I had some trouble starting this post. I found myself wanting to analyze my friendships and how each of them have been impacted by my work. I’m sensing some avoidance…? I guess I’ve never allowed myself to fully consider how much being in the trauma field has impacted my relationship with my husband.
My husband and I have been together since we were 18 years old (we’re 28 now, just to put things into perspective). Our marriage and my work as a therapist in the trauma field began a little over a year ago. The timing of everything was trippy. I was in grad school, interning as a trauma clinician, getting married, and experiencing one of my first severe bouts of depression and anxiety as an adult. I don’t attribute my mental health struggle to any one event during that time. I really believe it was a mixture of things being fueled by avoidance and a lack of self-care/self-love/self-respect.
I remember facilitating practices such as prolonged exposure (google it, it’s the shit) and how I felt at the end of each day after hearing hours of trauma accounts. I noticed myself driving home from my internship in silence (it’s not like me to not immediately open Spotify when I start my car). I remember feeling angry, frustrated, sad, and helpless. My thoughts and feelings were too loud and couldn’t be drowned out by music or anything else for that matter. How can some people be so resilient, amazing, kind, and strong while others are filthy, hateful, and just all around crappy? How can one person go through so much and still remain standing? Why do some people experience chronic trauma while others don’t? All of the whys, all of the time.
If I said I didn’t take some of that home with me, I’d be lying. I’d come home and begin to question EVERYTHING. Honestly, I found myself feeling guilty. I felt really guilty about my relationship. Believe me, my relationship is far from perfect and we’ve faced our fair share of obstacles, but even in our darkest moments, I’ve always felt loved. Everyone deserves to feel safe and respected and the stories that I was hearing were full of the exact opposite. Many of my clients were terrified to go home and that was something I wasn’t able to comprehend.
I realize now that this really did impact my relationship. I pushed away. I didn’t walk in the door, kiss him, and ask about his day like I usually did. Instead, I came inside, went straight to the shower, and then sat on the couch and zoned out. In addition to being plagued by guilt (thank you, depression), I kept thinking about all of the unhealthy relationships that I had with men prior to the age of 18. How much I needed affection, no matter what came before or after it. Any attention was good attention. That part of my life sucked and I’d never want to go back. I felt like I was being forced back there to relive my past traumas and it was easier for me to just shut down.
Looking back, I think my reaction had a lot to do with how I was treated in previous relationships. How things always seemed fine until BAM- absolute chaos. Respect always flew out the window and I was left feeling insecure and alone. Maybe a part of me was feeling insecure all over again. I can admit at this point in my life that I was afraid. Even though this fear was warranted, I was still holding on to my own traumatic experiences. I was being triggered by my interactions with my clients.
Obviously, when I first entered this field, I was stuck in a negative headspace that forced me to question everything about myself and the world around me. People became either good or bad. My exes became either good or bad. My husband became either good or bad.
Some people might think that they’d hold onto their loved ones extra tight if they were exposed to the same thing day after day. Fair enough. I didn’t react that way. I was just turned off from intimacy and was focused on doing what I could to push the memories, guilt, and fear down.
This is really tough to admit. It actually really sucks because I notice myself feeling guilty again. Guilty that I felt the way that I did. But, I’m here to be open and honest- so that’s what I’m doing.
Time went on, I got more comfortable with my job and I sought help. I’m human, so I’m definitely still impacted by my work, but it just looks different now. I’m communicating my fears and needs in a way that is clear and well-received.
I will say that being immersed in the trauma field has taught me that healing is possible. Survivors have taught me that I deserve respect, love, openness, and appreciation. I’m constantly learning how to utilize my experiences in a way that makes me a better, more empathetic clinician. For me, it’s not about avoiding triggering situations, it’s about giving myself the space to process them with people that I respect and love and who feel the same way about me.
I hope this post made sense, I kind of feel like I was all over the place. It was hard to start and then it all just came rushing out. I made a lot of solid realizations and I’m feeling extra vulnerable/excited to share them with all of you.
As always, I’m wishing you love and light.
