This is probably pretty obvious anyways, but let’s face it, as I told my friends today that I was pursuing a prescription for antidepressants, I met with a few awful comments. As I was having feelings about how I’d be better off dead already from the way my depression interpreted the stigma to mean “medication is for truly messed up people”, I was speechless. How was medication the easy way out or a sign of weakness? There was no easy way out. [And, I do believe, suicide may be the hard way out for people with intractable depression that makes then feel completely inhuman. Conversely, who is anyone to deny those that have extreme depression medication if those medications could help them feel their instincts to live again?]. Choosing to live is always hard, because life is not easy, just infinitely, quizzically rewarding.The pain that I had been dealing with nearly constantly for three weeks was making me so tired of life I was confused what I went through the day for. I think it was the cognitive changes recruited through therapy. But nothing warranted the cloud of pain in my head that were it swapped with an open bodily wound, would make no difference in the nature of the pain. In the moment, my mind would certainly would rather die than live with it forever. Yet the brain is plastic, ever changing and never in one place forever.
Why do we feel so touchy about anti depressants? Oddly enough, I think it may be out of compassion and empathy. If you did have a gaping wound or broken something, you’d use painkillers to help the recovery of the injury. You would tape it up, stitch it, and because we’re human, painkillers are useful when they let us feel human. Feeling human-that is the mainstay of medicating for pain. People with mental illnesses can often feel not human-feel crazy, feel damaged, feel wrong. We use painkillers for serious and painful physical wounds because we are compassionate and know that people shouldn’t have to feel pain that makes them feel crazy, damaged or wrong-ie, less than human. The same applies to mental illnesses. Mental illnesses have medication that can help people feel human again while they are recovering. And when they are successfully healed, ie feel human again, we feel it was a right move because it was the compassionate move. We are all capable of knowing how it feels to feel human again, although we don’t get there the same way.
And also, it isn’t possible to deny that we are both animals and humans. We treat people who need drugs like animals, whose humanity is waived, even though those drugs are what is making them feel more human. Humaness is something we feel, not something we all are born with and some of us lose. It’s a fragile state that fluctuates and gives us an idea of ourselves and sometimes takes the backstage when we’re ill. This precious gift that makes us endure the challenges in life isn’t something that we should deny anyone, if we even have say in that. Through our uninformed actions and beliefs we form stigmas that deny other people the preciousness of their humanity and other times, are just human and mess up. All of that is okay.We can’t know what it’s like to experience something until we’ve experience it. But it is up to us to educate ourselves and be as compassionate as we can to everybody and all issues; just because we don’t feel or see pain doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. In fact, it’s important we are most compassionate towards those with invisible pain. Our actions affect them the most.
I’m purposely speaking about the emotions and moral principles behind the reason for my experience so far with anti depressants and that’s because the chemical side of things is something that I can’t control. And it’s also something that no one can see: we can only see how people behave, and that is consistent with the scientific mechanisms that gives rise to these thoughts, but they can be inconsistent with our upper level moral outlook. Nothing, nothing is simple about the way we perceive, feel, and react to the world. We can mean our best and still say the wrong things. We can feel great but be terrible. And we can be terrible but feel great-that’s all of part of feeling human.
I’ll likely be filling my prescription tomorrow and then deciding if I want to take my medication. It is always up to me. I want to make sure I’m taking medication for the right reasons and not because I’m convinced I’m desperate or persuaded I’m broken, because those kinds of thinking are neither good for depression, nor good for the positive use of antidepressants.