Depression, anxiety disorder, post traumatic stress disorder, borderline personality disorder, self harm, addiction, eating disorder. These are the list of diagnosis’s I’ve had since I was just 15 years old. I’ve experienced more trauma in my twenty two years of life than most adults do in their entire lifetime. I’ve had doctors and psychiatrists shocked at just how much I’ve experienced. No lie.
“Not many people know that about me, but, here I am telling you. Why? Because I no longer feel that I should hide the fact that I take them.”
I recently found my mental health deteriorating and previous battles resurfacing and it was hard, really hard. I struggled to sleep at night because of insomnia and that had taken its toll on me. I will always find it hard to cope with my many illnesses but what I have found that has eased my struggles is drugs. Antidepressants, anti-psychotics, psychoactive drugs, the list is endless. Not many people know that about me, but, here I am telling you. Why? Because I no longer feel that I should hide the fact that I take them.
I watched the panorama documentary, ‘Prescription For Murder’ on BBC and I was utterly shocked on what I was hearing. They were investigating the correlation between SSRI’s, a type of antidepressant, and a mass shooting in the US. They also made sure to include the fact that 40 million prescriptions were prescribed last year in the UK alone. So basically, there are 40 million mentally-unstable murderers in the UK right now. Me included.
I take Sertraline. The same drug that a mass murderer was taking. The same drug that has saved my life.
Watching the documentary had me feeling a whole heap of mixed emotions; anger, anxiety, fear… But mostly, disappointment. I felt so god damn disappointed in the BBC for attaching yet more stigma to drugs that save peoples lives every single day. People are scared to admit to needing help when it is not something that people need to fear. They fear the judgement of being labelled a ‘psycho’ or ‘weak’. I would not be here without my antidepressants, I would have committed suicide and that is the harsh truth of a truly debilitating illness. I felt attacked by this documentary.
Why isn’t mental health treated like physical illness? The only difference is that you can’t see it. Why should people need to hide the fact that they take antidepressants? It’s nothing to be ashamed of because, like I mentioned above, 40 MILLION people in the UK were prescribed them. But still, the minute you are handed that prescription, you are met with judgement. Be it from yourself or others. What? You can’t handle your own brain so you need a little help? Hell yes I do and why should that be anybody else’s issue but mine?
“I take eight tablets every single day… Does this make me a sad? A little. But, does it make me a killer? No. Absolutely friggin not.”
I take eight tablets every single day, with awful side effects, just so I can cope with my life. I have two prazosin, morning and night, rispiridone, morning and night, and two sertraline tablets in the mornings. Does this make me feel crap? A little. But, does it make me a killer? No. Absolutely friggin not. If I don’t take them, I’m a wreck and unfortunately that is just how my life was planned to be. I have an incredible amount of pride in myself that I am able to identify that I need this medication to see clearly and keep myself from intense anger outbursts caused by the BPD or the debilitating fear that my rapist is in my house caused by the PTSD. I would not have been able to cope without these and before taking them, it was exactly that. I was not coping.
I recently took, what I called, a ‘break’ from social media. The truth? I was an inpatient on a psychiatric ward. I tried to kill myself after weeks without sleep and intense flashbacks of my attack. That was probably my lowest point in my eight year battle with my illnesses. With that experience firmly lodged in my brain, it was a huge wake up call to try my damn hardest to get better. I took every opportunity in hospital to speak to doctors and nurses about how I was going to recover and spent hours in my allocated room drawing up a plan for it. I was and am determined to fight these battles.
“It’s a life-long prison sentence for a crime I didn’t even commit and my mind is the cell.”
I haven’t written about my attack yet. Well I have, but they live in ‘my drafts’ because trying to get the words out is hard enough but telling my story to the people that aren’t my close friends and family is even harder. Long story short, I was raped by someone I considered to be a good friend of mine. Afterwards, I did everything in my power to block it out and I went back to having what I considered a normal life. I pretended everything was absolutely fine when, in reality, this memory was just waiting to resurface. Moving into our own house was incredible. I was so happy to be out of our old place, the place I was assaulted, and to move into somewhere that was new. But the memories stayed with me. They always will. I’ll never be free from what he did to me. It’s a life-long prison sentence for a crime I didn’t even commit and my mind is the cell. I started to feel like he was in my home. Hiding behind doors and walls, waiting to get me again. I would sit at the bottom of the garden just so I could have a full watch of the house. This got to the point where my partner came home to find me cowering in a corner with a knife to use as some sort of protection against my attacker. My partner then had to do the rounds of the house to assure me he wasn’t there. At night, I would fall asleep only to be woken up with terrifying nightmares and this led me to not sleep at all. In the month of July I had 24 hours of sleep. In 31 whole days, all I had was twenty four hours. This is PTSD in it’s stride; in it’s truest form. The stress and the anxiety I had was mind-numbing. I dealt with this day in, day out.
He has no idea of the pain and the terror he has caused on not only me but my family too. They witnessed their charismatic girl turn in to a complete shell of herself. They also watched her being placed into the care of hospital because she was twenty two years old and could no longer be trusted to even maintain her own sanity.
So that, along with the death of my father, bullying, moving between countries, a cheating boyfriend, losing my baby from an ectopic and the typical stresses and struggles of being a homeowner, there is no wonder I suffer with a range of different mental health problems. But the reason for this post is to let others know that yes, I do take tablets to keep me sane and no, I most certainly am not ashamed of saying I take them. I struggle without them and I need them. Just like a person with a broken bone needs a cast and some painkillers and I am not going to hide that fact just because my mental illness can’t necessarily be seen. Taking them does not make you ‘weak’, neither does admitting you need help. If you look at this post and go ‘well I only suffer from anxiety but this girl suffers more than me, I shouldn’t need pills’ then you are completely and utterly wrong. If you need pills to squash crippling anxiety or a bout of depression then do it. There is NOTHING WRONG with admitting you need help. It’s 2017 and god knows life is an absolute ball-ache at times, seeking whatever help you can is a blessing. We don’t have to do it alone.
And if you in any way, shape or form relate to something in this post then you are a god damn warrior my friend. You know why? Because you are STILL here, you are STILL battling your demons and doing a fine job at it. You are strong and you are going places. No one’s proud of you? I am. I am so proud of you because here you are, fighting, even though you may not feel like you are, you have that little bit of your brain that is saying not to give up. I am no longer ashamed and neither should you be.
I am Kate. I’m 22 years old. And I take anti-depressants.