A Journey Through Anti-Depressants

Push for help Image Flikr user Johnathan Nightingale, used under creative commons fair use
Push for help / Image: Flikr user Johnathan Nightingale, used under creative commons fair use

TRIGGER ALERT! This post may be hard for some to read.

Have you ever wondered what it was like to go from high anxiety and daily panic attacks to manageable anxiety? Let me educate you.

One night, I was given the sad news that my mom’s dog, and my childhood pet for 15 years, was going to pass away very soon.

It destroyed me.

No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t stop crying. Thoughts of cutting myself started to become stronger and stronger to the point that I didn’t think I could hold back, until I made the hardest decision I could make at the time… I picked up my cell phone and reached out to a friend on Facebook with one word–“help.” He immediately got on the phone with me and talked me down from my breakdown.

It was at this point that I realized I needed some serious help. I’d tried therapy, yoga, and meditation in the past and it just didn’t work as a permanent solution for me, so the next step was medication.

I made an appointment with my family doctor for the next day and she decided it was time to put me on an anti-depressant.

When she came in with the prescription, I cried. So many emotions flooded me from fearful to anxious to sadness. I felt weak for needing to take a pill to function. I was anxious about what the side effects would do to me. I wanted to still be me, and I was afraid an anti-depressant would take that away from me. I didn’t want people to look at me and see a pill. I wanted them to see Dakster.

To start it off slow, I took half a pill for one month and then bumped it up to the full dosage after that.

The side-effects were pretty severe at first. I wasn’t sleeping at night, and during the day I was taking naps at work. I didn’t have any migraines, but I did zone in and out to the point that a co-worker said I just wasn’t myself. My friends encouraged me to give it more time and push through it, because they knew how badly I needed something to help me.

It’s been almost two months since I took my first dosage of the medication and I can really tell a difference in my overall quality of life.

Look who's smiling now?  Photography by JonathanSidwell Valgardr Gunnarsson
Look who’s smiling now? / Photography by JonathanSidwell Valgardr Gunnarsson

You know what it’s like to go to a concert or a really loud convention? Well that’s how my mind was 24 /7 before I started taking my first pill. Now, my mind is more like a quiet car before you start the engine. I can hear myself think and actually process my surroundings. At first, it was almost overwhelming. It was a new, exciting, and scary sensation to be able to sit in a quiet room and not have three million thoughts rushing me.

Some of the side-effects have stayed, but now they are manageable. I still take naps occasionally on my lunch at work, but my employer understands that I need it. I don’t zone out anymore and feel like I have most of my energy back.

Over the past two months I’ve started to learn how to deal with emotions that are not clouded by anxiety, handle day to day issues without the immediate fear to run and hide, and I go through my day with manageable anxiety to the point that I almost don’t feel any at all.

The hardest part of my journey so far has been to not fall into old habits of fear and seclusion. I remember what it was like when someone would walk into my office unexpectedly, and part of me almost reacts the same way I did before the medication. Once I see them though, I realize I don’t have anxiety over their sudden appearance and I’m able to get through whatever issue they’ve brought to my door.

Another hard part has been seeing my true emotions for the first time.

In the past, I’ve doubted how I feel because I know that anxiety can make things seem worse than they actually are. This is a scary thing to live with because if you can’t trust yourself, who can you trust? Oftentimes, I would look to a friend or my husband and ask them if what I was feeling was real or legitimate, or if it was the anxiety lying to me again.

Over the past two months, I’ve come to terms with anger, love, friendship, concern for my friends, and sadness at the loss of a pet. It’s odd, but thrilling, to feel my emotions without the fog of anxiety hanging over me, wondering if I’m freaking out or feeling something I shouldn’t be feeling.

I still have some anxiety during the day, but it’s nowhere near as bad as it was before I sought out help and started taking the medication. You could say what I’m experiencing now is a new lease on life. Scratch that… I actually have a life.

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Dakster Sullivan is a network administrator by day and a cosplayer by night. She loves discovering new books to read, tech to play with, and ways to express her herself. She has anxiety and depression and strives to educate others about these invisible illnesses.