Menu
SNW-Website-Changing-the-Medication-Conversation-2000x1005

Changing the medication conversation

Guest Author: Courtney

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.

Comments

Leanne
Report

Bravo, Courtney!

Lee
Report

Thank you Courtney for being brave enough to voice what so many of us experience constantly throughout our entire lives. It would be wonderful if the day would come when we were not put down for taking medication or expected to find a way to deal with extreme depression & anxiety with just vitamins & exercise. Nobody expects someone with diabetes or severe arthritis to deal with it without meds. Depression can be severe & desperate & without medication can lead to suicide, it is often life saving & can greatly elevate & improve a person’s quality of life so that they can leave their home, go to work, & function as a comfortable sociable human being as well as contribute to society. People who go off of medication can also spiral down to such a bad place that they lose their jobs, can’t pay rent, end up on the street or worse.
People without depression do not “get” this whatsoever…very important story, thank you so much for sharing!

Charlotte F
Report

My opinions only, not everyone or every treatment is created equally. Seek help by a doctor if need be.

I had bad nausea at first, that would make it hard to sleep. When I did sleep I was in a good place. That was 2014/2015. I still have my bad nights with meds making me feel dizzy (side effect of one of my meds). I felt hopeless at the start but I knew it would be a journey to find right dose etc. It still is a rough journey but I’ve had many moments that were made better because of meds. I also run 5/10k’s and am training for a half marathon in October 2017. That’s helps me be more & more positive with each step in the journey.

Even going through a house mate who was self medicating with street drugs & not proper medication almost harming himself & others (verbally assaulting me). I saw the other side. It’s scary to be the one on meds (until you find right dose etc) and scary to watch someone who’s not on meds who needs help going through their “stuff”.

Lisa
Report

Loved this! Very similar to my experience with people offering unsolicited advice. It was most often from people that I wasn’t even particularly close with. I don’t believe these people mean harm but I do believe it shows how misunderstood mental illness can be. Yoga, breathing exercises, diet etc can help but they are only part of the equation.
We don’t tell people with diabetes or heart disease to do yoga instead of using medication to regulate their condition.
I for one am glad that I have found a medication that works for me and that I have a wonderfully supportive network or family and friends. It helps that my family doctor is an advocate for whole body health as well.
I am open about my struggles as you just never know who is listening. Some people are afraid to open up or admit that they or someone they know needs help. I believe that talking about mental health out in the open will help end the stigma.
Thanks so much for sharing!

Blue
Report

Courtney–you have spoken to my heart and I say thank you for having the courage and willingness to tell your story. Your writing speaks to me in so many ways and I wish I had the courage and wisdom that you have. Thank you for being an advocate for disclosure of mental illness. You help so many people.

Robyn
Report

Courtney, thanks for sharing and saying what so many of us are scared to say! The meds the Dr. put me on after My son was born 13 years ago are an essential part of my life. I suffer from anxiety and without them I am not able to get through a day! Thanks for inspiring me❤️

Add Comment