”What do you need that for? Aren’t you strong enough to cope without it? Many people go through worse than you Jade! Get a grip.”
These are all the negative thoughts I had in my mind when the GP first told me take medication back in 2010 after loosing my beloved Grandad to heart failure. I felt numb or was it that I wasn’t strong enough? Logically we know what the answer is – That I was dealing with bereavement of a loved one, my Grandad. My heart aches still thinking of him now and how I miss him. The pain was excruciating, how could I feel so dead inside but have the burning pain of grief surround my whole heart and soul.
I opted to take medication which back then was Citalopram, it worked quiet well for me actually, no side effects apart from when I began taking them, they gave me horrendous shakes but I was in a place where I was starting to feel myself again. I wasn’t having intrusive thoughts about myself and loved ones, I was managing okay with life. Over time I went to 40mg of Citalopram and realized in Jan 2015 that I was pregnant, due to my previous miscarriages I told the GP I want to get off of them immediately as I didn’t want to risk anything that could harm this little life growing inside of me. I was weaned off them as quick as I could but I soon started feeling the illness creeping back to me, I was diagnosed with Ante-natal depression and anxiety (same problem, different name I thought).
After Eden was born I struggled immensely, I was put back on Citalopram. This time however it did not work. I as placed on Venlafaxine 75mg and again over time it has increased so now I am on 225mg. I also take an anti-psychotic to stabilize my mood and manage my anxiety, which is 5mg of Aripiprazole.
There is so much Stigma on medication and that we should be able to cope without it, Mental health is an illness and disease. How would you manage diabetes or a heart condition? You wouldn’t reject medication because you felt that you were strong enough without it. It is the same for medication, it is a crutch alongside therapy and helpful coping mechanisms that you will begin to manage your MH condition but I think the first step and priority when you are in that black hole of illness is getting medication that is right for you, since being under the mental health team, speaking with a psychiatrist and trying medication that wasn’t right for me – I have now found one that I am suited to which helps me manage my life effectively, it helps me function.
Yes I still have bad days and days where I feel I can’t cope but I know I would be in a far worse place if I didn’t take my medication. There are some concerns about dependency on medication, I don’t see taking medication as a dependency as such, it is more to help me on the road to recovery and as we can only live in the ‘here and now’ – I can’t predict where I will be in the future so.. why worry about whether or not you’ll be on medication or not?
I personally think that medication has saved my life on a few occasions, it has balanced my mind and thoughts whether it be suicidal thoughts or crippling anxiety – Medication seems to level this out. My advice would be, if a medical professional advises you to consider medication, please understand you have an illness just because it isn’t in sight or touch doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist and you surely aren’t weak for accepting that support for your brain that has a chemical imbalance, yes a REAL chemical, not imaginary imbalance.
Go easy on yourself and know that medication can be the first step to help and recovery