“You should quit taking this medication.”
“You can’t use this as a crutch forever.”
“Why are you depressed?”
“You need to be able to control yourself.”
“This is such a high dosage, why do you need to take so much?”
Let me make this very clear:
You do not know me.
You are not my doctor.
I don’t owe you an explanation.
You need to mind your own business.
The stigma is real. People have this concept of mental illness and all that it entails and to put it simply: they are wrong. I have high functioning mental illness(es) and I am not ashamed to admit that I need to take medication in order to regulate/control them. Otherwise, my life turns into extreme chaos.
However, why, when, and in what amounts I take these medications is really none of anyone’s business – including the school nurse here in Westport NY. Making comments that make me feel like less than a human being because the chemicals in my brain are out of whack is unnecessary and uncalled for.
To suggest that I am not strong enough on my own, without these medications or that I should be able to “get over” the struggles in my life on my own willpower alone, takes me back to my old insecurity.
Will I ever be enough? Will I ever be able to live unashamed of my illness(es)? Will I ever be able to exist without judgment due to these ailments which I fight against each and every day?
I have been finding myself a bit frustrated lately and this conversation brought all those frustrations front and center in my mind. I am world’s better than I was even this time a year ago, but there is an infinite amount of space between where I was 3 years ago and where I am now. That being said, there are things each and every day that are difficult for me to do which are easy and second nature to many people around me. There are simple tasks which take a painstaking amount of effort and leave me feeling utterly exhausted where others simply do them without a second thought. And I find myself asking, “Why?” “Why wasn’t the suffering I went through enough already?” “Will I be like this the rest of my life?”
And then I have to stop myself. Having ANY illness, mental illness included does NOT make me any less of a person. To add to that, taking medication for a mental illness like depression or anxiety doesn’t alter who I am or change my personality in any way. I still perceive the world in the same way I would without any medication. I still have the same personality and the same character traits as I did before – it’s just that, thanks to the medication I take, I am able to process the things that happen in the world around me in a more realistic way. I am able to be more my true self when I’m taking proper medication than I am without it. It’s the difference between seeing the world in all gray and seeing it in color. And although that may not seem like a huge deal – it makes the world a livable place.
The ignorance of other people, including medical “professionals” is not a reflection on me, but actually a reflection on them. Someone else’s opinions about what is best for my health is irrelevant so long as I am making my best effort to do what I believe is best for myself. Not only that, but I have utmost repsect for my wonderful medical team – the people who see me regularly and are invested in my life, my future, and know the ins and outs of my complicated story and medical history.
Mental illness is not shameful.
Medication is not something to be embarrassed about.
Putting others down and judging them based on information which you know little to practically nothing about is what is truly shameful and embarrassing.
This will not be the last situation like this for me, I’m afraid. And I’m sure I am not the only one who has experienced encounters like this one – or worse. To those of you who are fighting for your lives and for your happiness each and every day, you’re my heros. I am endlessly proud of you and I think you’re brave, capable, and more important that you could ever realize! Never forget that you are more than your mental illness – and you are LOVED!
“It’s easy to look at people and make quick judgments about them, their present and their past, but you’d be amazed at the pain and tears a single smile hides. What a person shows to the world is only one tiny facet of the iceberg hidden from sight. And more often then not, it’s lined with cracks and scars that go all the way to the foundation of their soul.”
― Sherrilyn Kenyon