There’s a huge stigma towards Mental Health issues and being medicated for such.
Antidepressants, anti-anxiety and sleeping tablets are never something someone openly admits to taking, and there’s a sense of shame covering up the whole idea that the medication is there to help.
There’s people who will refuse medications and sit through endless therapy sessions hoping to get better, and there’s people who can’t see any other way. Either way, whatever you choose, there is nothing saying it’s the wrong choice.
I remember being sent home with my first set of tablets. I was at Uni and to be honest, I was so relieved. I wanted to stop feeling so horrible when I should’ve been excited about new beginnings; to cry less and be less angry. To get some sleep without trying to pull my hair out and hit things. Wake up refreshed, eat, get stuff done. I wanted voices in my head to disappear. To feel confident and not petrified of everything outside my bedroom walls; I wanted to make things work and get my degree.
Being put on medication, for me, was a God send. Whilst only a small dosage, I thought I’d finally made a breakthrough.
In and out of doctors since I was 16 trying to find out what was wrong with me, I possibly hold the record for worst things doctors have said:
‘Just breath into a paper bag and you’ll be fine’
‘You think you’ve got problems? Sometimes I don’t wanna get out of bed’
‘If you think your problems are here *shows level with hand* mine are here *shows higher level*’
‘You don’t look depressed’
To finally have the breakthrough into the help I needed was a great feeling. I felt better in myself, purely because someone finally listened.
About 6 months later, my dosage had been upped 3 times.
Each time, I became more and more ashamed of my situation; it disgusted me that it was possible for me to be getting worse, rather than better. The doctor told me ‘well you don’t look okay’ as if this was some sort of physical illness.
Coming off tablets is an amazing feeling: It’s a sense of freedom and a decrease in dependency. There’s just a surge of pride and reminiscing on your dark days seems more like a story than the reality of the past.
So when you’re placed on medication again, the world comes crashing down once more. Except the sadness this time is feuled with shame and disappointment in yourself and your apparently non-existent strength to power through.
And that’s where I think a huge amount of the stigma comes from. It’s self-imposed by every single one of us. Society doesn’t see Depression and medication and think ‘get your shit together, human.’ We do. We slyly take tablets so nobody sees or asks, we keep it a secret from as many people as possible and tell everyone we’re totally fine.
Life’s shitty sometimes and we all need help. Taking medication isn’t the end. It isn’t a sign of weakness; it’s a sign of courage. You’ve been brave enough to admit and acknowledge that something isn’t right and you need help: Something that most people are incapable of admitting to themselves.
And if you’re on them for two weeks, a month, six, or a year. It’s okay. Because to wake up and feel like yourself is the least you deserve. It’s possibly the one right everyone in the world holds entirely. And if medication helps you be you, there should be no shame or self doubt.
You’ve got this.