Why I threw away my pills.
I’ve had a long history with clinical depression. There would be bouts and then long periods of normality.
These bouts of mild depression began to transform slowly, unfolding into voids of unbearable despair. When I was 15 years old, there were weeks, months when all I could feel was absolute hopelessness and a growing desire to jump off the 5th floor balcony of my room. It just kept getting worse. My parents fought often. I didn’t have any friends. The loneliness and despair suffocated me, and drove me to hysterics. I would suddenly start laughing while crying, and then sob again. I would sit alone, laughing madly and crying simultaneously.
I would sit alone, laughing madly and crying, simultaneously.
My parents brushed it off telling me it’s my fault, that I should think of better things, that others are suffering more than I am.
They finally took me to see a psychologist when I was 18. I was prescribed 20mg antidepressants for a month. And it worked! I didn’t feel happy, but I didn’t feel despondent either. I could concentrate better, my thoughts didn’t scatter before they could form. I finally had clarity! I knew exactly what I wanted, I planned my whole future. For a year, I studied like I was possessed. I wanted to be a scientist. I stopped talking to my family, avoided talking too much to or ‘hanging out’ with my college friends. I didn’t have friends in college honestly, just acquaintances. I spent hours in the library. I carried books with me to family vacations! I felt hopeful, confident. And then it all started to disintegrate.
This episode of depression was by far the worst, though I hadn’t realised it just then. I completely stopped studying. I just couldn’t do it anymore. I couldn’t concentrate on anything, I couldn’t think, I couldn’t read or listen to music. I was sleepy all the time, I slept in class, in the canteen, in buses, just all the time.
All the dreams i’d built crumbled before my eyes. I stayed awake at night despairing. The nightmares began again. I cried all the time. And then, when I thought it couldn’t get any worse, all the pain left me and I grew numb by degrees. I couldn’t feel anything, I was a zombie. Then the buzzing began. It was as if my thoughts were flying at high speeds. I became quieter, my mind became louder. It was so loud! It became unbearable, the buzzing. I was scared of quiet rooms, that’s were the buzzing was the loudest. But the numbness hadn’t gone away. I cut myself so I could stop the buzzing and feel some pain. It was only a temporary release. I was so depressed, I felt like I’d touched the bottom of a well and the clouds were beginning to collude with the sea, trying to drown me in there.
My parents took me to a psychiatrist. He put me on mood stabilizers and antidepressants. I was soon taking 250mg tablets. It worked. The depression began to dissipate. For month I took the medication. I felt better for a while, and then the depression began again. The pills did nothing. The doctor changed the pills, and I tried those for a while. I tried some 4–5 different medicines. They all worked for me at first, too well in fact- I didn’t just stop feeling depressed, I stopped feeling at all.
I had a drug induced hypomanic episode. I talked and talked! I slept for just 3 hours and felt absolutely refreshed. I was happy, talkative, cheerful and hopeful. If I couldn’t find anyone to talk to, I would talk to myself. This lasted for 2–3 days at most. And everything went back to normal.
The meds kept making me feel worse. I just kept growing number. I had lost interest in everything. By this time, I had completely stopped reading, writing or listening to music, all of which I used to love. Not to mention the side effects! I was having so much hair fall.
It felt like I had escaped one nightmare, only to enter another one. So I stopped taking the pills. Pain is better than numbness.
It has been more than a year since I threw away the medicines. I have been fine. I’ve had a few bouts of depression, but nothing like the one I had two years back. It has been months since the last episode. I still feel a little numb. I still have trouble completing books that I start. I have trouble writing the way I used to, the style has changed completely. Maybe I’m just rusty for use. I’m limping back to normality though. It might even take a few years, but I think I’ll be fine.
I won’t say the medication was useless. It worked for a while when I was going through the darkest time. But it just stopped being effective, it made me increasingly numb. I’m still recovering from the numbness that it left behind.