Don’t call it a happy pill

A myth, if not the myth about antidepressants is that they are “happy pills.”

Hearing this makes me want to punch people. Guess my happy pills aren’t working.

Seriously though, it doesn’t work like that. Sure, if you take a pill that’s not meant for you you might feel “up” but if it feels unnatural – well it is.

Antidepressants – the right antidepressants – get you to normal. Not rose-colored normal, not happy fluffy normal, not normal where all day long you are snuggled by tiny non-allergenic kittens, just normal.

This concept is hard to understand if you haven’t been there. People who don’t know what depression feels like don’t fully understand what not having depression feels like. Likewise those stuck in depression don’t know what not having it feels like either.

So let’s think of an example.

Ever had a sore throat? That oh my g-OW feeling that comes when you swallow? And it’s so painful that at a certain point you try to come up with ways not to swallow ever again, even if that means no food and almost certainly no sex life?

And then you’re better. And you can swallow. Just… swallow. No pain, no agony, no needing to spend minutes if not hours debating if a particular bite of food is really worth your time. You can just eat, and drink, and breathe.

That’s what the right antidepressant is like. Depression is an illness that makes you hurt, and when you beat it back it doesn’t make you hurt anymore. It takes the cloud away. It pulls back the spikes. It lets you be you again, good, bad, and all.

DiggTwitterDeliciousFacebookStumbleUponTumblrGoogle ReaderEmailShare
This entry was posted in health, mental and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Don’t call it a happy pill

  1. Exactly. That’s a good explanation. It’s like you can breathe, too.

  2. bailunrui says:

    Precisely. Anti-depressants are not “uppers”. They reduce those debilitating troughs that depression causes, not elevate the highs.

    • TeaBQ says:

      Exactly. And that’s hard for people to understand who haven’t been through it. They doing get that those troughs aren’t normal.

  3. grrltechie says:

    You know, I never truly understood this until about 3 weeks ago. One of the screaming red flags for me over 11 years ago that something was WRONG with me was the feeling of depression. Just, hopelessness. I won’t get on my soapbox on your blog, but long story short, my doc put me on Zoloft. It stopped the agony, but made me as numb as novacaine.

    Eventually my hypothyroidism was diagnosed and after a few weeks on medication (and not sleeping all the time) I finally got tired of the numbness and quit the Zoloft. I never really looked back until a few months ago. In the space of 3 months I lost my cat (who was my baby, I have no children), my father and my fertility. November, December and February respectively.

    I didn’t feel the crushing emptiness and despair that I felt before. If you asked me I would say I was tired, maybe a little sad. In fact I didn’t realize just how bad I felt until I started Wellbutrin 3 weeks-ish ago. I feel, like a human again. Not happy for no reason, everything is sunshine and roses. Just, normal. Like you said.

    • TeaBQ says:

      I can’t imagine what going through all that is like. I hear you on the feeling of not realizing how bad it was. For me I could identify the strong emotions as obviously being a part of it, but it wasn’t until my meds finally worked that I realized how much I had lost interest in and didn’t really react to because my brain was so messed up.

      If you ever want to get on that soapbox go right ahead. Anyone who wants to share is welcome.

      Amusing sidenote: my phone tried to autocorrect ‘meds’ with ‘needs’.

  4. alice.and.lain says:

    Yes, that’s it exactly. It’s not a happy pill, it’s a feel like normal pill. I’m on Lexapro and I still get sad, upset, feel anxiety like I did before. However, it’s in far more manageable doses and I’m able to enjoy the times when I’m calm, happy, content. The negative feelings aren’t overwhelming but they aren’t gone either.

    • TeaBQ says:

      And it’s more likely that the sad/upset/anxiety is in response to things that can cause those emotions, rather than the emotions appearing out of nowhere.

  5. ahestele says:

    My partner has been on Effexor for a very long time. I didn’t know how bad the depression had gotten until she was put on it. I literally cannot communicate with her when she is not on her meds. She calls them her ‘happy pills’ as a sardonic joke because they do make her as normal to ‘normal’ as she can get.

    • TeaBQ says:

      I hear ya. And it’s one thing to call them that yourself jokingly. I just get twitchy when people call them that seriously, like what they do is make people feel happy about everything in the world ever.

      (Not saying you were saying I did that, just clarifying my own POV.)

  6. bigbigtruck says:

    When I got my meds adjusted in winter 2009, I compared it to finally surfacing and being able to breathe – and I hadn’t noticed I was drowning.

    Thanks to my meds, I can react normally to situations and stimuli. I get angry, sad, happy, nervous, irritated, grieving, excited, bored… I feel human. Before, the only states I had were disinterest and hopeless despair. It’s like only seeing one color – and you forget what all the other colors look like.

    • TeaBQ says:

      Exactly. I didn’t even realize how much I’d stopped caring about until I got the ability to care back again.

  7. Luna says:

    I have said that it takes me to, “Aww, the dog looks sad. Poor puppy” from “Aww, the dog looks sad. I am clearly the worst person in the world that I can’t keep a dog happy. I should just go to bed, take a bunch of pills and die. And I would too, if I weren’t such a fucking coward.”

    So no, I don’t take them to be happy. I take them to be normal.

    (I don’t take them at all any more, actually. I’m one of the lucky ones who took it to normalize and was able to get off it and stay normal, or neurotypical, or whatever).

    • TeaBQ says:

      Ahhh yes, I know that thought process. Fun, no?

      In theory there’s a vague outside possibility that I might not need meds once menopause hits. I have to admit in a way that frightens me. Not so much the idea of being off of meds, but that there’s something in my future where I’m probably going to have to go through trying to readjust them again. I currently do not want to kill myself. I’d like to keep it that way.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>