This illness that I have. That WE have is dangerous. I have seen people go off their meds and kill themselves. Depression isn’t a disease that fucks about. It’s serious.
And it’s not something that can be cured with a brisk walk or a stiff hand shake.
The decision to go on antidepressants was a very personal one. And it’s not one I took lightly.
Almost everyone I know has resisted taking medication for their depression at first. The shame is just too strong.
So, when people tell me that all I need to do to feel better, is chew on a piece of Chinese bark at sunrise and meditate to Cat Stevens, it takes all the strength in the world for me not to go Samuel L Jackson on their ass.
Your judgement is dangerous. Your advice is dangerous. Unless you’ve been on antidepressants yourself or you’re a qualified doctor you need to shut the fuck up.
You’re belittling my illness. You’re patronising me. Do not tell me I shouldn’t be on medication. Do not tell me that your uncle/baby/milkman cured himself with transcendental meditation.
Do not SHAME me simply because I am a person who has sought medical help for a serious illness and is taking the necessary medication to stay alive.
I’m sorry my taking a tiny pill once a day is having such a massive impact on your life. I’m sorry you don’t agree with it. I’m sorry you think I don’t need it. I’m sorry you think you can come up here in my grill and speak shit you got no idea about.
Actually you know what fam…my friend Ollie Williams is gonna take care of this from now on.
Hey Ollie what should I do?
On that note, I’ve reviewed some of the medication I’ve been on. And written you a very nice beginners guide to antidepressants. I’m interested to see what your thoughts are on these so leave me some juicy comments below. Also, I just want to say up front that these meds affect everyone differently. Just because something didn’t work for me, doesn’t necessarily mean it won’t help you.
- Fluoxentine (prozac)
Do you like to eat? Do you like to sleep? Well too fucking bad because you won’t be doing any of that stuff on fluoxetine. Fluoxetine, also called Prozac, is the mother of all antidepressants. It was the first antidepressant ever invented and is arguably the most famous SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) in the world.
I managed to be on fluoxetine for a record-breaking eight days before I was like actually can you just kill me now. It made me incredibly nauseous and affected my sleep big time. When you’re depressed, bed time is one of the highlights of your day.
Sleep was a blissful break from the mundane darkness that was my life…it was my nirvana. My happy place. To rob a depressed person of sleep is just like…like…like there are no words…no jokes to describe how awful it is.
Ok, it’s like french-kissing a badger…it’s like getting fingered by a shark. It’s just so awful.
The insomnia meant I didn’t sleep for a solid two days. And the nausea meant I couldn’t eat. It was shit! Sleeping and eating are two of my favourite things to do. And I couldn’t do either of them.
I missed food…I would look at photos of food like:
2. Citalopram (Celexa)
Citalopram was the second SSRI I was prescribed after fluoxetine. I liked it because it made me feel NOTHING. It made me feel totally invincible. Like nothing was going to bring me down. I had no emotions. I literally couldn’t cry. I would strain and strain trying to push out a tiny tear but my constipated tear ducts were super glued shut. I could not cry. I could not be sad. And because I couldn’t be sad, I couldn’t be happy either. I was just nothing. I was emotionless.
I was meeting people like:
It was definitely a step up from feeling suicidal but feeling dead inside is not a long-term solution. So, my quest to find the perfect antidepressant continued…
I really liked Zoloft and it worked really well for me. Unfortunately it didn’t work so well for my legs, who thought they were at an 80’s rave. All they wanted to do was party.
It’s like the rest of my body was the grown up adult all like ‘time to go to sleep’ and my legs were the naughty teenagers sneaking out at night, getting drunk and smashing up cars.
I tried to reason with my restless legs: guys, we need to stick together here, we’re a family. I’m not feeling well…you guys up all night partying…is seriously affecting my ability to get better. Can you guys just calm down? Just like try and be cool. Just be cool.
But my legs were like:
Escitalopram is my homeboy. It’s my favourite antidepressant and the one I felt most comfortable on. It’s my comfort blanket. My safe place. My port in the storm. My haven. It’s like coming home after a long day to your mums cooking. It’s familiar and safe. But much like your mums cooking…it makes you fat.
Well it made me fat. Now, people who know me in three dimension will be all like WHAT!!! you’re not fat. This is true. I am still thin. But escitalopram caused me to gain 9 kg in less than 7 months. Which is bizarre because I run three times a week, I hardly drink and I eat healthily. It wasn’t the weight gain that I had a problem with. It was the loss of control I felt over my body. Its pretty shit when you’re running so much, and eating healthily and you gain so much weight that you can’t fit into your jean pants anymore. So as content as I felt on escitalopram, my psychiatrist and I agreed that we could do better. So I took a risk and changed meds.
5. Urbanol (clobazam)
Urbanol is an anti-anxiety drug. This is the drug I was on for the first week in the psychiatric clinic. It did not please me. It made me really spacey and out of it. I remember being in group therapy and we had to end the session by saying what emotion we felt and I said I felt spacey…the counsellor was like ok but that’s not an emotion. I was like give me a break lady! the best I could come up with was I feel ‘not normal’
Everything felt dreamy and sort of glassy. I was like ‘is this a dream? is this real?’ I remember thinking that all the buildings, all the streets and shops all used to be a dream in someone’s head. It was totally trippy.
