I’ve been on psychiatric medication for my mental health since I was 11. While it hasn’t always been a pleasant experience, the meds I take now have helped me transform my life. I often see a lot of negativity surrounding taking medicine for your mental health and it’s almost always because of the side effects. I’ve been on several different medications and yes, some of them caused terrible side effects. I’ll be the first to admit I spend hours researching whatever my psychiatrist prescribes me before taking it. This usually results in me closing my laptop or exiting out of the internet browser on my phone, trembling in fear of what the medication might do to me. For some people, the side effects outweigh the benefits but for me, it’s the opposite. Without the help of medication, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I wouldn’t be blossoming. I’ve experienced life without it and that’s a place I never want to travel back to.
Aside from the side effects, there’s also a certain shame that can come with taking meds. I used to feel ashamed that I needed a pill or two to function. A pill for the depression, a pill for the mania, one for the anxiety, and one for my insomnia. I loathed at the thought of spending the rest of my life taking them. Why can’t I be normal? The fact that I have to depend on something like this just to function is something I’m still working through. I realize now there’s no shame in taking medicine for your mental health. If you need it, take it. I also know now there’s a chance that one day I might not have to take it for the rest of my life. One day, I hope to be doing so well that I don’t need it. I hope to have found a way to manage my mental illnesses without it. But, if that day never comes, I’m working on accepting that.
Medication has saved my life. When I wasn’t on meds or was on the wrong ones, I was a depressed, manic, anxious, suicidal mess. I was on an unstable emotional rollercoaster; continuously going up and down. I hated myself as well as life. I literally couldn’t function. I know the pills I take now don’t do all the work but they assist me in doing the work. For example, what I take for bipolar disorder reduces my episodes which in result allows me to get through the day without being manic or depressed. My anxiety meds help me feel relaxed enough to be out in social settings and can help manage potential panic attacks.
If you’ve reached a point where you’re considering giving meds a try, the first step is finding a psychiatrist/physician you feel comfortable with. I’m fortunate enough to have a psychiatrist I trust and who I’ve been working with for years. After you’ve found someone and started seeing them and they prescribe you something, I recommend doing your research. Yes, this part may be terrifying but it’s best to be aware of potential outcomes. Once you’ve started taking something, keep a journal of any changes you notice within yourself; good or bad. Also, keep in mind meds do take time to work and it can take trying numerous medications before you find one that works for you. I used to feel like I was a guinea pig or a lab rat that the doctors were just testing different medications on. The truth is you have to have patience on your journey.
For more tips on how to cope with the side effects of medication, check out this blog post.