For the past four years, I’ve been taking medication for my mental health. To give a quick lowdown, I suffer with Generalised Anxiety Disorder which has been a part of me from a very young age (although I wasn’t officially diagnosed with it until I was 18).
Growing up, I was made to believe that taking medication was a horrible thing to do if you were mentally ill; you were made to be seen as someone who hadn’t tried enough. Someone who was worse off simply for taking a small tablet that could be the very difference between leading a normal life and being wildly suicidal at 2am in the morning.
My anxiety disorder made my childhood and subsequent teenage years incredibly difficult to navigate. Every other day was plagued with panic attacks after being bullied by spiteful children at school some of whom were even my “friends”. There was a period of time in my life where I had panic attacks every single day for two weeks straight which was exhausting for me and my mind. Being in a head space where I couldn’t do what I wanted and I was too scared to be myself for fear of being rejected by society made my school years a very personal hell on earth.
When I left school and went to university, my mental health slowly got better mainly because I became friends with people who didn’t treat me like shit, but panic attacks were still frequent. Eventually, this would carry on well into my very first office job and it got to a point where I had a horrific panic attack while I was driving me and Morgan home from a concert in Cardiff one evening. To this day, I still don’t know how I didn’t kill us with the state I was in.
I had been to the doctor’s several times before with regards to my anxiety disorder and medication was something I was aware of to help treat it, but having heard so much bias from the media and horror stories of friends taking medicated cocktails to treat their own personal demons, I was scared of it. One of my doctors even told me I had a “mild” form of anxiety disorder which would never need to be medicated.
“Mild form of anxiety” my fucking arse.
So you can imagine the absolute terror and panic I had when one of my doctors talked to me about trying medication. I was at my wits end at this point with my plaguing panic attacks and reluctantly got put on a 20mg dosage of Citalopram, a common anti-depressant.
That medication that I take daily, has saved my life.
I look back at my younger self and want to smack her for having the opinions I had about medication back then. People who deal with mental health issues treat them differently; some will require medication, some even more than one type. Some may not even need medication at all, but the bottom line is, that nobody should be shamed for taking it. It shocks me that in this day and age people still think I should be going down other routes to treat my anxiety and not just “pop pills” whenever I feel sad. But it’s much more complicated than that.
Although I was initially put on Citalopram to help suppress my panic attacks (and was the reason why I felt so open talking to people in my life about it; it’s not treating my anxiety I swear!), it actually has helped curb the majority of my anxiety disorder. Even though I still have bad days, they’re nowhere near as bad as before; and my medication is to thank for that.
People who take medication aren’t weak. We’ve not given up and we’re certainly not more depressed because of it. Taking medication has let me have a second chance at life, to be the best version of myself that I can be. I’m the most confident I’ve ever been in myself and I’m incredibly proud to stand tall and say that medication has saved me from a downward spiral (even though I am now on a 10mg dosage – the lowest one I can be offered). Although I’ve had a very tough couple of recent years, I am alive down to being medicated.
So don’t believe anybody who says that taking medication is wrong. Don’t let anyone shame you for using it. There are more people who rely on it than you think and if you believe that it’s a horrible thing to do, kindly take my medication and shove it where the sun don’t shine (and I don’t mean swallowing them).