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Dublin: 16 °C Wednesday 12 August, 2020
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'Why am I on anti-depressants? Because I suffer from depression'

‘We’ve come on in leaps and bounds when it comes to conversations around mental health but we are still so ANTI antidepressants, it’s depressing,” writes Rosemary MacCabe.

Rosemary MacCabe Personal trainer

“WHY ARE YOU on antidepressants? They’re so bad for you! And even the ones that aren’t, it’s just like putting a band-aid on a problem instead of solving it.”

That is a message I just got from (I’m sure) a well-meaning Snapchat follower, and it was something I really wanted to address because it’s important.

So I published this post on my Facebook page – usually reserved for selfies and links to my website – in a moment of high emotion.

I never expected it to get such a reaction – over 2,500 likes and 250 shares – but I guess it goes to show just how many of us are affected by mental health issues and, even more, just how badly we, as a society, are dealing with them.

I was first diagnosed with depression in 2011. I was working in a good job, I had a great relationship and a strong network of family and friends with whom, by and large, I had good relationships.

There was no “reason” for me to be depressed – and yet there I was, racked with guilt for this disease I didn’t feel I deserved.

Fast forward five years and a lot has changed, while a lot has also stayed the same. I’ve found ways of dealing with my depression, but I still find myself struggling with how to deal with the opinions of people who seem totally unwilling to understand what I’m going through.

I am on antidepressants because I suffer from depression. It’s been a long journey from diagnosis to where I am now, and I don’t think I’ll ever be “over it”; depression isn’t a wound you stitch up and heal.

For me, it’s a constant in my life – I have to push past it to get out of bed, to socialise with friends, to go to the gym, to laugh at jokes (most of which, I’ll admit, are my own)… I could go on.

PastedImage-42732 Source: rosemarymaccabe via Instagram

Medication is just one strand of a fairly complicated routine that has taken me an age to hone: I go to therapy once a week, I (try to) eat clean, I get eight hours of sleep almost every night, I exercise regularly, as much as I can, I avoid people and scenarios that I know will make me uncomfortable, I carefully manage my time so that I’m not overloaded and, yes, I take medication.

If I had, say, a heart or thyroid problem, nobody would ever question the need for medication – but, though we’ve come on in leaps and bounds when it comes to conversations around mental health, we are still so ANTI antidepressants, it’s depressing.

How helpful do you think you’re being when you tell a depressed person that they’re dealing with their illness wrong? Should I just quit my meds altogether, go for a long run, and grin and bear it? Should I up my therapy sessions to twice, three times a week? Should I increase my gym sessions from five a week to 10? What about if I take some more fish oils, drink some more water, or try adding aloe vera to my morning coffee? (Or do I cut out coffee altogether?!)

By telling me that I should “try” not to take medication, what you’re telling me is that I’m weak. I’m taking the easy way out. I’m too sad and pathetic and silly to figure out the “right” way to “solve” this “problem”, once and for all.

PastedImage-77961 Source: rosemarymaccabe via Instagram

Well, why don’t you try waking up, every single morning, and crying for hours for no reason whatsoever? Why don’t you go for a run, when you feel like peeling your skin off would be easier than walking out your front door?

Why don’t you try turning to counselling to “cure” your depression, when – as hard as you’re trying – you can’t find a single solid “reason”, or childhood trauma, that explains away your disease?

Or, how about we try this instead:

Believe me when I tell you that medication helps me. Trust me when I tell you I’m trying a whole host of options.
Hear me when I say that depression is not a “problem” to be “solved”.
It’s a disease I’ll be managing for the rest of my life.

If you’re one of those people who just can’t possibly understand what I’m going through, then I congratulate you. But know this: I’m going to be dealing with this the best way that I can, for the rest of my life. Maybe you could try your best to empathise, rather than judging, the way I’m going about it.

Rosemary Mac Cabe is a journalist and blogger from Kildare. She lives in Dublin with her dog and her collection of Ewoks memorabilia. You can read more from her here

If you need to talk, contact:

  • Samaritans 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.org
  • Console 1800 247 247 – (suicide prevention, self-harm, bereavement)
  • Aware 1800 80 48 48 (depression, anxiety)
  • Pieta House 01 601 0000 or email mary@pieta.ie – (suicide, self-harm)
  • Teen-Line Ireland 1800 833 634 (for ages 13 to 19)
  • Childline 1800 66 66 66 (for under 18s)

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About the author:

Rosemary MacCabe  / Personal trainer

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