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"Those pills help me, and I am no longer ashamed to say so."

Laura Boyd

I recently stumbled across a Facebook status that caught my attention. An acquaintance of mine was proudly proclaiming that this particular day marked one whole month since they had stopped taking anti-depressants, and was ecstatic.

Normally, I would have barely batted an eyelid… if it hadn’t been the third time this year I had seen a status of this sort on my newsfeed. And if I hadn’t recently had a friend very firmly tell me that although she was incredibly depressed, there was no way in hell she would consider taking anti-depressants.

All of this has left me feeling a little, well… shit, to be honest. I have been taking anti-depressants for over two years, after my brain basically threw up its’ hands and yelled ‘I’m done!’. Since then, I’ve become quite familiar with the world of serotonin inhibiting pills. I also have a tendency to start my sentences with ‘well, when I was talking to my psychologist…’, which is an excellent indication of where my life is at.

The point is, it seems to me that lately, I’m talking to more and more people who are determined to stay away from anti-depressants or cut them from their lives completely. They talk about feeling pathetic for being ‘reliant’ on medication, or they refuse to become one of ‘those people’ who just uses medication to avoid their problems.

“It’s okay not to be okay.”

For a while, this started to make me feel extremely self-conscious about my own prescription. I felt a bit like a sad old blob fish. Why was I so afraid of not taking my medication? I heard people around me saying they desperately wanted to stop taking their anti-depressants, and I wished I had the strength to just live a ‘normal’, medication-free life.

I decided to take a good look at my situation. When I considered slowly weaning myself off my anti-depressants, the only positive I could think of was that I would save a good eighty-odd dollars per month, which would mean getting my hair done more than once a year, thus leaving me looking a lot less like Hagrid’s cousin (possibly one of my many underlying issues). Basically, my life at the moment is a bit of a mess.

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I tried to remember how I felt when I first started taking my meds. I can only compare the experience to being plucked, dishevelled and raving, from the bottom of a filthy drain, and raised to the sunny heavens like Simba- I was confused and covered in strange fluids, but the world seemed a bit clearer, lighter, and possibly even hopeful. Basically, those little pills saved me.

At the end of the day, I have had to acknowledge that I have a mental illness, key word here being illness. I am sick. Needing to take medication doesn’t make me weak.  My mum takes pills for her blood pressure. I have to take pills for my brain. We both have medical problems for which we require pharmaceutical help. Why should that make me feel like a weak human being?

I never chose to have a mental illness, and I am doing everything I can to work towards a future where I don’t feel like a blob fish. But for the time being, I can’t seem to do so on my own. Those pills help me, and I am no longer ashamed to say so.

To quote the ever-fabulous Jessie J: ‘it’s okay not to be okay’. Don’t beat yourself up for the fact that you are sick. Let’s stop looking down on one another for taking anti-depressants, or hiding this fact from our friends. Let’s be open about it, in the same way that we are open about the different creams we find effective for foot fungus.

For those of you who now live a life without anti-depressants: good for you. I really am happy for you. But at this point in time, I don’t think I’m ready to join you. And I am perfectly okay with that.

If this post brings up any issues for you, you can contact Beyond Blue on 1300 22 46 36 or at www.beyondblue.org.au.

Laura Boyd is a 22-year-old student, completing a Bachelor Degree in Acting. She hopes to one day be a sassy actress and writer who saves the world on weekends.

Do you think there is a stigma around taking anti-depressants?

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