I often read articles written by people about breaking the stigma of mental health. These articles take courage to write, inviting people into a world of confusion, loss and helplessness. I have so much respect for anyone who writes these articles and has them published.
I first wrote an article about mental health when I was at university. I was a sabbatical officer at the time (this is a paid role for one year, you have to be elected in by the student body). The words came naturally, but the ability to hit the send button and send it to the student newspaper did not. Three days it took me. I wasn’t just opening up about my experiences, I was cutting myself in half with a very unforgiving knife that would allow the campus to wander in, take a good look around and form a judgement for itself.
Once it was published it took me two days to open the paper at the page my story was printed on. The day I read it in print I was actually sweating. There it was in black and white. I had suffered from depression and anxiety and I was freely telling the world.
It’s ten years since that article was published, and as you can imagine my life has changed somewhat. I no longer talk about the time in my life that I took anti depressants, I live the time in my life when I do take anti depressants. And I couldn’t be prouder.
When this current spell of medication began four years ago, I was so low that I took medical advice and began my new course of tablets. I wasn’t even in a state to make the decision on my own.
Today you wouldn’t know I took them. I don’t exhibit sadness, helplessness or anxiety. Not in public anyway. And that’s why I’m loud and proud. To show people that this is what the medication does. It allows me to be the person my son needs me to be. It gives me a platform to access the person inside me that under typical circumstances would come out and fight on its own.
Being a mum to a child with special needs is often described in the press as the equivalent of being in the army. The same stress levels, the same high intensity life style, the same decision making process. I never believed it. Sure it can’t be the same level of stress as a bomb going off? Now I can’t actually compare as thankfully and very fortunately I have never had that experience. But I can absolutely see why it’s used as a comparison. You’re constantly alert, in literal life or death situations. And, to put it bluntly, there’s no way I could make level headed decisions about my child’s future, health and education without the help of my anti depressants.
I’m not a failure for taking these tablets. I’m succeeding as a mother in the hardest of circumstances. And right now, to look at me, you’d never know I even took them.
So I shout loud and proud about my use of anti depressants, so that no one who reads my blogs is under the impression that I cope without medication. That no one who reads my articles thinks they are a failure for having to take prescription drugs. That everyone who reads my work understands that sometimes life takes a hold of you in a way that requires a little help in fighting back. And that’s ok. Because if taking anti depressants is what I need to do to be the worlds most fierce, protective and level headed (most of the time) fighter for my son, then that’s what I will damn well do.
Thanks for reading,