Ah, relationships. I think I need a glass of red for this one, lord help me. I have been in three major relationships in my life. One okay, one hard, and one devastating. Safe to say that when it comes to the work I’ve done with my clients, I’ve always been skewed (but aren’t we all?). *enter nervous laughter*
Even before getting into the trauma field almost nine years ago, I was still pretty awkward with the whole relationship thing. My first relationship that lasted more than a month was when I was in high school, and it was the first time I thought about my relationship with my body. Because prior to exactly one year ago today, I was completely transparent about my feelings, but definitely had a very disconnected, unhealthy relationship with my body.
It’s really interesting to me that I chose to go into the very specific field of sexual violence, since I grew up being taught to deny and shame my own body and sexual desires, as well as to shame and cast judgment on those whose “lifestyles” were “wrong” or “sinful”. Doesn’t take a genius to see a connection there.
Because as different as violence and brainwashing are from one another, they also have many similarities. They can both be insidious. And also extremely conflicting. Especially when the people perpetuating it genuinely believe they are right and have good, pure, and loving intentions. Because when this is the case, it doesn’t feel like “brainwashing” in the moment, and you become defensive of anyone not in your world who disses it. And by you, I mean me.
I’ll be straight with you. What I’m getting at is that I grew up being thrown into every abstinence-only class that existed within a 10-mile radius. I grew up going to Sunday school every weekend and bible camp every summer. I even went to an evangelical university! Terms like righteous, homosexual, sin, adultery, sacrament, virgin, and temple were very commonplace, and I grew up saying them too. So when it came to intimacy within relationships, I already came into the trauma field with some pretty heavy baggage.
It wasn’t until I interned at a rape crisis center that I began to reflect on women’s experiences with their bodies, sex, intimacy, choice, and consent. The center was (and still is) a feminist, multicultural agency that took pride in actively advocating for consent and empowering women to explore their sexuality. As someone who experienced internalized shame, I know now that this placement was “meant to be”.
Ultimately, what I’m noticing as I’m writing this (and you may be too) is that when I sit down and think about relationships, my mind automatically goes to sex. After doing much self-work and processing on this, I’ve come to discover that my knowledge and awareness of sexual health, sexual empowerment, and exploration were never things that I was allowed to talk about growing up; and so now, in my late 20s, I’m really discovering them for the first time.
Same with love.
Combine that with being a trauma therapist and advocate for freedom of choice, this can’t not impact my romantic relationships. And my internalized shame is certainly something that I still struggle with occasionally, because that’s just something that takes a long-ass time to detox from. Can I get an amen?
I would say that shame has impacted my mentality of sex. My professional experience with domestic violence, combined with my last relationship, has impacted my mentality of relational dynamics and TRUST, above all else. The moment I begin talking to someone I’m interested in, I’m already assessing them:
Do they seem entitled? Are they lying? Is this just a ploy to get me into bed? Are they married or already in a relationship? Are they asking me enough questions or are they just talking about themselves? Did that text seem sketchy? Was that time they got irritated the beginning of the cycle of violence? Are you going to get tired of me and cheat on me with someone else? Are you secretly a sex trafficker? Are you covertly part of a gang that’s going to traffick me? Is this for real? What are you really trying to get at? Am I feeling too much? Is it healthy to be this in love with someone? Are you going to hurt me?
Fwew. You catch my drift. Paranoid much?
I’m a trauma clinician. Of course I’m paranoid.
I’m exposed to sexual trauma every single damn day. And yes, I choose to, because it’s in people’s recovery and the power of bearing witness that I love. And yes, this has consequences. Like occasional intrusive thoughts of rape, of sensory experiences that my synthesia holds onto (did I mention I have that?). It’s all part of the job. That’s me processing. And as normal as it is considering what I do, OF COURSE it’s annoying AS FUCK sometimes. Especially when you’re...you know.
Thank god for therapy.
