This is a weirdly personal post and I feel a little strange sharing it with you. Not because I feel insecure about it but mostly because I’m wondering why anyone should care about my secretive problems? I guess that’s part of the problem. I want to share it with you because as I’ve consulted with various friends throughout the day I’ve noticed that almost all of them have been in this situation, know someone who has, or have considered it.
I’m talking about medicating for illness, specifically mental illness. Because it’s such a new concept that mental illness be treated as an illness, the concept of treating it with medication feels a little foreign. I always told myself should I be diagnosed with something serious like bipolar disorder, that I would medicate. Personally, I suffer from a genetic line of anxiety. I always have, for as long as I can remember, had anxiety. It’s what I see as the drawback of being me. I always see things as being complex with good things and bad things and good things that can be bad and bad things that can be good. Anxiety has always been just a sad side effect of me living my life. I’ve seen counsellors in the past but only when it was really quite imperative that I do so. (i.e. I had a bit of a breakdown). After some councilling I felt SO much better. Just working on it made me feel empowered and in control, even if it didn’t make the anxiety go away. I started pushing through things and it felt so amazing to have gone on a trip anxiety free. Unfortunately it seems to have worn off.
In the past 6 months or so my anxiety has been getting progressively worse. My panic attack triggers seem to being going off at the drop of a hat (not literally) but I’ve been either having just normal nervousness or full blown shaking, sweating, throwing up, panic attacks for hours. I want to see a councillor but my options are limited, I’m going to see what I can do about it but in the meantime, after a particularly jarring episode last week, I decided to go see my doctor. I knew all she could do for me was prescribe my a medication that might help with my anxiety and I honestly thought I was okay with it, but here I am prescription in hand, tears in eyes, wondering if I’m making the right decision.
In all actuality, the medication isn’t that bad. It makes you nauseous for about a week (bad for me- nausea gives me panic attacks) and then numbs the side effects of panic attacks so that you can better deal with them rather than be overwhelmed. But! It needs to be taken every day. And if I want to go off of it, I need to be weaned off. These are normal attributes of any kind of medication so why does it make me feel so uncomfortable?
I think part of it is the stigma. I have always rolled my eyes when people talk about the ‘stigma’ of mental illness because among young people there’s really nothing holding you back. I’m very open about my issues and yet I’ve never met anyone who judged my or scoffed at the concept of being mentally ill. It’s so common that it’s a non-issue. I grew up with parents who were relatively understanding about it and have dealt with it in the best ways they know how. I’ve never really seen or felt the stigma around mental illness until now, and it’s in the last place I thought I’d find it. It’s in me. Me, someone who grew up having panic attacks and depressive episodes, doesn’t want to medicate because for some reason it just feels wrong. Even though I’ve been diagnosed and pre robed by a doctor, I don’t feel like I’ve earned the right to take medication, it seems like the easy way out. Since when did ‘the easy way out’ become a drawback in treating an illness? If there’s an easy way out to my anxiety and a good way to treat it, why am I so reluctant? That’s not to say there aren’t drawbacks to it… I, personally, would much rather treat my mental illness through therapy, I think if I was seeing a counsellor I wouldn’t feel the need to be on medication, but unfortunately they’re just really hard to access. The society we live in, I tell ya. I don’t think I should medicate with drugs without doing therapy, so now I’m at a crossroads. Do I medicate while I’m waiting for the opportunity to see a counsellor, or do I wait until I’ve got a counsellor and then decide from there? The latter seems like the way more reasonable option but I feel like I’ve almost blinded myself on the topic.
People always say “you know what’s best for you”, and generally yes, I do. But in this circumstance, I’m wondering if I’m blinded by my anxiety, thinking in a moment of panic that it’s worse than it is. I’m wondering if I’m blinded by my prejudice against daily medications for things that might not be as bad as I think they are. Honestly, I’m wondering if I’m blinding myself from the reality of my situation. I don’t know how bad my anxiety is, I’m a terrible judge of my own emotional and mental standing. So now what? Honestly, I don’t know.
I hope this wasn’t just one long post about me complaining about my non-problems. I hope maybe some of you can relate to what I’ve said! I always feel like other people have such a better perception of themselves than I have of myself. They always seem to know what’s right for them, and I don’t know what’s right for me even on this extremely personal decision. Strange. Let me know if you want to hear more about this/my anxiety history/what I end up doing/etc. I know a lot of people find comfort in hearing others’ stories about anxiety, it’s comforting to know you’re not the only one!
With that, I hope you’re doing well, and if you have any advice, feel free to share. 🙂