If you’ve been following this blog for a little while at least, you’ll know that I suffer from depression and anxiety. It sucks, and it’s definitely got a genetic predisposition, so unfortunately I don’t think the depression will ever really go away, but I’m doing my best with a psychiatrist and therapist to keep things under control and managed well.
Recently, (aka this entire year) my life has decided to not go that well (you can read all about that here) and my depression got so bad, I was in a bad place I hadn’t seen in over a decade. Despite all of my effort, I needed more help.
Adding more medication to my already full weekly pill case is something that I’m always reluctant to do. I have a decent amount of minor yet incurable issues that require me to take medication daily, most likely for the rest of my life. So why would I be so apprehensive to add something more when I need it?
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There’s the stigma that goes along with having a mental illness. I guess you can say that I’m lucky that I only have depression and anxiety, two issues that have become more mainstream and the awareness of them is more common. The stigma of these illnesses is slowly waning in comparison to other mental health illnesses like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder.
Even though the stigma is waning, my own personal stigma is still there. The idea of needing even more medication than I’m already on is something I’m terrible at admitting. My ultimate goal is to slowly move away from as many anti-depressant/psychiatric medications as possible while still living a healthy, normal life.
At one point I was on the highest dosage of a medication of Wellbutrin. When I was in college I got to talking to a new friend about mental illness and we started comparing medications. When I told him that I was on that high of a dosage of Wellbutrin, he responded with “wow, you really are fucked up”
Granted, it was our own version of dark humor at the time, it really got me thinking in the long run of just how bad my mental health was at that point.
As time went on, more medication was added to properly deal with my mental illness, so you can kind of see why I would be reluctant to add more to it.
Related: 8 Things to Do When Depression Hits
Having to Be on Medication For Life
I’m already on medication for hypothyroidism and IBS that I will most likely be on for the rest of my life. Unless my digestive system/colon and thyroid decide to get their shit together and start working at a normal pace, I don’t see them improving on their own. But you never really know.
So I’m already on two medications that I have to take daily. I also have asthma, but that’s been under control for the most part unless I get sick or try to exercise. Then I usually need my inhaler or my chest cold automatically turns into bronchitis. The rest of my medications (besides vitamins) are for my mental health. So the thought of having to another medication that I might just need for the rest of my life is… it’s disappointing. It makes me feel like I’m regressing rather than progressing.
Needing Help Isn’t a Disappointment
After weeks of a depression spiral, bringing me down into a place I hadn’t experienced since I was at my lowest when I was a tween, I knew something needed to be done.
First I went and got my thyroid levels checked out. As I mentioned in my When Depression Isn’t Really Depression post, hypothyroidism symptoms can mimic symptoms caused by depression, so it’s important for me to get those levels checked out before altering my psychiatric medication.
After the most normal thyroid level results I’ve ever had came back, I knew it was time to bite the bullet and get help from my psychiatrist.
But why was I “biting the bullet” about getting myself help? I knew I needed help, I couldn’t continue to live in a world where just taking a shower was such a burden I could go almost 5 days without taking one because it was just too much effort. I didn’t want to continue living a life where all I did was go to work, come home, curl up in bed, and watch YouTube videos and cry about how my life is failing me (insert one of the 5 Existential Crises You’ll Go Through Before You’re 30).
There’s Nothing to Be Ashamed Of
I need to teach myself to think of my mental health like my physical health, and you should too.
Think of it this way: I have hypothyroidism. If the next time I got to check my levels they’ve gone up enough that my current dosage of medication is showing to not be as effective, would I be feeling the same disappointment in having to add to my medication as I am with my mental health issues? If my asthma starts acting up, would I be just as upset that I have to add something to help maintain that to my daily medication routine?
The answer is probably not.
We think about mental health incredibly differently than physical health when we really shouldn’t be. If you need a medication to help you function on a daily basis, there’s no difference if that means your thyroid levels are wonky or if your mental health is having some trouble.
A lot of people seem to think that they can fix their depression or anxiety on their own. In some cases, that may be true, but there’s no harm in getting help when you need it. If anyone tries to tell you otherwise, they are not good for your health.
- The stigma around mental health shouldn’t be a barrier for you to get yourself the help you need.
- Needing medication isn’t something to be disappointed about. Mental health is just as important as physical health
- There is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of if you have a mental illness. You wouldn’t be ashamed of kidney disease, so why would you be ashamed of depression?
Have you ever encountered the stigma with mental health? Have you experienced the disappointment of adding or changing medications? Let me know in the comments!