What Is NOT Included in That Bottle of Anti-Depressants

I wrote this post four years ago. I am no longer taking medication, mainly because it stopped being effective for me, and I’ve been hesitant to try new chemical combinations. But whenever I do think of trying medication again, I’m reminded of this lesson I’ve already learned… 

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What Is Not Included in That Bottle of Anti-Depressants

I think of myself as a Functioning Depressant. I can hold down a job, run a household, volunteer in my community, have close relationships with friends and family. I can get out of bed in the morning, get dressed, and even find small joy in things I love. But it takes a WHOLE LOT OF WORK.

I’ve learned over the years to begin each day by carefully constructing a new reality for myself, above what my own depressed, untrue perceptions of the world provide. Through my experiences with medication and therapy years ago, I learned the process of rewriting my internal script to be more encouraging, more realistic, more forgiving. It used to be that I only had to “readjust” myself a few times a day.  In the last couple of years, my methods have been less reliable, and I find that every day is a constant roller coaster (I’ll spare you the ugly details). Getting myself “right” has gotten in the way of me being able to help my kids navigate their own increasingly complex emotions, and I’m not satisfied with the half-life I’ve been living.

About a month ago I asked my doctor to prescribe me anti-depressants. We talked through a lot of options, finally settling on Pristiq. All I can say is that although there are some wonky side effects, it’s helping more than hurting. My days are less mentally exhausting, and I’ve been able to rest the constant labor needed to focus and trust that the world (and my life) are much better than I would naturally believe.

Just for general information’s sake, my side effects have mainly been headaches (persistent, dull, but annoying), some nausea (not too bad), and every so often a feeling of intense restlessness. I’ve not researched it thoroughly, but I heard through passing that Pristiq may share an element similar to ecstasy or speed. As a girl who drinks caffeine maybe once every five years or so, I’m guessing I’m pretty sensitive to any kind of powerful stimulant. I’m hoping that subsides over time.

I think what’s important for anyone taking anti-depressants AND for others around them to understand is that there are some things NOT included in that 30-day supply of pills:

  • a nanny
  • a housekeeper
  • a chauffeur
  • a gardener
  • an accountant
  • a maid
  • a cook
  • a tutor for the kids
  • a nurse
  • a mediator
  • a child psychologist
  • a dog walker/trainer
  • a professional organizer
  • an electrician
  • an auto mechanic
  • ….maybe you get the point.

Life is still STRESSful. There are still so many things to be done, so many situations to negotiate. Taking anti-depressants doesn’t mean anything goes away, it doesn’t mean you will be happy no matter what. If someone you love has just decided to try medication, don’t put pressure on them to change overnight. Life is still LIFE, and everyone deserves (and should expect) to be overwhelmed by it from time to time.

My own hope in beginning medication again is that I’ll be able to roll up my sleeves and deal more effectively with the life OUTSIDE my own head. Heaven knows I’ve spent enough time inside of it.


  • KnitPurlGurl

    Love this post.. I too, started on anti-depressants approx. 6 wks ago. I got to the point where I didn’t want to get out of bed anymore. And although I have a lot of stress, which I didn’t expect the meds to eliminate, I had no real reason to feel depressed. My doc explained that is a sign of clinical depression and not situational depression. Still playing with meds.. but hoping to feel better soon. {HUGS}
    .-= KnitPurlGurl´s last blog ..Hello Again, Hello =-.

  • Erica

    Your honesty is refreshing! I’m glad they are helping a bit. Too bad about the side effects though. Worth the money I hope. If only the magic pill did come with all of that goodness!!

  • Amy Christensen

    I agree with Erica that your honesty is refreshing! Too many people who are dealing with depression are afraid to talk about it. I hope that things get better for you. You deserve it!!

  • THANK YOU!!!! As other’s have said, your honesty is refreshing!

    I was diagnosed with severe post-partum depression in 2005, but had truly been suffering from it since 2002. I went on Welbutron and as you stated life didn’t “change” but my ability to cope got better. I went off meds in early 2008 and in early 2009 my depression returned. I decided to pursue therapy first, before doing meds again and I’m happy to say so-far-so-good. That does not mean I may not need medication again at some point, but for now skills I’m learning in therapy are helping.

    So many people, and I was guilty of this as well, are ashamed of their depression and feel embarrassed by it. I have come to realize that by not sharing my experiences, good & bad, can limit my ability to help someone else. I have learned that just by knowing someone else feels how I do, helps me cope that much better!!

    So, THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    .-= Hillary´s last blog ..A milllion and one things to do……………. =-.

  • Melissa

    I love your honesty. My husband deals with depression and doesn’t always know how to help me understand, so that I can help him (he’s a man, talking does not come naturally). It was nice to hear about it from your perspective.

  • Jessie

    Good for you for getting help for yourself! I once was diagnosed with severe chronic depression that lasted for SEVERAL YEARS even with medication! I then managed to go off meds for 4 years, during which I managed several very big life stressors just fine.

    I’m now back in a phase where I’ve turned back to medication to keep me getting out of bed in the morning and going to my part-time job. I’m planning to get pregnant this year and will be going off of them during the pregnancy, perhaps I’ll have several medication free years after that, who knows. But I’ll unashamedly take them again after that if necessary.

    It’s too bad there is such a stigma about taking anti-depressants. Most people can’t be expected to understand what clinical depression is like though, so I’ve learned to stop caring what they think. I’m honest with all my friends about my struggles and they seem to admire me for my honesty and my ability to get help for myself when I need it.

    So thanks for opening up about your own decision to take anti-depressants! It’s always good to know there are others like me.

    As for the side effects – I’ve never heard of Pristiq – and I’m sure you and your doctor have reasons for choosing it, but please remember that you might benefit from changing it to something else. What works well for some, will work differently for others. You might want to consider it if you continue to have problems. My current combination of meds have no side effects that I can detect, but that was after trying a couple of things that did first.

    I hope your condition improves! Life is hard enough without the extra energy one has to expend just to get by during a depressive phase.

  • Lauralee Hensley

    I think what really helps is being able to be honest with your husband and kids. When I have a particularly bad day, I’ll tell them I’m feeling overwhelmed and like I can’t do it all. They ask me how they can help. I’ll be honest and tell them. Sometimes it’s just each of them doing an extra chore so I can rest, or so I can take a long bath, other times so I have the time I need to tackle a bigger chore, like getting caught back up on something. A support team never hurts.
    Yet, you have to realize a family member may have a similiar type of day once in a while and you need to help them out if they are in a similiar place.
    I don’t have depression, but do have a genetic nerve condition that causes chronic pain and some weird symptoms and migraines, and normal stresses get to me sometimes too. However, I’m especially glad my dear hubby helps and understands.