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BY MAGGIE WHITMORE                                    ONLINE CONTRIBUTOR

The idea of anti-depressants is a tough pill for many to swallow (pun intended), but it’s one that so many require in order to get out of bed or simply enjoy the small things again. I am one of these people.

I need these medications to get out of bed and enjoy my everyday life as much as I can with the weight so many of us feel on our shoulders. I have struggled with my mental health since I was about 14, and it has been an up-and-down journey that I truly have to take one day at a time. Like many, the road to finding my “happy pills” has been an excruciating process. I started off with some weird medications that made me almost pass out when I walked up the stairs. Then I was onto one that put me into a manic episode, which was like nothing I have ever experienced. It made my thoughts to race and my boyfriend would have to hold me in his arms until I would stop shaking- I stopped taking them immediately. After those, I went onto an anti-psychotic paired with an anti-depressant because that was the only way I wouldn’t cross over the line to become fully bi-polar. This led to a super fun time of extreme discomfort with my psychiatrist, whose appointments I’d leave crying because I hated going there. One of the last times I went, he basically told me he couldn’t fix me because he had tried everything and nothing has worked. The last resort was Prozac, which is what I take every day now. I have been stupid multiple times and stopped taking it because I felt better. A word of advice: DON’T DO THIS. I didn’t sleep for roughly 3-4 days and then my anxiety kicked in and I was not able to focus, attend class or go out in public, because even if you think they’re doing nothing, they are doing something.

When you start taking any type of medications for mental illness, you will likely experience some of the side-effects. One that I found quite difficult to cope with was the loss of my sex drive- like come on, I’m 18 years old and I don’t want to have sex? It sucks. But it’s all about weighing the pros and cons. Would you rather be incapable of getting out of bed or have a lowered libido? Another thing for the women that will be one of the side-effects most don’t mention is that if you are someone that experiences cramps during your period, the first period with new medication will hurt oh so much.

I struggled more than most because I am someone that experiences roughly every side-effect under the sun. It is difficult and frustrating but when you find something that works, it feels so good, I cried so much when I finally felt like I was getting better, because I was not just in a slump like so many people told me, I have manic depression and it tends to get in the way. So, don’t give up hope. You will find the correct medication, and if they aren’t for you, then you will find the right therapist or support system. We all deserve to be happy and if you require medications to feel better, so be it.

Five main tips:

  1. Listen to your doctor. Unless you have a medical license, they do know better.
  2. Take your pills every day, if you miss one it’s like starting the cycle over.
  3. If it says don’t drink while taking them, don’t drink. I have done this and was drunk after a single shot- like on the floor drunk and having to be carried home.
  4. It takes a couple weeks to get into your system, so if they don’t do anything after the first week that is because they aren’t in your system yet.
  5. The best and scientifically proven method to get better is by taking medications and also speaking to a professional counsellor or therapist at the same time.

You will get better one day. Don’t ever lose hope, keep breathing and keep trying, your happiness will come and I’m sure it will be sooner than you think.