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The other day I was speaking with a dear friend of mine and we were discussing her current struggle with anxiety and depression, but her apprehension towards medication for her mental health.
I think this is a totally normal response when you need to take medication for a mental or physical condition. I have been taking medication for most of my life for my Crohn’s disease, so taking medication for physical conditions is TOTALLY NORMAL for me. But, I didn’t take medication for my mental health until about 2 years ago.
Two years ago prior to my surgery I was in so much pain and running out of options so I developed depression. I began taking medication and it really helped me through that difficult period of my life. Shortly after surgery I was able to go off of my anti-depressant because I was feeling amazing post-operation. Last year as I was going through my Masters I also developed severe anxiety about school, life and everything in between. That was by far the most difficult mental health problems I have ever experienced. I was having frequent panic attacks and without the help of the medication to pull me out it would have continued to spiral down.
All that being said, I have now been on and off with different doses 2 times for anxiety and depression, and it is becoming more normal for me. But, I strongly owe this to a mindset shift I had to help me normalize the use of mental health medication. I share this to share my story and to show others that there is SO many people who use mental health medication OR SHOULD probably be using it to help. I also share to try to end the stigma surrounding the use of medication for mental health, but also to help others who may be teetering with the idea of taking medication for their own mental health concerns.
Mindset shift: Mental Health Medication = Crutches
I like to think of mental health medication almost as crutches or mobility aids. When you break your foot, you use crutches while you allow you foot to heal and repair with your cast on and also while doing physio afterwards. The same goes for when you may be struggling with your mental health. Let me be clear here, your brain or mind is not broken, but it may be a little off balance or struggling to cope with some difficult life events happening for you.
If you go on mental health medication it gives you the extra support to do the inner work to come out stronger. Depending on what you are struggling with, this may mean speaking with a counselor/therapist on strategies, learning new coping strategies, dealing with some past traumas, or other inner work. I think doing the inner work once you feel a little more stable on medication is a very important component. I was able to surpass a lot of my limiting beliefs through really going inside and looking at the route of these thought patterns (with the help of my therapist). Like I said, this may look different for everyone, but working through the trauma is really important to develop new strategies for dealing with these mental health problems.
Just like physical conditions, some people need crutches (or other mobility aids) for longer than others. There is no shame (or at least much less from my perspective) surrounding people requiring mobility aids for months, years, or even their whole life. So, the same should be the case for mental health medication. If you need them for a few months, few years, or your whole life, it is okay and it can offer you the support you need to THRIVE.
I hope that this was helpful for you to switch your mindset on mental health medication use. This could also be a great analogy to share with a loved one or friend who may be struggling with mental health concerns.
If you enjoyed this post, you may also like the post I did on 10 PRACTICAL TOOLS FOR BEATING ANXIETY. I also discuss my anxiety journey in depth and go into some tools that have helped me the most!
QUESTION: DO YOU STRUGGLE WITH YOUR MENTAL HEALTH? WHAT IS YOUR TOP TOOL?
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Your trusty, gutsy gal,