I was talking to a friend today and we were talking about medication. Thankfully, the stigma around medication has lifted somewhat, but I feel like it is still seen as a weakness to some people to need it. I am here to tell you it is not a weakness. And no one should ever feel like they are weak or listen to someone who is telling them they are.
Let me tell you a story.
I grew up in an unstable environment. This is no disrespect to my family it just was what it was. My dad is an alcoholic, my mother worked nights and slept days, we often had biker parties and all manner of people coming in and out. School was tough for me. I think I was less mature than my peers, and we didn’t have the resources that we have now to help me with that. I had a learning problem that was so slight that it was not recognized, and therefore struggled to keep up and often fell very far behind. I graduated through grit and determination to put that building in my review mirror for the last time and started working. Entry level jobs became a way of life for me and continued that way for many many years. Even now I am technically, what I would consider an entry level position. Which is fine, don’t get me wrong, I love what I do, but ambition is not something people think of when they think of me.
I never found my lack of ambition a problem or linked it to any kind of health issue. Honestly, never really thought about it all. I didn’t think about my eating disorder as a problem, despite the Lifetime movies I had watched, to me it was just trying to control something…in this case my weight. I probably could have done with some counseling to deal with my past, to help with peer relations and just dealing with…life. My early relationships found me extremely needy on the person I was with, which lead to resentment on their part, which lead to heartbreak and depression, self-image issues on my part…good times. I developed a dark, sarcastic sense of humor and used self-deprecating humor as a way to laugh at myself before others would start (because clearly they were).
Somehow through this hot mess of who I was I landed me a husband. Things went fine and dandy, we got married, had a baby, moved to a new state, got new jobs…and then somewhere along the line , I lost my mind. To put it mildly. Yelling, crying, depression, apathy, and over thinking everything from how I was cutting Cody’s nails to huge unexpected bills. I was a mess.
One afternoon we got a light bill that was more than we were expecting. I sat down on the kitchen floor and lost it. My son was crying, husband was exasperated, and it was that moment that I knew, finally, that I needed medical help. I needed to be put on something. I called my doctor the next day and started taking Prozac. Oh. My. Gosh. It wasn’t a miracle, it wasn’t a cure, but finally after years of worrying, of being anxious, of making a mountain out of a molehill, I was able to focus on a problem and deal with it. For people who are able to do that it is hard to imagine not being able to. For those who can’t it is hard to imagine being able to. I can tell you it is life changing to have that kind of clarity. All of sudden things don’t seem as bad as they use to. Bills come, that is part of being an adult. Cars break down again part of being an adult. Yes things still get overwhelming, but now there is a way to sit back and look at the problem without spiraling into a dark hole of anxiety and depression.
You don’t realize how dismal and dark your head has gotten until the medication kicks in. It is like endless dark dreary days and all of a sudden the sun breaks through the clouds. It is like your feet barely touching the bottom of the ocean with your head tipped to the sky while waves crash over and over and finally having the water recede. Looking back on the days when I was in the middle of the quicksand of anxiety I am saddened by what I missed because I was trapped in my own head.
It is also strange that you kind of forget it, block it out of your mind I guess. I recently got diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and the doctor switched me from Prozac to Cymbalta. The Cymbalta is suppose to help with pain as well as depression and anxiety – during the transition though I noticed (as did my poor family) how I still need to be on this medication. I was right back if not worse to down right hating myself, wanting to sleep forever, anxious, crying, etc. It was awful.
There is no shame in having depression, anxiety or any other kind of mental health problem. No shame at all. There is also no shame in seeking help either. Medication, therapy, yoga, meditation, what ever you can do to make yourself well will not only help you, but the people who so desperately love you and want to see you well.
I am here today because of medication and the support through my family and friends. Don’t wait until it is too late, get the help you need and never let anyone make you feel ashamed for needing it.
I leave you with this is great video someone made about what it would be like if people viewed physical illness like mental illness.
Also some links for help if you need them. Remember – you are not alone.
Suicide Helpline: 1-800-273-8255