It’s hard, I know. Whatever the reasons, it is difficult to admit that something is wrong with our mental/brain health. Embarrassment, weakness, depression itself… the possible reasons go on. Yet, accept it we must. For me, accepting that this had happened allowed me to move out of a period of denial. I was able to give up this battle with myself, this period of trying to hide my pain from everyone else, and move on to getting the problem fixed. Did I want to take medication? Did I want to have to put these feelings into words? Did I want to rip open my soul, expose every nerve and weakness I have, only to have them prodded and poked by the medical profession and those around me? No, I didn’t want to, but I would if that was going to help me. I reached a point where I was willing to do absolutely anything to get rid of the feeling that was rotting inside of me.
“I reached a point where I was willing to do absolutely anything to get rid of the feeling that was rotting inside of me.”
So I did. Prescribed by a doctor in the Emergency ward, I started taking an SSRI pill (I think that stands for Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor… but don’t quote me on that). These pills increase the levels of serotonin in your brain and can lead to improved activity in the happy parts of your grey matter. The effect is usually slow and subtle. Typically, you begin on a low dose which can be increased after a couple of weeks. The increase continues until eventually you arrive at a ‘treatment’ dose – the dose that seems to be having the desired effect of improving your overall mood. You will likely stay on this dose for at least a year. At which point, it might be tapered back. You may eventually taper right off the treatment or you may take a low amount daily for the rest of your (hopefully) depression-free life. Just like there are many shades of depression, there are many different SSRIs and what works for one person might not work for another. In my case I took Prozac and it took about six weeks until I noticed even a slight improvement. It took another 6 weeks until I would say I was approaching anything resembling my ‘normal’ self. This may not seem like a long time, but when you are depressed, every day can feel like a torturous eternity. If a depressed person switches from passive to active thoughts, then any day can be their last. Remember, depression is a potentially fatal illness and every day, hour, minute, and second matters more than you imagine.
“… depression is a potentially fatal illness and every day, hour, minute, and second matters more than you imagine.”
There are many drugs other than SSRIs that can be used to treat depression, depending on what the cause may be. However, I can only speak for myself and say that the SSRI helped me so I never got as far as exploring other options.
Coming Soon… Chapter 6: Part III
One thought on “Chapter 6: Part II: The Good, The Bad, And The Psychotherapy”
I love your take on the language of ‘mental’ health – it certainly seems to be one of the roots of the associated stigma. I think there’s a similar problem with how people see the drugs that are often prescribed to help improve brain health. The names Prozac and Zoloft (and others) are often connected with ‘calming the crazy’. Thanks for your explanation about what Prozac and other SSRIs actually do for the physiology of the brain!