What It’s Like to Take an Antidepressant

pillThe first to remember is that this is not your fault. The second thing is that you will be okay if it is.

Of course, you can’t be certain about either.

Before you received this prescription, you were able to be sure of things—too sure, mainly of the fact that everything was your fault. You were able to feel things—too many things, all at once. They crippled you.

But what was so hard, after all? Maybe, in retrospect, the unexpected greatness of life did you in: simultaneously to have achieved success and to have been so uncertain of how you did it—and to have no idea how to maintain it.

But, again, you can’t be certain. There were a lot of factors. There were a lot of problems.

There still are; the pill does not make them go away. Wait. That should be the first thing to remember: The pill does not relieve you of your problems. It just makes it harder to feel them. That pill isn’t a wall, after all.

A pill is just a pill, and it doesn’t define you. Remember that as you take it first thing in the morning. You do not need to be afraid of each day or certain that the waking hours will overwhelm you. You are not less of a person—not less of a human being who is worthy of love—because you are depressed.

In the end, the pill doesn’t matter as much as the person taking it. You take it because you are strong and you are brave and you want to be better. You decided that for yourself, and the pill was just part of the answer. You take it because, in some cosmic cost-benefit analysis, the shame you feel is less than the relief it brings.

And you have to remember that that’s good.

Okay, but now can you remember all of the things you have to remember? It’s exhausting! Just try to justify the fact that life is hard and you couldn’t quite handle it on your own, because it’s also hard to remember now how hard it was. (It’s embarrassing to admit it, too.)

If only you could have been smarter, faster, stronger, thinner, braver, better, this never would have happened. You wouldn’t need medication. And now that you’re on it, you’re not sure that you do. Was it really that bad before—without? Was life really so overwhelming that you couldn’t handle it?

Yes.

So that’s it. That’s the subconscious thought that directs your hand toward the orange container and its white pills every morning: Because as hard as it is to forget what it’s like to feel, it’s so much harder to feel everything at once.

And you are certain that this makes it okay.