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If you’re on social media these days, it’s possible you’ve seen a picture of a human hand holding a pill, or pills, accompanied by #postyourpill. This social media movement is another effort toward the destigmatization of not only mental health, but of the treatment of mental health diagnoses with medication.

My own personal story goes back approximately 25 years to the first time I ever sought out treatment for my anxiety. I finally realized it probably wasn’t normal to worry all day, every day, about everything – and the specific moment I realized I needed help was when I found myself stopping one day to ask myself, “Oh no, I’m supposed to be worrying about something! What is it?” That can’t be right, can it?

At the time I worked for a hospital that had its own Behavioral Medicine Practice that was also the EAP for employees. I got up the courage to make an appointment, then to go to the appointment, and after telling my story, was told by the therapist, “Sounds like you have a pretty good life to me. Why don’t you put a rubber band around your wrist, pop yourself when you worry about something, and ask your doctor for some Celexa.” WTAF? Well, I got the Celexa and immediately started feeling better, but decided that the dismissive nature of her advice that included dependence upon a common office supply was a red flag and vowed to find someone who “got me.”

I found another therapist in that practice who was my first experience with a good - no make that great - therapist. We talked, a lot. He got me. I got him. He helped me realize I had been suffering since I was a very young kid with a chronic anxiety disorder, most likely genetic and most certainly modeled for me unintentionally by my mom. I kept the meds, kept the therapist, until I was at a place I felt I could manage on my own for a while.

That brings me to the medication portion of this story. I’ve had different therapists at different points in my life depending on what’s happening in my life. During my therapeutic journey, I have gone on and off medication. I have found that you can have the greatest intern in the world, and they still may not really understand depression, anxiety, and ADHD meds if you are someone who has a hard time finding the right combination of medication. To physicians’ credit, they get what information the pharmaceutical rep throws at them, they’ve got 15 minutes to listen to you, and they do the best they can.

At one point I was disenchanted and felt like I “should be able to do this by myself through therapy and exercise.” I’m going to be honest – I’m also a medical professional, and I know how people who are on multiple meds for mental health diagnoses are often perceived. There’s where the “stigma” comes in. I’ve been on the receiving end of having a real physical issue only to be told after reviewing my medication list – “I’m sure it’s just anxiety.” Oh yeah? If I had a different set of genitalia would it still be anxiety? Likely not, bucko. (PS - do some research on women who die or nearly die when some bozo like you tells them it's "just anxiety").

The past few years have been particularly rough, as you are aware by now that I a woman in perimenopause, we’ve had this little thing called a pandemic, and I’m in healthcare leadership. I found myself feeling like I was climbing out of a deep, dark hole every morning when I got up. I wanted to cry all day long. I felt hopeless. I thought some scary thoughts sometimes like “It would be easier just not to do any of this anymore,” or “I’m just a burden to everyone around me,” or “I am completely alone,” even though I knew that wasn’t the case.

I was still seeing my therapist during all this, mind you, and she gently encouraged me to talk to my current physician, who is fantastic. I went to her, in tears, and said, “I don’t think you can help me, but I’m here anyway.” She sat with me for an hour while I cried, told her how I was feeling, and she helped me create a plan. I also started medicating for my lifelong ADHD that’s never been treated. I feel better. I feel smart for the first time in my life. Isn’t that sad? Not every day is great, and there are still wild mood swings sometimes because of this stage of life I’m in. But I get up every day, and there are more good days than there used to be.

I still feel shame when I go to the pharmacy and pick up my medication. I still feel shame when I write down all my meds at a doctor’s appointment. And yet – I shouldn’t. It’s medication that’s keeping me functional. I can get up in morning now and not stay in bed all weekend, and I'm wondering less frequently if anyone would really be that bad off without me. Medications are not a magic wand, and I strongly believe therapy is the way to long-term healing, yet it’s one tool in a tool kit meant to help people like me.

If you think you might need meds and you’re holding back because of the stigma of taking medication for mental illness that took the lives of over 45,000 people alone in 2020, DON’T let other people’s opinions stop you from seeking help. Your brain is an organ – and a pretty darn important one at that. If someone judges a person for taking medication that keeps many of us functional and, in some cases, alive, then that is their issue, not ours. #postyourpill #mentalhealthawareness #thebrainisanorgan

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Sharlene Allnutt
Sharlene Allnutt
01 de mai. de 2022

I am a firm believer in using medication for whatever anxiety, ADHD, depression, mental disorder, etc., that one has. However, most people leave out the therapy/counseling component, which in my brain, is almost the top priority. While I haven’t been medicated for depression since 2013, I was medicated for 13 years. I spent the early years of my first marriage, miserable, un-medicated, and in counseling. Fast forward a few, and I’m divorced, with a 14-month old son. More therapy, religious counseling, yet still un-medicated, I found myself back in the arms of my ex-husband, and remarried to him a year later. 😩🤦‍♀️ I say this because in 2000 when I finally got medicated for my depression, I didn’t get therap…

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