Avoiding the Rabbit Hole: Medication and Shame
I am not sure if anyone realizes how difficult it can be to take regular medication. As humans, we are forgetful creatures; it can be easier than you might think to miss a day, week, or even month. We also happen to be very stubborn creatures. Add invisible illness and mental health into the mix and… whoa nelly.
I don’t know about you but I take a multitude of little colorful candies every day. Anxiety, acid reflux, asthma, allergies -to name a few- are all on my list of controlled substances. That’s not even including the various over-the-counter meds I’ll flock to when my fibromyalgia or IBS flares up.
When it becomes too much
It can be a lot to take it, a lot to remember. Worse, it can be debilitating. The act of taking medication regularly is not always a lovely reminder of your struggle. The constant reminder, the slap-in-the-face feeling that you need something other than yourself. You need this to function, to survive. At times it can be overwhelming and that act of taking your pills can be too much to handle. We doubt our medication, doubt ourselves. So we don’t take them. Sometimes we just forget, sure, but most of the time we simply tell ourselves that we don’t actually need them. We think that we will be better off without them.
Throwing fuel on the fire is the stigma attached to our choices. Society has told us time and time again that being on medication or hopped up on pills 24/7 is bad, so we feel ashamed. We doubt and turn on ourselves. Why must we rely on such things in order to be happy -in order to function? Why us?
If you get anything from this article, I hope that it is the affirmation that medication is not “bad.” I am not saying that living in a zombie-like trance your entire life in order to escape the world is a positive thing; rather, I am simply saying that for some, medication is the only thing keeping them functioning, keeping them laughing, keeping them alive.
For many people with invisible illnesses it simply comes down to science; my brain is not functioning properly, therefore, it must be mended. Makes sense, right? Easy-peasy, no? Well, not so fast.
The rabbit hole
Yes, medication, for me, has quite literally been a life saver, specifically with regards to my mental state. But you need to understand just how easy it can be to miss one little pill. That little mistake causes a thundering domino effect wherein your embarrassment about missing a pill leads to repression and silence. This is often followed by the thought that perhaps you didn’t need the pills after all. As your unhealthy, rather uninformed, thoughts start to surface your stubborn side kicks in and after one or two days without those colorful candies you’ve changed. You are a different person than you were on medication. You’ve become that person again. But, alas, you tell yourself that you’re fine; you like yourself broken, you don’t need help.
But, you do need it. Because the next step in this avalanche is the breakdown. You no longer have science on your side. You brain is no longer functioning the way that it should, and thus, your emotions take over. Your anxiety or depression creeps in. You can no longer cope with change, flare ups or pain in any way. Yes, you’ve become that person again. You are falling. Deeper and deeper you tumble, into that stubborn, broken, shell of a human you were before. You lie in bed all day. You sit alone in the dark. You cry, uncontrollably, for seemingly no reason. You can’t think of anything but the pain you feel: the bloating in your stomach, the headaches you’re suffering through, the aches in your joints. These aspects of your life become the only focus of your mind. All because of one little mistake, one little decision.
So, now what?
One thing that people might not realize is how difficult it can be to start taking that pill again. I think that I deal with this problem on a monthly basis. In many ways it is as though you are admitting you were wrong -which is hard enough at the best of times. You have been defeated. And, here comes the shame again; you could not survive without medication.
But that’s where you’re wrong.
You are surviving. What people need to realize is that taking medication is not admitting defeat, but rather, owning success, embracing your self. You are saying, ‘I will not let this beat me. I will win. I will take control of my life and be happier. Be healthier.’ We are not mindless drones popping pills for no reason. We are human beings trying to be functional in society. And that’s just it; we are trying. It’s hard, annoying, and seems nearly impossible but without trying, without sticking to a daily regime and keeping science on your side, you’re just a shell. Yoda, as wise and wonderful as he was, was not necessarily correct: there is not only do and do not, there is also try.
So, keep trying. Don’t let the stigma tell you that taking medication is wrong, because for a lot of us, it’s all we’ve got. It is our past, our present, and, probably, our future. But, you know what? That’s okay, because we are trying.