“Womp womp meep meep womp womp wah?”
Pause. Wait for a response.
“Makayla, womp womp meep meep meep meep?”
Hearing my name awakens my word processing skills. Before that, noise is just noise for the sake of my sanity. There’s a lot going on. The hum of the dishwasher, the clanging together of silverware, the slamming of bins onto the counter, talking, just to name a few. So to keep my focus and avoid going into sensory overload, I sing. And allow the clanging and banging, beeping and buzzing to become the percussion and bass for whatever song I quietly sing in my alto/tenor. Today it’s Count Your Blessings from Jesus is Born.
“Woah, woah the blessings. Woah, woah the blessings. Can’t you see what, what God has done.”
“Makayla. Have you ever womp womp meep meep?”
Hearing my name awakens my word processing skills. And now I’m fully back into my outer world with the clanging and banging and buzzing. And now I’m struggling to fully comprehend what’s being said to me amidst all the noise.
“What?” I say.
“Have you ever been on antidepressants?”
Umm is what I say when someone says something to me and I either don’t know what to say or contemplate whether or not to say what I do have to say. Right now, this umm is a result of the later. The truth is I have been on antidepressants. I am on antidepressants. That’s the truth. But do I want to tell the truth? Do I want to tell the truth to this person?
This person is the person who arrived 40 minutes late at work today and has arrived just as late in the past. This person is the person who always goes home early. This person is the person who is always talking about her boyfriend. This person is the person who practically bragged about flunking the 11thgrade and almost dropping out of high school. This person is the person who I’ve talked about after work and to be honest have judged- as someone who doesn’t want to work and is quite juvenile and immature. But now I’m second guessing those judgements and my right to even judge in the first place. And I’m also thinking that while I was judging her, she was probably judging me too. It’s human nature. Why else would she ask me?
Maybe I look like someone who has depression and needs antidepressants. Maybe I look like someone who can use antidepressants for other reasons like insomnia or pain. Maybe she’s just asking because I am someone she can ask. I don’t know. I can’t read people’s mind.
I think to the whiteboard in my room and the new saying I wrote on it this afternoon. It says,
“Depression is a liar. Continue to walk in your truth.”
Depression is a liar. And continuing to walk in my truth means telling the truth, boldly no matter what.
“Yes,” I say.
“Oh, they want to prescribe me antidepressants because I have anger issues. But I don’t know how they are going to make me feel. Like how do they make you feel?”
This time the umm is because I don’t know what to say. I can’t recall another time that someone asked me about what it’s like being on antidepressants. I start to realize that no one knows what it’s like to be on antidepressants except people on antidepressants. And that even though the number of people taking antidepressants has been on the rise, there are still many people who don’t know about antidepressants.
So, I decided to take this opportunity to express some of my knowledge on antidepressants. And this time, I will use the power of 3 (my favorite number).
- There are many types of antidepressants.SSRIs- Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors, SNRISs- Serotonin Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors, MAOIs- Monoamine Oxide Inhibitors, Tricyclics. Just to name a few. Each antidepressant affects brain chemistry by either increasing positive brain chemicals or decreasing negative ones. The way these drugs work is dependent on the ability of an individual’s brain chemistry to submit to such changes. Leading to my next point….
- Antidepressants are not magic pills.You don’t take an antidepressant one day and feel cured the next. In fact, it takes 4-6 weeks in most cases to determine whether or not a drug is effective. In some cases, after this time period- the drug is determined to be ineffective and another one is tried. Sometimes it takes several drug trials to find a drug that works for an individual’s unique brain chemistry. Trust me, I know. Also, antidepressants are not magic pills in the fact that they are not perfect. Just like all other drugs, they come with side effects. Some of these side effects can be minor like headaches or nausea while others can be more serious like increased suicidal thoughts.
- Antidepressants are not only used for depression. Antidepressants can be used for other mental health concerns such as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, anxiety, anger, insomnia, impulsive behavior, panic disorders. They also can be used for conditions completely unrelated to mental health like chronic pain, migraine, and fibromyalgia.
That’s a little of my knowledge on antidepressants. Now here’s a little bit of my point of view. Taking antidepressants can be tough. It can be very difficult finding the right drug or combination of drugs that actually works. Then once you find a drug that works, dealing with the side effects is just another battle to the war. But for me, someone who was deeply depressed and extremely suicidal, antidepressants have brought a lightness and a joy back to my life. I can be the self I was before depression- a bright, quirky human. And that doesn’t mean that I don’t still have bad days. I still struggle with depressed thoughts and feelings most days; but they no longer strangle me and take my breath away. They no longer take my voice away. I can speak. I can write. I can laugh. I can smile. I can just be free.