« You can’t cure depression ». I lived with that belief for years. The testimonies and the articles I had read online said so. « It’s a day to day battle ». I never saw the point of taking medication because of that belief. Why should I bother taking them if I’m never going to be cured ? It seemed like a waste of time and money.
I tried to convince myself it was the reason I didn’t go to a doctor but the truth is, the idea of taking medication terrified me.
The last question shouldn’t be terrifying, it should be hopeful, right ? But I didn’t know who I was without depression. I didn’t know who I could be. I was feeling numb most of the time. I wasn’t interested in anything. I couldn’t leave my house without feeling anxious. I dreaded every interaction I had with people. I hated myself. So what if the real me was not somebody I liked ?
I managed to keep it together for a while. I did my best to go to school, to have friends and to do everything people who are not sick do. I pretended to be « normal » and it worked. I was the girl who made other people laugh. I felt dead inside and yet I was the girl who cheered and helped everyone, how ironic is that ?
My family situation was getting worse. Problems seemed to come from everywhere and I didn’t know what to do to fix them. I felt completely helpless and I hated it.
My depression was getting worse too and after my graduation I decided living wasn’t for me. I couldn’t take it. it was too hard. I couldn’t pretend anymore, I didn’t even want to.
I started college for my best friend. The plan was to find her new friends and finally leave this shitty world. I met a guy who I thought would be a good friend for her so we started hanging out with him. I told my best friend about my depression but she didn’t really understand it. When I told her I couldn’t do simple stuff she told me I should at least make an effort as if being like this was my choice.
But she was the only part of my life that wasn’t completely messed up so I tried to make her understand. By that point, I didn’t trust anyone, including myself. I couldn’t make decisions and my best friend was my Jiminy Cricket.
I felt so bad about myself, my life, everything. I wanted to scream, cry, do something that would make the weight in my chest lighter. The guy I told you about (let’s call him C) started to flirt with me and I immediately told him nothing could happen between us. I told him I didn’t want that kind of complications and that even if I did I could never feel anything for him or anyone. When he asked me why, I told him I had depression (at that point I would’ve told anyone who asked, I didn’t care). He asked me if I took medication and I just shrugged saying I probably should.
That’s when I considered seeing a doctor. I had nothing to lose anyway so why not ? I told my best friend I was suicidal and that I needed help and she agreed to go with me. That day, I called her but she didn’t answer. I tried again and again but she never picked up. I thought maybe it was a sign from the universe telling me I should die. That was it. In 2015, at 18 I was going to die. I didn’t even start my life yet but I was going to die anyway and no one would miss me.
A few days later, C called to check up on me. He asked me what the doctor said and I admitted I didn’t go. I told him I was fine and that I didn’t need it so he didn’t have to worry about me. I was touched he actually called me but I wasn’t going to change my mind. It was too late for me. C told me to get dressed and that he was coming to pick me up. I was completely shocked. A guy I didn’t even know a month ago cared more than my best friend did. I decided to give life one more shot.
That’s why you should never underestimate small gestures. They’re the ones that matter the most.
The doctor diagnosed me with major depression and prescribed me three pills (one for anxiety and the rest for depression) to take everyday. He told me it would take between six months and a year for me to be cured. I didn’t believe that but it was my only option so I took the pills everyday.
He warned me I would be sleepy during the first two weeks and he was right. I slept for at least 12 hours everyday. My family started worrying and wanted me to stop but I didn’t care. Sleeping was my only escape so I embraced it. After two weeks, I was still sleeping too much. When I was awake, my hands were usually shaking but I kept taking them.
C was regurlarly checking up on me and I started dating him. Not because I started to like him but because I felt like I owed him my life (which is a terrible reason to date anyone). He was always pushing me to go out and to make decisions. Everytime we would eat somewhere he’d make me choose where we’d sit. It was hard at the beginning. I would literally stand for 5 minutes trying to figure out the best spot but he never left me off the hook.
As time went by everything felt clearer. The bad days were still here but there were good days too. I could go out whenever I wanted without feeling anxious. I could finally trust my opiniions. I could differenciate my own thoughts from my depression.
I decided to take only one pill a day. It was scary at first but I noticed that I started to sleep normally and that my hands stopped shaking.
I didn’t realize the changes until C pointed them out. He said I was completely different and that he felt like he was dating another person entirely. He told me he liked that change a lot but our relationship was no longer the same. I’d challenge him everytime I disagreed with him (which never happened before). I’d not only choose our sits but also the place we’d go. He wasn’t used to all of that and most of all he wasn’t used to me saying no. Usually, he’d push me until I finally said yes but it didn’t work anymore.
I realized that he didn’t feel anything for me which was fine because I didn’t feel anything for him too.
I became more distant until we got into a small fight and I decided to end it. I’ll always be grateful to him but I realized I didn’t owe him anything. I also cut ties with my best friend and everyone else who didn’t belong in my new life. I think that’s one of the best decision I’ve ever made.
I haven’t had any bad days in a year and a half (I stopped taking medication about a year ago). I can honestly say I’m fine. I’m not saying I can’t fall back into it but I don’t feel like it’s a day to day battle. I just live without thinking about all of that. I’ll always think of 2015 as the year a part of me died because I don’t think you can get that close to suicide and be the same again but I’m okay.
I do think that you can cure depression and I do think taking medication helped me a lot in my recovery. It’s a slow process and it was frustrating at times but it was worth it.
A big thanks to Lys for sharing the story of such a difficult time in her life. I also wanted to throw in my own little footnote here. Medication is… tough. Some of the stigma, I believe, comes from an antiquated notion that meds “change” people. That meds are “happy pills”. It’s simply not true. Like you see in Lys’s story, it takes time, and it takes working hard and doing uncomfortable shit when you’d rather not. The meds help regulate brain chemistry; the rest is up to the patient. Miracle cures aren’t a thing, and relapses are very real. But medication can be an incredibly useful tool to have in your arsenal.
Medications aren’t without complications and side effects, and what works for one person’s body and mind won’t work for another. But if you, along with a doctor and/or therapist feel it’s a good course of action, there should be zero shame in taking something that will make you healthier. Someone on heart medication would never be shamed, so same applies. Thanks again, Lys, for highlighting so much of this!