I have been experiencing depression since I was around 12 years old, and anxiety for nearly my whole life. Prior to puberty, I was a fairly happy kid. Life was exciting; I genuinely looked forward to waking up each morning. Though I have experienced anxiety from a very young age, it was much more manageable before puberty. However, once I hit late middle school things got worse.
My depression caused me to lash out at loved ones, isolate, and no longer find joy in my day to day life. My anxiety led me to skip school quite often and develop harmful eating habits. I had periods of my life where my mental health was a little better, but then it would get bad again and I would feel hopeless. My sister’s ex-boyfriend once told me that I remind him of Sadness from the movie Inside Out. I started regularly going to therapy my junior year of high school. My therapist significantly benefited my mental health. I loved having someone to vent to for an uninterrupted 45 minutes each week. She helped me find solutions and gave me ideas that made my day to day life more manageable. However, it wasn’t enough.
I spent four consecutive years doing yoga, meditating, journaling, going to therapy, reading, running, getting nine hours of sleep each night, setting boundaries, talking to loved ones, and trying to cure my mental illness. I was literally “that girl,” doing every possible thing to feel better. My therapist even said, “You do everything that professionals say to do for mental health. I don’t know why it isn’t working for you.” It was all very frustrating. Halfway through my sophomore year of college, I finally decided to try antidepressants.
My doctor prescribed me zoloft (otherwise known as sertraline). Zoloft is an SSRI, which is a common type of antidepressant that is known to be fairly effective, without too many harsh side effects. SSRI’s usually take 4-6 weeks to actually make a difference and I have now been on it for two months.
Everything already feels so much easier. That feeling of constant dread and hopelessness no longer plagues me, despite the fact that I’m doing far less of those things that professionals told me to do. Before starting Zoloft, I didn’t understand that it wasn’t supposed to be so hard to feel content. It was as if depressed and anxious was my default setting, but now it feels as though contentment is. That little voice in my head that would always list everything bad in my life is barely a whisper now. I no longer lay in bed for an hour before getting up because I dreaded what the day would bring. Similarly, I don’t have those racing thoughts that would make it nearly impossible to fall asleep each night. I never imagined a time when I would once again feel like the person I was when I was a kid, finding so much joy in each day. Yet here I am. Someone that I met right after getting on Zoloft told me that they love how happy I am all the time. It was shocking to hear that when I was literally compared to Sadness only a couple years before.
Some people talk about feeling numb while on antidepressants. I’ve thought about that a lot because I was so afraid of that happening to me too. I’ve always been very introspective and intuitive with my emotions, so I did not want to become numb. Luckily for me, I haven’t truly become numb, but in a way I guess you could say I certainly have less intense emotions. So many people who are depressed or anxious are used to constant, extreme up’s and down’s with their emotions. I was so used to feeling powerful grief, deep sadness, and never ending worry each day. However, now I don’t feel those every day. Some people certainly might call this “numb” when you’re so used to having such intense emotions everyday. Honestly though, I find peace in the stability of contentment. And don’t get me wrong, I still cry and feel unhappiness, just not as often as I used to. I am truly so grateful to have access to this medicine and live in a time when science has created it. It has made my reality incredibly brighter.