And now that I think about it, my last two relationships have been with people who have experienced trauma (and in very different ways). My last partner’s family was heavily in the gang life, and they had a past history of physical aggression as a youth. My partner before that was an active veteran, and they were deployed while we were together; although this was approximately their third deployment. And they had seen it all, especially torture.
So, with these individuals, all of our quirks, our trauma-induced habits, were very normal. Backs to the wall in restaurants, dislike of crowded spaces, unable to focus on a conversation with other people around due to taking in every. single. detail. Totally “normal”.
And you know what? I’m not gonna lie. There is a thrill in it for me. Always has been. Of being with someone “with a past”. Because let’s face it- MOST people in the helping professions like to “save” or “rescue” people, to take care of others, to correct what was done to them.
And let’s not forget that the media (and novels, in my case) ROMANTICIZES this. Dark past, tough exterior? Hot. Hot. Hot. Stable past, kind exterior? Not. Not. Not. And bor-ing. How sad is that? And if you’ve experienced any kind of relational trauma, the person who is kind automatically brings up the suspicion of them hiding something or playing you.
So, yeah, my dating and relationship experience is sort of tinged and complex, to say the least. And I’ve been burned, unfortunately. Like many people have, even more unfortunately. To be frank, it’s hard for me not to be paranoid and/or suspicious. And I’m much more cautious with my emotions, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. And my body shame? Much better, though still a long way to go. It’s easier to get in touch with my sexuality and not be as paranoid or suspicious when drinking of course, but as my previous therapist said, “Once you get in touch with your sexual self while you’re sober, you won’t need to only bring her out when you’re drinking.” And she’s right! I’d like to think that I’m growing in that area. Ovaries to the wall.
Being in the trauma field has been harrowing at times, but it’s been more empowering than I thought possible. I’m not afraid “to go there” in conversations. I’m not afraid of talking about death, about rape, about domestic violence, about institutional abuse and systemic oppression. No, these aren’t bubbly topics to bring up on first dates, but the conviction and confidence I’ve derived from owning them is invaluable. I’ve needed it my whole life.
And you know what? I’ve discovered that people are secretly thirsty to have REAL conversations. I’ve seen it.
Being in this field has also connected me with people who are powerful, courageous, and equally deep in their emotions and experiences of the world. And just as deep in their ability to love fiercely. It’s in their company that I have really found myself. And my tribe. I’m allowed to be 100% unapologetically me, and more importantly, I’ve allowed MYSELF to do that.
I reject right and wrong. I embrace life as it is: grey, complex, and deep.
I’m proud of who I’ve become, because I’ve fought so hard to get here. And each year I feel like I’m getting closer to digging through my internal muck and rescuing that artist child inside who just wants to play, to love, and to experience joy.
It’s the trauma field that’s helped me do that. And I don’t think any other field could.
Because without darkness, there is no light. The darkness has helped me to see what I want. What I value. What I cherish. And that I refuse to settle for anything less.
Maybe that’s why I’m not really a dater. I don’t do casual. I do depth. I’m a bottom-up kind of person, and that’s okay. It’s okay. Cause once I connect with you at the bottom, I have trust in you to be vulnerable and free at the top. Some people may say that’s “too intense” or to “lighten up”, but I don’t really care anymore. I accept my desires and how I connect.
I accept me.
And whoever I choose to be with next will not only understand that, but will love it too. R-E-S-P-E-C-T baby.
Here’s to being our undeniable, beautiful, fallible selves,
The first time I was prescribed psychotropic medication I was around 16 years old. I was seeing a therapist at the time and she recommended that I be assessed by a psychiatrist, so that’s what I did. I was diagnosed with depression and prescribed Prozac at the end of my first appointment.
I took Prozac for a little less than a year, on and off. I wasn’t the most med compliant person. I ended up getting off of it, suddenly, because I was worried about medication getting in the way of my social life. I wanted to continue partying and doing my thing. I felt like I was being held back. I didn’t notice a change within myself on Prozac and to be honest, I didn’t think anything was “wrong” with me.
I didn’t take medication again until I was 26 years old.
