medication on night table in bedroom beside unwell looking woman

What Happens When I Forget to Take My Antidepressants

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Editor’s note: If you experience suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

It’s 3 a.m. and I’ve been awake for about two hours now. The house is silent, aside from the periodic squeaking of the kids’ bunk bed and my husband mumbling in his sleep from our bedroom. The furnace kicks on and I finally have background noise to mask the third wave of sobs I’ve been choking back since the last time the furnace finished its duty and fell silent. This is the third wave of tears since I climbed out of bed, tired of tossing and turning. This is also the countless time of uncontrollable, unexplainable sadness in the past 48 hours.

The furnace kicks off again and I manage to stop crying so I don’t wake the entire house up. I look at the time and realize I potentially have less than an hour before my husband crawls out of bed himself. He worries about me enough as it is, so the last thing I need is for him to find me in the state I’m in right now. With that thought in mind, I unwillingly pull myself out of my chair and head back to bed.

I lie in bed, trying to concentrate on my husband’s breathing to lull me back to sleep, but my brain is moving too fast. I want to know why it seems as though the sandman has forgotten me over the past few days. Then it hits me; not only is this the second night of being haunted by my own emotions, it’s also the consecutive 24 hour period during which I’ve forgotten to take my antidepressant. Normally, I’m very vigilant about taking my meds as soon as I get done getting ready for work in the morning, but the past few days I’ve been running behind and have totally forgotten the two tiny, yet important, pills that keep my mind and emotions stable. Surely two missed doses couldn’t cause this much emotional chaos though. My husband crawling out of bed interrupts my thoughts and I feel myself finally begin to succumb to the unconsciousness I have been praying for.

My husband, thinking I have achieved more sleep than he did, is confused at my behavior when I stumble out of our bedroom three hours later. Every noise is irritating me and I choose to sit on the couch, absolutely silent, until I get in the shower. I don’t have the desire to even put on lip balm, let alone follow my normal make-up routine and I know, as I’m reluctantly heading out the door to work, that I’m forgetting something.

Once at work I begin to realize I should have just called in. The exhaustion is setting in and everything is making me that much more irritated. One colleague tries to help me and I bark at her for assuming I can’t do my job on my own. Another makes a comment about how hard of a day he’s having and I scream at him for not knowing anything about having a hard day. My boss makes a comment about how my speed isn’t what it normally is and I threaten to quit. As my boss and my co-workers are trying to piece together what would make me acting like a royal princess all of a sudden, I’m screaming deep down in the depths of my brain for someone to help me. That’s when I realize I’ve forgotten to take my antidepressant again. I’m half tempted to text my husband and have him bring me my meds, but I already know I will get a lecture about not taking care of myself, so I make a mental note to take the stupid thing when I get home from work. I don’t know why I bother, however, because by this point the wires in my brain are so confused from three days of not having the one thing that makes it function properly that I’m lucky I remember my own name, let alone to take a medication.

A week has now gone by and I’ve gotten to the point where I’ve forgotten I’m even supposed to take an antidepressant. My co-workers have started staying away from me because of how mean I’ve become and even my own children have begun walking on eggshells around me. My husband is becoming more and more concerned, and I swear if he asks me what’s wrong one more time I’m going to lose my cool. He’s absolutely correct though. There is something wrong and I’ve forgotten how to fix it. I’m at the point of being panicked all the time and I’m starting to feel trapped inside my own mind.

After a week of missing my antidepressant I don’t even realize how lucky I am that I still have a family, let alone a job. Nothing seems real and I feel like I’m constantly walking through a thin blanket of fog. I look at the mountain that overlooks our town and catch myself thinking how strange it is that something I look at every day seems so unfamiliar. For crying out loud, my own living room has begun to look unfamiliar and I feel like I’m constantly stuck between limbo and the real world. My mind is so confused that I don’t realize my depression is starting to overtake my life again in just seven days. Then it happens: I begin to notice that pain is the only thing that feels real. I want more of it just to feel real again, even if it just for a moment. I can’t though. My husband would leave me. I feel positive he doesn’t want to deal with my “craziness.” But if he can’t deal with it, then did he really ever love me at all? Of course not. No one could ever love me.

