First off, I should probably say an overwhelming thank you for all the support, encouragement and personal stories I received after opening up about my emotional issues. For the most part, you all appreciated the honesty, could relate and were happy to hear someone open up and talk about it like it’s no big deal.
Because guess what, it’s not a big deal. There’s nothing I should be ashamed of, nothing I am to be embarrassed about, I had a problem, I sought treatment. If you had a broken arm, you wouldn’t just “get over it,” try harder or let it heal on it’s own, no, you’d go to a doctor and you’d get that bad boy put in a cast.
Suffering from depression, anxiety or a mood disorder is essentially the same thing – only it’s with your mind. Just because you can’t see a physical break doesn’t make it any less real, any less deserving of treatment or any easier to get over. If anything, realizing you’re suffering from it is if anything, harder to uncover.
I can’t tell you how many years (actually, I can, it was 13, but who’s counting) I spent trying to “fix” myself (without the help of a professional) because of this stigma around emotional issues. Why couldn’t I just “suck it up and get over it” like everyone else? Why did my emotions seem to be so extreme compared to my friends and family? People want to play emotional illness off as “being in our heads” and some of us just being “weaker” than others, would YOU seek treatment if that’s what you heard? Imagine you had a fever for two weeks, but instead of encouraging you to go to the doctor, everyone told you to “just get over it” or “rub some dirt on it and get back in the game,” it’d make it pretty hard to take yourself seriously when it feels like NO ONE else does.
I spent 13 years, that’s just a few years shy of HALF MY LIFE, trying to “cope” like everyone else. And after ONE month of being on a low-dose antidepressant, I’ve been able to relax, to not just enjoy life, but to HANDLE it.
Unfortunately (and to be expected), not all of the feedback I received was supportive. In fact, I lost five followers and received a handful of emails informing me of how I wasn’t really being “treated.” Why would I promote and “glamourize” going on medication? Why couldn’t I just go talk to a counselor? Evidently, after spending five minutes reading one blog three readers were able to tell me what was wrong with me, how I could fix it (and it didn’t involve “feeding into the pharmaceutical machine”); something I was incapable of doing for the last decade!
Normally, this type of flack, losing a chunk of followers, would have bothered me in the past. And not in the “I want more traffic and readers” way, but in the “why don’t these people like me as a human being” way. But now, I can honestly tell you, I don’t really care what these people think. I appreciate individuals who want to reach out to me in a respectful manner, however, I have no desire to enter a battle with people who simply want to tell me how wrong I am and how I’m going to fail.
What people don’t see is the way I’ve been feeling for all these years. The coping methods I used (self harm, binge drinking, the usuals), were easily hidden by some of those closest to me. And while I may not have been engaging in those harmful ways over the last few years, it doesn’t mean my mind wasn’t still broken.
Deciding to go on medication was not something I chose lightly. At one point, probably within the last six months, I realized it was probably my best bet for healing myself, but I didn’t want to take that route. I didn’t want to be “weak.” I didn’t want to become dependent on drugs to make me happy and I didn’t want to be robotic – those things all seemed like giant steps back. But after sitting in the exam room with a doctor who has known me since I was eight, crying because I have all these blessings and I’m still not happy, he helped me decide enough was enough. He listened to me and he made me feel like Amanda, not his patient, and so I put my trust in him.
And medication isn’t my only “treatment” method, nor is it something I’m planning on being on forever. I’m not going to put a timeline on my healing, but I also realize this isn’t completely sustainable for me. I’ve also been talking with a counselor every other week, someone who specializes in women’s mental health, women’s transitions (I’m turning the big 30 NEXT month) and young mothers. I’m also finding new hobbies, whether it’s a photography class or a painting class, something I can immerse myself in something that will give me a new “high,” something that can help me figure out who I am outside of this “cloud.”
And I have the support, love and help of my family and friends, which is possibly the most important factor of all.
So I’m sorry if you’re offended that I’m willing to discuss my struggles so openly, I’m sorry if you think I’m weak because I’m on medication.
Actually, I’m not. I’m not sorry about any of those things. And if you want me to be, if you’re waiting for an apology from me, do us all a favor and unfollow me now. This blog is a space for anyone to talk about their struggles, their successes and their battles. This blog is where I want people to find comfort and hope. It doesn’t need any one person’s approval or judgment – especially if it’s hateful and not helpful.
You don’t have to agree with me. But you do need to be respectful.
You’re never going to make everyone happy, but as long as I am, I’m going to keep on keeping on.
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