I recently tried to come off antidepressants (again) with varying degrees of success. The withdrawal really sucks, so much so that many of us are in limbo on whether to keep taking them or not. Record numbers of UK adults and children are now on repeat prescriptions, but pressure on the NHS means that regular medication reviews aren't happening.
So left to my own devices, I can choose between feeling consistently neutral, calm, soothed - less full of rage and sadness - or to feel the full gamut of my changing emotions, all the highs and lows. The trouble is, the lows are pretty low.
Medication can be a comfort blanket. As kids we learn that a spoonful of sweet pink liquid will make things all better. Get a pain, take a pill. The act of swallowing down these little colourful beans is calming. Sometimes I imagine I can feel the warm waves of chemicals rippling through my body, lapping gently from stomach to brain, melting the jagged icebergs of my thoughts. And yes, I know that’s not how they work ;)
But it also feels like a nagging crutch, a guilty secret. Society is fine with ibuprofen for a headache, but less accepting of prozac for an invisible problem. ‘Medicated’ conjures up images of floppy, sedated patients in a Victorian asylum. I feel not enough, as though my default settings are broken, and I hate myself for needing a pill to feel 'normal'.
And that is probably the heart of it. Unregulated, my self loathing will rampage out of control to the point where I find it impossible to live with myself. So I can punish myself for a million reasons, or just one. A small green and yellow one. On paper, it seems like an easy choice.