Woman walks with family outside


I Was Afraid to Take Antidepressants, I’m So Glad I Overcame My Fear

Nov 4, 2020

I stood in front of the mirror and looked at the unrecognizable woman in front of me. I was almost 30, a mother to three beautiful children, married to my best friend for almost a decade and enjoying a successful career as a writer. But all I saw was pools of sadness in my eyes, and a stomach that was stretched and bloated.

"And though I did slim down after I stopped taking the medication, I became depressed again."

I was depressed, and had been before. Two years earlier I was pregnant with my third and final child, and was diagnosed with severe perinatal depression when I was three months pregnant. I was prescribed antidepressants. They worked to relieve my depression, and helped me get through my pregnancy and first year postpartum, but the medication caused weight gain.

Thinking I was better, and hoping to lose some of the baby weight, I weaned off of it. And though I did slim down after I stopped taking the medication, I became depressed again.

I spent months falling deeper and deeper into a pit of desperation, but I was afraid to grab onto my lifeline — the antidepressants. I knew they would make me gain weight, and lead to other side effects I didn’t love, like forgetfulness and fatigue. Instead, I attempted to pull myself out of the pit, grabbing desperately at the slippery walls surrounding me. I could not pull myself out.

Finally, my husband sat me down and encouraged me to go back on my medication. He saw how much I needed my medication, and knew that my fear of weight gain was holding me back.

Yumna writes about her experience about being a South Asian woman and having postpartum depression. Read her story here.

“Who cares if you gain a bit of weight? You’ll feel like yourself again,” he assured me.

I was comforted by his encouragement, and knew that he was right. I went to the doctor and asked for the same medication I’d started two years earlier. For some, it might have looked like I was taking a step backwards, but I finally felt like I was moving forwards with my life. I also talked to my doctor about the fatigue that came with the medication, and we agreed that taking the pill in the evening might help. It did, this time around I haven’t noticed any added tiredness.

Within a few weeks I started feeling better. I was more motivated, I was sleeping well, and less angry and easily stressed out. I didn’t notice if I gained weight, because I was too happy with my mental improvements. When COVID-19 hit Canada earlier this year, I felt prepared emotionally. I’d been taking medication for a few months, and was in a good place with my mental health. It’s not been an easy transition, but my medication has been a lifesaver, especially during these tough times.

She has been asked frequently if she's pregnant. At first she felt shame, but now she embraces her body. Enjoy another one of Brianna's POV pieces here.

Now that my mental health has improved I’m ready for a new challenge: improving my physical health. Over the last month I’ve been hiking and weight lifting, and have been eating healthier and more nutritious meals. My pants fit better, and I feel stronger and healthier. My medication did cause weight gain, but it also gave me my energy and zest for life back. And with that energy I’m ready to tackle the challenges of life again — and some hiking trails, too.

Article Author Brianna Bell
Brianna Bell

Brianna Bell is a writer and journalist based in Guelph, Ontario. She has written for many online and print publications, including Scary Mommy, The Penny Hoarder, and The Globe and Mail.

Brianna's budget-savvy ways have attracted media attention and led to newspaper coverage in The Globe and Mail and The Guelph Mercury.

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