ifIknew is a health initiative for young adults that uses a multi media approach, including social media and in person programs, to address the contemporary issues that impact the well-being, self-image, careers, and relationships of people in their 20's and 30's.

If I Knew is a prevention education project that raises awareness about risky behaviors that can profoundly impact lives.

Medication didn’t turn me into a robot

When I was fifteen I knew I had to do something about my depression, but I knew that thing wasn’t medication. I didn’t want to use a prescription to mask my negative feelings—I had already used alcohol to try to mask them and that had ended poorly. I also figured that any medication that would mask my negative feelings would mask my positive ones too (not that I had very many) or would prevent me from feeling anything but an artificial happiness. I was afraid that I’d be a robot. I said as much to the psychiatrist my parents brought me to see and was prepared to get up and walk out. The conversation that followed not only led me to try medication, but it changed my life forever.

I described my emotional state as feeling like I was freely floating in a big dark emotional expanse.  I would float low and be depressed until something snapped me high into happiness—only to then plunge back down into depression. I felt absolutely no stability and it was becoming very difficult for me to go to school, care about my homework, visit my friends, or take care of myself emotionally or physically. After listening to me, my doctor explained that medication could save me from that emotional “free floating” and could provide me an emotional floor on which to stand. I was skeptical, but I agreed to give it a try.

A few weeks after starting the prescription medication I saw what he meant. The first time I dropped a plate of food, instead of being thrown in to the pits of depression and beating myself up, I got only a little bummed out, cleaned up the mess, and got on with my life—something I’d almost never been able to do before. I still experienced my negative emotions, but they didn’t consume me in the unhealthy way they had before; plus, I was actually able to experience positive emotions when something good happened. I realized I had been floating through my life with little or no emotion other than despair; in a way, the medication actually stopped me from being a robot rather than turning me into one like I had feared.

So, here is my advice. If you are fighting depression or any other mental health issue, consider seeing a doctor to find out of a medication might help you. If you’re avoiding taking medication out of fear of it turning you into someone you’re not, remember that you can stop taking it if you truly decide it isn’t right for you. The benefits often outweigh the costs when it comes to treating mental health, and I’m thankful that younger me took that chance.

Chris, contributing blogger and editor to ifiknew.org