Anti-depressants, avoidance, and when is a symptom not a symptom?

It is 60 hours since I last took my anti-depressants.

For some reason, the pharmacy haven’t done my prescription yet. It’s on repeat, automatically processed by them, I should get a text message when it’s done. I haven’t. This is the first time this has happened at this pharmacy – who, though they’ve had a few niggles, have never been actively late.

There’s a clear solution to this problem, which is to go to the pharmacy – a pharmacy which is a scant 2 minute walk from my house – and say hey, what’s up, where’s my medication? Of course, if you’ve been following along, you’ll know that such things are simple but not easy.

The first day – when I was still kind of on the medication, because I take it at midnight – I figured I’d wait and see if they texted me to say it was in. Maybe it was just right on the cusp of ready in time. That’s happened before. Then I just sort of forgot to go in at the end of the day. And the next day I thought about it – and then did other things.

I’m going to go today, because 60 hours in I have hit the stage that anyone else who has ever messed up their medication will recognise: I no longer know if my symptoms are symptoms or withdrawal or just normal feelings.

I stayed in bed until noon today. Am I just tired? Is it just because I’ve been really stressed the past couple of months? Is is because my period just finished and it obliterates my energy levels on a monthly basis?

Yesterday I veered wildly between feeling fine and calm and feeling super stressed. Is that withdrawal? Is it just the fact that these months have been stressful for reasons entirely unrelated to my depression and anxiety? Am I just experiencing normal human variations of feeling?

You get the idea. The point is, withdrawal – or not – is a really good microcosm of having a mental illness. Because I have spent a lot of the past decade and a half not really knowing if a symptom is a symptom. Not to this extreme or intensity – that’s why it’s a microcosm – but it’s definitely comparable in my experience.

But just you wait, because there’s more ahead. Next we haveĀ going back on the medication after a short period of withdrawal, and that’s an equally fun rollercoaster of ‘is this a symptom or not’.

Which, you know, is all the more fun when the question expands to: ‘is this withdrawal or am I just worrying that I screwed up my just-about-stable mental health by failing to go and talk to another human being’.

I.e. being human myself.

I’m not very good at accepting that I am a human being with failings and foibles and rough edges. I hold myself to this impossible standard, and not in a positive way. I do think it’s possible to dream of perfection, accepting that you’ll never reach it. I just haven’t worked out how to have that dream and let go of it all at once yet.

So I am trying, amidst the things that might or might not be symptoms, to forgive myself for waiting a couple of days to go to the pharmacy.

Because despite what my depression tells me, I’m only human – and sometimes, I’m going to screw up.

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