K-DEER's Founder Starting the Conversation for World Mental Health Day
Posted on October 10 2018
I know the importance of being a #conversationstarter so I’m here to talk about my experience with depression, anxiety and being on medication. It’s been a long journey, starting with anxiety as a kid and progressing into depression through my teens and 20’s. As we continue to create normalcy in the discussion surrounding mental health, there is still a cloud of shame that looms over the way in which we choose to take care of ourselves. Let’s break that down.
“How can I get better?” Getting better is different for everyone but I’ll share my experience to put a picture to the process. It took a long time before I could even admit I needed help. Panic attacks, hives, crippling insecurity and feeling 1000% unmotivated and down happened for years before I was introduced to the bare minimum- talking to a therapist. I went to a counselor in college but was so afraid of being seen walking into the “therapy building” that I stopped going.
When I nearly hit rock bottom about 6 years ago, I was encouraged to see a psychiatrist who could prescribe medication to help ease the symptoms of depression. Helplessness, depression, anxiety, non-functioning, disconnection were all in my vocabulary of feelings. As I started my medication, these symptoms began to subside. After time, life circumstances changed, new stressors came up and symptoms started to come back again. I went to my doctor and we addressed changing medication. I’ve changed my meds 3 times in the last 6 years and it’s simply part of the process that I accept and am patient with. I’m currently on medication that allows my brain to function and I’m super grateful for that. My doctor tested my DNA to know which meds work best for my genetics and everytime I check in with him, we question it’s efficacy and discuss how I’m coping with challenges in my life.
I used to feel shame for being on medication. I’ve been told how ‘unhealthy’ it is to be on meds, that I should have a goal for when I’ll finally be off meds, or straight up that I don’t need them (NOT TRUE). No one knows your story and journey, trust the doctors and therapists who understand this disease from a clinical standpoint and then trust the process. I know now that my brain needs help and there is nothing to be ashamed of. Just like a diabetic needs insulin, I need something to help my brain function so I can lead a productive life.
Along with my daily medication, I see a therapist every 1-2 weeks. She listens, questions and coaches me to see beyond my judgements and when I’m feeling depressed, she empowers me to explore vulnerable topics that often uncover the deeply rooted reasons for my feelings. Is medication and therapy a cure? No, but it puts me in control of my feelings and helps me take action towards healing.
This World Mental Health Day, I encourage you to celebrate by being a #conversationstarter. Write in a journal, have a conversation with a friend or share your story with us, we’re here to listen if that’s what you need. You can reach me personally at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also participate with K-DEER by purchasing the Molly Stripe which donates a portion of proceeds to Bring Change to Mind.