Every night before I lay my head on my pillow I take a little white pill that will help me to function at my best for the next day to come. It seems simple, but the stigma attached to such a simple act is intense. So much so that I’ve been careful over the years not to leave my medication bottle in plain site when we have company over, and that I find myself hiding this truth of mine from even some of my close friends knowing full well that it’s a part of my life…likely for the rest of my life.
It’s been almost 13 years since I began this nighty practice and I can honestly say that I really believe that the last 13 years have been the most fulfilling years of my life thus far. I live in a loving marriage and have given birth to 2 children that are healthy, bright, and extremely handsome (insert gushing mom emoji here). I’ve built a very successful and flourishing business over the past 15 years and I’ve authentically connected with hundreds of people through my work and life activities. I have the most diverse and amazing group of friends and an incredibly supportive family, and I exist every day feeling the desire to continuously grow personally and professionally in a community that has shown me love and appreciation for the real person that I am.
I’m completely confident with my decision to make anti-depressants a part of my life indefinitely. However, I have to be honest and say that I still find it hard to openly talk about. Writing this has my chest and tummy in knots. My apprehension lies with the belief that I think that people see the need to take anti-depressants as a sign of weakness. But, here’s the thing… I definitely don’t feel weak. I’ve actually never felt like a weak person. I had some crappy stuff happen in my life and at times things have been quite tough, but I’ve never felt that these seasons made me weak. Yes, I’ve gone through emotional spells, or felt lost, or found myself sitting in a state of despair, but I’m not weak. So putting that label on a girl that is confident, driven, loving, and believes in herself is not something I can stand by and swallow. I am not weak.
I guess as much as I want to believe that I don’t really care about what other people think, the truth is that I still do to some extent. I don’t want people to make judgements based on what they think they know about a situation that they haven’t lived through personally.
The sad reality is that we live in a world filled with many pompous and insensitive jerks. People that are quick to judge, but also quick to hide themselves. It’s when I focus on the opinions of these ones that I find myself in the occasional space of guilt and I get glimpses of shame. The good news is there are just as many, if not more, beautiful souls that are determined to spread love and kindness like wildfire. I’m fortunate to be surrounded by many of these loving people. It’s because of them that I’m being brave and vulnerable today, because I know that no matter what, these people are my people. They’ve got me through whatever has come and will come.
I’ve questioned my decision to commit to a life on anti-depressants on more occasions than I can count. I’ve attempted dismissing the little white pill from my routine on a handful of occasions. Unfortunately, the result is extreme irritability, anger, suicidal thoughts and a dislike for the person I am.
Sadness. Hopelessness. Shame. It’s all in there and it’s an awful place to live, yet I’ve compromised the good I’ve lived while taking medication to escape being part of the stereotype that exists with being actively treated for a mental illness.
The empowering thing is that I do have a choice. We all do! My dad always said, “Life is about choices.” If you have a choice to live in a dark cloud of sadness, or a state of peace and openness, which do you choose? I’m asking you honestly. I’ve choose the latter. If it means that I have to take a pill before I go to bed at night, then so be it. I don’t know how many days I have left, but I don’t want to live them miserably. I don’t want that version of myself for my family, my friends, and I definitely don’t want it for my children.
I’ve been pre-dispositioned with a disease that can attack my brain and thoughts. I’m owning up to this and admitting it publicly, and I treat it like I would treat any other illness – I take my medication. I don’t like that it has to carry a stigma. If I was a diagnosed diabetic and my body wasn’t creating enough insulin I would take the medication to be well and maintain my best life. Why is it different if my brain isn’t creating enough serotonin or the levels of norepinephrine that it should be? Shouldn’t I take the medication so I can be well?
Depression came on subtly with me. I didn’t want to admit the feelings I was having. I knew deep down that something wasn’t right and I was familiar with my familial history of mental health diagnosis, yet I was afraid to be one of the statistics. At 29, I found myself in my doctor’s office with my 3 month old baby boy feeling disconnected. I felt an unexplainable absence of happiness. I felt uninterested in the amazing life event that just happened. I felt alone, sad, and just hopeless. Postpartum depression is not something anyone really expects to happen to them, but yet I had arrived here.
I was optimistic that with time I would get back to a space where medication was no longer something I needed. But for me it wasn’t the way. I still take my pill every night. It’s something I have to do to to be a great mom, wife, sister, daughter, and to be at my best. And you know what – that is okay!
I wanted to share this today because it’s #truthtellertuesday over here. If I’m asking others to share their vulnerable stories through mental illness or suicidal encounters, I too need to step up and share more about mine. Its not easy. I’m nervous about being so open because I don’t know how people will react. Will I be judged by others? Is it possible that some friendships may dissolve? I don’t know, but I just want to be honest about who I am in hopes that maybe my story will help someone else to embrace and feel more confident about their own.