How to Survive When You Miss Your Medication

Worst. Feeling. Ever. Am I right?

I don’t often miss my medication but, when I do, I sure do feel it. My head feels like electric shocks are pulsing through my synapses and my stomach feels like it’s being shredded. I feel exhausted no matter how much sleep I get. I’m irritable, angry and impossible to be around. And it’s really, really hard to ground myself and remember this will pass.

So, from my experiences, here are some ways to survive when you miss your medication:

  • Cry: Just allow yourself to cry a good body shaking, lip quivering cry. Personally, the only time I can really cry is when something terrible happens OR when I forget my medication. So, if I miss my medication, I just allow myself to cry. Not all day or anything. But, a half hour cry never killed anyone.
  • Get Creative: I try to use my missed medication day as an excuse to channel my negative energy into something creative. Whether it be writing, drawing or even just listening to music. I try to get in tune with my creative energy. It helps to distract me from how bad I feel, and also helps make me feel accomplished.
  • Organize: When I miss my medication, I feel like I don’t have control over my body and emotions. This very quickly can turn into a negative thought pattern of not having control over anything in my life. What do I do? Find something small I can control. I’ll often organize something in the house that I’ve been wanting to organize. Today I organized my art supplies and it, for some reason, made me feel in control of my day.
  • Rest: This ones important. Your body is going through something. Be kind to it, allow it to rest and try not to feel guilty or “lazy.” Put on your favourite movie (My go-to is Elf) and cuddle up on the couch. Remind yourself that mental illness is equal to physical illness. If you had the flu, you’d allow yourself to rest, right?
  • Try not to push people away: This one is hard for me. I find it extremely difficult to be around people when I haven’t taken my medication. I’m really quick to snap and get angry/sad and usually seclude myself during these times. But, it’s important to allow loved ones to hold you, help you and listen to you. Connecting during these times can really help. Remind yourself that you are loved, and try to be kind to your loved ones and to yourself.
  • Distract: Distracting yourself when you feel physically and mentally ill is one of my favourite strategies because, in my opinion, it’s one of the easiest.

    Here are some of my favourite distractions:

  • Hand Lettering Worksheets
  • Online Magazines 
  • Knitting
  • Yoga with Adrienne 
  • Gratitude Journalling

I hope this is helpful and reassuring to anyone going through the medication madness.

Love

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How to Make Hard Decisions

Lately, I’ve been making some hard decisions. Decisions, I quite frankly, wish I didn’t have to make. Decisions that I wish the depression could make for me. I mean it takes up my entire body anyways. Making decisions when you have anxiety and depression is light fighting a fight you aren’t even sure you want to win. But god, I know these decisions are important to make.

Growing up, when making decisions usually resulted in making the wrong one, my dad would tell me:

“Life is about choices.”

I didn’t know how right he was until I grew up. Had to make these choices, with no idea of the outcome. Just a strong hope that I was doing the right thing. But what is the right thing? Is it what

  • society wants
  • brain wants
  • my body wants
  • my heart wants
  • my family wants
  • everyone expects from me
  • is stable/safe

Its taken me years of struggling, and doing things that don’t benefit my mental health, that I realize I finally have a definition of what is right (for me).

“Doing what is right means doing what benefits your body, mind and soul. It has to light you up. If it doesn’t, it isn’t right for you.” – Tara Jean

Some hard decisions I’ve been making lately include the following:

  • Go back to therapy (mine went on mat leave, and finding a new one has proved to be difficult)
  • Up my meds
  • Reduce # of hours I’m working to better manage my mental health
  • Eliminate as many things in my life as possible that do not bring me joy

All of these decisions have consequences. But, that doesn’t mean they aren’t good decisions. It just means they may be hard to make. My heart feels heavy knowing that these decisions all have consequences, and that I may never know if the decision was the “right” one to make. All I know right now, is I have to trust my heart and listen to what it needs. I have to block out judgements, and make room for love and understanding.

Here are my 3 steps to help in making hard decisions

  1. Figure out what is driving the decision. Is it fear, money, health, opinions of others, opinion of yourself…
  2. Determine what the pro’s and con’s are. Make a list to help you see it.
  3. Consider the impacts of the decision and decide if the impacts are manageable.

For anyone going through a hard time, or in the process of making hard life choices, you’ve got this. Trust your soul and follow your passion. And most of all, take care of yourself. 