I specifically remember watching movies in the common room and not understanding them.
Oh Xanax, you little devil you. I had heard a lot about this drug, due to it’s popularity in the States and how often it is referenced in mainstream culture. I was quite happy to try these bad boys. I imagined my anxiety would just disappear and I would be normal again. My doc prescribed two 0.5 mg whilst I weaned myself off escitalopram and onto lorien. So the first day, I took two xanax and half a lorien and marched myself to work in the blissful knowledge that today was going to be the most relaxing day in the world.
Unfortunately I didn’t realise feeling relaxed is just psychiatry code for feeling dog tired. Within thirty mins of sitting at my desk I was falling asleep. I had a coffee to liven up and boom boom boom, now I was half anxious, half tired, very confused, very scattered and drooly…
People were speaking to me and I could only understand every second word…words did not make sense. Nothing made sense.
My brain was the opposite of sharp. It was mushy. Like when you microwave a pizza for too long and it’s all soft…that’s what my brain was like. Someone put it in the microwave for way too long and on way too hot.
Do you ever feel too happy? Maybe you just got engaged? Or your wife had a baby? Or you finally scored the jackpot…whatever it is that is causing you this unpleasant surge in euphoria, we have the perfect solution for you!
Brintellix! For when you’re just TOO happy.
*Suicide attempts within the first 7 days guaranteed or your money back!!
Brintellix is the worst drug I’ve ever been on. The worst. I had zero patience. Everything annoyed me. I didn’t shower for five days. I slept a lot. I did nothing but listen to Ricky Gervais podcasts. Everything became unbearable. The light annoyed me. Birds annoyed me. The sun annoyed me. I really almost lost it on this drug.
I remember being really pissed off with everyone like:
Fuck man maybe I didn’t make myself clear. I am depressed. I am beyond done with life. I would like a little glimpse back into my normal life and you’re shoving me even lower down this stinking black armpit hole. I know what’s happened here…when I said please can I be happy again you must have heard please make me lose the will to live…
Lorien belongs to the prozac family. If Prozac is the mother of all antidepressants then lorien is the rut of the litter. The black sheep. He has a bad case off ADHD. Lorien doesn’t understand the words ‘calm down’ He never sleeps and he runs everywhere.
He sticks spoons in his ears, jumps on cars and he absolutely cannot sit still for even a second.
Lorien made me very anxious and gave me a shit load of unnecessary energy. I was basically like a labrador puppy on crack.
I cleaned A LOT and slept very little.
*best friend who I’ve never met 😉
Lorien and I decided to part ways a couple of days ago. He’s just way too wild for me. All I want to do now is go home. Where I’m safe. Where I don’t have to be afraid. Where I can be myself again. I’ve been so homesick. I just hope I’ll be allowed back in….
22 thoughts on “Antidepressants”
This is hilarious. And yes, people do have a problem with other people being on medication for depression. I think that it is a mix between denial (problems? Us? Nah) and an obsolete, obtuse, narrow-minded, stubborn fear and stigma attached to mental problems. Basically, at the age of the internet, robots on planet Mars and nano technologies, people have the same perspective on mental illness than in the 18th century or even way before. It doesn’t matter that billions of people take tons of medication to treat cholesterol and hypertension without anybody raising a brow. But DEPRESSION? (Shh, lowered voice). Bad. Very, very bad. So anyway, fuck them.
You speak truth my friend 🙂 yeah fuck em x
Why did you decide to go on anti-depressants? You say you tried going off them, but didn’t like what happened when you tried. Is it feasible to never stop taking them? Do they help you in your self-work?
Interesting question…I’m not sure at this point. I’m quite afraid of going back to the darkness and the antidepressants give me the security to know that I won’t. I’m really not sure. I do hope that one day I’ll be drug free. In terms of self-work…it’s weird because being on anti-depressants means I can’t really access real sadness anymore. Like sometimes I want to cry and I physically can’t and that’s quite frustrating because crying is a great release. So there are things that I can’t shift because I can’t properly cry and grieve for them . I think it comes down to fear. I’m simply afraid to not be on medication. I’m scared that I won’t be able to fly anymore. That I will crash…
Going back into the darkness is certainly something to be avoided. Do you know where this darkness came from to begin with? I have read that anti-depressants only work for a limited time, that eventually one needs to take more and stronger anti-depressants so they only buy you time. Time to hopefully gain some insight to help you figure out what went wrong.
Do you miss your sadness? Do you think about the things you would like to grieve while on anti-depressants? Or don’t they seem worth thinking about anymore? Are you feeling ambivalent about being on anti-depressants?