At this moment the volcano finally blows its top and my husband realizes that something is terribly wrong. The next time I leave the house I come home to find him standing in the kitchen, my normal dose of antidepressant in hand, as mad as a hornet. He’s counted my meds while I was out and has figured out what my “major malfunction” has been. After taking my meds and a nap, the healing process from the previous week begins.

I no longer have to worry about forgetting my meds. For the next week or so, until my mind resets itself, my husband gets my meds for me in the mornings right after I wake up. He’s still really upset with me, but he also thinks I purposely neglected myself the week before. He doesn’t understand that once the first dose of my antidepressant is missed, my memory is the first thing that is affected and the odds of me remembering to take my meds after that are slim.

After a couple of days, my mind is finally getting back on the right track and I begin to feel myself again. My body no longer fights sleep as though it’s a disease. I no longer feel as though the entire world is against me, nor do I feel unlovable.

Most of the time, I love what my antidepressant has done for me. Then there are times, when I forget a dose or two, that I wish I had never started taking it. Before the antidepressant, I felt overwhelming sadness most, if not all, of the time. Now, I’m happy most of the time but if I forget even one dose of my medication it begins a domino effect that I cannot stop on my own. The hardest part is getting my thoughts to slow down enough to trust someone to help me.

What people don’t understand about depression is how different it is for every person who experiences it. Not only may the symptoms vary (I struggle with insomnia while others are addicted to sleep like it’s a drug) but the intensity of those symptoms may vary as well. This means that the medication used to help manage the depression will affect all of us differently. While the antidepressant is made to build up in one’s system, therefore making one missed dose not that big of a deal, my body and mind react differently when I miss even one single dose of my medication. What I just described is only the bottom layer of the cake when it comes to my lack of functionality without my meds. It starts out subtle enough that I don’t notice right away and it progressively gets worse.

My Memory is the First Thing to Go.

I have a horrible memory as it is, so the fact that memory loss is the first snowflake to fall in a blizzard that could potentially take place makes it hard for me to recognize there is something wrong inside my brain.

It starts out as little things, like forgetting where I put my car keys or that I haven’t taken my antidepressant that day. After the first 24 hours without my medication, it gets more extreme. I forget major things such as birthdays, appointments, and in some cases that I’m even supposed to be taking medications.

Sleep Goes Out the Window.

While other people who struggle with depression can’t seem to stay awake, I can’t seem to stay asleep. From the first day, I forget to take my meds until a few days after I start taking them again, I can’t sleep. I will toss and turn until I can’t take it anymore and climb out of bed. This usually results in two to three hours of sitting silently in the living room crying for absolutely no reason. The lack of sleep, of course, amplifies the effects of the depression and makes the entire situation that much worse.

Food Becomes a Foreign Object.

After about three days of not having my meds, I begin to lose my appetite. My body starts treating nutrients like a foreign substance and I can’t seem to hold much down. After a day or two of this, I don’t even have the urge to eat out of the fear of being in the bathroom not too long after. I have yet to determine whether or not this is caused by the lack of sleep or if it’s the depression itself that causes this reaction. Honestly, it’s not a science experiment that I want to purposely try, so for the time being it must remain a mystery.

Patience? What’s that?

About four days into the cycle I have absolutely no patience. From the kids asking me what time dinner will be done to the goofball at the stop light that can’t figure out that green means go, everything makes me irritable. Normally I have more patience than my husband does and this is about the time in which he starts asking me what’s wrong. It’s a question I can’t give him an answer to and I start getting irritated more at myself than him.

I Lose Interest in Things I Normally Love

There’s not a lot I enjoy doing, but about the same time my patience goes out the window so do the few things that I love. Writing especially. I pass it off as writer’s block to my husband and he usually buys it. More often than not, it’s because I’ve lost every ounce of interest to sit in a chair and make letters with a pen. I don’t enjoy going to work by this point and good luck getting me to even think about leaving the house unless I absolutely have to.

