…of pain and not get scared or overwhelmed. Something she said in our conversation jogged my memory. Eight years prior, during my second major depression, I told my psychiatrist that I knew everyone else didn’t feel or think what I did — that nothing mattered, that everything was meaningless or worse — but that I couldn’t understand how they didn’t. My psychiatrist told me major depression changes the logic of your brain. When I was well again, the way I was thinking at that moment wouldn’t make sense to me anymore either.
… those people, there are few options in terms of medication that can be discontinued without issue. But there are many of us who need to be medicated indefinitely, and that the default belief about medication is that it is meant to be used on a short-term basis is extremely harmful. It’s stigmatizing. It perpetuates a notion that to take medication is to somehow be weak. The Times article, for example, included this line: “Longterm users report in interviews a creeping unease that is hard to measure: Daily pill-popping leaves them doubting their own resilience, they say.”
It’s an idea embedded within a widely shared piece in the New York Times this weekend, headlined “Many People Taking Antidepressants Discover They Cannot Quit.” The implicit assumption of the article seemed to be that there is something fundamentally wrong about being on medication long-term, despite the fact that for many people, depression is a chronic illness. (As researchers in a 2010 study wrote, “Recurrence is the rule, and about one-third of patients go on to develop chronic depression.”) But never once does the article mention that going off medication is a common cause of death among depression sufferers; that many people, when they start to feel better, forget how bad they felt before, forget that feeling better came from the drugs they were on, and stop taking them; or that for many people, the alternative to the side effects of and dependency on the antidepressants or anti-anxiety medication they take is a feeling I’m fairly certain is worse than death, or death itself.