'I’m on antidepressants, and I fear I’ll never be able to come off them.'

‘I’m on antidepressants. I’m on antidepressants. I’m on antidepressants.’

I repeat this to myself, and to others, because I'm trying to convince my entire being that this is nothing to be ashamed of. That this is a journey, not a destination. 

I’ve been on antidepressants for at least four years now, but I still have a tiny bit of hope that I won’t need them one day. As if needing medication is a bad thing. It isn’t, but try telling my brain that.

Watch: Please Like Me, Antidepressants. Post continues after video. 

Video via Netflix.

I did try to wean off them once… only once.

It was two years ago while I was on Sertraline, known commonly by the brand name ‘Zoloft’, and I truly thought doing so was the best idea I’d ever had. I remember saying to my GP, my friends, and anyone who would listen, ‘I’ve done enough therapy, I can get through life without any help now!’ 

A month after that initial decrease to a lower dosage, things deteriorated in a way I hadn’t seen coming. Not because I wasn’t told that coming off might not be the right thing to do – in fact, I’d been expressly told that. But, because I had been willfully ignorant of that fact. The idea that it wouldn’t work was not in the realm of possibility for me. 


So, when it didn't, I was devastated.

The unstoppable tears came back, the lowest of low moods clouded my world, and the panic settled itself back into my everyday. I hate the panic the most. The sheer terror from the insurmountable anxiety causes a chaos that I can only describe as a bunch of a million pieces of moving string, tangled in a giant ball above my head.

I stopped weaning.

It’s safe to say that after consulting with my team of health professionals, I went back up to my normal dosage. And, things got a bit better for a while after that. 

But, looming in the background was the realisation that I needed something. I relied on something other than myself.

That idea left a gross taste in my mouth. Quite frankly, it made me f**king pissed. I’m an independent woman damn it, and I don’t need anything or anyone but myself. Yet, do I need a pill to function and live a productive life? Does this mean that maybe I’m not as independent or as strong as I thought? Or, was going on antidepressants a mistake? 

Living with side effects.

Not only had I begun questioning my identity, but I'd also started interrogating the side effects – would I be living with them forever now? 

My list of side effects has varied and changed, but on sertraline, I experienced low libido, fatigue, and issues with drinking alcohol. 


...You aren’t meant to mix alcohol with antidepressants but I was a mid-20s wild child when I started and there’s no point in hiding it – I drank. Though, in the end, not as often because of how bad the ‘soul-destroying, panic-attack-inducing hangovers were, even after just two drinks. The frequency of blackouts was also concerning – particularly the ones that would happen after the smallest drop of alcohol. I learned the hard way that sertraline and alcohol DID NOT mix in the slightest for me.

Recently, I transitioned from sertraline to venlafaxine, known commonly by the brand name ‘Effexor’, and the side effects have changed. I do have a low libido still but the fatigue has lifted a little bit – which I was desperately seeking. And, it interacts better with alcohol. In fact, I don’t black out at all, and when I’m hungover I can leave the house – which was something I couldn’t do on sertraline. 

There is a new side effect though: Dizziness. Particularly if I’m late taking my pill. Sertraline gave me more leeway, but if I am even a tiny bit late with venlafaxine the brain zaps and dizziness is excruciating. 

So, has anything really improved? Or have I just swapped certain side effects for others? The answer is the latter. And, that’s what you get told by GPs and psychiatrists – you have to find the antidepressant with the side effects that work best for you.

I can keep trying new antidepressants until I find one with the least amount of debilitating side effects, but it's so individual and I won’t know how my body interacts with a type until I am on it. The whole process is annoying and anxiety-inducing (the opposite of what I am trying to achieve).


I grew up thinking antidepressants were bad.

I was born in 1993, and I distinctly remember being in primary school and being one of the few families with divorced parents; it was a thing I was embarrassed about. 

It’s so weird to think about now because divorce is so common, but I tell you this because I think it’s important to note that I grew up before iPhones came out (I got my first one in my late teens), when divorce was more frowned upon, and when mental health was not as spoken about. And, that meant the conversations surrounding these things, and other ‘taboos’, were nonexistent. If they were spoken about it was in a way that was severely lacking in understanding and empathy. 

I went through a particularly bad patch between the ages of 15 and 19, and I had no professional resources at the time. I often wonder if things would have gotten so bad had I known more about mental health. Maybe I wouldn’t have ended up leaving school, moving into an unsafe home at 17, and doing the things I did during that time. 

“Antidepressants are bad, they are only for crazy people," was a sentiment I was repeatedly told throughout my life. I still get told that I shouldn’t be on antidepressants by people today, in 2023. That being on them is bad and I should meditate and use natural remedies. 


It frustrates me because I’m so into meditation and natural healing. I barely take Panadol. I want to scream back at those people and say, “I WANT TO DO THAT MORE THAN ANYTHING IN THE WORLD BUT I CAN’T.” At this stage, I can’t function without the help of antidepressants and I need to come to terms with it.

Learning to accept my situation.

I used the incredibly cliché phrase at the beginning of this article, ‘It's a journey, not a destination,’ for a reason. I’m not at the complete acceptance stage yet and I don’t know when I will get there. This lack of acceptance does not extend to anyone else, I wholeheartedly believe antidepressants and other medications are amazing and people need to do what's best for them based on the guidance and support of their health professionals. But for myself, I still have moments of shame and guilt. I still struggle to accept that my mental health is rarely in a great place, or that I may always need the help of medication. 

Does it make my life better? Yes. So please know that I know it doesn’t make sense. I work every day, with the help of my therapist, to unlearn this negative thought pattern. 

It’s not all negative though, I assure you! I’m also on a journey of understanding how my mind works and the more I learn, the more happy and confident I feel. 

Image: Supplied.

Calling all internet users! Take our survey now and go in the running to win a $100 gift voucher!