I Forget What Happy Feels Like.

By day five, not even Adam Sandler can get me to crack a smile. It’s horrible and I don’t know how else to describe it other than I’m trapped in my own personal hell. This is the point in which it seems everyone starts avoiding me like the plague, for which I can’t blame them.

Nothing Can Ever Go Right.

On my meds, I handle everyday challenges like a champ. The hot water tank isn’t working? That’s fine. We figure out what’s wrong with it, and in the meantime, we split up showers so everyone has hot water. The sink doesn’t want to drain? Nothing a little drain cleaner can’t fix. If I’ve been off my meds for a few days, then this becomes a different scenario. The car just threw a check engine light? It’s time to throw the hunk of junk in the garbage. The ceiling is leaking? It’s time to burn the house to the ground and find a new place to live. Everything becomes so much worse than it actually is and it makes day-to-day life overwhelming.

Everyone is Against Me.

No, this isn’t really the case, but in my mind it is. If I hear you whispering from down the hallway, you must be talking about me behind my back. If my husband is texting and smiling, then he must be texting another girl. I begin to turn myself against everyone around me and I start pushing people away. It doesn’t matter how much you love me; in my mind, you have to be using me for something.

I Begin to Think About Death.

Oh yes, there it is. Six to seven days into this lack of medication, my thoughts begin to be overwhelmed by either suicidal ones or thoughts of death in general. There have been times where I’ve worried about one of my parents dying for no explainable reason. There have been other times where I’ve thought about family members that have already passed away. Either way, the thoughts are horrible and if I wasn’t screaming to myself before, I most definitely am at this point.

I Feel Absolutely Helpless.

This is when I have reached my maximum capacity. Usually, it takes one wrong thing coming out of one of the kids’ mouths or my husband making a comment about how different I’ve been and I blow my top. I’ve been screaming at myself in my head for days now and no one knows the thoughts I’ve been thinking. No one knows I’ve been at the point of curling up in a ball, hands over my ears, hoping I can silence my own thoughts. No one knows that for a week or longer I have felt helpless and trapped in my own thoughts.
Every person who struggles with depression fights a different battle and knowing what I go through, especially when I forget my medication, I can’t imagine what it’s like for someone who has worse depression than I do. I can’t imagine what it’s like to be battling this curse alone. For those people who don’t have anyone, following are a few numbers you can call where there is always someone who is willing to listen.

Editor’s note: Please see a doctor before starting or stopping a medication.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “START” to 741-741. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo via KatarzynaBialasiewicz

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How Depression Affected My College Graduation

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I just recently graduated from college with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science. One would expect that I would be super excited to be ending a chapter of my life. However, I can say this was one of the most mentally challenging times in my life.

As time grew closer and closer to graduation, I began to get sadder and sadder. I saw all my peers around me celebrating and getting excited while I dreaded leaving the house because I knew someone would ask, “Are you excited?” and “What’s next?” When I was asked if I was excited, I would respond, “It’s definitely bittersweet.”

I knew I would not be able to feel the excitement of my peers around me because of depression.

Graduation day came around and I was filled with stress and terror. Does my hair look right? What if I trip walking across the stage? What if I mess up my speech? And so many other worries I didn’t want to think about. I wanted to be able to enjoy the moment I worked four years for. But mostly, I wanted to be as excited as my friends around me.

Between the burn out from the semester and the negative thoughts, I made it through commencement. Being around my family and close friends really helped a ton.

I’ve been a graduate for about a month now and I still feel less than one, because I was unable to feel the happiness I know I deserved. I do know I have accomplished something others would kill for and I am appreciative I was able to accomplish this, but I also know I will never be able to experience that happiness because of depression.

The moral of the story is: Depression changes your life. Never compare your emotions to others. Just because everyone else around you seems a certain way does not mean you have to have these emotions as well. Depression is an individual journey you must travel with yourself in focus, without judgment of yourself.

