Hard Pill to Swallow
I’m Jason and I take an antidepressant every morning.
This does not mean I think medication will magically solve all of my problems. It is no quick fix, I still have to put in the work.
This does not mean I’m a failure. It means I am strong enough to recognize and ask for help.
This does not mean I’m weak. It means I am battling a mental illness and taking the steps I need to defeat it.
And this does not mean the pills will turn me into a zombie or rob me of my identity. They are simply helping to clear the path for me on my journey of connecting with my authentic self.
When my doctor prescribed my medication following the diagnosis of an eating disorder, anxiety, OCD last year I was hesitant to take them. I thought I could just get better on my own. I feared that medication would make me look like a quitter and turn me into the aforementioned zombie.
I listened to the stigma that exists around antidepressants and medication for mental illness, even though I knew several amazing individuals who take the same medication I was prescribed. Heck, my own mother took similar medication for her anxiety.
Following my mantra of trusting the process, I listened to my doctor and took the medication as prescribed. The first 4-6 weeks brought an onslaught of expected side effects, but I stayed the course and heeded the advice of my support team. Then, like an airplane when it reaches cruising altitude, my world settled down even though I was moving ahead.
I soon found that my medication was simply an aid in the process. It allowed the often-racing mind to slow down, which enabled me to create the necessary space I needed to heal and grow. It made the open and honest conversations with my therapist easier to hold. For the first time in years, my anxiety, OCD, and eating disorder lowered their voices. Medication did not heal me by itself, but instead, it enabled me to take the necessary steps to heal myself.
As I continue to advocate for mental health and mental illness, I encounter many who still listen to the stigmas around medication. They raise the same concerns I once had. But it’s important to remember what worked for me, may not work for you. Still, I encourage everyone to follow the advice of their doctors and if that involves medication then trust the process!
I practice mindfulness techniques like yoga, meditation, hiking, and journaling. I’ve even dabbled in breathwork and men’s groups, but at the end of the day, I understand these are all aspects of my recovery just like my medication. There is no quick fix for what I’m battling; it is a complex puzzle with many pieces. And in my case, one of those pieces is taking a pill every morning. There’s no shame in that!