Wednesday, July 8, 2009


50% of the people you know take one, and 80% of those folks are ashamed to talk about it. I'm one of the 50 but not one of the 80.

So it's time we talk about antidepressants.

It was five or so years ago that I was of the opinion that depression was a figment of foolish folks' imaginations. Then a marriage, a move to Hawaii, a move to Vegas, a move to Kansas, and a new job hit me in speedy succession. I learned right quick that depression is legitimate and medicating for it is responsible. And now with the profession I find myself in, I've acquired enough understanding of the body to clinically legitimize, for myself, depression as a disease state improved by inhibiting the reuptake of certain neurotransmitters.

Simply put, it's more than just a bad mood.

So here's how I see it, it's unreasonable for me to be ashamed of my years of consuming a little while pill that helps me see my fellow earthlings in a more flattering light, find the rosy that exists in the everyday and rediscover the gumption to heave myself out of bed each morning.

I'm a cynic by nature (most certainly not ashamed of that or motivated to change it), but I'm not made to be a ball of inert depression, and if that's the state in which I find myself, there's no reason I should have to live with it. And neither should you.

You can classify depression in two ways: situational and chemical. Situational depression is the succession of bad days after events like a big let down at work, the death of a close one, or a break up. When that depression doesn't resolve itself despite your best efforts, it may have evolved into chemical depression, the situation or confluence of events serving as a trigger for a more permanent state of gloom. It's the chemical depression that requires chemicals to normalize.

My understanding of this and my head-over-heels love for my little white pill have morphed me into a world class Antidepressant Missionary. A downright proselytizing fool.

A friend of mine at work recently had a baby. Then she and her boyfriend separated. And she moved. And then after that she had to return to work from maternity leave. When I caught up with her at our last meeting, she was radiant and toting handfuls of baby photos. When conversation revealed all the ruckus smacking her around lately, I made the calculated choice to overstep my work-relationship bounds, and during one of our many snack breaks (the effects of which undoubtedly induces situational depression), I took her aside.

I'm going to step out of line, I told her as I prepped an orange for peeling, but it might be helpful, so I'll chance it. You've got a lot going on, and I want you to know there's nothing shameful in taking an antidepressant. I'm certainly not saying I see depression in your face, but with all you have going on, be aware that a bunch of junk all happening at once can be the catalyst for chemical depression, and you should know there's not a thing wrong with medicating for it. Just a thought.

A look of understanding and relief washed over her pretty face, and her eyes found themselves glistening. She issued profuse thanks, for she explained that she was starting to feel like getting out of bed was too much, like perhaps she wasn't up to taking care of her new little girl, and like she didn't love a whole lot in her life. She told me that at her last doctor's appointment she smiled, shrugged and said that everything was lovely, when that wasn't the truth. My step out of bounds gave her something to consider.

A month later I received a thank-you note in the mail.

You and I know each other so well that I'm beginning to feel that it would be irresponsible of me to withhold the fact that my days see the benefits of an antidepressant and that there's nothing disgraceful about it. Clinically, I'm not crazy. Clinically, I'm not psychotic. (I thought you'd appreciate that qualification there.) Clinically, I'm a little off kilter, and feel a whole heck of a lot better with an increased amount of dopamine and norinepinephrine floating around in my body.

Now why should anyone be sheepish about that?


Sue said...

You're singing to the choir, honey

Just Sue said...

I am a member of the anti-depressant fan is the family of man ... they all want me to take my little 1/2 yellow pill. There are different colors, you know.

Ashley Thalman said...

and there you go...come OUT with it. you honesty is liberating and powerful.

Megan said...

Thanks, Rowboat. I'm so glad I could be useful to you. It's a very personal topic but I still think we should let it see a bit more sun than it has.

Celeste said...

k, so I went back to Ashley's blog to see if she had commented on my Danny kaye comment, and saw that you had & since then I have been blog stalking you & ran onto this little gem. I pretty much think that we should be besties and that I sooo wish I had read this last year when you wrote it. My little pill-friends stopped me from leaving my husband, beating my child & driving into oncoming traffic more than once, so yeah, Tom Cruise can take his high-horse & shove it. I shall add you to my ever-growing bloglines list. But only if you keep up the amazing honesty.

Megan said...

Celeste, you couldn't purge the honesty from me if you tried, so stick around!

stef j. said...

considerably late, but still commenting.

this post rocks. i'm a psych. major. well, was a psych major. i graduated with a BA in psych. blah blah blah

but still didn't accept the use of anti-depressants when needed. i felt like people needed to buck up and deal with it. kinda a "life sucks. move on." attitude.

yah, maybe that's because i was a tad under-the-influence (read: depressed) (go ahead and read current instead of past tense too... HA!). i've never had the courage to seek help, but you know, i just might.