I'm on medication. I'm on four tablets a day for my mental illness. I'm not ashamed. I've been on this medication for over a year, and honestly, I don't know where I'd be without it. Medication gets me through each day. Without it, I can barely leave my bed. Because of the nature of my particular mental illness, I get moments where it just jumps on me out of nowhere, it's scary and exhausting. Thankfully, though, medication stabilises it and allows me to carry on as normal as possible.
When I first received medication I was put on a beta blocker called Propranolol to help lower my heart rate when I was having anxiety. This ensured that it wouldn't result in a panic attack. These helped me physically, however, after a few months, I found that I was still having anxious thoughts that were slowly becoming darker and darker. I felt low. I was unhappy. I felt hopeless. So, I went back to my GP with the hope of being referred for some counselling. However, I was instead offered additional medication. This time it was an antidepressant. I was speechless. It hadn't even occurred to me that I was depresssed. I assumed my feelings were a result of anxiety, and hadn't linked the two. Deep in my heart of hearts I knew something was wrong, but I think I didn't want to admit that it was depression, and I certainly didn't want to be on antidepressants, because that meant I was crazy, right?! WRONG!!!!! I was not crazy. I was ill. I was ill and needed medication to get better. It took me a while to get used to this. For a little while I was embarrassed. Embarrassed of what people would think, embarrassed of what doctors would think and worst of all, worried that people might think I'm lying because I'm chatty and friendly. Because I didn't look depressed.
Looking back, months later, I now realise that my original thoughts on antidepressants were stupid and quite frankly, extremely damaging. I feel that I owe my life to this medication. This sounds drastic, but what I mean is, without them, I'd have no decent quality of life.
The reason I am writing this is because I feel compelled to after reading some opinions on medication for mental illness. Many people still believe that medication is not needed for mental illness. They believe that instead, exercise and a good diet will cure mental illness. In fact, there are some people who argue that mental illnesses don't even exist! Now let me tell you, a kale smoothie and an hour in the gym will not stop the debilitating and scary thoughts I have each day. An apple and some 'breathing exercises' won't stop me from crying myself to sleep because my brain is convincing me I have a really scary illness. Sure, good foods and exercise are fabulous. Breathing exercises and mindfulness can be calming. But please stop trying to shame people who rely on medication. These holistic approaches, whilst certainly proven to help, are not realistic for all sufferers. I tried all of these for months and months before I finally sought medical advice, and only after seeking this medical advice and being prescribed pharmaceuticals, did I see any improvement.
If these holistic approaches work for you then I'm so happy, all I want is for sufferers to find strategies and solutions that help, but please remember, there is no shame in having to take medication for your mental illness. If you had to take antibiotics to cure an ear infection, you would. If you had a headache, my guess is you'd pop a painkiller. So is there any difference when it comes to our mental health ? No there's not.