Around the midway point of my pregnancy with Elowen, I walked into my doctors office and announced I was depressed. I’d been here before, depression wasn’t new to me. And there was no doubt in my mind that I was suffering with depression again. I also knew that the cause of my depression was largely situational. I was a pregnant, stay-at-home to a mum to a toddler, who for 8 hours a day, most days of the week didn’t speak to another adult. I was living 100+ miles away from my friends and family and I was incredibly lonely.
When the doctor asked me what I wanted to do about my situation I knew I wanted drugs. I believe my exact words were “I know why I’m depressed, I know what I’ve got to do to fix it (relocate back to Bristol) but right now, I need something to get me through the day.” I left that appointment with a prescription for Sertraline. An anti-depressant which I would take every day “for a year or so”.
Sure enough, after the side effects of dizziness and sweating died down, Sertraline got me through the day. I stopped crying all the time. I enjoyed being a mum again. I looked forward to having two children instead of dreading it. I felt like I could cope. But also, aside from the meds, there was a light at the end of the tunnel. We were going to be moving back to my hometown.
We put our house on the market over Christmas and by April this year we were in our new home, located a short drive away from my closest friends. I’ve had more of a social life in the last 3 months than I have the 3 years that preceded our move back home. I feel better connected and supported. Not just as a mother, but as a person.
Which beggars the question, is it time to come off the drugs?
I don’t think anybody plans to take medication for mental health long term. And in my mind, it was only ever meant to be a temporary measure until our situation changed. I want to be able to feel happy without my little box of pills.
And yet, I still feel reluctant to stop taking them.
Whilst it’s now been well over 6 months since I truly felt like I was in the depths of depression. Those thoughts and feelings are still fresh in my memory. How sad I felt. How useless I deemed myself to be. How sore my face felt was from all of the crying I did. I don’t want to go back to that. Ever.
For me, it’s just easier for my prescription to keep dropping through my letterbox every couple of weeks and to keep taking the pills daily. Safe in the knowledge that they will keep those awful thoughts and feelings at bay. The drugs have become a psychological crutch, which is precisely what didn’t want to happen.
I’ve yet to register with a doctor here but I know my medication is something I will need to talk about when I do, which is probably why I’ve been putting it off.
I don’t want to stay on anti-depressants forever. But is it too soon to stop?