Today is World Mental Health Day.
It is a day, recognised by the World Health Organisation on the 10th of October, and usually has a theme attached to it. This year, the World Federation for Mental Health, has set it to ‘Make Mental Health and Well-being for all a global priority’.
As the conversation on mental illness becomes less stigmatised, it has gained traction over social media as a general awareness day. It gives us the opportunity to speak about our struggles and spread the word on how vital it is to get help if you’re in need.
This WMHD, I will be focusing on a topic I’ve not actually seen written about online. It is the fact that it seems to be my antidepressants have stopped working and the last few weeks I’ve struggled with both severe anxiety and depressive episodes.
I’ve been on antidepressants for quite a few years now after suffering Depression and from Anxiety attacks both at work and during my sleep. Interestingly, back then, despite the fact I was clearly suffering immensely, I was entirely against the idea of going on medication. I hated the thought that in order to feel somewhat ‘normal’ I had to rely on a pill. I worried that if I was suddenly to feel happier, it was not because it was my personality, but that of a fake. I felt slightly better when the doctor reminded me that I was not any weaker for needing to go onto antidepressants; that sometimes individuals simply have lower levels of serotonin than others. If you’re lacking in Vitamin D – do you suffer or do you take supplements? Words to that effect anyway.
It turns out, that feeling ‘happier’ was the wrong word. I use the term ‘lighter’ to describe accurately the effects of my medication. Things that seemed impossible to do, I did a little more easily. If the thought came into my head to shower, I was able to do it, rather than staying in bed. If I felt low, I didn’t feel like I was sinking into a dark abyss but more a metaphorical trip on the pavement that I was able to stand up from.
The panic attacks, without me realising, simply stopped happening. In fact, I didn’t realise they’d stopped until I had to really think about when the last time it was that I had had one. I was able to go travelling around the world. When I felt down, I was able to stay in bed one night and get up the following morning to hike. I answered honestly to the backpackers who asked, that I was taking my antidepressant every morning. From there, conversation about mental illness opened up in the middle of the most random places, from South America to India to Southeast Asia and beyond. I felt better.
Fast forward a few years, and sadly things haven’t seemed as easy. Despite the fact that as I write this currently I feel okay, I haven’t really been okay at all. The last few weeks, both my mum and brother have had to convince me to get out of bed somehow and I’ve been riddled with anxiety. Sometimes there are things that are wrong, other times I’ve got used to it being my natural state of heightened awareness. Perhaps I’ve been subconsciously triggered by lifestyle changes – I moved back home at the start of September and still haven’t settled in. Perhaps it’s down to friendship changes – this year I’ve really noticed who has shown up and who haven’t. Perhaps I was triggered by both my Dad and Grandma going into hospital a couple of weeks ago and my body remembered the events which led up to my Grandad passing. Perhaps it’s the fact the year is slowly coming to an end, and I’m not ready to be a grown up. Or perhaps simply, it’s just who I am as a person. Maybe I’ve never been a relaxed, happy-go-lucky individual – I’ve experienced too much to have a never-ending chill.
Either way, I visited the doctor and told him everything. My struggles, my worries about changing medication and how I just don’t want to be feeling like this anymore. I’m to view a list of psychiatrists and then we’ll see what happens. I’m chatting it through with my therapist which is really helping. I’m taking it day by day, and trying my best not to believe thoughts that try with all their might to bring me down.
This World Mental Health Day, I implore you, to seek help if you’re suffering from any mental health struggles. Speak to loved ones or a medical professional. There is no shame in taking medication to give you a little more of something your brain is simply unable to do by itself.
2 Replies to “World Mental Health Day: Have my antidepressants stopped working?!”
Hi Emily, I am so sorry to hear that you have been having a tough time recently. You looked so well when I saw you briefly at your mum and dads at the end of August. You were getting ready to move back home. Your mum was telling me how happy you were with your lovely boyfriend. I then remember seeing pictures of you in Turkey at a friends wedding in September. I haven’t spoken to your mum since then so I didn’t know your dad and grandma had been in hospital. I’m so sorry to hear this and I’m sure that will have affected your mood understandably. I do hope they are both better now. I’m glad you have been back to the doctor. He sounds like he is really understanding of mental health and I’m sure he will help you get back on track very soon. Maybe a change in medication is needed, but whatever it is you need I have no doubt you will work it out and you will be back to feeling well again soon. You are such an inspiration to people who struggle with mental health and it’s so refreshing to hear you talk about your struggles so openly. As you know, Tori and Sophie have had their own struggles over the years. If there is ever anything I can do to help you, even if it’s a just to talk, you can always call me. You are such an authentic and beautiful person on the inside and outside. Don’t ever give up! Stay true to yourself. ❤️
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Thank you Fiona, you’re the best ❤