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How Emotional Abuse From My Upbringing Contributed to My Mental Health Struggles

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Editor’s Note: If you’ve experienced domestic violence, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact The National Domestic Violence Hotline online by clicking “chat now” or calling  1-800-799-7233.

After texting with a friend yesterday, it finally hit me. I know why I’m struggling so badly with depression. It’s a subject easy for me to talk about, because then I can act like it doesn’t bother me much. But, writing about it, I can’t hide the pain it’s caused. I feel weak, vulnerable. But, it’s something I need to write about so, here’s my best shot.

Sitting on my patio, coffee by my side, cigarette in hand, here goes nothing. Or, everything.

For over a decade, I have been emotionally abused. For the first time in my life, I’m not being abused by an outside force, only the thoughts that still linger in my mind. It’s odd not having someone else put me down daily, and I find myself craving that again. As odd as it may sound.

When I broke free from abuse, I thought I would feel lighter, more in control, happier. That’s not always reality. The abuse sticks with me. The words said, linger in my mind and continue to drive me “crazy.” Even if I have an amazing boyfriend who tells me daily how great I am, how pretty I am and how much he loves me, I still can’t shake the feeling that I’m not good enough.

For years, these are the phrases I heard in my home life:

“No wonder you don’t have any friends.” 

“You’re crazy.” 

“Who would want to marry you?” 

“You belong in a mental hospital.”

“You’re acting like a 2-year-old.”

“You’re a spoiled little b*tch.”

“You’re a slut.”

“You’re selfish and don’t care about a damn thing. You’re lazy.”

Surprisingly, the abuse started because of the same issue. I’ve had debilitating anxiety and panic attacks for over a decade. More times than not, the abuse would always begin at the first sign of a panic attack. When my mind is at the level of a little child, when I’m scared of even myself, when I’m rocking back and forth, when I’m hyperventilating, when tears are uncontrollable, when I’m no longer in control of myself. Nothing makes me feel more weak, scared and vulnerable than when I have a panic attack. And that’s when my family members chose to strike.

Sometimes, their abuse brought on a panic attack and it just worsened. There were days I’d find myself sitting on my bedroom floor, back against the door, trying to keep them out of my room. There were days I’d drop to the ground in tears, broken by what they had said. There were days laying in the fetal position, gasping for air while they yelled at me. I couldn’t escape.

As I got older, the abuse got worse. Eventually, she’d start getting more physical. I was afraid for my life, at age 21. I couldn’t fight back.

The worst part of having an emotionally abusive relationship is, no one believes you. My family members acted so kind and nice to others, so it seemed like I was the liar. In high school, my friends thought I was the problem, that my family just cared about me.

The words they spoke still linger in my mind to this day. The feelings of worthlessness, sadness, pain and shame are all still alive within me. I don’t know if they’ll ever go away but, God, I hope they do. I hope I overcome this and can be happy again. Maybe I need to forgive them still, but I just don’t know how.

If you’re in an abusive relationship of any kind, seek help now. Professional help. Please, do it for your future.

If you or a loved one is affected by domestic violence or emotional abuse and need help, call The National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.

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Thinkstock photo via Litetokig.

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3 Positives I've Learned Through the Negatives of My Depression

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If you were to pass me on the street, or stand in line behind me at a coffee shop, or watch me move behind the counter, you would never know I am a person who has depression. You would never guess a good portion of my year is spent tearing myself down, and the rest is spent rebuilding the foundation I damage while doing so. You would never know the war that is fought in my head, and the struggle that plagues my heart. And that is OK, because although I am sad almost consistently, I find reasons to get up and reasons to be happy. I have been thinking a lot about stigmas and other things that become apparent when the words “depression” or “anxiety” roll around, and I think it’s time to speak out about what it really feels like. Not all parts are filled with darkness. There is a lot about depression I believe is a blessing.

