I’m going back on an anti-depressant.
Such a simple statement, yet it packs a punch, and as an English teacher, I’m prone to unpacking texts.
Key word to unpack: back.
In some ways, it was easier to go on an anti-depressant the first time, because a traumatic event had occurred and it was obvious to anyone who knew me that I needed it. But to go back on one feels, at least on the surface, like I’ve failed somehow. I had this idea that I would only need that particular drug for a set amount of time, and then I’d be fine. Situational depression should clear out once the situation has changed, right?
Well, not always.
It’s been just over a year since my panic attack, and I’ve been taking an anti-depressant for most of that time. I tried to go off it in January, and that was a disaster. I considered going off it in May when I was manic, which was a whole kind of fun new disaster at the opposite end of the spectrum (read: way too much energy and oversharing and “upper” all. The. Time.).
My therapist informed me that when the season or anniversary of a traumatic event returns, the body and mind can retreat back to that time of struggle and act accordingly. Psychology Today calls this anniversary reaction, defining it as the “annual echo” of a trauma or loss. PT further claims that some researchers want anniversary reaction named an official symptom of PTSD. Perhaps it’s that; perhaps it’s my return to the classroom for a new school year; perhaps it’s some combination of the two or something else entirely. All I know is I’m starting to revert to old thoughts and habits:
- overanalyzing my thoughts and actions, particularly what I’m doing wrong
- being overly concerned with what people must be thinking of me
- getting weepy easily
- not being motivated to clean or answer emails or other (really rather simple) things I should be doing
- living too much in the past
- being too hard on myself all the time
- being paralyzed by even simple decisions
- getting stressed out or anxious easily (one of the reasons I’m no longer on Facebook)
Yesterday was World Mental Health Day, according to the World Health Organization. This is fitting, because yesterday was the day my therapist suggested I consider going back on my anti-depressant. Rather than seeing this as a failure, I’m trying to view this through the perspective she offered — as a tool. A tool that exists, so why not use it? A tool that so many desperately need. I am one of the fortunate few who can access it, so what’s stopping me from reaching out? My pride? Is that really worth my happiness?
All I have to do is accept it. If I learned anything from my traumatic experience, it’s to know when to ask for help, and when to accept it.
Although I had this arbitrary date on the calendar by which I expected to be off of my anti-depressant (because I’m human and want to control things, damn it), I’ve had two friends confide in me that they’ve had to go back on an anti-depressant, as well. I learned this after I began taking one myself, but it’s never been something we discussed beforehand.
And so I felt this was an important post to write. Because I’m sure somewhere someone out there is going through something similar. And I’m hoping if we start discussing it, we’ll start away to chip away at the stigma. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help — or accept it. Be kind to yourself. I’m trying to be.