So i knew something was up. But I didn’t have a clue about recovery – how do you go about getting better when you don’t really know how you got ill?
My counsellor used an illustration to explain a few things to me. It went something like this:
She told me I was like a bucket (…I know… thanks!).
When we are well and our needs are met – the bucket is full. We give to people out of the over-flow to protect ourselves and make sure we aren’t lacking. When a stressful situation, or an increase in responsibilities occurs, the bucket loses some of its water, the bucket has been knocked and some water splashes over the side. It isn’t full.
The healthy person recognises this and takes some time out, rests, or does what they need to do, to recharge their batteries, or, to continue with the analogy, re-fill their bucket, and on they go.
Then she told me my bucket was totally empty. It didnt matter if i slept well at night, or Matt took the kids out for the day and gave me a break. That would only be drops in the bottom of the bucket. I was running on empty. On my own i was going to struggle to re-fill my bucket – especially given i had a 5 month old, a 3 year old, and a 5 year old, and a load of other responsibilities I couldn’t see past.
So, although there were lots of practical things i could do ( and many more things that i needed to stop doing – as it became apparent), I could probably also do with some help with slowly re-filling the bucket.
This was how she explained to me that she thought it would be good if i went on a course of antidepressants.
To me at the time, this was a horrific thought. As someone who eschews drugs of any kind (I hardly ever even take paracetamol for a headache, havent been on the pill for years, and treat a cold as an inconvenience rather than a reason to slow down) I found this pretty tricky to come to terms with.
But, I was the ill person, that was blindingly apparent now. And someone I trusted, who was trained, had experience and knew what she was talking about, had recommended it. I decided to go with her advice.
I have thought a lot about whether to post this information. It feels pretty personal (it is!). And i know a lot of people with a lot of opinions about anti-depressants. All i know is that for me, they were the right thing at the right time. I find it strange how some people demonise the use of drugs to assist with recovery from depression. If it were any other kind of illness and a medical professional suggested a course of drugs, people would be shocked if you went against advise and chose NOT to take them. However, I know that when i first went on them it certainly wasn’t something I broadcast, I wasn’t in a place to justify my decision, and i didn’t have knowledge (or energy for that matter) to explain.
I am sure that anti-depressants aren’t the right thing for everyone, but for me – they were. I was on them for a year and a half.
They gave me the volition to make the very necessary changes I needed to make, and to learn the new skills I needed to learn. They gave me the ability to begin.