There are silver linings in the dark clouds that hover above my head. Here’s what they are:

1. My love for the little things.  

I will happily rant and rave about the importance of little victories, or the celebration of life’s small triumphs. It is the awareness and adoration for the little things in life that really allow me to appreciate the bigger things. Small steps make take time, but they can ultimately lead you to a beautiful place. In the past, as well as the present, when depression takes hold, I forget how to use my muscles. I stop doing the simple things because even those seem impossible. Mornings are the worst, when I don’t have the option to sleep until noon. When I actually have to be up and mobile, when I actually have to be human. Getting up, getting dressed, brushing my teeth and the like, all become things I wish to avoid. Things I try to avoid. Things some would deem as simple tasks, I view as a rocky hillside I need to climb in order to start the day. I hate climbing. But I do. I know this time of year is the hardest, but I also know I can get through it. Therefore, clinging to the acknowledgement of my small  victories keeps me moving away from the dark and into the light. By being able to see little things are great accomplishments, daily things to be proud of myself for, I move toward being better.

2. Being in tune with the emotions around me.

Every single person is fighting a battle of some sort, whether it’s with themselves, or with someone else. People experience hard times in their own ways, and I don’t believe anyone deserves to be judged on whether or not their pain is “relevant enough” to be called struggle. While it is true that some instances are far worse than others, it doesn’t diminish anything you or the next person is going through. Experiencing dark times makes me more inclined to stop, listen and try and understand what others are going through. Sometimes, I even sit there and feel it with them. So they know they’re not alone. It’s said that those who experience the darkness regularly are the best when it comes to providing love. You never want another to feel the way you have felt. They say we are the ones who love the hardest. We feel with you, we experience it with you and we do everything we can to help you through it.

3. Being “whole” on my own.

If the past year has taught me anything, it’s that for me, I don’t need medication to navigate my personal darkness. I learned how to appreciate feeling again, learned to meander through it, bruised, but in one piece. Trudging through sober self-hatred, I learned to manage, not just survive. I worked through it, took the time to get to know my heart, body and mind. I rebuilt the broken and overflown damn of emotions, and patched the holes with melted gold. My imperfections are now displayed with beauty, not swept under the rug like problems to be ashamed of. I learned to own the things that make up who I am, to be proud of them, both good and bad. It’s a process, and I am still learning. I am learning a steady pace of self-improvement without self-destruction. Moving up without putting myself down. This year has taught me the meaning of true, healthy relationships and it’s taught me how to shed the toxic ones. I’m learning the importance of loving myself first. Of being whole on my own and allowing someone to be whole with me. I have learned that it doesn’t take another person to give me worth, they are there to add to the abundance of worth I already possess. I am enough on my own, always.

Last year held both demons and angels alike. It is representative of a journey I was not aware I was capable of. I believed I could, so I did.

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How I Have Learned to Manage My Depression as an Senior Person

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I have struggled with depression and anxiety for several years. I am 67 now. It seems to be like I have a huge plank of wood I drag around with me all of the time. Sometimes this load becomes too great.

I describe depression as falling into a deep black hole. It swirls around me. I can’t get out of it. I am once again in its grip. This is a place I just do not like to be. It is horrible. The inner voice of self-doubt and hopelessness takes over my mind, my body and my soul. My thoughts whirl around and despair takes over.

Unfortunately, depression in my case doesn’t seem to be related to any particular incident. But, it always tells me the same things:

“You are worthless, you are useless.”

“You never get anything right.”

“Nobody loves you.”

Etc.

Anyone who experiences depression will recognize this destructive self-talk, and like others, I have tried to understand this illness and tried to deal with it. Meditation, yoga, cognitive therapy, exercise, medication — I’ve tried all of these. The only thing that is effective is a combination. I have been on medication for many years. 

During bad episodes, I cannot do very much at all. It’s like depression gets a grip on me and doesn’t want to let go. I really just want to curl up in bed and stay there. Breaking this grip is hard. 

Over the years I have learned to recognize when its grip is tightening and I am becoming unwell. So, I make appointments to get professional help. This is important as I need reminders of strategies to deal with my feelings and thoughts.