As a teenager, I was a hot mess (like I’ve said before, this part of my life is deserving of its own post). I can’t blame my parents for being concerned. I was angsty and determined to test my perceived invincibility. I just wasn’t concerned with my health…at all.
I’m not saying that I made the right decision when I decided to get off of Prozac. In fact, I often wonder how different my journey would have looked if I stayed on it. I try not to think like that, but it’s hard sometimes. I have depression and I’ve definitely struggled with it throughout my life. It just looked different at that point in time, which I’ve talked about in a previous post.
There were numerous times throughout my life when I thought to myself, “Is this how I’m supposed to feel?” and “Is this just how it is for me?” I eventually convinced myself that I was fine and that eventually, my thoughts and feelings would change just as they had in the past. Well, obviously that didn’t work. The more I ignored and avoided my needs, the worse things got.
Fast forward to being 26 years old. I was struggling. Actually, struggling is an understatement. I was at the end of my rope. I was exhausted. I was crawling out of my skin from anxiety and panic attacks. I was stuck in a pit of hopelessness just going through the motions and trying to survive. Eventually, I was numb and unafraid to die. That’s when I decided enough was enough and I needed professional guidance and support.
Let me back up a bit. Before I decided to get help, I spent many hours in the emergency room. I was having multiple panic attacks a day. I legitimately thought I was dying. That may sound silly to some, but for those of you who have had a genuine panic attack, you know what I’m talking about.
Heart pounding, dizziness, blurred vision, head pain, shaking, shortness of breath, sensitivity to noise and light, fear, intense urge to run. All of it, all the time.
The doctors at the ER would prescribe me anti-anxiety meds and send me home. My last trip to the ER, a doctor put me in a room and sat down with me. She asked me questions and eventually told me that she believed I was suffering from anxiety and panic attacks. She took time to explain some of the symptoms to me. She guided me in the right direction and connected me to some mental health resources. I could feel how much she empathized with me. I almost felt as though she understood what it was like. There was an unspoken understanding and our interaction had a profound impact on me. I’ll never forget it.
The psychiatrist I ended up seeing diagnosed me with major depression, generalized anxiety, and panic disorder. What. A. Mouthful. I remember feeling completely overwhelmed and yet slightly at peace…? It felt nice to have some answers.
The first medication I was prescribed was Lexapro. What a nightmare that was.
I had a horrible reaction and ended up back in the ER. I was shaking, pacing around, and experiencing perpetual panic attacks. I called the nurse hotline through my insurance and was told to go to the hospital. Long story short, I was told to stop taking Lexapro and talk to my psychiatrist.
I felt even more hopeless than I did when this entire ordeal started.
“What am I going to do?”
“Medication isn’t going to work for me”
“I’m going to feel like this forever”
My thoughts about death increased and I was terrified.
My psychiatrist and the people around me continued to remind me about how many meds are on the market and how more often than not, it takes someone multiple tries to find the best match. Even though I understood what they were telling me, I was scared to try again. I didn’t want to feel that awful ever again.
Eventually, I gave Zoloft a try. I started off on a really low dosage, breaking pills in half and hoping for the best. I was so relieved when I realized I wasn’t having the same reaction to Zoloft. I wasn’t feeling better per se, but I wasn’t freaking out either. I continued to take it and work with my psychiatrist on increasing the dosage to a therapeutic level.
About 3-4 weeks in, I started to notice a change. I wasn’t needing my anti-anxiety meds as often and I was waking up without chest pain. I wasn’t staring at myself blankly in the mirror. I didn’t feel as numb and afraid. I was attending weekly therapy sessions at the time and I was doing everything I could think of to raise my baseline level of functioning.
It hasn’t been an easy journey. Medication hasn’t cured me. I still struggle, I still have panic attacks, and I still have times when my depression rears its ugly head.
Although I still experience my fair share of symptoms, I can honestly say that my current medication regimen has saved my life. Without it, I wouldn’t be able to pick myself up when I fall. I wouldn’t have the energy, cognitive ability, or self-esteem to wake up in the morning and face everyday life. I wouldn’t be able to work through my past traumas and experiences with grief and loss. I would be dead.
