As a young child I was diagnosed with a stress disorder. Simple things that would cause a mild heightening of endorphins in most people, would have a devastating physical effect on my person. I was diagnosed as a manic-depressive, my emotions were on display for the world to see and I felt like an animal at the zoo. It was physical as well. It started in mini-mod soccer, whenever I’d play goalie I’d have a horrible panic attack. They started to happen throughout my later years and would present often times with little to no real stimulation or reason.
I should specify what a “panic attack” truly meant for me. I did not hyperventilate and feel like I couldn’t breathe, nor did I scream and cry or have a mental breakdown. Completely out of my own control, and unstoppable once it started, my body would start to feel a low tingling. My fingers would be the first to go numb, and the wave of paralysis would work up my arm until my left side was completely disabled. This stroke-like state would continue for a few hours, and as it receded it left in its wake, horrible nausea that lasted for the remainder of the day.
There came a day, when my parents and I decided that I should start to take medication for my condition, and thus, as a sophomore in high school I began to take depression medication. It was, and remains to this day, a very heavy decision upon my conscience. I suppose the pros are a great place to start, the most important of these is my ability to coexist normally in my life, and not experience literally paralyzing stress. It also has an effect on my emotions, I do not feel numbed by my medication, but I am also not a manic-depressive incapable of rationality. The cons I feel are a list less easily tackled.
My mother was on antidepressants when I was young, and they numbed her to the world. My childhood memories don’t include her, outside of background noise, and I remember that she took a lot of naps. This was the original reason I chose not to be medicated, I did not want to be like that, a numbed person who prefered sleep to the joy of life. I was an honors student and graduated as the top student of literature in my class, I was also at the top of the choral program and on the cross-country team. I didn’t want to give up on my vitality.
Depression medication is famously over prescribed to people, a combination of lazy doctors, and tenacious patients who truly think a miracle cure for unhappiness exists. If you feel depressed, if you feel stress in your life, you have no business being on a drug that does nothing for you aside from costing you money. Antidepressants are meant only for people who have depression or anxiety. Conditions of this sort exist because of a chemical imbalance in the brain that cause us to be incapable of placing rhyme or reason to our emotions, and to be completely out of control with regards to our responses to everyday stimuli. A beautiful day at the fair during summer break with your best friends and you feel broken, your life is perfect, you have no worries, aside from the constant worry that you must have forgotten a worry to stress over. I believe that I have anxiety, but my mother, was simply depressed, she did not have depression.
I finally made the choice to medicate myself, I did everything the doctor said, and I switched my prescription around many times until I was in a place where my medication was not a fog within my brain, and allowed me to live a life not dissimilar to the one I had before. There is one thing however, that causes me to pause, and occasionally convinces me to try to go without them.
There is a small part of me that wishes the world could accept me as a manic-depressive that collapses into paralysis. I believe that even though that person had no friends, was constantly unhappy and hated the highs as well as the lows of her existence, that person is the real me. My real identity is that of an unpleasant person, selfish, with little regard for others. Without medication I have horrifying fits of happiness, rage, sadness and fear, medicated I have a life, I have friends I can love and participate with, people who care about me. Crazy as it sounds, sometimes I feel like I should just be allowed to exist in that wholly negative manner and that people should care about me in spite of myself.
In the end, I am happy to have the choice, I am happy for my father’s speculation, and for my mother’s support. There are days when I ask myself why the hell I can’t be loved as the real me, but let us be honest, the real me hated being loved. I remain therefore, a medicated, happy person, who feels depressed and anxious, for real reasons, and I don’t have to worry about never being able to hide my emotions from anyone. My medicine is like paper mache for a mask, I do not wear it always, but finally, I can have a secret, I can grieve or elate in the privacy of my head. My mind is my own, and if I let you in, make you privy to my emotional state, it is because you are special, you deserve it, and I want you to know.