Stories, skills, and positivity- to anxiety sufferers from anxiety sufferers.
By: Alyssa Logan
I started taking medication for my depression and anxiety when I was 13 years old. I started with the lowest dosage of a drug called prozac. I was on it for two years, until grade 10 when it stopped working. My psychiatrist, this guy that reminded me of Albert Einstein, tried a concoction of other medications, but it wasn’t until Effexor that I began to feel happy again. I was on it for three years, until I missed a dose. From that day forward it didn’t seem to work as well, but I was afraid to have to change prescriptions again.
I was experiencing some pretty severe side effects, the worst being what most people refer to as “brain zaps.” I can only describe these as someone trying to zip and unzip your skull. My mood fluctuated from “well, maybe I can get to class today,” to “if anyone comes near me I’m pretty sure I’ll shatter into a million tiny pieces so I guess I’ll just stay in bed under the covers, with a bag of chips.” This went on for several months until I started having suicidal thoughts and my previously under-control self harming thoughts returned. I went to a new doctor on my campus and explained the situation.
We decided that because exams and final papers were just around the corner it would be unwise to switch my medications. I pushed through as best I could, and eventually, just before the May 24 weekend this year, I switched off Effexor and onto a drug known as Pristiq. I’ve now spent the better part of two weeks dealing with really severe withdrawal effects, something that I had expected, but hadn’t realized just how bad it could get.
But really, none of this is the point of this post. I decided to write about this topic simply because ever since I started taking medications for my mental illness, I have been given countless hours of unwanted advice on why taking them was the easy way out. So here are my top three reasons why I take medication for my depression and anxiety, but more importantly, why that is okay.
We rarely encourage pill taking when it comes to taking medication for our mental health. ‘You shouldn’t be taking those’, we say. ‘Have you tried lemon water and yoga lately?’ we offer instead.
What the hell?
Seriously, what are we doing to ourselves?
We would rather doom ourselves to a life full of self-loathing, voices in our heads and suicidal tendencies than pop a pill or two every day to keep ourselves sane all because ‘society’ deems it something shameful. That asking for help in the shape of a capsule or little round tablet to function a little better each day is the most embarrassing and shameful thing in the world!
I refuse to let the stigma associated with medications, mental illness, and mental health in general prevent me from getting the help that I need and deserve. I take medications because I need them in my life right now, and that’s okay. It is okay.
Katie McLean holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, and bases her anxiety aid in personal experience, as well as techniques that have been passed on to her by counsellors, friends, and fellow anxiety sufferers.