My Journey with Medication

First things first, I am not a doctor. I am not a therapist, psychologist, MD, PHD or anyone who can or should give instructions on how to take care of your mind. THAT BEING SAID, I am a person who has been mentally ill nearly as long as I have been alive. I'm an unwell person who has often singlehandedly done the work in order to evaluate my mental health, locate the causes of my pain/trauma, unpack them, repack them and find a mental health regimen that works for me... all in the hopes of healing myself. So I know a little bit about different courses of action in the name of mental wellness, at least as how I have experienced it. So, please take my accounts for what they are: me, sharing my story with you. 

This is what I have gone through, what I have struggled with and what works for ME. 

Also, TW sexual abuse, depression, suicidal thoughts, self harm


I don't remember the moment that I was like ::lightbulb:: "I think I'm mentally ill." I don't know if it happens like that for anyone but it certainly didn't for me. I remember now looking back, moments where I was clearly struggling but didn't have the knowledge or the vocabulary to tell anyone or ask for help. 

I remember that I started having nightmares after my sexual abuse at age 7. I told my caregiver the next day and they did nothing to help me. They were very upset for me but in the name of self preservation, requested that I not tell anyone because if I did, the man would go to jail. They asked me if I was ok, I said yes and it was never talked about again. I was not advocated for, I felt betrayed, dirty and sad... and then the nightmares started. 

High school was another time my mental health took a nose dive. I was coasting along, doing fine, not popular but not bullied. I had a few friends, straight A's and a boyfriend. I was even one of the starting pitchers on the varsity softball team. Things were fine... then I met a girl and fell in love with her and everything changed. I will go into more detail on a future episode of the podcast, but let's just say for now that things were awful. Overnight, I became "that gay girl" at school. I lost a lot of friends, lost family, lost my home. I started being bullied, called names, had things thrown at me when I walked down the hallway. Naturally, I went on a downward spiral pretty quickly. I cut all my hair off, I started acting out by way of promiscuity, I was mean to people as a way of making myself feel better, my grades dropped (to B's and C's but still a drop) and the biggest thing I struggled with was self harming. I was crying out for help in pretty much every way a person could and yet, no one heard me and no one knew what to do with me regardless. My caregiver eventually put me into a behavioral hospital to "fix me" and my queerness. They never showed up to our family therapy though so I ended up staying for 2 long months because they are reluctant to release minors into environments that don't have good support systems in place. This was the first time I was prescribed anything or had any therapy of any kind but the first meds gave me headaches, the second ones made me sleepy all the time, one made my hair fall out. It was not a good time and once I left treatment, my meds weren't a priority anyway. I spent a lot of time crying, writing poetry, thinking about dying and hurting myself.

My first year of college didn't go well either. I didn't play softball my senior year because of all the drama so no colleges recruited me. I was still immensely depressed and I had no support system or solid ground to stand on. So as soon as I got to college, I lost my mind. Not in any tangible way. I looked and sounded fine, but I slept through all of my classes, stayed up late being manic and doing weird stuff like going to walmart at 1 am to buy ribbons so I could make necklaces or painting for hours only to leave the canvases in a parking lot for someone to find and hopefully take home with them and I even had a pet cat and hamster in the dorm which wasn't allowed. Don't even ask me about the kind of partner I was because I was terrible to anyone who ever tried to love me. I was a walking nightmare. I didn't know that though, I felt like I had a handle on everything and that I was just a weird person who was wild, spontaneous and fun. Then I failed out of college. How fun! 

People didn't really talk about mental health back then like they do now. Even if they did, it was harder to find seeing as Facebook was still only a website that students could join and Instagram didn't even exist yet. The internet was nothing like it is now, I mainly used it for Myspace shenanigans like changing my top 8 and taking 300 selfies after I did my eye make up. I had livejournal and a xanga to vent, but I still wasn't really aware that I was unwell. I just thought I was weird. 

