As promised in my last post, I have more to share from my recent annual physical. More than just the fun of being stabbed repeatedly that is. After talking with my doctor about my depression and anxiety, and the symptoms I’m still experiencing despite weekly therapy sessions, she decided to prescribe me Lexipro, a medication used to treat both generalized anxiety disorder and depression.
A therapist I used to see in Massachusetts strongly recommended that I consider meditation. I have been resistant to that idea for several reasons. First, these types of medications usually take several weeks to start working, and finding the right dose of the right medication can involve some trial and error. Secondly, these types of drugs can have some significant side effects. Mostly though, I resisted medication because I thought I could handle it myself. I saw medication as a weakness, something for people who are worse than me. Yet medical decisions shouldn’t be based on comparisons to other people. And given that mental health issues are medical conditions, it makes sense that they might need medicine just like any other medical condition.
I know all these arguments. I know there should be no shame in adding medication to my treatment plan. I know that the stigma surrounding mental illness is a big part of why medication is seen as a weakness. But it isn’t just the stigma that is to blame. It is the illness itself.
Because unlike an infection or cancer, this illness fights back before you even start taking the medication. Telling you you don’t need it. Telling you you are weak for taking it. Telling you that the side effects will make you even more unlovable. Making you doubt all the things you know about mental illness, making you doubt all the things your doctor has told you, and worse still, making you doubt all the things you know about yourself. And so, taking a medication feels like a defeat.
Yet it isn’t. With a little bit of luck it will be the start to more victories, more good days in my battle. It is now that my demons meet my drugs, a cavalry of sorts in my battle. And despite the deceitful feelings that are being generated by my mental illness I know this is a good thing.