I always look forward to #BellLetsTalk day. A day where everyone makes kind posts and offers their support and love for those who struggle with mental illness. Seeing all of the inspiring pictures and glimpses into the lives of friends and acquaintances I didn’t know struggle(d) makes me feel both comfort and heartbreak in knowing I’m not alone.
Though so many people show support for those struggling with mental illness, I believe the stigma surrounding medication is still so strong. I’ve taken medication for over a decade. And, even I have internalized guilt and judgments around medications. Not because I think they don’t help people or because I think people who take them are weak… simply because I wish I didn’t have to take them. I have no problem opening up and talking about my experience with clinical depression and anxiety disorders. But, I seem to have some sort of barrier when it comes to discussing my true experiences with medications to help manage my mental illness.
My Experience With Medication (Anti-Depressants/SSRI’s)
As of now, I am on 100mg of Zoloft per day. My highest dose was 150mg per day and my lowest was 50 mg per day… At my lowest dose, I spiraled into a depressive episode where I couldn’t leave my house and was afraid to go to work. At my highest dose, I felt like a zombie with no ambition and suicidal thoughts entered my mind again. This is what people don’t think of- that even when on medication, suicidal thoughts may still be present and finding the right dose is excruciating and comes with a handful of side-effects, sometimes almost as bad as the mental illness.
Consider the side effects of any medication. Now consider the effects of a medication that directly affects your brain chemistry. Not to mention how hard it is for some of us to find a medication that actually helps. I tried nearly 10 different combinations of anxiety medications and anti-depressants before finally trying Zoloft. I’ve also been prescribed Ativan for panic attacks and a few different sleeping pills. Through trial and error, I’ve found what seems to help me. Unfortunately, there’s no handbook to finding the right medication.
Although I truly believe medication has saved my life, I still suffer from side effects such as: dizziness, changes in weight (weight loss when I go to higher doses), shakiness and overall dullness. But, without it, the side effects of my mental illness are far worse.
****This being said, please please please give extra support to those who are sharing their choice to use medication to manage their mental illness. It isn’t easy to admit in a society that promotes all natural remedies. Though those can be helpful for some people/illnesses, they aren’t always enough.