I’ve become one of those people. One of those people who has finally admitted that I may not be able to cope with my life as it currently stands. One of those people who almost resorted to drastic actions to solve a, somewhat, insolvable problem. One of those people who asked for help.
Before two weeks ago, I would stand proudly, chest displayed, bragging about not needing any help to get through any problem and that people who did were ninnyheads and, for want of a better word, pussies. Relying on antidepressants had always seemed like a problematic sentence to be handed when all you needed was a good talking to.
I’d like to take this brief opportunity to apologise to anyone who might be reading this and might have suffered at the hands of ignorant people who don’t understand what it actually means to be ‘that person.’ We simply and wholeheartedly don’t know what we’re talking about and maybe cling to our Mail Online influenced opinions more than what we perhaps should. I’m more than ashamed of the thoughts of the people who truly believe this.
46.7 million people in England take antidepressants for depression. To put it in perspective a little bit; if the estimated population of England is 57 million, that means that there are only just over 10 million people who don’t take antidepressants. For every one person who doesn’t take antidepressants, there are four who do. That’s huge. It seems unlikely, but that’s the facts as they stand. Some people would decry the reliance of tablets where counselling might be more appropriate, but regardless of flapping gums and bleeding hearts, this is still a massive problem.
But now, a fortnight after I started taking Fluoxetine, a pretty tame SSRI (its the same as Prozac); the equivalent of Niall Horan in One Direction, no one’s really sure why he’s there because he makes so little an impact, I may be in a better emotional position. This might be because of the mentality that taking tablets must be making things better, or perhaps the emotional pain that caused me to ask for help has started to heal over (antidepressants tend to take 3-4 weeks to initially work), but whereas my emotions might have started calming down, the rest of my body is starting to struggle with the changes that the antidepressants are causing.
Since I’d been dumped by a long term partner because I was dragging him down when he wanted to soar off and do greater things, I’ve been dragged through the full gamut of emotions; loneliness, sadness, brief elation, hopelessness, hunger, failure, nihilism (verging on an almost suicide attempt), essentially everything that you would expect to feel when something like this happens. I’m no stranger to heartbreak, but this one wouldn’t shift no matter how I punished it with inappropriate food and drink. It was sticking around longer than what I was used to. And what I was prepared to put up with.
I’d given myself one month to let myself be a bit of a Debbie Downer before picking myself up and sorting myself out, but as one month turned into two and the hysterical tears still started to make my cheeks hot and my eyes sting, I knew something was majorly wrong. I wasn’t ‘that person’; I didn’t need help. It wasn’t what I needed. ‘You just need a good seeing to,’ I thought to myself but, unsurprisingly no one would go near someone who is prone to dazzling heights of mania followed by sobbing bouts of salty tears. So that was out.
And then I was walking home from work one day.
On my way home I have to cross a big, busy bridge that everyone in Sunderland knows, and for some reason, this one day, the fleeting thought that I could just throw myself off the side of it popped into my head. It was a massive thought that hung around longer than what it should. If I’d thrown myself off the bridge, no one would be bothered, and they would carry on with their lives eventually. It seemed like an easy enough solution to just stop everything from being totally shit. I didn’t do it, obviously, I’m not writing this from beyond the grave like a literal ghost writer. I was too scared to do it. But as I hurried off the bridge, I knew that this was an extreme that I wasn’t comfortable experiencing. Tears and tantrums were fine, they were part of the course; Eastenders has taught us that, but that level of nuts was more than I was prepared to even think about. So I booked myself into the doctors under the guise of having them look at something on my foot, but actually speaking to them about that instead.
Long story short, after a 20 minute conversation where I totally made a complete embarrassment of myself in front of the lovely doctor by crying like a baby and not being able to control myself (I didn’t wet myself, don’t worry), I was prescribed some antidepressants and referred to a therapist. Problem solved, I thought. But I don’t think I could’ve been any further from the truth.
Because the antidepressants don’t take effect until three weeks, I was left to take tablets and wait until the chemical imbalance in my brain was corrected and I went on to live a better life. All the same feelings were still there, and the same temptation to check his Facebook to see whether he was happy was still there (I haven’t, don’t worry Dr. Oliver) and as well as that the tablets started to demonstrate some rather interesting side effects.
Since 11 days ago I’ve not had a full night’s sleep, and the sleep I do get is peppered with nightmares and really thought provoking and unfortunate dreams that make me feel well shit when I wake up. My concentration is shot to shit; I can’t finish a cogent sentence without trailing off, or talking about what I’m having for my dinner. My appetite has taken a massive hit and I’ve only six full meals since then, instead snacking on smaller things, or skipping two or three meals entirely; I’ve stopped even worrying what my breath smells like. Finally, and this is the one thing that I can’t really put up with, the tablets have ruined my erections. Not only are they infrequent, but they’ve become so uninspired that I don’t even know what I have a penis for. Wanking was one of the only things that was getting me through the days. I literally had nothing else to look forward. And now I don’t even have that. It feels like someone has taken away my favourite toy and gave me a soggy hotdog instead.
I can’t take any more odd things happening to my body; it’s totally unrealistic to take away any pleasure that I could have had from food, sex or sleep. How am I meant to move on with my life when I don’t want to eat any meals with people, and when they might want to touch me in the pants, it’s like a kitten batting around a wet lace?
Antidepressants probably aren’t for me. In a fortnight’s time I might feel like Bananaman, but until then my full intention is to come off them as soon as possible and try and get an erection that doesn’t remind me of an unmanned ventriloquist’s puppet. The only problem, which I’ve been told by almost everyone who I’ve spoken to about this, is that you can’t just come off them because they’ve already started affecting the chemicals in my brain and that it can put me in an even worse position that I was already in. Which seems a little stupid, but what do I know? I’m not a doctor. I can’t even play Theme Hospital without causing a massive outbreak of cholera in Simville.
Asking for help was one of my best decisions and would honestly recommend anyone who thought like me; that you don’t need help, to seriously reconsider and go to the doctors. Even if it’s speaking to someone who’s impartial and not linked to you, it can set you up on the correct path of mental recovery. If I’ve learned one thing from the past fortnight, it’s that asking for help is one of the best things to do.