My vision begins to get blurry, as colors absorb into one another in a fast-paced metamorphosis. Newly gray clouds and pulseless time breathe opposite life into this atmosphere.*
It feels like a dream again. Am I the dream? I don’t know if this is derealization or if I’m actually not alive, suspended in a world of supernatural third senses and inhuman detachment. I feel everything. I feel nothing. Blink. It doesn’t change. I won’t fucking pinch myself. I’m not a kid now, but is it time to wake up? Do I even want to? It’s kind of exhilarating to feel something different, but I’m not sure if this is what change breeds in healthy reactions with this medication. I’m alone in a world of too much and too little. I’m scared, but I like it.
– My repeating experiences for the first two months on antidepressants, happening once every two days.
Antidepressants. This is what I know now. This is what I have learned to accept, love, and then let go of all in the course of this past year and a half. Even though I was resistant to embracing the experience of antidepressants for months, I encourage an open mind in taking medication and not taking medication all the same. There is growth in everything, and my growth from antidepressants has been more positive than negative.
At first, I thought that antidepressants would eat away my rainbow as much as depression had, never being transformative, just strengthening my stagnant land of emotional paralysis. I didn’t like how they sounded. What was with the anti? Anti what? Anti depressed? Anti a feeling? Anti depression. Against depression. But that was me. I was anti depression at the time I started taking antidepressants last Christmas (2014). I was anti depression, but I was not accepting of the idea of antidepressants, because of the stigma surrounding mental health and the stigma of taking psyche medications, stigmas that society had carved into my wounds ruthlessly. But clinical depression had driven me to a place that needed healing, especially in the form of medication and cognitive behavioral therapy.
At the time, depression was my sworn enemy. Clinical depression had put me in a self-destructive place, a scene where I couldn’t feel energetic beauty humming throughout my soul. All I felt was the burden of extremes, that of apathy or self hate. They didn’t make my psyche flutter with butterfly freedom the way emotions usually did. They depleted my garden of nutritious puberties, leaving it dry. My garden was also lonely, and it needed to be quenched with a clinical solution.
Before antidepressants, I couldn’t be happy for months. I just couldn’t stop crying at night, and I couldn’t feel good in my own presence. I wanted to escape from myself. It was imprisoning to carry around a dark cloud with you at all moments. You didn’t wear warm clothes for this weather, and others around you weren’t prepared for the chilly winds of cold persona or tear rains that came with your dark cloud. So you would rather just take your dark cloud and retreat into a solo cave. It was time to visit a therapist during Christmas break, and start interacting with people again, hopefully with a rediscovered sunshine.
I saw a psychiatrist who told me that Wellbutrin, an antidepressant, could help make my depression and my ADHD less of a threat to my wellbeing. I felt so small that nature, my remedy for years, couldn’t do the trick this time. I always thought of myself as a nature girlie, one soothed by natural remedies I could smell, touch, taste, and feel. Nature didn’t appeal to me anymore, and the worst part of this doctor telling me to take medication was that I couldn’t bear that nature had “let me down” and I needed something extra. But I soon learned that nature didn’t change its feelings towards wanting to help me, and I hadn’t lost a complete connection with the world. I just needed help.
So, it’s Christmas 2014 and I start taking the medication. My concentration immediately gets better. Was this the placebo effect? I don’t believe so. I’m able to read with speed, a speed I had forgotten since I was a reading addicted child, before school sucked the fun out of reading for me. Truly, I felt powerful. I could pay attention to conversations, especially as the days zoomed on. I was able to engage in eye contact for longer periods of time, and show my respect for those beings I had deeply respected all along.
I have so much energy. I’m jumping around, telling my mama that I feel SO happy that I can do things the way normal people can do things. I forget to eat though, doing everything but appreciating food. I start to realize that this medication takes away my appetite, and a few months later and fifteen pounds lighter, this feeling was solidified. But as the first month on antidepressants winds down, I start to feel a bit hazy. Nothing looks the same because I am so visually focused on the details of ALL that nature stands out in a way I had never seen it before, colors take on a strangely graphic form, and people aren’t whole people to me- they are their individual, extra “poppin” parts. Because of this dramatic shift in perception, everything starts to feel dream-like. What is real?
