I Did Something Brave Today

So I did something really brave today–something people like myself just don’t do. I usually spend my day hiding inside my house, afraid to go outside, trapped in my own thoughts and taking each moment as it comes to survie the day. But today, I changed that, and in what I feel is a pretty huge way.
I went to my doctor and let her know I was ready to do what she’d been encouraging me to do for months: I was ready to start taking medication.
Now if you’re anything like me, the very idea of this is immediately repulsive. I felt like a failure. Like I’d given up. I felt that I was no longer a functioning person in society, and that by taking medication, I was setting the stage for a cycle of dysfunction by admitting I had a serious problem. I don’t like to get help. Period. To add insult to injury, this admittance automatically elicits a judgemental glance, a scoff, a roll of they eyes from family, acquaintances, and sometimes even friends–a lot of things, and usually pretty negative. If you’re really lucky, you may even get a couple of these gems: “What? You want to be a zombie?” “You know that stuff’s addicting, right?” “Yeah but you’re not REALLY sick.” “That stuff messes with your head.” So why do we get these reactions from people ? Why don’t people who have broken their leg or who have diabetes or cancer get responses like this? It’s all medicine, right? I guess because there’s still such an incredibly sad stigma about taking prescription medicines for mental illnesses. I think people have a really difficult time understanding what they’ve never experienced; and for a lot of people, crippling mental illness is not an everyday norm for them, like it is for me. Like it is for us.
It took a lot to get me to this place of vulnerability, I’ll admit. A hell of a lot. I pride myself on being able to function without a single soul knowing my suffering. I thrive on functioning and appearing normal; its kind of like a safety net. Why? I don’t really know. Maybe because sometimes, it’s all I feel I have to really respect about myself. Maybe it’s because I know that even if I can’t feel normal, I can at least relish the appearance of it, however fake. But today, I allowed myself to be human. I admitted to my stubborn self that the ways I’ve been coping with the neverending PTSD, depression, and anxiety just wasn’t cutting it anymore. I don’t think I can overestimate how big of a deal this was for me. I’m Ashton. I don’t need any help from anyone, or anything, and certainly not medication. When sometimes the only thing you like about yourself is this misplaced and illogical need to feel proud of never needing help, your ego really takes a blow. And it did.
So why then did I finally chose to do it, you may ask? Very simply, my family. I was doing a good job (we perfectionists always do) keeping up appearances, doing all the right things. The house was kept clean, the baby was happy and learning, the hubby got his roast beef sandwiches made at 3:00 every day, you know the drill; but way too often I’d find myself exploding like a firecracker at even the most minor stimuli, or breaking down into tears and falling into an unfathomable sinkhole of depression for no reason that I could even really identify. The vivid hallucinations, nightmares, and memories of everything horrible/embarrassing I’d ever done in my life, just kept playing over and over in my head like a broken record. I started to see my hubby noticing these changes, and mentioning them. He started saying I was on edge. I started hearing the edge in my own voice; we started having a lot more fights. And I couldn’t bear the thought of my instability being noticeable to the sensitive intuition of my one year old baby girl, or of ever causing her to feel stressed or worried. Kids are pretty smart, and she always had a way of picking up on a negative emotion.
And that right there is what changed it for me. So I decided to put aside my ego and fear of others’ judgements, and get that prescription.
Not being ashamed of taking medication when you feel it’s best for you is something I’ve always advocated from my comfortable position of not taking any; but it’s true. I hope that this small article encourages you to always put yourself first, and remember that you know yourself and your mental health needs better than anyone. Don’t be shamed or embarassed into not getting the help you need. Taking medication is not weakness or failure; it’s a method that you cand choose to take control of the areas in your life that you feel it may help.
If you don’t take medication for your mental health issues, I applaud you! If you do take medication for your mental health issues, I applaud you! We’re all facing the same battles here. We’re all at war in our minds. As long as what you’re doing is helping you live a more fulfilled life, whether with or without medication, you’re doing awesome.
Take care of yourselves and never be ashamed of doing what is best for you. You’re worth it.
~Ashton

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