Antidepressants, 6 months in: FAQ

About 6 months ago I tried something new. I started taking antidepressants.

So, half a year in, how is it going?

Honestly, it's been awesome. It's also something people really seem to want to know about. Here's my Antidepressant FAQ:

Do they work? What is the difference?

For me, definitely. They don't work for everyone, and some people have to do a lot of back and forth to find a good dose, but it was a huge, positive change for me.

The change that I noticed is that I suddenly felt like myself again. In this case, that meant feeling like I once again had the energy and mental capacity to deal with life and my problems. I wasn't being held back by an energy-sucking slime monster anymore, I could just be myself and face the world.

At first, of course, it was a hugely noticeable change. I had the stark contrast of before and after fresh in my mind. After a few months, my new normal became normal, and it's no longer special. I just continue to feel like Regular Andrea Living Life.

What about side effects?

I had a weird couple days after I first started where my head felt kind of buzzy and I would have sudden dizzy spells, and luckily those were the only negative side effects I felt. Otherwise, I didn't get the weight gain that often comes along with the pills, and while it's possible that my sex drive was affected, being constantly anxious wasn't really great for the ol' libido either, so that seemed even-steven.

Don't they flatten out your emotions?

In terms of experiencing all the feelings of life, I would say the there has been a bit of a change. I still feel high highs and low lows, but I have noticed that I don't cry nearly as easily as I used to. Don't get me wrong, I still cry enough that I can do a #whyisandreacryingthistime series on Instagram and fill it out pretty well, but EVERYTHING doesn't make me cry anymore.

I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing, to be honest. My sensitivity and empathy are a deeply-engrained part of who I am, and while they are definitely still there, am I losing something by dulling them, even a tiny bit? I mean, I still care about people and things. I still have all the feelings. I also still feel like myself. I don't feel like anything is holding me back or getting in the way of my experience of life.

Will you be on them forever?

That's not the plan for me. Because my depression and anxiety were triggered by life events and stress, the plan was to take the pills for a year and then go off of them in whatever slow, drawn-out process that entails.

In the meantime, I've been working on my life boundaries and priorities. This is brutally hard. The reason I had to go on antidepressants in the first place is because I let everything into my life, carried all the responsibility in my head, and all the feelings in my heart. It was too much, and trying to change that really IS changing something about myself, even more so than with the medication.

I'll write another post soon on the techniques I've been using to try to create better boundaries in my life. It's all still in that weird fluxy place of experimentation, so we'll see what happens.

Do you think I should go on antidepressants?

Well that's just impossible to answer. Everyone's circumstances are different, and everyone certainly doesn't share my precise body chemistry that reacted to the pills in this way. You also just may not need them.

If you think you might, though, then you should talk to a counsellor and a doctor about it.

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