Around 19 I went into another behavioral hospital, this time as an adult. I stayed for a week, got a new doctor and a new prescription and thought things were going to be fine. Like I said though, things weren't talked about then like they are now, so the meds were a nightmare as well. At this time in my life, I took two pills daily. 1 made me zombie like... if I was extreme before, this cut off all of that. It didn't level me out, it made me a ghost. The second one made me sleep all the time. I was missing work because of it and gained like 30 pounds. I didn't know that I should tell my doctor this though, I thought that this was just how I had to feel and what I had to put up with in the name of being well. So I just kept sporadically taking them hoping to somehow get used to them? I honestly don't know what I was thinking at the time, but I wasn't doing it right. I was trying yes, but not in any real way. 

When I got married and pregnant a few years later, I wasn't taking anything. I hadn't been anyway but I was even more against taking meds for fear of it being dangerous for the babies. So I was hit not once but twice with insane bouts of post partum depression that left me a crying mess. It never got too bad, I wasn't a danger to anyone. I was just sad or angry all the time. I was quick to anger, I cried all the time, I acted out by doing dumb shit. 

Around 5 years ago though, something changed. I started The Crybaby Club. I connected with other people who struggled in the same ways that I had been my whole life. I realized that I wasn't alone, that I was worthy of healing and that I had to advocate for myself, ask questions and have tough conversations about these things in order to heal from them. 

With the support of some really incredible people in my life at that time, I found a doctor and another and another. Because while I didn't know it at the time, sometimes it takes a while to find one that fits your needs. Its a long and often tedious process, but you have to stick with it. 

Once I found a therapist, she referred me to a psychiatrist so I could start trying meds again in hopes that I would find one(s) that worked for me. This too, is not a one and done type of process. My doctor explained to me once that "it took a long time for your brain to get this sick, its going to take some time and trial and error to get it well again." 

I started a couple of meds and kept her informed on any side effects or weird symptoms that I was having and she made adjustments and we went from there. 

I have finally got a combo in place that works to make me my best self. 
I am not overly sleepy all the time, but I sleep. 
I am not quick to anger but I still feel anger sometimes. 
I am not a sporadic mess of emotions but I am not a walking droid. 
There are side effects, but they are manageable and they are ones that I would gladly trade off for emotional and mental stability. 

It took years to find the combination of meds that work to keep me well. Now I look back over my life and mourn the time that fell victim to my mental state and that's ok. It's ok to mourn the moments, experiences and time that you lost to your mental illness. I grieve for the little girl, the teenager, the new mother who just needed a little guidance, support and tough love. However, I also look forward to living my life now and creating new moments with myself and my loved ones. 

I do very much wish that I had some help for all those years where I felt like I was drowning under the weight of my own mind but I recognize the benefits that came to me later as a result of having to find my way out on my own and I am beyond thankful for my meds. Therapy did a lot of stuff for me as well, the therapy and medication combo is a powerful one, but I felt like the meds made it easier for me to breathe and experience life in general because instead of insane spikes and low, low valleys, my emotions were more level. Instead of something being THE WORST THING THAT COULD EVER HAPPEN TO ME, it was simply bad and I could handle it. When I was excited, instead of being euphoric almost to the point of chaos, I was just happy and excited and able to enjoy it. I still felt every emotion, but it just felt very lowkey. My life no longer felt like a great tragedy. It still had good and bad moments, but I could handle them because I wasn't being ruled by my big feelings and meds helped me do that. 

Meds are not for everyone or every mind the same way therapy doesn't take for some people. We are all weird little clusters of feelings, cells, organs and issues so naturally things like this aren't a "one size fits all" kind of thing. I am not pushing meds on you. I am not pushing anything on you. I am simply here to encourage you to advocate for yourself and your mental health. It's true that you are the only one who really can. You are worthy of healing and giving the best you their best shot. Whatever that looks like for you, I hope you find what works. You are worthy of that. 

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