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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

Preface: This article contains sensitive topics of mental illness, depression, antidepressant use, and eating disorders. Please do not continue if these topics can be triggering to you. Thank you.

I was prescribed anti-depressants during February of my senior year of high school. I thought senior year was supposed to be one of the best years of my young life, but unfortunately, it was one of the hardest I had to face. Don’t get me wrong, there were still many amazing moments I will forever cherish from my senior year. From my creative writing class which served as an artistic outlet for me and playing the lead in our musical that year, I will always be thankful for the good experiences I had. 

However, most days my spring semester were hard to face. Some days I didn’t even have the strength to get out of bed and get showered and ready for the day. My depression was crippling at times. My mom and I both knew something was wrong because I had not been myself in a long time that year. I was struggling with body image, losing friendships I thought were solid, trauma in my family, and trying to figure out college approaching in general. Before I knew it, I was battling depression, anxiety, and an eating disorder. 

I kept this a secret to myself, with the exception of telling a few of my close friends. I hid my secret that I was internally struggling every day. I put on a face at school and extra-curriculars to appear as the normal “happy-go-lucky” Rachel I am. No one had a clue what I was battling. The only person who truly saw every side of it was my mom. I will forever be grateful to her for loving me every step of the way and never giving up on trying to help me recover.

When I was prescribed Lexapro, I didn’t really know what to expect, even though I had been on various medications off and on most of my life. I wanted to write this article because a book we are reading in my communications class spurred me to share a bit of my story for advocacy week. The book is called Coming of Age on Zoloft: How Antidepressants Cheered Us Up, Let Us Down, and Changed Who We Are by Katherine Sharpe. Within the book, she discusses many people’s individual experiences being on anti-depressants and their own stories along with it. I find myself often raising my hand in class when discussing this book since I have opinions about being on anti-depressants and personal experience. 

I think it is fascinating how each person has their own unique side effects and experiences with anti-depressants. Some people find them very helpful, and some don’t like the idea of being on a pill or the side effects they encounter. Some feel that a combination of therapy and medication is what works best for them. My own opinion is that each person knows what is best for their mental health needs. I don’t think it’s right for anyone to tell someone else what’s best for them. That is their own choice.

I just want to reiterate that you are not any less of a person because you take anti-depressants. You are still the same amazing person you’ve always been inside. Taking a medication to help you live life to the fullest and be able to enjoy all of the things that make life worth living is not something to look down upon. I think taking anti-depressants makes people strong since they were brave enough to seek out help for themselves. They recognized they did not want to keep on living with depression ruling their lives. Therefore, they consulted a doctor and took that next step to take back control of their own life. That’s courage.

Whether you or someone you love takes antidepressants, don’t be afraid to talk about it and listen to what they have to say. More people take them in our generation than ever before. You would be surprised by how many people have experience with antidepressant use. By sharing my own story, I want to encourage others to speak out when appropriate to break the stigma around antidepressant use. I for one am thankful for Lexapro because it helped to bring me out of the darkest time in my life. It allowed me to begin to enjoy my passions again. It allowed me to see the hope for my future, despite what I was going through. I am in a much healthier and stronger place now mentally. I am proud of how far I’ve come and thankful for the support system I have in my life. You should be too. I’m here for you and wishing you the best.

HCXO,

Rachel 

Rachel Ritchey

Millersville '23

Rachel Ritchey is a junior public relations major at Millersville University. Rachel is involved in Her Campus Millersville (social media director), the All Campus Musical Organization, PRSSA, and Navigators. She is passionate about type 1 diabetes awareness, social media management, music, mental health, and self-care. ♡
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