So, this is the enigma I have been wrestling with, should I take prescription medicine for my battle with depression and anxiety or shall I forgo the induced numb state and continue to deal with my ailments the holistic natural way. Of course, I prefer to do the latter but lately, I feel the depression and anxiety is taking over, it has gotten worse due to many factors. Factors such as being a Stay-at-home-mom, transitioning to becoming a working mom, being a mom of 3, trying to be a good mom, not being sure of myself, my relationship with my partner, deciding to put school on hold again, my unhealthy relationship with my parents and siblings, lack of family support, my PTSD, the remnants of growing up in a dysfunctional household, being raised by a narcissistic mother and being abandoned by my biological father.
I wake up almost every morning with anxiety manifested mentally by racing thoughts and physically by butterflies in my stomach. And I battle with bouts of depression throughout the day. I take vitamins, do my affirmations, readings, yoga, prayer and meditation, which all work when I’m consistent, but it’s challenging to be consistent when life is so stressful and overwhelming. I understand that my anxiety and depression is at it’s climax because of the grieving process I’m going though and I am finally deciding to stop living in the fog. This journey is not really supported by those who continue to live in the fog, which once you try to escape it, you realize how many people in your life and around you actually live in the fog.
Sometimes it feels as it will just be easier to just pop some pills and live in the fog, ignorance is bliss right? WRONG, living in blissful ignorance is a temporary, and it’s just a façade. No one lives blissfully in ignorance. The older you get the more you have to do in order to avoid reality and maintain that pseudo-blissful state. You either have to medicate, distract yourself with addictions and/or build up a host of defense mechanism (the main one is denial), in order to placate this form of bliss. So, is it really Bliss?
Taking prescription meds may create some immediate temporary relief from my ailments, but ultimately, it’s like putting a Band-Aid over a deep open wound and broken bone. Prescription meds provide temporary relief to the symptoms of depression and anxiety, but doesn’t cure it. The only way to truly cure depression and anxiety is to deal with the root cause. The Healing process can be long, painful and arduous, but it’s worth it. It takes patience and persistence, life skills that are not really taught and nurtured in a fast-paced microwave effect society. In order to truly heal, we have to learn how to tolerate emotional pain without trying to medicate it away. We have to take it “One day at a Time”.
Yesterday I was thinking about talking to my doctor about prescribing medicine but today I’m choosing to continue my healing journey the natural way. I truly want to heal and to help others heal!
*Side Note: I don’t judge anyone who prefers to use medicine. And I’m open to having a conversation with both those who choose to take medication and those who don’t. Another part of the healing process is talking about it, so we don’t feel isolated and alone. Having Depression and Anxiety or any other mental illnesses is not our fault and we shouldn’t have to deal with it in isolation.
Update to this post originally published on 9/21/16 @ 12:11pm. Its now 4/18/19, almost 3 years later and I have some new insight because my depression got to the point where I was struggling to get up every morning and I was losing interest in connecting with my children and I knew something had to give. So, I decided to talk to my therapist about talking medications temporarily until I get out of this funk. She reassured me that she understood my many reasons for not wanting to take medication and she supports me in whatever decision I choose. She suggested that I talk to my PCP more about what type of medication would be suitable for me and that I do my own research and take ownership of my health. So, I
talked cried to my doctor and told her why I think I needed medication and all my fears surrounding taking medication. I feared that I would… get addicted…be considered a sell out to the naturopathic community…be judged…not be myself…and the idea of putting a foreign manufactured substance in my body frightened me most of all! She listened and I felt heard. She told me that its ok, and I am doing the right thing for me right now and the fact that I have those concerns, she feels confident that I would be able to stop using the medication whenever I felt necessary. She prescribed me the SSRI antidepressant Sertraline which is an less expensive version of Zoloft (I will talk more about different types of medications in another post). She told me that it will take up to 4-6 weeks to be effective, that it is not addictive and I may have some mild side effects like dry mouth, diarrhea and vomiting (which is another one of my fears!!!). She also reiterated that I can stop using it whenever I feel ready. I took the script, filled the script and looked at the bottle of pills for 3 days before I decided to take my first dose.
I decided to only take the medication for 6 months: 3 of those months with the full dose (which was actually half of a pill for me), then the other 3 months, I started to feel better and more in control of my emotions and started to wean myself off to just half a pill every other day, to eventually nothing at all. At first I was totally against medication for myself, but it did help me get out of that dark place and refocus on the things that were important. I will reiterate that it only temporarily placated the surface symptoms by making me feel calmer aka high, so I would still have racing thoughts but the thoughts didn’t bother me and I was able to smile and laugh more because stuff didn’t bother me. The downside were the side effects, the dry mouth and diarrhea were a little annoying but tolerable, and subsided for the most part when I decrease my dosage. Honestly, on the upside the dry mouth forced me to drink more water and the diarrhea helped me to get rid of toxins in my body, so though it was very annoying, it was also helping me in a since. In the first week, I was talking a 25mg dose, which was the lowest dosage, but I felt too high, so I sought advice and I was advised to cut my pills in half, and once I did that I was a tolerable high, my mouth wasn’t as dry and the diarrhea wasn’t as bad either. At the end of those 6 months I was proud of myself to be able to wean myself off the medication. I keep a bottle of the medication to remind me of my journey and my strength and my ability to take control of my health!!!
In conclusion, I would say, if you are battling with depression, anxiety or any type of mental health issue, seek help. Mental health is just as important as physical health!!! It’s ok to get help and find help that truly supports your healing journey, if you feel forced to do something you don’t want to do then maybe that’s not the right journey for you. But, you also have to have discernment, you have to know how to decipher between something that may not feel comfortable but may be in your best interest, like you may not want to be admitted to a hospital for treatment, but if you are causing or contemplating harm to yourself or others then you need the extra support trained professionals are equipped to give. Most importantly, don’t let the mental illness define you, you are not the mental illness, and the mental illness is not all you are…you are someone struggling with, dealing with, and/or managing an illness that should be taken as serious as cancer and treated with the same respect, support and empathy as someone with cancer! Mental illness may not be seen, but it’s real. As someone who both deals with mental illness and helps other deal with their mental illness, I know how real it is. (I will talk more about this in another post)!