I make myself do at least three things every day such get up and have a shower, prepare a meal and go for a short walk — simple activities that break the desire to wallow in bed, that break the grip of depression. 

I need to make sure I deal with stress in my life, that I look after myself properly — plenty of sleep, plenty of exercise and a good diet. I need to do things I enjoy as this makes me feel good too: funny movies, talking with close friends, reading, walking along the beach, swimming and riding my three-wheeler bike. I also actively sit and challenge, in writing, the negative self-beliefs … I try to take their credibility away through these challenges.

I am so glad there is a greater understanding of depression nowadays. I am glad accessing professional help has become easier over the years. I am glad I understand that I can’t loosen depression’s grip by myself.

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How My Depression Has Changed Since My First Experience

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Like most things, depression can change.

When I was first diagnosed, I was 15 and a freshman in high school. What my depression looked like then is a lot different than what it looks like now. I couldn’t get out of bed, I zoned out a lot, I never willingly left the house and I couldn’t hold a conversation. I either couldn’t sleep or I slept too much. I forgot to eat. My emotions were all over the place. Now reading this seems like I was just being like every other lazy teenager with a messed up sleep schedule due to binge-watching Netflix, right? Wrong.

There’s a difference between not wanting to get ready for school and my parents having to force me out of bed. When I zoned out, it was near impossible to get me to focus again. When I say I didn’t willingly leave the house, I mean my mom bribed me to go out and I’m pretty sure my body shape was molded onto the couch and my bed. I never had the energy to talk, let alone start conversations. If I wasn’t awake for 4-5 days straight, I was sleeping right after school and not waking up until the next morning. As someone who loves food, it became quite noticeable to those around me that I’d forget to feed myself. I had to keep food in my locker and my parents checked my lunch account to make sure I was buying lunch. I cried in the shower. I cried in the car. I cried at school and I cried at home. I just cried. A lot. If I wasn’t crying, I was angry or I felt nothing at all. I was a complete mess. This is what my depression looked like — this was my truth — but after getting help from my doctors and therapist, I can gladly say my life is different.

Now I am 20 years old and I’m still living with depression, but I’m not always depressed. The saying, “it comes and goes in waves,” is very true for me. At 15, I was used to being depressed every moment of every day and that’s just how it was. Now I can go out, hold conversations, laugh, sleep and eat without having to force myself to do so.

I do have “episodes” where my depression makes it very apparent to me that it’s still around. Sometimes these episodes are a day and sometimes they last for two weeks, but my mental health is extremely important to me, as it should be for everyone, so I try my best to practice self-care. That doesn’t solve my problems, but it’s the best way for me to be honest with myself and others that I need a little extra help. 

 I have had people ask me if, because my depression took over my life for so long, that maybe I’m fixed and I just don’t realize it. That maybe I’m experiencing “normal” emotions and are just too quick to call it depression.

These are things I have thought about, but dismiss because:

1. I don’t like the use of the word “fixed” in relation to mental illness.

The word “fixed” is tied to a feeling of shame for me. When I go a significant amount of time without feeling depressed, I always think the last time was the last time. But when depression rears its ugly head at me again, I feel a sense of shame and stupidity, thinking I could get away from it.

Demi Lovato once said, “I don’t think I’m fixed. People think you’re like a car in a body shop. You go in, they fix you and you’re out. And you work like brand new. It doesn’t work like that. It takes constant fixing.”

2. Depression and sadness are different. 

This isn’t true for everyone, but I am extremely aware of the differences between my everyday emotions and my mental illness. It wasn’t always this way and I sometimes can’t tell until after I start to feel better, but I can. 

3. I hate the word “normal.”

It is extremely irritating for people to say what I’m feeling isn’t normal. Having a mental illness isn’t ideal, I get it, but being told there’s something wrong with you sucks. I always feel a sense of “you versus them.” The wrong versus right. The mentally ill versus the rest of the world.

That isn’t right. We’re all in this together. You aren’t alone in this.

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