Friday 2 September 2016

Medication and Me: The Importance of Medicine for Mental Health

Grace talks about her experience of medication and discusses how she does not want people to feel the embarrassment and taboo that she felt.

- Grace 

Medication is such a hugely debated topic with many controversial views associated with taking medication for mental health problems. Unfortunately, there are also many myths associated with this, which often scare and prevent people from using this method of treatment. Yes, it might not be the magic cure, and it certainly won’t make everything better, but medication can help. In my experience I honestly don’t know where I would be without it.

There is a lot of stigma attached to taking medication and many of the people I know and love aren’t even aware of the fact that I take it to simply be able to function every day. It’s time to be honest. I don’t want others to be as scared as I was when I first started taking medication, reading horror stories online and believing I was doing something bad. So here goes:

I take medication for anxiety and depression, and yes that is ok. 

Medication is simply one of the many options available to help combat mental health problems, alongside talking therapies. Personally, the best option for me has been to receive a combination of counselling, support from my doctor and medication. However, it is important to remember that medication has both benefits and drawbacks, so you should research both before making a personal decision to take it. Please make sure that this is an educated decision with guidance from credible sources. Personally, my drawback once I accepted that I was taking medication for my mental health disorder is that there are side effects but for myself, I would rather feel nauseas or tired than be under the grip of the dark depression. 

My decision to start taking medication was not an easy one. Firstly, it took a lot for me to realise that I needed help and unfortunately I found out the hard way. Months of despairing depression, crying myself to sleep, feeling numb and worthless persisted, all the while alongside the anxiety of trying to keep up appearances, to carry on my success as a university student and attempting to maintain my friendships. However, eventually it all got too much, I couldn’t listen to the thoughts in my head for much longer…I left the house at night taking a walk to the sea front, I didn’t want to be here anymore, I was shaken up, I just wanted how I was feeling to go away. Fortunately, I could not hurt the people that I know and love no matter how much I was hurting at the time. 

I came back to my house mates who were clearly concerned and unsure of what to do. One of them was brave enough to text me and say that they knew I wasn’t right and that I needed to get help and they were scared; I was scared too I told them. With her support I booked a doctor’s appointment and started my journey on understanding my depression and anxiety. This led to me starting to take medication, which is something I have been taking for several years now. However, I have had dose changes and medication changes, in order to take what was most suitable for me and my body. Alongside my counselling and support from my loved ones this has really made a difference in my experience with anxiety and depression. 

Now, looking back in retrospect if I could give myself advice before taking the medication, I would remind myself that the tablets won’t solve everything all at once, but that is okay. In the end, they will make my depression and anxiety a little easier to deal with. 

Finally, I will survive and things really do get better.

For help with student depression, visit the Further Support page from our Ripple campaign.

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