Trigger warning: this article contains sensitive content involving suicide and depression.
Speaking about mental health, depression, or medication is not an easy subject for most people. As a society, we tend to want to just sweep these topics under the rug even though we know for a fact our fathers, mammas, sisters, uncles, and aunts have all dealt with some sort mental illness even if they have not openly expressed it before.
Depression, major depression at that, is often treated with psychiatric drugs such as anti-depressants. And they do work. I was on anti-depressants for four years and functioned tremendously whilst taking them. That little blue and white pill taken with my water every morning before I leave the house. My dirty little secret, I guess you can say, because unless you express to someone that you are taking medication, no one will truly know.
But while medications work and can save you from debilitating depression, the repercussions of not being educated about medication can lead to a serious mental health relapse, or even worse, death.
Yes, coming off of psychiatric drugs the wrong way can kill you. It happened to me.
I was placed on anti-depressants for the first time when I was 18-years-old. The first medication that ever touched my tongue, ever. Of course I was extremely apprehensive about trying any type of psychiatric medication at all because you hear about all the possible side effects that can occur when taking these medications. But at the time, they really were a life saver. I felt better and hope seemed possible for me.
My life seemed to soar right in front of my eyes.
But as can happen to a lot of young people who are placed on these medications, there is the risk of not knowing how or when exactly to come off.
You may feel better for a long time and think to yourself, “I feel feel fine, there is no need to keep taking them,” but that is where many people go wrong, especially young people who are taking medications.
Yes, it is true that there are warning pamphlets attached to medications, but some people, like myself, have not been exposed to those warnings. For the amount of time I have been taking medication, I can tell you that accidents do happen and the danger with medications such as anti depressants is that you feel better for a very long time.
Some of these medications, like the one I am taking, tend to stay in your system for weeks at a time. So for the person taking this medication, they can feel like they are fine for a very long time. I know when I first started taking medication, I often thought to myself that coming off should be easy based on the immense feeling of health and happiness in my current life.
But that is the danger of medications. Last March, I accidentally came off of my medication cold-turkey by mistake, the mistake that I regret and am pained to live with to this day.
I’ve been diagnosed with major depression and the deeper the depression, the more likely that it is for you to stay on medication longer than you expect, perhaps even for life. This is something I wish I knew all those times I ever contemplated coming off of my medicine.
But I know for a fact, I am not the only young adult to take medications and not be aware of when it is okay to come off or the repercussions. When I relapsed this spring, not only was I hospitalized but I experienced withdrawal symptoms that I was sure would kill me.
Some of the symptoms experienced included: of shaking, hallucinations, cold sweats, insomnia, confusion, lack of coordination, symptoms of extreme psychosis, memory loss, and suicidal thoughts.
So since I have lived experience, I can tell you that if you are concerned about when to come of your medications, please talk to many experienced people who are well studied in the mental health profession. Assess the seriousness of your depression or any other psychiatric disorder and if you are somewhat anti-medication, come to grips with the fact that you may be on medication for a long time or possibly the rest of your life.
Many young people are victims to suicide simply because they were misinformed on how to go about taking their medications and instant withdrawal can be deadly. My experience is one no one should have to go through. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.
But unfortunately, mental health has to be managed and sometimes does not just go away on its own. It has to be treated and managed over years. So instead of keeping my story private, I want to share to save someone because I wish I had someone tell me the dangers before my episode.
Medications do help, but any drug should be taken with precaution.
Please, save your life and your mental health by being informed.
If you have also had a similar experience to mine, know it is not your fault however, because mis-education can happen to anyone. But save yourself the trouble of a deadly experience by facing the reality that mis-education about medications can be life threatening.
Be in the know. Always be informed.