Don't Tell Me Not To Take My OCD Medication

Many still struggle to see medication for mental health as innately important in the same way we do for physical health – I once felt the same, but not anymore
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Last night, dozing off in bed, I pulled open my bedside drawer and fumbled with a packet of pills. The rustling of the foil roused my sleepy fiancé who – always alert to the possibility of a surprise biscuit – demanded to know what I was doing. “Taking my brain pills,” I answered. “No, don’t. Pills are bad. Don’t take them,” he replied. Jumping up to get a glass of water I just smiled and said “You don’t mean that do you?” And he didn’t.

I know he didn’t because a few years ago he’d said the same thing. Repeatedly. Seriously. Early on in our relationship I told him I had OCD. I’d never told anyone I’d dated this before, hiding any quirks, fears or needs. But I told him because I trusted him. So I was bothered when he quickly started telling me he didn’t think I should be taking the pills I do. That he thought I could get by without them.

I take 20mg of citalopram and have done for about seven years. It took me a long time to agree to take pills. Throughout my teens I refused, doing countless months of therapy, trying literally everything from CBT to hypnosis. Finally, I submitted and, after a while of finding the right one, the difference was remarkable.

I’m not delighted that I have to take pills. Of course not. For years I struggled with the idea that my brain, the most ‘me’ part of me was altered every single day by drugs. This is not uncommon. I’ve spoken to others who feel this way, others who have continue to refuse to take the pills for that very reason.

My ex-boyfriend didn’t know I had OCD. But he knew I took ‘brain’ pills because he caught me doing them once. Yes, caught. I definitely hid doing it. Like they were actual drugs. He didn’t believe in mental health being fixed this way. He believed in sheer willpower. He had done it he told me, and I could too.

I’m writing this because it was only the other day, when I walked into the bathroom to grab my glass of water and stared in the mirror that I realised how long I’ve had to defend myself while taking medication I didn’t ideally want to be taking. Obviously I knew at the time that it was irritating. But it seemed like it was fair. They could have an opinion. Maybe I did just need to meditate more.

Now, years later, after my fiancé has seen how I struggled when I did try to come off the pills he understands their importance entirely. When the stability they afford me has helped my life open up so beautifully. When I’ve seen what happens when people don’t find the medication they need for their mental health. I genuinely can’t believe how long I allowed people to tell me I was doing the wrong thing for my health. How I allowed their opinions to be more important than what I knew innately was happening to me.

I’m writing this because I know that we still struggle to see medication for mental health as innately important in the same way we do for physical health. I once felt the same. But not any more.