It's never a good time to say anything that stops people getting help for depression. Maybe especially now, in this week. Very few people read what I write, but still, statistically the likelihood is that some of them (some of you) experience depression. So I wanted to say (following today's Currently post) that I believe that anything that helps is OK. Some meds are difficult to come off, but when you need the drug to keep you functioning, to keep you alive, to keep you whole, coming off is not an issue. Worry about the coming off part later.
I'm hoping not to go back on the medication because it feels uncomfortable to me to rely on it long term, but it undoubtedly was effective. They made me feel a tiny bit not like me (I think I generally didn't care as much about anything when I was on them - what people thought of me, whether jobs got done. I could shrug things off a lot more easily). But when I started - very reluctantly - to take them, I needed to get out of a real hamster wheel of sad, dangerous thoughts. And I think they had a big part in that - but so did psychotherapy and time off work and a lot of support. It's hard to know what did what but the pills were definitely part of that good mixture.
(I was very lucky. I was paid a full wage while I was away from work, and I could also access psychotherapy through them. The NHS meant I had unlimited access to experienced and expert practitioners and to medication at a standard prescription price. I know that those factors aren't in place in the same way for everyone. I wish they were).
I think I've come off too quickly - right at the beginning the practitioner I saw warned me that I needed to be aware that I'd have to come off very carefully, and I only sort of listened. So there's different ways of doing it, better ways. But my experience is that about 10 days ago I stopped taking the daily pill, and since then I've have had a few days of deep despair and lots of weeping, I've been extremely reluctant to see anyone socially (I've been functioning at work), and I've had some negative thoughts that wont go away, stuck, ticking, in my head. Also, today, a flash of anger had me throwing my computer mouse across the kitchen.
(As soon as it left my hand I realised it was going towards the shelf where I keep the china my grandmother collected and left to me, and lots of other china and ceramics that mean a lot to me, and I was already furious with myself for being so stupid when it hit a fairly non descript jug that Snake had put on there, and shattered it. I am so lucky it didn't hit something I loved. Weirdly, we couldn't find the mouse anywhere, until finally it turned up in the cat basket that was under the table, That felt sort of poetic. I didn't deserve my momentary tantrum to result in such a low material cost, or to have a poetic ending).
The thing is, I think my true nature IS anti social, with flashes of stupid, generally harmless anger and a tendency to low mood. So do I medicate that for ever more, or do I accept it and try and learn ways to live in this world as I am?
And the answer is - I need to do what I have to do. I need to get through the now. I am (was) so wrapped up in this idea of my own self reliance, the belief that I could think myself out of anything, that it took me too long and too close to an edge before I realised I needed help. What I experienced was that when I was depressed, asking that I got myself out of that place was ridiculous, meaningless. The illness stripped me of all the resources that I might have called on to make changes. I needed help. Part of that was the medication. I am extremely grateful for it. But for now I'm going to try some other stuff - eating carefully, walking as frequently as I can, saying no to social demands that feel too much and building in time alone, choosing to be with people who have shown an understanding, a kindness - and I am going to see if I can find a me that I can live with.
But I will go back to medication if I have to in order to allow me to live my life - to relate to and support my family, to work effectively and safely, to be able to comfortably spend some time with friends, and to be able to think clearly and calmly.
Do what you have to do. Use any raft that you can reach. Through the really dark days, prioritise keeping safe. On the worst days, the priority might be staying alive. Worry about the rest (the being med free, the working on the character flaws) later, when you've found yourself again, when you trust yourself with yourself again.