One thing I need to come to terms with is psychiatric medications. No, I have come to terms with that. One thing I need to come to terms with is living around and loving people who view such medications as a personal weakness or a flaw in the health care system.
I know that I cannot convince you. But I wish I could explain to you that very first moment when a person comes to accept that he/she will be “one of those people who takes psych meds”. I can only speak from my own experiences. But believe me, those of us who have chosen to accept a medication into our systems on a daily basis are not the weak ones. We are the strong ones. We are the ones who looked the Future right in the eye and saw our options and chose the hard way: LIFE.
Let me explain a little bit more about myself and what I take. A decade ago, I was placed on anti depressants. I fought against taking them for a long time. I should have been on them a year earlier. But I was stubborn and believed I could become healthier again “on my own” and with what Nature had given me from birth.
Sometimes, that is horseshit. Sometimes, you can do everything in your power to become healthy again and be a thriving, productive citizen, and it is not enough. You can go on walks every day. You can get enough sleep each night. You can eat healthfully. You can meditate. You can study. You can join groups. You can try to make friends. You can try art and crafts and writing and reading and attend churches and attend temples and pray and practice self affirmations. You can try everything you can think of and research even more things you can try. You can attend therapy twice a week. You can go back to school. You can try a job. You can DO EVERYTHING WITHIN YOUR POWER to change yourself for the better and STILL be haunted with the emptiness inside.
You can do all of these things and find no moment of peace, no moment of happiness. You can find only the grayness, the detachment, the hopelessness. You can find that there is no Future at all, and see only a few days ahead of today. You can’t picture a Future. You can’t honestly tell someone you will see them a week from today because you don’t know if there will be a week from today.
You start to think about dying. You start to think about all the trouble you have been putting your friends and family through. You start to understand the burdens and stresses they are going through in trying to help you in your quest for stability. You see the worry lines in their faces. You see the exhaustion in their movements. You know they don’t want to answer the phone anymore when you call for support. They don’t want to meet with you. They have nothing to offer. You have nothing to offer them; you’re just a leech, sucking away at their personal life energy.
You start to believe that they’d be better off and live easier without your presence. You start to believe that your own negative energy is influencing the world at large in a negative way. You start to imagine you are the cause of suffering around the globe; that your very exhalations are causing negative energy to flow around the world.
You start to panic. You see the world around you through a dark veil. You can’t experience as many sensations of touch or smell or taste or sight as you did in the past. Things are meaningless and whether or not you attend a class or attend a job or meet with your friends… who gives a shit in the grand scheme of things? What I do today has no impact on the world at large. It’s all irrelevant.
You can’t derive even a split second of pleasure from what you logically know is a beautiful sunset. But there’s no emotional connection. You are apart from it, as though viewing it through a robot’s eyes.
You start wondering, just out of curiosity, what the most painless methods of dying might be. You start looking it up online. You start compiling a list. You start going through what equipment or ingredients might be needed. You start keeping an eye out for such things, you know, just in case. You do this for months. You know dozens of methods but haven’t actually purchased anything. That would take energy and motivation you don’t have.
All this time, you pretend to others. You smile when you know they have made a joke. You make a noise that is somewhat similar to that of laughter. It is obviously fake and hollow to your own ears, but seems to satisfy those around you. You practice smiling in the mirror, watching the creases around your eyes, your cheeks, and trying to make it look as genuine as you can. You go on walks with other people and try to join in on the conversation. Your words are false and fake and you don’t recognize the strange voice coming out of you. You wonder if you’ll ever be genuine again. The walking exhausts you but you keep going because you know it’s “healthy” for you.
Every moment of the day, you are trying. You are faking. You are stepping forward but really you are in quicksand and are being pulled down farther and farther. You don’t know who you are anymore. You can’t fathom how nobody else seems to notice that everything you do and say is fake. You’re losing yourself more and more every day.
