I've probably written about this before, I know I repeat myself all the time....but its been on my mind recently, so here we go....
When talking to people about my experiences with depression, it is common for them to ask me about my medication.
Its a subject that I'm comfortable talking about, and I don't mind admitting that I'm on a high dose of venlafaxine to control my depression.
Sometimes, however, it does seem to bother other people that I take medication to control my illness.
They can say things like, "Well, its not good to rely on medication long term."
"I wouldn't want to keep on taking tablets, you don't know what you're putting into your body."
I have also come across the attitude that it is almost a weakness to be on tablets. That, if I were able to reduce my medication, then that would be a sign of strength.
All of these things reiterate to me the ignorance in peoples attitudes.
If I was talking about a drug that I took daily to decrease my blood pressure, I cant imagine them telling me to stop taking it. Similarly, who would tell a diabetic not to inject themselves with their daily and life saving dose of insulin?
It just wouldn't happen.
So, why does the prejudice appear when discussing drugs for mental illnesses?
There are many types of drugs that you can take to help you manage depression. I tried 3 before I found one that worked for me.
The two main types of anti depressants/antianxiety drugs are SSRI's (SELECTIVE SEROTONIN REUPTAKE INHIBITORS) and SNRI's (SEROTONIN & NORADRENALINE RE-UPTAKE INHIBITORS) .
SSRI's work by having a selective effect on nerves that use serotonin as a transmitter by restoring serotonin levels at the synapses thereby decreasing anxiety levels. You might know them by the name Prozac, Fluoxetine, Sertraline. They generally have fewer side effects than SNRI's.
SNRI's are a newer type of drug, developed in the last 20 years. SNRI's are slightly different to SSRI's in that they work to balance the levels of both serotonin and norepinephrine in your brain. These chemicals affect your mood, appetite, sense of well-being, motivation, and sleep. Venlafaxine is a SNRI and I take a high dose, (225mg.)
Now, I'm not saying that medication is a magic cure. Neither am I saying it is right for everyone. If you can find other ways to manage your illness then that's your decision.
It also doesn't work on its own. For my medication to have a fighting chance, I had to reduce my alcohol intake, continue with some intensive counselling, as well as making some other changes in my life.
Combined with these things, I can count venlafaxine as one of my life savers. I honestly don't think I would still be here if it wasn't for the doctors finally getting my medication right. It has helped to balance out my moods, and now, instead of a dark mood lasting for weeks, it is massively shorter and less intense.
I might be on my medication for another year, another 10 years, or the rest of my life. I don't know.
What I do know is that people shouldn't discriminate me or judge me for using venlafaxine to control my depression.
Its my choice, my body, and my mind.