Today’s ‘Fight With Us | #DCfC’ guest, Kimberly, gives us a positive perspective on mental health and how we need not be ashamed of taking medication for a medical ailment. Please welcome Kimberly.
The smooth white pill rolled around in my palm. It weighed no more than a raisin yet its intangible significance weighed mightily in my hand. It was only 60 mg and looking at it made me weak. It’s as if it were a white flag – a declaration of sorts that “I am surrendering to you monster illness!”
No, I could still fight this, I thought to myself as I stood in front of my sink. I was stronger. Pills were for the broken and the defeated. I wasn’t like them.
And every single night for two weeks, I would take that pill and watch it roll off my hand and down into the drain. I’d drink my water and my pride.
I sat on the plaid couch across from my psychiatrist. Dr.B sunk back into his chair and kicked his legs up and onto his desk as I scrambled to collect my racing thoughts to string them into a coherent sentence.
I explained to him the overwhelming anxiety and sadness that had stolen my smile, my laughter, my strength, and my motivation. It came in crushing waves that pulled me down deeper into an oppressive tide. I felt as if I was watching my world from beneath those waters. So far removed and no matter how hard I swam, I could not break the surface.
“It’s inescapable,” I said, “Some days I don’t know if I want to try.”
He cleared his throat and leaned in, “Did you take the medication?”
“Just try the medication,” he said as his eyes darted to my legs that were shaking uncontrollably,
“If you don’t like it, we can work on other things. There are always other things to try. I promise we will find something together that works.”
That night, in 2008 I took that pill.
I never looked back.
I would love to be like those people out there who can rely on things like time-outs with hot teas and can instantly find their “ZEN” when shit hits the fan but sadly I will never be like them. It currently takes four different medications and lots of self-care (adequate sleep, routines, proper nutrition, mindfulness, yoga/walks, etc.) to help control my bipolar disorder, anxiety disorder, and PTSD.
And can I tell you, I’ve tried lots of things….
It has taken me such a long time to get to this point where I can accept that it’s ok for me to take an anti-anxiety pill when I can’t “1, 2, 3 breathe away” the panic attacks or accept a dose increase of an antidepressant when I can’t ride it out – it doesn’t mean that I’m weak. Heck no!
I need medications to control what is chemically wrong with me or it will control me.
And that is ok.
I choose to live and have a good life and if I have to take pills, then I will.
I’m not ashamed of that.
There is no shame in taking medications for your mind.
People take medications for headaches and heartburn and period cramps – those people aren’t weak!
Do you think they’re ashamed of taking medications? Heck no!
You did not choose this.
You’re not weak. You are not damaged. You are not anything but an individual who needs medicine to help treat a medical condition.
You’re doing the best you can and so am I.
One day at a time.
And that’s good enough.
PS. I realize that medications are not for everyone. I think the BIGGEST thing with medications is open communication with your doctor. If you don’t like it, tell your doctor. Tell them that you absolutely hate the damn thing. I’ve told mine that I’ve hated meds before and he’s listened to my reasoning and we’ve switched because of it. Psych meds come with side effects so definitely keep your doctor in the know! They’ll listen.
PPS. If you’re one of those people who can do without, bless your boots. I can’t hate on you.
PPPS. If you are taking or are about to take medications know that you still have to put in the work. Medications are just part of the puzzle. You still have to work on yourself – self-care is a HUGE part of our well-being. Keep fighting.
Kimberly Morand is a mom, wife, nurse, mental health advocate, and a full-time chocolate hater. When she’s not busy pretending to look busy, she writes her personal blog All Work And No Play Makes Mommy Go Something Something. Her work can also be found in the books Surviving Mental Illness Through Humor, Clash Of The Couples and The Good Mother Myth: Redefining Motherhood to Fit Reality. Kimberly was the first Canadian member to join the talented cast of the 2014 Listen To Your Mother Show: Metro Detroit. She fears spiders, public restrooms, and your mom’s cooking.
Each piece in this series will be linked on my page Depression: Catalyst for Change and the hashtag #DCfC will be used when sharing on any/all social media. We will also use the hashtags #MHA #breakthesilence and #hope. Please help us advocate for better understanding of mental illness and those affected. Share the pieces in this series on every platform you have at your disposal. Splash them across the internet. Spread the word. Join your voice with ours as we combat the stigmas surrounding these issues – together, we can make change happen.