I take psychiatric medication and that’s okay

I remember back to the first time I ever went on psychiatric medication. It was shortly after starting therapy. I was at my yearly pediatrician’s appointment and it ended up being really awkward with some different mental health concerns, but in the end he prescribed an antidepressant. I felt very judged by him and that automatically went to shame. If I had to take this medication that even my doctor felt wary of, was I just defective?

Over the years , I’ve grown to be wary of telling anyone I’m on medication. The stigma of being “crazy” or abnormal because you take these drugs is pretty strong. Doctors are especially hard to tell, given my first experience. I would never even share this information with those who are well aware of my mental health struggles. That made me feel more alone and increased the negative belief I had about myself for needing this treatment.

I’m no longer afraid to admit that I take medication for my mental illnesses. In fact, I wanted to write this post because a change in my prescription (and a new psychiatrist) has greatly impacted my life. I have a ton more energy, less “blah” feeling, better mood, and I just feel lighter. My parents can tell a huge difference. Obviously the medication alone doesn’t get rid of my symptoms, but it has lowered the amount of distorted thinking significantly. I’m at a better functioning baseline level. As a whole, the various drugs I’m on have impacted me by significantly reducing sleeping problems, basically removing suicidal thoughts, lowering anxiety, preventing the lowest of lows, and generally making my thinking and functioning better. I am eternally grateful for the opportunity to fix my brain chemistry in this way.

It’s okay to take psychiatric medication. Someone with lupus wouldn’t want to avoid autoimmune drugs for any reason. Anything that helps reduce suffering is worth it. You are not alone in this. If you are considering trying out this form of therapy, I want to reiterate how much of a change they can make.

1 in 6 adults are on some form of psychiatric medications. We need to end the stigma that surrounds taking these sometimes life-saving drugs. They do not fix a flaw in character, just the biological brain chemistry imbalances. Everyone should be given support and respect for the brave choice to put their health first in this way.

A friend no more

I’ve lost quite a lot due to my eating disorder. Other people around me have suffered as well. Its been really hard on my family, especially my mom. Even with all the hell an eating disorder causes, I never expected my illness to cause our family to lose close friends.

I’m going to call this woman Carrie. She is a mom of a guy who was in early college with me and two boys near my brother’s age. Ever since I began early college, my mom and really our whole families grew very close. I mean we switched to our church because they invited us first. My mom definitely considered her a best friend. I was also pretty close to her, even more so after I started volunteering so much at church. Her younger boys were friends with my brother and I. We had their family over for dinner and to swim and they even watched Milo for us.

This all came to an abrupt halt recently. At first, I was the only one treated differently. Suddenly Carrie wouldn’t talk to me anymore, even though I tried to be nice and friendly. I spent a long time thinking I’d done something wrong and not knowing what it was. It actually got so bad the youth pastor had to speak with her. After that she got a little nicer, but overall she was still extremely distant. At this point she also began to avoid my mom more.. This was at the beginning of last summer.

I made some posts one Facebook once I hit my one year mark from being admitted into PHP. I’ve been trying to open up more and more about it on social media because I want to spread awareness. Shortly after, I was admitted into FV once again for IP. Our church put this in the prayer chain (without my name) and I posted some more general “please be praying for me” type of things on FB. Even being so open about my mental health to people who ask I just didn’t want to make a big deal of it.

Since then, every time we go to church, the whole family ignores us. My mom was really torn up about it and didn’t quite understand what went wrong. I kind of had a feeling of why Carrie may have done these things, but one day a week after I was discharged she got the real answer: Carrie doesn’t believe eating disorders or mental illnesses in general are real and thinks that I am faking this all for attention.

I cried the first time I heard that. I immediately felt guilty that I had cost my mom such a close friendship. Soon after, I realize I shouldn’t be. I didn’t ask for these illnesses. Heck I really don’t want sympathy. All I do desire when it comes to my story is to promote awareness and help others going through these things. It’s views like Carrie’s that make it so much harder to live with these problems.

I’m angry. I can’t believe anyone could be so harsh about such serious illnesses! I also didn’t understand how she could justify being terrible to me and my family over this. While I may not ever accept that this severing of friendship had to happen the way it did, I have learned from it.

I realize now that there are more people like Carrie out there. And there will be relationships broken just like what I experienced. The only way to ever prevent this intolerance of mental illness is to push awareness even more. That’s exactly what I’m going to do until everyone sees mental illness as a flaw in brain chemistry, not character; serious problem not something to be brushed off; and a legitimate diagnosis, not fraud for attention. We have a long way to go to erase these negative mindsets, but it will happen, one person at a time.