Editor’s note: Please see a doctor before starting or stopping a medication.
After almost three years of being diagnosed with anxiety and depression, I recently found out that I have bipolar disorder. Taking these six pills daily is what keeps me afloat. I’m writing this in the hope that it will help just one person feel confident enough to seek help. Or to speak out and break the stigma surrounding mental health.
Pill shaming is toxic and it’s time to break down the societal taboo. Having a mental illness is hard enough as it is without the pill shaming stigma that floats among those struggling. There is so much misinformation out there about antidepressants and antipsychotic drugs — being addictive or you being weak for taking them. I think this is inaccurate, and certainly not the case. Exercise or eating healthy and keeping busy are enough for some people, but others need that extra push, that extra bit of help to enable them to live a “normal,” happy life. Which, don’t we all deserve? A life neither ruled by fear or crushed by depression and anxiety. In the same way you’d wear glasses to help you see better, some people take a pill (or six) to give them the assistance they need to help their mind. And that’s OK.
Just because it isn’t physical, visible or tangible, we have a tendency to treat it like it’s wrong, like mental illness is less of an illness than a visible one. There is no shame in accepting the assistance of medication. It doesn’t make you any less human, it doesn’t make you weak or any less capable of doing the job, writing the essay or completing the degree — the same way a person without a mental illness would. By acknowledging the issue and accepting the assistance of medication, personally, I think you’re admirable. Because it is often the people who take meds that are the strong ones, the fighters.
PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), depression, anxiety, bipolar, borderline personality disorder — none of these illnesses are a flaw in character or a flaw in self, therefore, do not feel ashamed by them.
Educate yourself, find out more about these illness’ before jumping on the stigma stallion and riding out into the sunset with all the other uneducated assholes. People should not feel ashamed or guilty for struggling with mental illness or for seeking help and taking medication. I think it’s you who should be ashamed. You the friend, you the partner, you the family member and you the employer. For your naivety and arrogance which adds to the ever-growing stigma drowning mental health.
For anyone who’s going through a dark patch right now, I’m here for you. Talk, take meds if you need to, go for jogs, walk the dog, go to therapy, drink some herbal tea. One glove doesn’t fit all, but everything’s worth a try, right? Don’t be afraid — seek help. End the stigma.