Her Story: My Battle With Depression & Medication

Everyone is sad every once in a while. It’s a part of life. But during my junior year of high school, I began to feel as if sad was all I was. The hardest part of my day was convincing myself that it was worth getting out of bed in the morning. I would cry for no other reason than that it felt right. I gained weight and didn’t want to spend time with friends. Sometimes, I even hated my friends just for being my friends: when they would try to get me out of my home, when they would ask me what was wrong, when the would pry and bother me. It was as if a switch had been flipped from normal to unhappy; no matter what I tried, I couldn’t flip it back.

For apparently no reason at all, this sadness had crept up on me, and I couldn’t shake it. Nothing was bothering me. I was doing well in school, had great friends, was active in everything I wanted to be active in. Sure, papers stressed me out, and tests made me anxious, but not any more than they had in the past. It seemed like I should be happy, but I didn’t feel it. What I did feel was the urge to hurt myself, and I started taking too much aspirin and sleeping medication just to see what would happen, to see if it would numb the pain.

I looked at what I was becoming, what I was doing to myself, and it terrified me. A friend of mine finally suggested therapy. Even the word felt taboo. I didn’t know anyone who had gone to therapy. I was initially resistant, but when I realized that this aching unhappiness wasn’t going away, I agreed to start seeing someone.

Therapy felt awkward and uncomfortable. Though my friends were telling me how brave I was, I didn’t feel brave at all. I felt needy and weak. I hated sitting and talking about myself for an hour. The therapist theorized that the cause of my sadness stemmed from either my friends or pressure at school. But even when I took time away from my friends or had a lull in schoolwork, I felt the same. The therapist would ask me what was wrong, what was bothering me, and the answer was always the same: nothing.

My parents kept asking me when I’d be “cured.” They couldn’t understand why they needed to pay someone to hear my problems, but they supported my decision nonetheless. After months of sessions and thousands of my parents’ dollars later, the therapist told me she thought I had clinical depression. She deduced that there were no underlying causes to how I was feeling. That was the tricky thing about my depression. There wasn’t necessarily a cause or a reason. A person’s brain just may not produce the right chemicals for someone to be happy. So she referred me to a psychiatrist for a prescription.
The psychiatrist met with me and decided to get me started on Prozac, an antidepressant. My parents were not pleased with the idea: as avid exercise and health enthusiasts, they didn’t really believe in medication. But the psychologist assured me that this medication wasn’t for life. It was a cure, she said, a way to teach my brain to produce the chemicals it needed and in a year or so, I’d be done. After much bickering and fighting, my parents allowed me to give the medication a test run.

Immediately, I felt a change. I was suddenly happy when I should be happy. I enjoyed spending time with my friends. Getting up in the morning wasn’t a challenge anymore. I dropped down to a skinnier, healthier weight and finally felt like my old self. I felt like I was on top of the world.

Everything felt good again. In fact, it felt great. It wasn’t until my choir performance senior year that I noticed something was wrong. During the last concert, the seniors always performed a song they had written for the choir students they were leaving behind. My best friends were in choir. I’d dedicated my life to the group, hours upon hours. As we sang, holding hands and hugging, everyone around me started to cry. One by one, their tears fell as they looked into the faces of those they were leaving behind. But even as I handed my best friends tissues and let them rest their heads on my shoulders, I felt nothing. Not one tear came to me. There was no sadness. No, I wasn’t happy, but I wasn’t sad. Shouldn’t I be? This was an emotional, heart-wrenching moment, and I couldn’t even muster a frown.