At this point in my life, I’m able to work through a panic attack and utilize grounding techniques to keep my head above water. I’m able to identify when I’m suffering from a depressive episode and act accordingly. I’m able to confide in those closest to me about what’s going on. I’m able to think clearly. I’m not in a complete fog that I can’t find my way out of. I feel something other than hopelessness. I feel alive. I face challenges and go through the ups and downs just like anyone else, but I’m doing so with my imbalances, balanced. I have a new appreciation for life, pain, and desperation.
I’m also at a point where I have zero shame about being on medication. Let me tell you, it feels damn good. If I was on blood pressure medication, I wouldn’t think twice about telling people. Why should I be ashamed about medication for my brain? I shouldn’t and you shouldn’t either.
I’m a strong, more compassionate human after this experience. I have a lot to learn about myself, but I’m taking it one day at a time. I’ve been humbled to my core, that’s for sure. I hope you read this and find yourself filled with hope because I mean it when I say, it can get so much better. It takes work, but it’s possible. I had to put my ego and people’s opinions to the side and follow my gut. I’m doing what’s right for me and putting myself first.
I’ve taken a personal pledge to help end the stigma surrounding mental health and medication. Part of that means that I choose to live as transparently as possible. I’m done hiding behind a façade that depicts a life full of happiness and stability. Sometimes, I’m still a hot mess and that’s okay. I’m human, you’re human, and we’re just trying to figure this all out. I’m choosing to talk about things that people may find taboo. I don’t find any of it taboo anymore. Instead, I call it real fucking life.
Anyways, now I’m ranting. Thanks for reading this particular post, it sits really close to my heart. As always, your support doesn’t go unnoticed.
Wishing you all love and light.
The first time I got on psychotropic medication was sophomore year of college. I can’t remember what prompted it (which sucks, but that’s the way it goes), but I’m sure it was some cold, sterile psychiatrist whom I didn’t know longer than 15 minutes who prescribed them to me. The medications were called Celexa and Ativan.
Celexa (aka Citalopram) is a Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI) that’s used to treat depression. Ativan (aka Lorazepam) is a sedative often used for anxiety and epilepsy. It was my first time owning prescribed medication for non-“physical” reasons (even though I know now that mental is physical), so I remember feeling a little awkward and unsure about having them. All I knew was that I was excited for them to start working like clockwork so that everything would be "okay".
At that point, I was skipping classes because I would get such bad social anxiety and have crying spells on my top bunk in my dorm room. I would just sob and listen to a lot of sappy playlists I’d made for Twilight (no shame!). What I didn’t know was that medication doesn’t usually work “like clockwork”, nor that it usually takes time to find the right kind of medication that works for you. I just wanted to feel better, and so I accepted the written prescription paper that the strange, cold psychiatrist gave me. Side note: we really need more warm, person-centered, trauma-informed psychiatrists, so if that’s your calling, cheers to you!
The Ativan was “as needed” and to be used prior to having an anxiety or panic attack. It actually worked for me. I remember driving seven hours to visit my friend out of town for the first time, and I only needed to take one pill to come down from an almost-panic attack, which was a miracle! I didn’t know if it was a placebo effect or if it was the medication, but I was sold either way.
For those of you not as familiar with psych meds or mental health, people with anxiety, posttraumatic stress, and depression have a deficiency in specific kinds of brain chemicals, in this case: serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. What SSRIs, sedatives, and other medications can help do is to increase these levels so that they’re at a stable level, thereby decreasing the effects of deficiency. It can be genetic, causal, or both. In my case, it’s both, but primarily genetic.
I have a parent, as you might have seen in our last post, who also has bipolar disorder, so I grew up seeing their medications (sneakily, I might add, without my parent knowing about it). What I didn’t know growing up was what they were or what they were for; I was just accustomed to seeing our whole bottom pantry shelf stocked full of pill bottles.
