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Discover how antidepressants affected my life and how it helped me change it! Read the full article on www.HelloPeacefulMind.com

After our trip to France, I thought it was time to open up about my current situation.

You see I have been living in the USA since 2011, but grew up in France. So I have friends and family from two very different cultures. We don’t have the same values, we don’t eat the same way, we have a different lifestyle… Both cultures have their ups and downs.

But now that I have been in Seattle for several years, I am turning into an overly positive American. I can’t tell you how many times a day I say the word “amazing” and "awesome".

I have a problem

One thing that my husband and I noticed during our last trip to France is how people are close minded about mental illnesses.

To be honest, it took me years to admit that I had a problem for the exact same reason.

I grew up thinking that it was normal to feel down. After all, nobody is happy all the time. We aren't living in a fairy tale.

I thought that having a mental illness, such as depression, would be like stamping the word “failure” on my forehead.

I guess societal pressure made it difficult to heal myself. 

The first stage of recovery is to admit that you have a problem, but in France, nobody talks about their deep feelings, it’s like we are hiding behind unnecessary complaints about very small things.

So yes, it took me years to realize that I was not happy with my life and I had to do something to change it.

For real, it took the publication of a study explaining that descendants from European countries are more susceptible to depression because of their genes.

Finding out that it wasn’t all in my head, but also chemical, helped me. It gave me an excuse to seek help. It wasn’t my fault that I was feeling down, it was biological.

Obviously, there is more than just the chemistry in your brain, but it has a big effect on your state of mind.

Seeking help

So I made an appointment to see the doctor. After responding to a few questions, to find out if I was depressed or not, she diagnosed me with moderate major depression and anxiety. Which, to be honest, I think I was aware of for years.

The first thing she said was that I needed to exercise. You see, exercise helps your body to create happy chemicals, or neurotransmitters (Serotonin and Dopamine), endorphins, and endocannabinoids.

But at the time I was depressed and during the previous two years I had been telling myself that I needed to workout, with no success. I would start a new fitness program and give up within a couple of weeks.

Plus it wasn’t the first time a doctor told me that I needed to workout more. But this time, the doctor added: “I’m also going to put you on antidepressants.”

This one sentence scared me. For most of my life, I had heard that antidepressants were bad. I also read an article explaining that when you ask for antidepressants at the doctor, you are more likely to get it. I was scared that I was being prescribed antidepressants just because that's what doctors do.

So I tried to negotiate with my doctor. I wanted to skip on the antidepressants and focus on working out.

But she looked at me and said: “Julie, let’s be honest, you are not going to exercise without this help.”

She explained that the antidepressants would help me to get the motivation needed to go to the gym. After including regular exercises in my lifestyle, 90 minutes a week to be precise, I would be able to stop taking the serotonin.

We made a deal that I would stop them 6 months later. But it took me longer than I thought to get my life together. It takes times to create new habits and I don’t want to stress myself about it since it the reason why I’m in this situation in the first place. But it’s okay, I am feeling ready to stop them and will probably make an appointment this summer.

The thing with antidepressants is that you cannot stop them abruptly, you need to slowly reduce your dose to help your body get used to it.

Now, the way I see antidepressants is like a serotonin supplement. It’s like taking vitamins during the winter, melatonin when you need help to sleep at night, or any supplement to help you feel better.

Life on antidepressants

So yes, I am taking antidepressants and I'm (literally) happy to do so. Without the serotonin supplement, I wouldn’t have been able to change my life.

Within a few months I:

To summarize, taking antidepressants helped me to change my life and every day I become closer to the person I always dreamt of becoming.

But here’s the catch: as a mental health advocate, I have become very open about my situation.

I don’t want to hide to people that I'm being medicated to feel better. I explain to them that this is temporary, it’s just that my body needs a little chemical help to give me the motivation to change my life, that I’m doing so much better since I started my journey and I am happier than ever.

I don’t feel the need to binge watch tv shows anymore, to lose myself in books, to hide under the covers and to start the day with “I don’t want to get out of bed” or “5 more minutes.”

Now I wake up with my head full of dreams for the day, I enjoy my daily walk during lunch break at work, I am coming home relaxed and enjoy the evening.

So where is the catch?

