How Taking Antidepressants For 6 Years Changed My Views On Mental Health

The first time I slept over my first college boyfriend's apartment, I was hesitant to reach into my bag and take out my medicine. The clock was ticking, and I knew I had to take it, but I didn't want him to judge me for it.

"I need to get something," I blurted out. "What do you need to get?" he asked.

"I have to take my medicine," I said casually. He didn't really seem fazed by it, but then again, he didn't really understand anything I was going through anyway.

But, why do I always feel so embarrassed that I take medicine? If I don't take it, I end up feeling super sh*tty the next day. If I don't take it, I end up shaking very badly. If I don't take it, I start having withdrawals.

When I was a junior in high school, I convinced myself my medicine didn't even help me, so I stopped taking it for a week. As each day passed, I found myself feeling even more dead inside. My eyes were droopy, my head was heavy and I just wanted to die.

Most of my friends take medicine for their anxiety, depression or ADHD. It's honestly not a big deal. Wouldn't you want to feel much better by taking medicine instead of feeling horrible without it?

I've tried to reason with others by comparing my need to take medicine with a diabetic person who needs to take insulin. It's so true because without my medicine, I would crumble. It's a necessity in order for me to live. It sucks that I have to take it, but I'm proud to say that taking medicine has helped me stand on my two feet.

I started taking medicine when I was a freshman in high school. I met with a doctor at Massachusetts General Hospital, and he wrote me my first prescription. After taking it for a while, I didn't really think it was helping. Since I was 14, I've taken over 20 different types of medications to try to combat my anxiety and depression.

I've taken medicine that has left me feeling suicidal, I've taken medicine that makes me shake uncontrollably, I've taken medicine that makes me pass out 10 minutes after taking it and I've taken medicine that make my head hurt, my vision blurry and weight increase.

I've also taken medicine that makes me finally feel good after months of not leaving my bed, and it makes me happy to be alive. I've seen the downfalls of being medicated, and I've also seen the amazing, life-changing highs of it. After being on the medicine I've been taking for the past five months or so, I haven't experienced any anxiety attacks, negative urges or depression. Those are symptoms I never thought I would experience during my 18 years of being alive.

The stigma of taking medicine for mental health sucks. Why? Because there are people who will judge you for taking a small white pill once a day, and they don't think taking medicine is necessity for you to stay alive.

People don't judge others with certain other medical conditions for taking their daily doses of medication. Society thinks it's acceptable for people to take medicine if they're in physical pain, but it's looked down upon if someone takes medicine for their mental health?

Without my medicine, I wouldn't be the same. I'd rather be on medicine and be hopeful about my life than be without it and have to endure the distressing life I was experiencing years before.

Here are four things I've learned after taking medicine for six years straight:

1. Some people just won't understand.

Yes, some friends won't believe any of the benefits you get from taking your medicine. They won't view your condition seriously. Take their opinions with a grain of salt. Your reason for taking medicine is justified by how you feel.

2. Be careful about drinking.

Taking medicine can increase the effects of alcohol, and it can also create horrible side effects. If you take medicine, make sure to limit the amount of alcohol you drink.

3. Mixing other drugs with medicine can be a bad idea.

Some antidepressants can make you feel super paranoid if you smoke weed or combine it with other drugs. Again, be careful about what you're putting into your body while on medicine.

3. Some medicine can make you gain a lot of weight.

Exercising and eating healthy are necessities. But if you're on medicine that makes you gain weight, then it's even more important you get physical activity.

4. Don't give your medicine to other people.

If you're on medicine for a reason, don't give someone else your nightly dose for money. First of all, every dose you take is necessary, so giving up one can be costly. Second, you will be at fault if your friend has a bad reaction to it.

Over the years, I've learned about my medical conditions. I know what helps me, and what doesn't. When I stopped taking my medicine for about a month during senior year, my friends noticed I wasn't the same and that my depression was taking over all aspects of my life.

Taking medicine has helped me control my mental health and has helped me experience life the same as others. Without it, I wouldn't be the same. I am so thankful for the benefits it has provided me and how it has contributed to my healthy state of mind.