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What I Need More Than My Antidepressants

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For well over a decade I have been on medication for depression — and I don’t recall a single day where I didn’t question myself about it. Was I being weak? Did that make me needy? Did I really deserve to be on medication just to “feel better?” I’ve wrestled with these questions for so long that I actually stopped trying to answer them. Until, in an instant, they answered themselves.

I realized that the truth is, it’s not about the medication. It’s never been about the medication. Because it’s not the medication I so desperately cling to when I feel like I’m drowning — it’s the unfailingly determined doctor with the prescription pad who keeps me afloat. He is what I question my need for, and my worthiness of. He is what keeps me going when I think it is genuinely not possible to survive another moment of life. It’s not about the medication — it’s about the man behind it. I need my psychiatrist more than I need the medication he prescribes — for so many reasons.

He sees me slipping into depression long before I do. He values the potential in me that I can’t see in myself. He believes, truly believes, that I deserve happiness and peace — and he will never stop trying to help me find it. I hold on to hope that the next medication will work better than the last. But first and foremost, I hold on to the knowledge that he is there to guide me when I’m lost and afraid.

He asks nothing more than I do my best. Whatever my best is that day, in that moment, is enough. That alone is a tremendous relief from the constant demands of life, where nothing ever feels good enough. His patience and perseverance give me strength. Unlike the numerous antidepressants I have been on over the years, he doesn’t stop working — and he has no side effects. He isn’t scared off by my mental health struggles. He doesn’t see a weak and needy person looking for an easy way out.

For so many years it has felt like my battle with depression is a lonely one. Something that no one could possibly understand, better yet help with. But don’t we all feel that way about our struggles? They always seem so isolated — so impossible to relate to for anyone else. Yet there has always been a faint light at the end of the tunnel. Even when I didn’t know what it was, it was there.

The never-ending fight with depression is often enough to make anyone lose hope. But as it turns out, the best medication was never the ones I got at the pharmacy. In this battle, my greatest weapon is not a pill, it’s a person. A humble man trying to make people’s lives a little better. A doctor whose faith in me far exceeds my faith in myself.

So yes, I need my psychiatrist much more than any medication. Because in the end, he can do what no antidepressant ever will — he can believe in me, and help me believe in myself. 

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Getty image via siraanamwong

Originally published: January 15, 2018
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