*** I am not a doctor and all opinions are my own.***
For many years, I was ashamed of being on medication for anxiety and depression. My parents told me not to tell my friends when I was in middle school and high school. That stuck with me and I continued to be embarrassed as I got older. Still to this day, I feel that I shouldn’t tell people at work because they might think I’m not capable of my job.
Why are we ashamed?
Within society, there is such a negative stigma that unfortunately is linked with medication for mental illness. Would we judge someone with diabetes who needs insulin? No. Would we judge someone with high blood pressure for taking blood pressure medication? No. So why does society judge those on anti-depressants or anti-anxiety medications?
I have 3 solid reasons why we should not be ashamed of medications that treat mental illnesses.
- It gives us our sanity! It took 25 years for me to find the right medication. Before I found the right medication, I went from changing medications every 3 or 6 months. It was exhausting! Once I found the medicine that worked for me, I started actually living instead of just going through the motions of life. Am I really going to let someone’s opinion outweigh my sanity? That would be ridiculous.
- It helps our relationships! Before I found the right medication for me, I was extremely frustrated. I took that frustration out on my family and friends. Obviously I have my episodes and bad days, but overall I am a different person. If I’m being completely honest, I know that I was a difficult person! I have noticed that I am able to handle stressful situations much better and I don’t take stress out on my loved ones. My poor husband was the usual scapegoat. So once again, am I going to let society’s opinion overpower something that has helped the relationships in my life.
- It makes us stronger people! I have always said that the first step to fixing my anxiety and depression is admitting I have a problem. If I wasn’t a strong person, I would ignore my mental illnesses. I would blame everything and everyone in my life. I would not take responsibility. The fact that I am on medication proves that I do want help. I do want to get better. And that’s exactly what I am doing. I think it takes guts to admit that you have a problem and to ask for help. More than that, it shows that you are human. We all need help from time to time. That’s nothing to be ashamed about.
If you are considering taking medication, but you have a stupid voice in the back of your head telling you that going on medication will really make you “crazy”, don’t listen to it! Rise above that voice. Find a psychiatrist that you like. You have to have a good relationship with your doctor. You should also see a therapist while you are on medication, even if it’s just at the beginning. I’m at a place in my life where I do not need to see a therapist regularly because I’m comfortable on my medication. I see my psychiatrist once every 3 months for my refills and to check in. If I ever have an issue, like I’m feeling overly anxious or depressed, I make an appointment and they fit me in within 48 hours. I highly recommend seeing a therapist for at least the first 6 months to a year while starting a new medication. You need to be talking everything out while you are experimenting with which medication works best for you. Once you’re comfortable on a medication(s), you can decide if you want to continue seeing a therapist. Your psychiatrist may require you to see a therapist as long as you’re under his/her care. It really depends on the individual.