Going back to trying meds for the first time, it was...okay. The Ativan helped, but the Celexa seemed to make my depression worse. I became more fatigued and felt more hopeless. Ironically, I was taking a psychotropic medication class in college at the time, which is why it’s so frustrating now to think back on the fact that it was during this time that I decided to go off my meds. Cold turkey.
Boy, did that backfire.
I was impatient in asking for a different antidepressant, and instead of asking my psychiatrist for one, I decided to take matters into my own hands. I had been to a handful of mental health professionals, none of whom I liked very much. I’d had it with “the system”. So I just stopped taking them.
I regret that decision to this day.
If you don't already know, it is a HUGE no-no to go off your meds cold turkey. Your system integrates the chemicals into its biological make-up and needs time to ween off of them if you decide to go off of them or switch to a different kind of medication, otherwise known as "titrating". If you don't titrate your meds, your body will go into shock; it can cause psychosis and even permanent damage, which is why you always consult with your psychiatrist.
Sometime after ceasing both medications at once, I began having hallucinations of “shadow people”, which was terrifying, not to mention extremely dangerous, while driving at night back to my apartment. I felt like I was literally going crazy. And because of my medication class, in hindsight, I knew exactly what the risks were in not titrating out a medication, nor consulting with a psychiatrist first. I knew exactly what I was doing. But like many of us, I thought I was above the system, I was different. This grandiose way of thinking is a large contributor to many unsafe decisions and experiences I have had in the past and, now I know, due to mania.
The hallucinations finally stopped after a few days, and at that point, I was having the strongest mixed episodes I’d ever had in my life; I would go from being terrified and anxious, to being impulsive and manic, to sobbing. Thank god I had a friend to turn to who also had mental health disorders, but she had moved out of state, so it was all via text. I was so grateful for her understanding and non-judgment, but it was difficult not having her physical presence around.
Ultimately, the long-term impact of this decision was long-term memory loss. There are years of my life that I can’t fully account for, or that are, at least, extremely vague. Imagine when you’re deep underwater looking up at the sky: you know it’s a different place, but it’s blurry and you can’t make out the details, only the big blobs of color. That’s what most of my childhood memories look like to me. Sometimes when I’m referencing something from my childhood, I wonder if it’s real or if my brain has just made something up to make up for it. I’ve never had it tested, mostly because I’m too scared to know, but also because I'm ashamed for doing it. Even though I know the circumstances, the symptomology, blah blah...I'm a stubborn ass (again, like most of us in this field), and I pull the "I'm the exception" card when it comes to self-blame. What can I say? I'm a work in progress.
Bottom line, if you’re on meds and you don’t wanna be anymore, CONSULT FIRST. The short-term discomfort is better than the long-term regret.
Nine years later, last October to be exact, I decided that I needed medication again. I was going through a very unhealthy, impulsive relationship, and my anxiety had skyrocketed. Luckily, I had a supportive therapist and a lovely doctor who listened. I had a trusting relationship with both of these providers, as they had been with me for about one year. My therapist had pushed me through recovery, and, in doing so, we both learned about my multiple diagnoses. My doctor and physician's assistant had both helped me heal from an unwanted sexual experience, which had coincidentally led to discovering (and thankfully removing) a large ovarian cyst. It’s weird how life happens sometimes.
My doctor prescribed me Paxil (Paroxetine), another SSRI, that she thought would be a better fit for me and my history. And low and behold, she was right! There were some minor, temporary side effects for the first few months, including some esophageal spasms and dry mouth, but the anxiety actually went away. I initially thought, Well, how do I know it’s the meds? It could just be that I broke up with the asshole, and that’s why the anxiety went away. I didn’t know what to think for a while, except that in the first week, I felt results. Now, a whole year later, I know that I do not think or feel the way I used to, in terms of anxiety-based symptoms that had been present my entire life. This has been what’s confirmed my acceptance of my medication.
I still have qualms from time to time about medications, and that’s okay. It’s not that I don’t believe they work, because I 100% do. It’s that small part of me (which continues to get smaller and smaller) that wishes I could be like people who don’t need meds, who don’t have chemical imbalances...who haven’t experienced trauma. But I need medication to function in a way that allows me my best chance at living fairly, with my fullest capacity. And that’s okay.