I’ve not been prescribed any of those, and I know my reactions might be different, but your vivid descriptions certainly scare me off of them. I was on Wellbutrin, Lexapro, and Klonopin. All I ever got were side effects (shaking hands, headaches, ringing in ears, visual distortions). The Klonopin pretty much just put me to sleep. I’ve been off of them for a year, and no better mentally, but then again, those drugs never affected my depression anyway.
Sina, this is fucking brilliant. I laughed, I could relate. You bring the complete truth out and make it so easy for others to relate, and I think by that, feel a little more normal. Love your blog.
As funny and great as this article was, antidepressants treat people differently and I had different experiences. I’m surprised you didn’t mention Paxil/Paroxetine because I’ve heard this is one of the most popular (the one I’m on now) but i guess Fluoxetine is close enough as its the basically the brother of Paroxetine. Paxil is good but because its so powerful, it over sedated me when I first started taking it. But for me, that is my safe home haha.
I got a lot out of this post. You have an amazing way of saying it like it is with intelligent humour and Ive always loved your drawings. I wanted to ask you, I saw a box of venlor in your photo of the meds you have tried and wanted to ask what your experience with that was? Missing your posts xx
I had obviously missed this post. I loved it! I hope that your summer went well!
I took Zoloft for about 12 years. I lived in a small town, with no mental health facilities I was just going to the local clinic, telling the Dr. “this is what I’m on and I need a refill”. It kept me alive, but not really living. I moved to Las Vegas, got a job with insurance, started seeing a shrink, now take Prozac and Lamictal. I am bi-polar and my poles are anger and depression. I can go from suicidal depression to homicidal rage faster than I can blink. This combination has been working quite well for about 5 years now. My big sister/best friend/mentor/so much more…died one year ago (in 4 days exactly), and I honestly cannot believe I’m still breathing. I’ve had a lot of loss and trauma/drama in my life, but this past year has been more than any one person should ever have to deal with…I’M STILL BREATHING. I guess this means they work for me. (I have tried other stuff over the years, but of course, I’m totally blank on what the were! ) Oh, yeah my first mental health hospitalization was after an attempt (you know…)–I had taken a full bottle of Trazadone, yeah, that one didn’t work on my depression very well.
Which ones don’t have withdrawal symptoms?
Also, when you described Zoloft giving you restless legs, did you mean your legs twitched involuntarily?
I had both…Zoloft gave me restless legs which just means that I couldn’t keep my legs from moving. They didn’t twitch so much. It’s more like an overwhelmingly compulsive urge to move your legs.
OH MY GOD. 😂 I died at the Zoloft review with that song reference. That’s my favorite one thus far.
Medication definitely can be a tricky subject.. however I don’t think it’s fair to shame and take it away from somebody who genuinely benefits from it. Like you said, people react to all those types of meds differently. Some don’t prefer to use any and that’s ok. There is however a certain point where it COULD be life threatening to not use something, but that depends. There’s honestly so much to cover on this subject that it would be too much for a comment section, LOL.
But thank you for your honest review on these! I really got a kick out of your comical explanations. 😆 I’m glad at least one of them was able to help you out. And whatever your next step is, if there is one, in terms of treatment is honestly up to you.
hahah! I laughed so hard writing that part. Love the Beastie Boys 🙂 I’m playing with the idea of going off meds again…they’re making me fat but let’s see what happens 🙂 Thanks for all your lovely comments. I’m really bad at reading praise so it takes me a while to build up the courage to read comments and respond. I really appreciate your love 🙂
Have you tried nootropics? I stumbled upon the term on reddit and found a goldmine of potential alternatives that supposedly turn you into a whole new person once you find your right ‘noot’
Oh my god I haven’t!!! That’s so exciting. Tell me more. I shall also Google. Thanks for the tip 🙂
Nootropic is an wide umbrella term for natural and synthetic cognitive enhancers.
They’re not for depression, but I find myself feeling a lot better when I take stimulants or anything that enhances focus because they make me feel ‘alive’ and not detached from the world. Many people use it and become more engaged, which leads to better quality of life in general
This is really great … I love the way you did this! I am a lady of 61 who has been on venlafaxine for 10 years. It was tough going onto it, and I stayed on 37.5mg per day for about 8 years. I am now on 150mg per day and recently started trying to wean off by reducing half a pill per day. Not good! Weaning off venlafaxine can cause aggression, as I have seen in others (I work in a medical environment). I have tried almost all the drugs you have mentioned and I wish I was “medicine-free” like I used to be 10 years ago, but alas, we need anti-depressants when life knocks us about too much and we stop coping. It was really good to read your thoughts and have them presented in such a creative way. Thank you and bless you xx
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Hello Diana my friend 🙂 Thanks for reaching out. I also tried to wean myself off a couple times last year and always ended back on. Now I’m trying to just accept myself and this version of me. Life is really hard nowadays and we are all doing the best we can. I think taking anti-depressants is actually an act of self-love. It’s not something to be ashamed of. Your body will tell you when or if it doesn’t need the SSRI’s anymore. Thanks again for taking the time to write me. I’ll be thinking of you. Sending you love and patience xxxx