there is so much controversy surrounding medication for mental illnesses, and I will admit, I gave in to a lot of that controversy over the years – starting with that moment, in a school councilor’s office.
After I tried to commit suicide in middle school, I basically stopped taking OTC painkillers unless it was a complete emergency (hello endometriosis). I was afraid of addiction and reliance, a fear that became all too real when going on medication was presented as an option to me at 16 years old. I will clarify, I was not receiving a prescription, but this was coming from a person that I put a lot of trust in during my high school years, and the fact that he thought I needed to be on medication was devastating.
Am I crazy?
Only crazy people need to take medication.
What if I become a different person?
What if I stop being able to feel anything?
Who will I be if I become anyone other than who I am now?
The commercials always state that suicide is a side effect..
Will I try to kill myself again?
I don’t want to die.
This immediately became my mantra on medication.
When I explained to people close to me what my councilor had told me, I was met with, “you are just emotional, it’s really not that bad”, “it’s just a phase, it will go away eventually”, “there’s no way your life is as bad as mine, stop complaining” etc.
Which then expanded my mantra to include:
I’m fine? I’m fine.
I don’t need medication.
Things could be worse.
Suck it up.
The next few years were uneventful, I lived behind my protective persona, medicated with marijuana, I graduated and did a short stint in college. I didn’t get much from college, other than a new found love for liquor, as I didn’t want to go in the first place. I got together with my, now, fiance in 2010 and we moved to the city in 2011. It was here that my persona was completely destroyed and everything I had been avoiding for multiple years came pouring out.
I was an emotional and mental time bomb, my panic attacks went from once in a while to everyday. To put it in to perspective, part of my panic condition is known as “pseudoseizures”, which causes me to convulse, like I am having a seizure, but I am conscious and coherent – I don’t think I’ve experienced anything as painful as this, ever. My body used to also erupt in to bright red, angry hives that would stick around for hours.
In between the periods of having panic attacks once in a while and having panic attacks everyday, I went to the doctor to try to figure out why I was having seizures – this is when I was told it was anxiety causing this to happen.
Let’s pause here for a moment – there is nothing more frustrating than being told something that causes you extreme discomfort, pain and fear is due to anxiety, because it feels like there is nothing you can do, it is like trying to chase a ghost.
This is the second time I was told to go on medication, from a walk in doctor, who barely spent any time with me. He wrote me a prescription, said some nice words about “making the pain stop” and sent me on my way. As I’ve said before – I do not trust doctors out here, doctor negligence lead me to be on multiple different antibiotics for infections that didn’t exist and generally how I was treated as a walk in patient wasn’t very great. So I was reluctant to take this man’s suggestion – I did my research, it was terrifying. All of the reading I did said terrible things about the one (we will come back to this number later) medication he suggested. I also spoke to my friends, at the time, and was faced with a lot of the same responses I had received previously.
Needless to say, I threw the paper out.
By 2015 I had hit my darkest low and the daily panic attacks were taking hold, I went to a different doctor, I finally explained my fears of medications and my overall distrust for doctors in general because of all of my previous interactions – and he got it. He taught me some breathing exercises to get me through the waiting period, but I had a referral and I was finally going to get help.