Although it is no different than taking insulin for diabetes, or medication for high blood pressure; taking medication for mental health is joined by a stigma.
The medication was something that I was against. Not because there was a stigma involved, but because I was stubborn and wanted to do things on my own. If you’ve ever tried taking medication for mental health, then you know that it’s not as easy as being prescribed medication and you go on your way. It is a long journey to travel.
In 2007, I started my journey with medication. I was prescribed a generic medication for depression which didn’t last long because the side effects weren’t worth it. Over the course of the next few years, I tried different medications. All with the same results, side effects were worse than the benefits.
About two years ago, I started seeing a psychiatrist because the medication my primary doctor put me on was making me dizzy and sick. I needed a change. After we spoke, he adjusted my dose, and eventually ended up taking me off of the medication. I was only taking Xanax from that point on.
After a couple of months of looking for solutions and no luck, I went back during my next appointment and asked to try one more time with medication. My list of medications I had tried was longer than the ones that I hadn’t. We were in agreement that if this medication didn’t work out, we weren’t going to continue because of my risk for side effects.
He started me on the lowest dose of Zoloft possible, and gradually increase the dosage. I was having no side effects but still experiencing sometimes debilitating highs and lows. He decided to put me on a mood stabilizer as well. We have been adjusting doses for almost a year now, and I’m really starting to see the effects.
I seem to have more energy. Simple tasks aren’t as hard as they once were. Picking up that piece of trash and taking it to the trash can isn’t overwhelming (you know what i’m talking about). I’ve been able to remember things that I couldn’t in the past, although I still have issues remembering a lot. My highs and lows aren’t as extreme as they once were and are easier to manage.
As things continue to improve, I feel like I made one of the best decisions to give medication another shot. Don’t listen to what others say, there is no shame in taking medication to help you deal with your struggles. Always remember, it’s a marathon and not a sprint.
A note for those who don’t have to take medication for mental illness: stop pill shaming. Taking medication for mental illness doesn’t mean someone is weak. It doesn’t mean they’re crazy. It just means that like the rest of society, we need a little help sometimes.