I walk though Isla Vista feeling like I’m the only being who actually exists, or perhaps, I’m actually the only one who is not in existence? Nonetheless, I feel alone again. But it’s not loneliness. Being alone and feeling lonely are two separate experiences. In feeling alone, I don’t sense my interactions with others to be real. With this derealization, I also start to feel more disconnected from my body, experiencing a growing feeling of looking at my hands and not recognizing them as my own. This, I learn, is called depersonalization. My body doesn’t seem like my own. I can’t recognize my physical form at times.
Another new sensation that starts to sprout is feeling no emotional passion at all. When I was depressed, I felt extreme apathy, but I also FELT this apathy. I felt like a robot. But as more time passed, I started to balance out and to feel things again. I started to enjoy antidepressants as the summer rolled around, because I felt more stable. This stability was sacred to me, something I have never grown up with inside of my head.
I finally accepted antidepressants, I appreciated them, and I learned to love them. I felt like I could express myself better on them sometimes. Other times, I blamed not being able to speak up or speak out on being on antidepressants. I did, however, develop social anxiety for the first time while taking them. It wasn’t so much that I became self-conscious, because I had always cared what people thought. Instead, it was difficult for me to form sentences. My heart would beat faster than usual, my hands would sweat buckets more than I thought genetically possible, and I had a hard time breathing slowly. I’m not sure if it was the medication or just the ever-changing stages of life. Nonetheless, I had a good ride. This past winter quarter, I upped my dose of wellbutrin from 150 mg to 300 mg, and everything went UPWARDS and ONWARDS into bliss of all bliss.
I was the happiest I have ever felt in my life. I was working out everyday, feeling so much love with my girlfriends, and truly proud of myself for living in a way I had always wanted to live, which was in good health and positive growth. Also, this was the first time I was consistently taking my medication for a long time, as I had had spurts of taking it and not taking it due to loving it then hating it, forgetting to get a refill, and just being lazy. I felt strong, and I was so proud to be myself and be privileged enough to be on this medication. I am still so proud to have taken the medication, and feel so blessed to have had this experience. At the start of this quarter, I thought I had developed a tolerance, so I asked to have my dose increased to 450 mg, which was the max my psychiatrist wanted to ever give me. Two weeks later, I had a seizure, and since April 16, I have not been on any medication. I have felt unstable while getting used to this adjustment, but I’m now in a good place.
Basically, I would recommend keeping an open mind when it comes to medication. Even though my own family was very supportive throughout the process of me taking them, they also always mentioned natural remedies in helping my depression. The truth is, sometimes these natural remedies don’t work for everyone, or even if they do, they are not enough for the scope of the problem. They are not always inclusively healing. I do understand though, that medication distribution has a way of being abused, because of the medical industrial complex, which is the capitalistic profit-making intentions and systematic abuse of power when it comes to selling and “forcing” drugs upon people to keep the top of the empires rich and greedy. But on the other hand, many professionals diagnose and distribute medication for the right reasons. It’s not always known what will be the right path to take, or the right advice to listen to, but professionals can aid in your healing process. Medication can help you heal, or it may hurt you heal. Keep an open mind, listen to your body, and remember where your stigma comes from.
I am so appreciative for the opportunities my anti depressants have given me. They helped me feel what balance actually feels like, what happiness consistently feels like, and what concentration is like. I am currently not taking them because of the chance that it may have induced my seizure, and because I am in a different place now than I was before. I am taking fish oil supplements and SAM-e supplements for natural mood stability. But if these don’t work, I will gladly give another antidepressant a try.
I have become so much more open-minded throughout this experience, and I have rediscovered what it means to love myself. My opinion is to give something a try if it draws you and it seems safe for your circumstances. Be careful of where it’s coming from, and be careful of where your stigma is coming from as well, if it is there at all. I miss my antidepressants, but I know the lessons I learned because of them will always be with me. For now, I am very excited to keep living and living in good health. I respect all moments of my journey, and I can only hope you respect your glorious life and your beautiful self as well