Jul 26, 2017
This content contains explicit and sensitive information that may not be suitable for all ages.
Over a year ago I was a person existing in a constant state of fear; I was literally a person who was living in a state of emotional, physical, and mental paralysis.
I was too scared to sleep at night, suicidal, any form of perceived criticism would send me into a full blown melt down and I was having full-blown panic attacks weekly; I was not a person that I liked at that time.
Anybody who has experienced a mental health crisis is aware of just how hard it becomes to care about yourself; showering seems pointless, doing activities for pleasure falls by the wayside, eating and brushing your teeth begin not to matter. These were all tasks that I needed to do to stay employed and healthy and were supposed to be “natural” to me, but they weren’t – they just felt like a chore. My relationships with family and friends were strained, often because I “didn’t have the energy” to maintain them.
Anxiety and depression are illnesses that are a part of me.
I decided that I would speak to my family doctor about how I was feeling and he referred me to a psychologist. When I met with her she started me on a low dose of anti-anxiety meds and an anti-depressant. I won’t lie and say that I didn’t feel any negative effects from them because I did; I was nauseous for the first few weeks, fatigued and extremely emotional. However I was lucky enough to have these symptoms pass with time, and I understand that this is not the case for everybody. I truly believe that without medication, I would still be that same terrified and sad person I was a year ago.
A combination of medication, counselling and exercise are what helped me get a handle on my anxiety. As I came out of the foggy haze that was my anxiety, I started realizing that I am not broken, or defective for having anxiety and that I am not in need of “rescuing” from myself. Anxiety and depression are illnesses that are a part of me, much like having brown hair or blue eyes.
For me, going on medication was the best choice that I have ever made. Medication has allowed me to maintain my employment, be a good friend, dog momma, a supportive girlfriend and somebody who can finally enjoy their life. Medications were a good option for me, and many others, a lifesaver in a time filled with crisis and began a turning point in the healing process.
However, that hasn’t stopped people from weighing in on how they feel I should be dealing with my anxiety. I have had people share Facebook posts with me outlining why my doctor has overmedicated me (she hasn’t), or that by using medication I am “taking the easy way out” (since starting medication I have had limited panic attacks and can sleep through the night). I also get those friends who try to push the products that they sell on me, even though I didn’t ask for their input. I have been told to change my diet and check my “gut health.” I have been asked to try yoga (I love yoga, but it’s not a cure for anxiety), I have been told that if I just “didn’t worry so much” I would feel better.
I am not in need of “rescuing” from myself.
Who made these people an expert on my life? Who told them that they could attempt to strip me of my own anatomy over my body and subject me to these stigmatizing statements? I understand that these people come from well-meaning and helpful places but unfortunately only contribute to the stigma that surrounds people with mental illness. That by being medicated we are uniformed, that we are brainwashed by the “pharmaceutical industry,” etc., when in fact those living with mental illness (myself included) are just a group of people who are clinging to the hope that they can experience life “normally” again.
The conversation surrounding anti-depressants and other medications used to treat mental health disorders needs to change. How? I don’t have that answer other than to be vocal and share with your experiences with others. This is why I have become vocal about my struggles with my mental health. I share my story and its ups and downs openly because there are so many people who feel ashamed of it. I share my story because I want people to know that choosing medication as an option isn’t wrong. I share my story because I know what works for me, and I hope that you can find what works for you too.