Now that I’m in recovery I really struggle with taking medication. Any type of medication. Tylenol? Nope. Ibuprofen? Forget it! Cough medicine? HA! I think not! However, there is one type of medication that I take adamantly on a daily basis, my mental health meds.
Your medication for mental illness is not something you should skip or come off of on your own. If you really think you should come off those meds please please consult your doctor and taper off slowly and safely. Some of the worst withdrawals I’ve ever had were from anti-depressants. Now, I used to hate taking my meds because I thought it made me a “psych patient”, however, I quickly learned that it actually makes me a normal person. With depression there is an imbalance of chemicals in the brain. Serotonin and Dopamine are not produced normally so we require medication to make up for it. Those two molecules are basically what gives you happiness and motivation. That’s why, when a depression episode hits, I have a really hard time doing what I should be doing. I simply want to lie in bed and disappear. I have zero motivation to get up and move. I don’t clean, I don’t shower, I don’t eat, I can’t do anything, and there is literally a physiological reason for that. My brain doesn’t produce the right things to give me the motivation and happiness I need, which in turn leads to extreme fatigue because even though I don’t have the motivation I still have to socialize, go to work, perform my normal daily activities, and literally force myself to do basic stuff. It’s exhausting! Depression is very much a physical disease! When someone has cancer or diabetes people don’t expect them to overdo it. They encourage them to take it easy and slow. They would be shocked if this patient attempted to run a full marathon in between their cancer treatments. However, with people who have mental illness we are expected to do the same things that all other people do. There are some days where it just isn’t possible. Sometimes I will give myself an hourly limit per day as to what I’m capable of. For example, if I’m having a rough day it may be only a four hour day. That means, I may only be productive and present for four hours. There are other days where I feel like I have a full eight or even ten hours of “life” in me. However, some days I barely make it an hour. We have to learn to allow ourselves some time to recoup after a long day, and we really need to forgive ourselves when we beat ourselves up for not keeping up with others. They don’t have your illness, so for them an eight hour day is totally feasible. This disease is why I take medication daily, and that is OKAY!
There is such a terrible stigma attached to not only mental health, but also to taking medicine for mental health. People won’t talk about it, and I know many people who suffer alone without any medication because they’re afraid what others might think, or they’re afraid of the side effects. I get it, I do, but I also know that without my meds I would be a completely different person. We have to help cut down on this stigma, and I’ve found a great way of doing that is by speaking out and encouraging others to look into things like therapy, medication, etc. A lot of people seem to think that if they don’t talk about their mental illness it means they don’t really have it. Nope, not how it works. It’s still there. I know medicine doesn’t fix everything, and some people who have depression seem to function fine without it, but if you feel you need medication please seek the advice of a doctor. Don’t let what other people think be the deciding factor in whether or not you take a pill each day. If you had high blood pressure or heart disease you would take daily meds. This is no different.
As a recovering addict my mental health meds are the only pills I take now, and I’m perfectly okay with that. My mental health meds are literally a part of my recovery, just like my therapy appointments, yoga, Narcotics Anonymous meetings, journaling, meditation, reading, etc. Being dual diagnosis (an addict who also has a mental illness) I know that if I don’t keep my mental health in check then a relapse will not be far behind. My addiction and mental health literally go hand-in-hand. If one gets bad the other gets worse. So please, know that it is perfectly okay to take medicine for a mental illness. You can do this. We’ll do it together! I have faith in you. Stay strong!