I’m pivoting a little this week (and don’t we love the pivot terminology craze) and talk about mental health in place of Milo.
You know I may have mentioned a time or two that I take medications for my anxiety and depression. As such, sometimes I think that if we were to find ourselves in a zombie apocalypse (because all rational thoughts start with ‘zombie apocalypse’) that I would be completely fucked when I ran out of medication.
How the hell am I supposed to survive the stress of a post apocalyptic world without pharmaceutical intervention?
I probably spend more time thinking on this than I should. But alas, I have not been able to come up with a solution, strategy, or plan for the above scenario should it occur.
And that deeply concerns me.
Should I be more concerned about the fact that I’m spending time and energy mulling on less than likely end of the world scenarios?
Possibly. But to use another popular bit of terminology: it is what it is.
What ends up happening is that I find myself feeling weak because I need medication to survive.
I know. But sometimes I think I have something to prove. I think that I shouldn’t have to rely on artificial neurotransmitters to keep my brain whole.
Now, I don’t know who I think I have to “prove anything” to…
To the world?
Still working that one out.
But, I figure if I think it, then someone else probably does too. And I wanted to share how I keep going when the guilt and shame of treatment infiltrate my mental-health-matters armor.
I have not been able to navigate my mental illness without medication. No, that’s a lie. I have navigated it but not well and definitely not in a manner that I would recommend to anyone. My coping mechanisms are less than stellar when I’m not on medicine. The thing about it is I have tried to come off of the antidepressants and the medications that help manage my physical manifestations of anxiety. Especially when I start to feel well.
I think to myself “I bet I could do this without medicine.” and “I’m stronger than depression.”
As if sheer will power will change or supplement the chemicals in my brain.
I’d be lying if I said there weren’t times where I wished I didn’t have to take medicine to keep on keeping on. Now, y’all know I journal and I do yoga and intuitive eat and all the things that are supposed to manage anxiety and depression but here’s the thing: those things don’t manage brain chemicals.
They don’t keep me on an even playing ground.
Side note: it gets tricky talking about medicine and mental illness because even though there are your basic combinations and first line prescriptions, the way they react within each individual is unique and my experience with specific medications may not be your experience.
Which is why I don’t usually post which medications I’m on or which ones did or didn’t work for me. I think it would be irresponsible and that is a conversation that should happen between a provider and a patient; not a blogger and an online community.
But, here’s one thing that I do believe helped me find the right combination of medication after many many many trials and error: genetic testing. I am linking an article from the Mayo Clinic about such testing and I have two disclaimers:
- Always talk to your healthcare provider to determine the best course of action for your specific situation
- Letting you know that this testing helped me and my doctor find the right medications for me (notice all the me’s I’m using) is not me offering medical advice. It’s simply me sharing my experience.
Now that we have that out of the way, back to my anecdotal story.
I also sometimes find myself wondering if “so and so” knew I had to take medicine to function they would think less of me.
Who the fuck is ‘so and so’?
No idea. I think it is some faux imaginative being that my subconscious fabricates. They have no name and no face and they are judging me harshly in the zombie apocalypse.
And I guess the next question that lingers in my brain is:
What do I mean when I say:
“I need medication to function?”
Well, let me tell you that when I am not on medication my depression ravages my brain. It incapacitates me. My thoughts go from not helpful to deeply self mutilating. And I can’t control them or the nothingness. I fade into this black hole to which the despair is so deep there is no climbing out.
Medicine keeps me on this side of despair. The side that allows me to go to work. Raise my kids. Communicate in my marriage. Get out of bed in the mornings. Take a shower. Write. Yoga. It keeps me from suffocating in the darkness.
Most days I’m grateful that medication for mental illness exists. That there are people standing against the dangerous stigma associated with asking for help.
But that stigma is still somehow buried deep within me because I feel unsure about posting this piece.
So here’s what I remind myself when the self sabotaging thoughts creep in.
I remember that it is not my fault that I have a mental illness. Depression and anxiety are not choices I make. They are not feelings. They are diagnoses. They are actual illnesses that require actual medical intervention.
I remind myself that taking medication is not weakness. In fact, it’s a strength. To realize that you need help and then to go after help and then to accept help and then to be consistent with treatment; fuck, that’s some hard ass shit that requires some major internal motivation and strength.
And lastly, I tell myself that in the event of a zombie apocalypse, I’m scrappy enough to wade through pharmacies and get my refills.
Another disclaimer: Obviously mental illness is not a joke but sometimes I joke about it because it’s easier for me to talk about serious topics if I’m not wholly serious. But I want to be very clear: do not down play your symptoms. If you are struggling, reach out. And here are some resources you can reach out to if you find yourself in crisis:
And if you are in the Saint Louis area…
Love Will Foundation is my mental health focused- non-profit organization that helps pay for counseling services. We are also working to reduce the stigma associated with mental illness by talking about mental illness.
This month houses a Love Will Foundation tradition and that is random acts of kindness. There a whole day dedicated to this and we are doing it up the best we know how. If you are interested in more information you can check our website or subscribe to our newsletter for ways to support our efforts.
Do Less, Live More E-Book
Oh and hey, just wanted to throw out a lovely little reminder that I wrote an e-book and you can still download it and if you like it and want to share it all over your socials, I won’t be mad about it.
So, go ahead and click those red words up above and download my love letter to you!
No pressure. Or rather, a healthy dose of pressure.