Not that it’s really anyone’s business, nor should I have to justify what medications I take, but I feel that writing an article on this topic is important – for I have vowed to be open and honest about my mental health and the hardships I have subsequently faced.
To be very honest – my battle with mental health was the motivator for this very blog – was the reason I ever began to write candidly at all.
For those of you who have never felt the burden and pain of anxiety and depression, it may be hard for you to understand why taking medication is necessary for me and many others.
You might be saying – “Just have a positive outlook, you’ll be fine”.
You are also likely to find this information a bit shocking and concerning, as you may have been unaware that I in fact do take medication everyday to keep myself balanced.
And I do not blame you for feeling uncomfortable about this.
I also do not blame you for being worried or concerned.
…but I will blame you if you choose to stop reading – if you decide that ignorance is bliss – that you’d rather not learn more – that you’d rather pretend that everyone is ok.
…because to choose to believe these things only hurts us, who live with these battles, even further… and for the sake of valuing human life – I ask that you to try your best to understand.
When people living with depression and anxiety are able to articulate their feelings, try to explain their battles, and their difficulties – minds open, and healing occurs (on both sides).
It is important for each and every person to understand that no – medication is not always the answer for everyone, BUT that medication can in fact help to literally keep someone alive, and that taking medication doesn’t make a person weak, nor “crazy”.
People take medication for physical health problems – so why should mental health be treated any differently?
Taking medication for one’s mental health, I would argue, is possibly the bravest and strongest thing a person can do for themselves.
To admit to yourself, and to your doctor, that you’re not doing well and that you need extra help to cope – makes you resilient – it proves that you are motivated to protect the beautiful life you have been given – it means that you haven’t completely given up HOPE.
For a person living with depression, HOPE is our key battle.
We become suicidal when we have lost all hope and no longer see any potential in our futures – sometimes we no longer see futures at all – or we see a future that seems unbearable, and illogically decide that we are unable to ever beat this feeling, this despair…and in those states – nothing else matters.
We then only take action to help ourselves when we do see a glimmer of hope… that we may possibly have a chance to feel better… that there’s a reason to hold on a bit longer… to see if things can hopefully get a little better.
Now, that glimmer may be small and barely there – but it being there at all, is enough.
For many people – the promise of helpful medication is that hope provider.
For many people – medication is literally a life saver.
No – I’m not being dramatic nor trying to persuade you that medication heals all. It doesn’t.
And there are many other ways we can try to cope before having to take medication: meditation, mindfulness, therapy… the list goes on.
But, for those like me, we do need it.
A few years back, I completely lost both myself and all of my hope… and the mindfulness, and therapy, and everything else I kept trying, just wasn’t enough. I wasn’t receiving enough to convince me that things would turn out ok – the beast inside me was getting too strong… and I couldn’t handle it anymore.
Admitting for the first time that you need help is HUGE.
And then it again took a lot of time to admit I needed even MORE.
Unfortunately for me, it took a serious brush with death to admit that I needed medication and not just therapy… and it is my hope, that in publishing content like this, others won’t have to get to that point to let down their fears and prideful resistance against medication.
For a long time I tried other coping methods with hope that I would never have to go the medication route – because I didn’t want to admit that I had an actual chemical imbalance within me, that I needed a pill to feel “normal”… that was very hard. But by that point in my battle, my choice was between life and death – and thanks to my friends and family, I felt some sort of glimmer to try and go on – at first for them, and then for me.
I felt embarrassed, ashamed, and like an absolute failure at first.
I even experienced horrible initial side effects of nausea, headaches, and emotional waves… (getting your dosage and brand right can take months, even years).
But then those feelings started to dissapear…
Because as I continued to take and adjust to the medication prescribed to me – I felt something I hadn’t in a long time – better.
I felt a sense of calmness – I no longer was over-reacting about small and insignificant things that I couldn’t change. My emotions were even and stable.
I felt hopeful – I started planning my future, laying out my goals, and actually achieving them.
And most of all – I stopped looking back – I stopped analyzing and obsessing over all of my mistakes and imperfections, and about my past… because I came to terms with the truth – that looking back is not at all productive… that it’s a waste of energy.
- I started living in the right now – being mindful of the fact that in that very moment, I felt okay, and even better than okay – I felt happy.
- I started being conscious of my physical health – being thankful that I had a functioning young body that could take me places.
- I started being more thankful and appreciative of my friends and all that they were doing to help me.
- I also started realizing how much life, and hope, and motivation, I gained from being surrounded by my incredible family.
I no longer was retreating into my quiet room at every opportunity, I was no longer letting myself be alone with dark thoughts, I had started being proactive – I had started actually living my life and loving my life.
Now, in honour of being honest, I will not lie.
There have been times where I get cocky with my wellness – where I feel I have a complete handle on my life and try to test the waters by going off my medication, by low-key “taking a break”.
However, I can tell you straight up that although I do feel better than ever in general, and although I have become stronger than I ever thought I could be, after just a few days off of my medication, I can feel a gradual slip of my control… I get teary, and sensitive, and worry – a lot… and it’s not worth it.
So, as I conclude, let me hammer this important point home – not every person with a mental illness needs medication to cope and survive. Always consult your doctor before making any of these decisions.
However – I, with the support of my doctor, family, and friends – have come to the very serious and straight forward conclusion that I’d rather take a pill every single day for the rest of my life, than be continue to suffer, to not want to be here.
And I don’t think you can argue with that.