Updated: Feb 8, 2021
Recently, there has been a lot of media discussion about mental health declines during the pandemic. And how not? It is an emotionally, financially, and spiritually challenging time for all of us. The death count is growing, and in many places, surging again. Our lives and the lives of our loved ones have all been turned upside-down. Too many don't know where their next meal will be. It is right to worry about our emotional well-being during such a time because most of us, if not all, are experiencing feelings of fear, confusion, lack of control, grief in varying degrees, and more.
Given our circumstances, doesn't it make sense that we would feel a range of feelings that we usually don't experience? Of course!
Let's agree that there are days we don't want to get out of bed and that it's okay.
Let's agree that there are days our kids don't want to get out of bed and that it's okay.
Pajama's are my go-to wardrobe when I don't feel great. But what do you do when it's feeling really rough and persistent, and the pajamas become your bff?
Today's conventional wisdom is to see a doctor when you are not feeling emotionally well. This puts you on track to be prescribed an antidepressant. And why not? We all enjoy an easy fix to feeling bad. Take a pill! Just like taking an aspirin for a headache, right?
Go ahead and Google, "When should I see a doctor for feeling sad," and you'll find the official directions from most organizations and pharmaceutical antidepressant manufacturers. The party line will suggest you do so if feelings persist for more than two weeks as you may be experiencing depression.
However, the truth is far from that simple. Once on any medication for mood stabilization, you become a card-carrying member of the Mental Health Industrial Complex, which is a dubious membership at best. It's somewhat like the mafia- tough to leave. A topic I'll write more about.
Brilliantly, our bodies are a complete and wondrous embodiment of our innate power and vulnerability that, even in the worst of times, has incredible healing and calming abilities that have been activated and used for millennia.
Conversely, antidepressants highjack your brain, tamp down your emotions, and upend your sense of personal agency, altering your brain, sometimes permanently. And for many patients causing side effects that can be long- or short-term, are embarrassing, and often disabling.
Self-care is a viable option that can be taught to people of all ages who feel badly with no side effects. It takes time, resources, and commitment. Still, it is well worth the work. It's a self-empowering process that heals and trains the brain to perceive the universe as a place of safety and abundance, which is our birthright as humans, IMHO. It can cost as little as nothing, and we get to maintain the self-agency of our emotions.
If you feel desperate and you need to feel better now, buyer beware. Antidepressants are not indicated, and never have been, for long-term use. They aren't shown to be effective in the long term. AND, they are hard to stop taking due to "discontinuation syndrome," a cleaned-up phrase for withdrawal (Some experience withdrawal after taking antidepressants for only weeks). Do your homework and make sure your prescriber will help you get off the antidepressants slowly when you are ready.