Even if I talk about how the antidepressants make me feel and helped me changed my life, people are getting upset about it.

My friends and family in France are so against it. They want me to stop it, they think that it’s hurting me, that I can become addicted to it, that it’s simply wrong …

And to be honest, I understand them. I felt the same way just over a year ago.

This is why I wanted to write about my personal experience with antidepressants and, hopefully, help people to be more open-minded about it and stop giving a hard time to people who are trying to get better by taking action.

My take on antidepressants

I believe that antidepressants can be a good tool for people who want to change their life but are feeling too depressed to start taking action.

If you take antidepressants but don’t take action to change your life, you will probably never fully be happy.

I see them as a tool to help you, not a means in themselves.

Talking with your doctor about your depression will help you to decide whether or not you need medication. But remember that if you ask for it directly, you will be more likely to get a prescription.

I think that it’s important to debate with your doctor if you really need it and why. In my case, the doctor made a very good point but in your case, it might be different.

If you get a prescription, talk to your doctor about when you can get off and what you need to do to make it happen. In my case, it was to work out 90 minutes a week regularly but it might be different for you.

I am not a doctor so this article is about my personal experience with antidepressants. If you feel depressed I highly recommend talking with your doctor and making a plan together that will fit your personal needs.

Julie

Julie was diagnosed with anxiety and depression during the summer of 2016 and has since helped hundreds of people fight these mental illnesses and become happier. Read Julie’s inspiring story, “My Journey Into Acknowledging The Depression.” Feel free to send a message to Julie here.

11 thoughts on “The One Thing That Motivated Me To Change My Life And Be Happy”

  1. Fab post! I too am on anti depressants for my anxiety and my life has drastically improved since being on them. Although we’re not doctors, finding something that truly helps you live a normal life can’t be bad!

    1. Oh, Jess, I didn’t know that you were on antidepressant too! How did your life improve under antidepressants? I would love to hear about your story!!

  2. Don’t forget that there is no shame in staying on them, if that 6 month milestone comes and goes and you aren’t quite ready. Most people do not begin antidepressants with a “this is temporary” approach. Of course, that can be possible, with the slow weaning you describe, under a doctor’s supervision, but there is no magic number of days or date that will signal “it’s time”. Good luck, Julie! Really enjoy your blog! : )

  3. I also take them, because of neurotransmittor disorder, not depression though. Without them it’s hard to get through the day, with them, it’s hard quite often too, but that’s because of an auto-immune disorder.
    But I know the feeling of people not understanding you need them… So I don’t tell anyone exept the people that are close to me, as they know what I’m going through.

    Sadly, some things can’t be read of peoples faces….

    1. Hi Maja, I’m so happy to hear that you are taking care of yourself it’s what matters! Don’t worry about what people might think. We need to educate people about mental health so they can understand.

    1. Thank you so much for sharing this article on Twitter Abbi! I totally agree with you, we need more people opening up about mental health and how medication can help.

  4. What a wonderful, heartfelt story. I think anti-depressants are a very individual choice and I totally agree that when you don’t have the motivation to change, they can definitely help. I’m so glad they helped you. When I suggest this idea to my clients – when I truly think they might benefit – they almost always balk. I wish more people who needed them could see their value. Thanks Julie for sharing your story!

    1. Thank you so much for your comment, Michelle! It took time for me to understand their value and a lot of help from my husband who is becoming a counselor too. Don’t give up with your clients and feel free to share this article with them if you think it will help 🙂

  5. Though not on meds myself, I have a close family member who is and for him they are the difference between misery and peace. For those who won’t accept the impact of chemical imbalances on our mood, I like to point out that every single person who has gotten grumpy when they are hungry was suffering a chemical imbalance. How would they like it if someone told them they didn’t really need to eat anything, their irritability wasn’t really caused by hunger, they just need to get their act together? They wouldn’t. They accept the reality of a chemical imbalance they have suffered from themselves, like irritability from our blood sugar dropping when hungry, yet refuse to accept that there are people who suffer from other chemical imbalances that need leveling out. They don’t criticize a diabetic for leveling out their blood sugar, but they criticize someone trying to level out their seratonin. Go figure. Anyway, good job on getting the word out and I admire your courage!

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