Open Letter #2: 2015 wrap-up series (part 2)

This one may get a little personal, so if you don’t want to feel something at the moment or maybe just don’t care that much, then stop reading now.

I have been on anti-depressants(SSRIs) on and off for about a year now, and this decision was a result of my grief over my two late friends who died in a tragic car accident a little over a year ago. 

Strange thing is, the week after that happened, I thought I was fine and had such a great appreciation for life. Then maybe that following week, it dawned on me that something wasn’t right.

I stopped attending class from time to time, I couldn’t leave my bed most mornings, and I just felt no drive to do anything or see anyone who I cared about. And that’s when I decided I needed help.

Mental illnesses can be hereditary, as a few relatives of mine have also suffered with depression and anxiety and it’s a social stigma that most people don’t like to talk about. Maybe because it’s awkward and very personal, but I’m pretty certain that most people deal with these feelings all the time. It’s just more people are better at hiding it, and people like myself feel more deeply than others.

After I had been on anti-depressants for almost four and a half months, I felt things were looking up. 

I had gotten a new job at the top of this year, I found myself doing better in school, and I moved out of a very toxic environment that just wasn’t serving me at the time. I loved the people there and of course there were great times, but it was just bad timing.

Then during that summer I had stopped using the anti-depressants, thinking that I might have just been cured. Boy was I wrong.

Months into the fall semester, I felt myself falling back into the same space I had been in last year. 

School is stressing me out, and working part time adds to that stress. And then on top of both of those, the frustration of not being able to see your friends so often because your lifestyle has just become extremely exhausting (plus working every weekend all weekend during the semester never helps).

So I go to my psychiatrist midway through the semester and suggest that benzos would probably suit me better this time around. And understandably, because of the recreational purposes and possibility of addiction, she wanted me to stay away from that. Instead, she gave me Lexapro, an SSRI that is a bit different than what I was taking last year (Prozac).

Five mg’s a day for four days going into Thanksgiving dinner and the very next day I have a panic attack which almost felt like a seizure. 

Ironically, after that episode happened, the doctor at the medical aid unit prescribed me Xanax. It did calm me down like I suspected it to, and that was all I really wanted, but I knew and my psychiatrist also stressed that benzos only mask the real problem.

After this episode, I consciously chose to become a recluse, avoiding all of my friends, staying at home and focusing only on school-work and my job. 

But during all of this, which was probably 2 weeks (those two weeks taking Prozac again and not Lexapro) the idea of death could not escape my mind.

I never was suicidal and I still don’t consider myself to be. But during these couple of weeks for some reason, leaving didn’t seem like such a bad idea. I didn’t know how I was going to do it, when I was going to do it, or even what would have to happen to actually drive me to that point. 

The thought never left my subconscious, seeing things on TV about suicide or even a co-worker alluding to people who “look like they’re going to kill themselves.” The idea just kept lingering and wouldn’t leave. 

I even called the suicide hot-line, and managed to just have a light conversation with whoever the proctor was. My family was extremely worried about me during this time and their support and concern is what really brought me back to earth.

Being back on Prozac is helping immensely, just with my mood overall and I actually want to be here and contribute to society. But now it’s just what I’m going to contribute that maintains my anxiety. I believe mental illness truly isn’t talked about enough and isn’t taken as seriously as it should.


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