Yeah, I said it. For reasons unbeknownst to me (but perhaps knownst to you), there’s a huge stigma against psychiatric medication. You’re never supposed to admit that you’re taking pills for a mental illness, an addiction, or an inability to stabilize your moods or focus on the task at hand. (Oh, look at the kitty!)
What was I saying?
You guys know how I feel about stigmas. Instead of tiptoeing around them, I tend to take an exaggerated, Dick Van Dyke-sized step right the fuck over them. There’s nothing wrong with admitting you have a weakness and are taking medication to try and fix it. Do I understand why people don’t go around announcing that they’re taking Lithium to manage their bipolar disorder? Of course. But I wish they could live in a world where people didn’t tsk tsk them if they did decide to share, and instead applauded them for getting the help they needed.
So on that note, I’m out with it: I’ve been on antidepressants for the better part of a year. I come from a long line of proud Italians who don’t believe in “happy pills,” and for a while, I tried everything I could to avoid anything that could be conceived as giving up (except wine…and giving up). But I was buried under a suffocating blanket of grief. As time went on, and the tragedies kept piling up, the blankets became more and more and heavier and heavier until one day, I was like the pea in Princess and the Pea. I couldn’t continue functioning trying to get out from under it all.
That was a year ago. A year ago when I stood in my kitchen, my eyesight blurred from another onslaught of hot tears, my son asleep in his bed and my husband in his man room playing video games. I don’t remember why I went to the kitchen. But I stood there. And all of a sudden, the medicine cabinet was like: “I’ve got what you need, you know.” No. No, no, no. You’re not going to think about that. So then the knives were like: “We’d work too, if you don’t mind the blood.” Just stop it. Oven pipes in: “You could go Slyvia Plath styles.” Well, that’s just too morbid.
So I called up to my husband. Through a typhoon of tears and snot, I told him I needed help. I told him I had tried to deal with it on my own, but failed. And he held me and told me I didn’t fail. That I was doing the right thing for me and for my family, who needed me. That he was here for me and he supported me in whatever I needed to do to feel better. And a small crack of light peeped through the blankets.
I called my doctor, who swiftly prescribed me what I needed. She warned that it would take up to a month to really kick in, and she checked in with me frequently. Within two weeks, the heaviness began to lift and for the first time in what felt like years, I felt like myself again. And that’s when I realized: these aren’t happy pills designed to mask the pain. They’re a helping hand, reaching down into the pit and getting you up onto safe land again.
And that’s where I am today.
So it’s time to say thank you for the help. Thank you for giving me my life back. Thank you for delivering me to my family safe and whole. I’m going off my antidepressants now. I know it’s not going to be easy, going it alone. But I’m ready now. Because of you.