Vol 11, Issue 9
Every day, normally in the morning, I take a tablet containing 50 milligrams of Sertraline. I’ve been doing this for about a year now. According to drugs.com, sertraline is one of a group of drugs known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. Reassuringly, the way these drugs work is “still not fully understood”. They do seem effective, however, in treating conditions including anxiety and depression. While I still suffer from both to various degrees, the medication has made a considerable difference to the way I feel day to day.
I decided to write this article because I feel that, while we are getting better and better at talking about mental health, there are probably still people out there who baulk at the idea of treating these problems pharmaceutically. For a long time, I had a reluctance to do so myself. Objectively, I lead a charmed life. I have a supportive family that are prepared to help me deal with my problems, whether emotional or financial. I find law school intellectually fulfilling, and I’ve been able to do well without sacrificing other things that are important to me. I have good prospects for the future, and at least for now have some hope that I will enjoy whatever I end up doing. I have a good circle of old friends outside this building, and while I’ve been here I’ve formed a lot of great new friendships. With all of this going right for me, I felt like I shouldn’t need to be on medication, that taking it would be an admission of failure.
Early last year, I began to second guess my reluctance. I noticed that what I thought of as “blue moods”, times when I felt increasingly isolated and depressed, were becoming more common. Despite believing, on an intellectual level, that I was enjoying my life, my emotional state was getting worse and worse. Feelings of isolation began to trigger panic, and recurrent unwanted thoughts about my own lack of worth became harder and harder to shake. Eventually, after seeing a family member get on the same drug with good results, I talked to my family, and then to my doctor. I began trialling Sertraline, and after the initial dosage didn’t cause any really heinous side effects, I began the daily routine described above.
Since then, my mental state has improved. While I haven’t completely conquered my demons, the worst effects of depression now manifest with far less frequency. I’m able to enjoy things more, and am less affected when things go wrong. The near paralysis I was experiencing during the worst times has become much less common, and when it does happen it’s normally because I got careless and missed a couple of days.
I don’t know whether my story will resonate for anyone reading, but I thought it was worth the attempt. If you think you might need help, please don’t think it is a failure to ask for it. I believe that self-care and meditation can be very useful, but I also feel that there should be no stigma on seeking other forms of help if you feel you need them. I consider myself an intelligent person, and for a long time I thought I could think my way around my depression. I now appreciate that, in my case at least, it doesn’t work that way. I needed something more, and my life has gotten better since I found it.
Eugene Twomey is a third-year JD student
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