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5 Poetry Books to Read When You’re Struggling

I’m an avid poetry book reader. I have read some that I love, and some that didn’t resonate with me. Here are my top 5 poetry books I read when I’m struggling with mental illness (in no particular order.)

  1. The Sun and Her Flowers– Rupi Kaur
    Words cannot express my love for this author. She covers such a wide spread of topics from heartbreak to immigration and loss. Reading this book was like traveling the world in her shoes. I could feel her pain. Right when I thought she couldn’t top Milk and Honey, she proved me so wrong. And I’m glad she did.

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  2. Pansy – Andrea Gibson
    Andrea Gibsons ability to perform her spoken word so humbly while still wrenching my chest has always amazed me. I was pleasantly surprised by their book. I truly didn’t think the spoken versions of their poetry could translate onto pages without seeming empty. I was 100% wrong. This book is like a big hug when the world is crumbling around you. These poems are your night time screams into your pillow. They hit you in the face and you’ll surely go back for more.

    “They’re telling you to blend in, like you’ve never seen how a blender works, like you’ve never seen the mess from the blade.”

  3. Become  – Emery Allen
    This was the first poetry book I ever fell in love with. It’s imperfectly perfect and will surely engulf you in one breath. It’s simply about growing up…becoming. Great for a nostalgic kinda feel.
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  4. Depression and Other Magic Tricks – Sabrina Benaim
    This book intrigues me. The writing is spectacularly odd. The depth of the symbolism is what kept me turning the pages. It’s perfect for anyone struggling to be. She creates a friendship with the reader and reminds you you’re never alone.
    “I am sleepwalking on an ocean of happiness I cannot baptise myself in”

  5. Neon Soul – Alexandra Elle
    A hopeful collection of prose and poetry. Elle creates a sense of undeniable hope. These poems are gentle and undeniable inspiring. This book is a healing experience paired with beautiful illustrations. This book should be in everyones self-care tool box.
    “Sometimes you’ll 
    be too magical to contain 
    in a human heart.”

Medication and Mental Illness

Taking medication for mental illness has always been a struggle for me. Not because I think it makes me weak, but because I know most of society thinks so. I’d like to raise the argument that taking medication isn’t for the weak, but for the fighters, the people ready to battle the side effects, judgement and spend years trying to find a medication that doesn’t make them sicker than the mental illness itself.

I have been medicated on and off since the age of 12. I was diagnosed with generalized anxiety and depression with components of OCD and insomnia. The doctor prescribed me a baby dose of Effexor. It made me sick, paranoid and put me in a lull of numbness. But, as a young teen, I thought that’s just what my life was going to be like on medication.

I spent 10 years trying to adjust the dose so I could function properly in school, without hyper-paranoia and constant shaking. Eventually at 17 I tried to get off the drug all together. The side-effects were so unbearable, I decided I’d rather battle the mental illness than the medication.

Getting off Effexor was the hardest thing I’ve tried to do. Physically I was nauseous, weak, shaking so badly I could barely get out of bed, my brain zapped and I couldn’t hold a train of thought. I felt like my brain was crumbling and I worried it would always be this way. I got down to a low dose but couldn’t get off of it completely.

In my last semester of High School I tried to end my life. The battle of getting off such an addictive drug, and fighting depression proved to be too much. I felt alone and like the world was a harsh, judgemental space that I had no place in.

Luckily, I got placed in CHEO’s mental health unit, they immediately helped me wean off Effexor (little did I know what I was doing was super dangerous). I tried a handful of different medications under supervision of the Drs at the hospital. Some made me sick, and some made me sicker. I began to lose hope of ever finding relief. Until they tried me on Zoloft. It didn’t make me as sick as any of the others. And eventually, it started to reduce my anxiety and I felt able to face the world again.

I have been on Zoloft since. I have tried to go off of it countless times due to my internal shame and perception that society won’t accept me if I’m on medication. But, I’ve been working to challenge those thoughts. I’d argue that medication is not for the weak, but for the people who are ready to fight for their lives.

I am open about my medication use and mental illness now. At work, I’ll disclose my anxiety and depression with close co-workers. And for the most part, I have experienced only support. Many of them will share their struggles, or open up about family members who have struggled through mental illness. I find this empowering and motivates me to stay stable so I can continue to connect with others who are fighting their way through.

Once we share our stories, we can empower others to do the same.