In high school I was diagnosed with depression. From then, I was off and on medications but stayed off of them until I was leaving for college. My doctor prescribed me a medication that deals with both anxiety and depression since the two are so closely related. I informed her I never struggled with anxiety, but she explained the relationship between the two and reassured me that this was something I should be taking. I started off on a dose of 60 mg. As years passed my dosage dwindled down to 30 mg as I started to gradually feel mentally healthier. By the end of my junior year of college I felt like a new person. My depression has completely subsided and I didn’t see a reason to continue such a low dosage of medication. I wanted to be “normal” and not have to be on a medication. I felt strong enough to be on my own now, mentally.
I decided to go off the medication by taking one every other day for two weeks like my doctor instructed in the spring of 2015. Once this two weeks was up, I wouldn’t need to take it anymore. As months passed I felt completely fine. Depression never creeped its way back into my life and I felt somewhat empowered for being able to live without taking a medication everyday. As summer ended I was ready to start my senior year and my second to last semester of college. Or was I?
As September crept in I started to not feel myself at all. I trembled at the thought of having to leave my apartment. I would have full blown panic attacks every morning before I would leave for, or in some cases had to skip, class. I would feel physically sick and totally lethargic. My panic attacks were so intense at times that I would immediately fall asleep for hours after due to how mentally draining they were. I felt so sick to the point where I thought I had food poisoning for two weeks and actually visited my campus health services. The doctor who saw me knew right away it was anxiety. Where did this come from? I never had anxiety so crippling in my life before. It was impossible for me to relax. It was affecting my school work to the point where I didn’t think I would make it out of the semester with passing grades. The fun loving girl I used to be avoided social interactions at all costs. The weekends were no longer fun for me, I dreaded them. I would stay at home every weekend with my highly concerned boyfriend and drown myself in alcohol in order to make the nervousness disappear. Absolutely everything triggered my anxiety and it was impossible for me to calm down at night unless I was numbing myself with alcohol.
“This is just a phase,” I would think to myself. Everything was going to be fine I just have to push through this. My parents were worried. My boyfriend was worried. My friends had no idea. After two months of dealing with this in the most unhealthy ways possible I knew what I needed to do. It was time to go back on my medication. My medication began to work for me a few weeks after I began taking it again. Those weeks went by slow but I was finally starting to feel myself once more. I’m no longer drowning myself in alcohol on weekends just to feel normal. I’m socializing and going out again like I used to. The panic attacks were gone and my anxiety was almost fully diminished. A huge weight was lifted off my shoulders when my final grades came in and I somehow passed all my classes that semester with flying colors. By the time winter break ended I felt fully renewed and was ready for my last semester of college.
There is no reason to feel ashamed to be on medication. Everyone is wired differently and it doesn’t make you any stronger to not be on medication when you should be. It doesn’t make you less of who you are, either. I’m back on my medication and I feel more empowered than ever as I begin my next chapter as a college graduate. I’m not some superhero on my medication. I do still experience anxiety at times like anyone else, just not at the life crippling rate I was. When I couldn’t see even past the day off my medication, I am finally back on track and seeing far into a positive future.
Editing Note: This article did not filter through the normal EmpowHER editing and fact checking process. It was checked for spelling and grammar.Read more in Being HER