My next step is potentially trying a mood stabilizer. Something I learned later on is that as much as SSRIs help with depressive and anxious symptoms, they can actually bring out mania in people who have bipolar disorder. And I’ll be the first to admit- my mania has definitely been a problem the last few months. Impulsivity, substance misuse, debilitating financial recklessness...it’s been a thing, to say the least.
I’ll be honest- my fear is that it will alter “who I am”, like many people who are in the same or similar situation. I’ve seen how being on medication has already altered me. I don’t feel anxious anymore, but it’s also difficult for me to feel at all anymore. Numbness is a common feeling. It’s kind of like the idea of chemo- it kills the bad stuff, but also the good stuff. Now I’m not saying that SSRI’s kill. I can only speak to my own experience- no one else’s. Yes, my libido is significantly lower, and it’s near damn impossible for me to cry (for the good and bad feels). But living in a constant state of terror, feeling judged and ostracized by everyone around me, and thinking that the people I love the most are going to DIE all the time? Nah, #sorrynotsorry. I can’t put a price on that. And for this price- I’ll take it.
I remembered the first time I realized I wasn’t living the way I used to. That time, I did cry. I cried out of utter happiness, relief, and of grief- mourning how much I’d fought to get to that point. It was surreal.
I’m getting new insurance soon, so it’ll be a minute until I can get assessed for a mood stabilizer, and, in the end, it’ll be my decision. I know that the mania has become a hindrance in my life- I can own that. I know that it’s time. And it will still be my choice in what I do to address this. I’m so grateful to have the support I do, not to mention health insurance. It makes me think of how many people are uninsured who need medication too, and it breaks my heart how difficult it is to get access to basic care. I guess that’s why I’m a social worker.
Getting assessed for medication is absolutely your choice. And there is ZERO shame in needing it. Just like there is no difference and no actual magical line between being 17 and turning 18, there is no difference and no magical line between your head and the rest of your body. You would never judge someone who wears glasses to see. For those of us with mental health conditions, we may need medication “to see”.
Your neck is not a wall. Your head IS part of your body. Your brain IS part of your system. Denying that is denying who and what you are, not to mention a result of centuries-old fear, misinformation, and historical ignorance (Salem Witch Trials, anyone?). The truth is that you consume more “man-made” chemicals in a bag of chips and the beer you chase it with, than in a psychotropic medication that is composed of chemicals you already naturally make in your brain; I just don’t make a stable amount.
And no one’s mental health is the same; all of our experiences vary. For instance, just because someone can manage their anxiety with weed doesn’t mean it works for everyone. I recently found out that weed triggers panic attacks and surges of anxiety for me; it’s not for everyone, and it's certainly not about "being in right headspace", as some people might retort. 'Cause lemme tell you: it's chemical and ain't got nada to do with voluntarily shifting your cellular structure into a "better" one. Some substances (and activities for that matter) are not strong enough and other things are not meant to interact with the chemicals we already have. AND THAT’S OKAY.
Yeah, I hate needing help. I always have. And my parents raised me with the mindset to do things for yourself, but you know what? This is me doing that. I’m making things happen that could not happen if I didn’t ask for help. That’s me taking care of business. For me.
I don’t judge you if you don’t want to go on meds or if you’re not ready to go on meds. No one can tell you what to do but yourself. I’m as stubborn as they get, so I get it. Trust me. If medication is something you think you may need, but are scared and/or resistant to, I just want you to know three things:
Let’s tackle the stigma. Let’s not pill-shame. Let’s not compare. It’s been a journey with going on medication for me, and it’s been chalk-full of learning experiences for sure. Talking with other people who are either also on meds or have questions about them has been the best part. I will always remember one of my good friends coming up to me and asking me about medication because they were thinking about it after a lifetime of debilitating anxiety and panic attacks. Those are the moments I live for. Because in those moments, people don’t feel alone anymore. And neither do I.
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