One day you hate yourself. There is an agony you can’t understand. Physical agony, like a burning inside of your body. Like the blood in your veins is actually liquid fire. Maybe there is a person who you looked up to and you come to realize they don’t care about you at all. Maybe you did or said something so humiliating at work, you can’t fathom ever returning there. Maybe you are so lost and alone, and so without hope, that a part of you wants it to be over. So maybe this day, you pick up a knife. Maybe you begin to press the tip of the knife into the part of your body that is on fire the most, even knowing it’s stupid and cliche and everybody will hate you or judge you or be scared of you. But maybe, just maybe, it will make a difference. You press into the vein and the back of your mind whispers that just maybe you will slip and it will be over. Just maybe there will be an earthquake or something else you cannot control and the knife will go in too deep for any reconstruction to save you. But you press, or maybe you saw, or you slice neatly, going just far enough to hurt. You focus on the pain. Your mind focuses. Your vision focuses and for one moment, there is no dark veil. For one moment, you see life clearly. For one moment, you are with yourself and you love yourself. And the pain brings tears to your eyes but you keep pressing, keep hurting, keep waiting for a drop of blood to bring some visual satisfaction. Your body is shaking and you don’t really want to die. Maybe you barely make a scratch, or maybe there is blood running down from the spot. But the liquid fire is gone and your body no longer burns. The clarity is still with you and you are there and in the present moment and focused and you LOVE yourself. You wash the wound lovingly. You apply some antiseptic to the wound. You dress the wound. You wash the knife and put it back away and that never happened, except that the mark is still there when you wake up the next day. There was a private moment with yourself that you can treasure. There was a moment that was real. You baby your wound and you know this is how you should always treat yourself, but you also know that most of the time, you just don’t care. There’s no way to feel feelings on the typical day. There is just dark, hazy numbness and the nothingness that goes on and on and on.
And there is no end in sight. There is no hope and no future. There are no goals because frankly you don’t give a shit about anything. Nothing has the slightest bit of meaning to you — even things that would have brought you to your knees in the past. Now it’s just unreal and like somebody else’s bad movie playing around you and you’re trapped.
And one day, you buy some alcohol. And you drink as much as you can until the room is spinning and you wonder if this will really numb the pain enough to let you cut even deeper. So you get your knife back out. Maybe this time you don’t even care enough to wash it first. And you “practice” or maybe you are just trying to dull the liquid fire that is causing such physical pain in your body again. But just maybe, the back of your mind is there again, egging you on, wanting you to show you’re serious, wanting you to finish this and prove to yourself and to everyone else that you were serious all along, and this is the only way to prove it. (And you’re smart enough and done enough research to know the only ways in which it could be lethal, and the risk of tendon damage.)
Because mental illness often has no outward signs. And nobody knows you have been faking for so long, and you are too exhausted to continue. Nobody knows and it seems nobody even cares whether or not you’re faking it. Just say and do the bare minimum and people will be satisfied and turn away.
One day, a doctor might recommend you see a psychiatrist. Or maybe the person you have been seeing can prescribe for you. Whatever the case, there is one day when you have hit a place that nobody else is even aware of, a place where there is nothing left and it’s only the darkness that’s with you, the doctor will suggest to you the medications.
What have you got to lose? Who cares. There is nothing to lose anymore. I’ve already lost everything.
What have you got to gain? YOUR. LIFE.
Your. Whole. Entire. Fucking. Life. that you can’t even fathom anymore but you know it used to exist. And deep down, you know there’s got to be some way for it to exist again.
By that point, you have only to gain from this experiment. Bring on the pills. Maybe it will help. Maybe the darkness will lift and maybe you can feel some relief and maybe you will care again and maybe you can dare dream about feeling even one moment of happiness again. Maybe you can be interested once again in hobbies or projects or friends or life.
The last thing you give a shit about is what other people are going to think. It’s not about them; they’ve already lost you anyway. You’ve been gone for a long time. And they have no clue where you are right now. They can’t understand it without having been in a similar position (and many of you have been). The last thing you care about is how long before you can come off of the pills… because there IS NO FUTURE. There is no day-after-tomorrow. You have no plans. Your world ends at the end of each day and you have no feeling that tomorrow will arrive.
So take the pill. Try what you have to try. Maybe you will be amongst the percentage of people who obtain relief from these medications.
So you try it. And you know it will be a long process (several weeks seems like infinity). And day by day, you take the pill. You follow your regimen. You want it to work, even if you’re not sure it will. You don’t tell many people that you’re trying this. You might even hear people around you talking amongst themselves about other people who take psych meds and how screwed up they are, or whatever. You’ll hear some negative comments about taking meds to help with mood. You just stay silent.
Day by day. And you keep trying everything else. And you take your medicine. And your therapist keeps trying things with you. And weeks turn into months. Maybe your dose gets increased. Maybe they try you on a different medication. Maybe you had bad side effects on one or the other. But you keep trying things. BECAUSE YOU ARE STRONG. AND YOU ARE BRAVE. AND YOU LOOKED INTO THE DARKNESS AND YOU WANTED THE LIGHT INSTEAD. YOU LET GO OF WHATEVER BELIEFS YOU USED TO HAVE ABOUT PEOPLE WHO TAKE SUCH MEDICATIONS, AND YOU LET GO OF THE BELIEF THAT YOU’D NEVER BE ONE WHO TAKES THEM, AND YOU TAKE THEM. And you live another day. And another.
And one day, a year or maybe many years down the way, you realize you’ve been stable for a long time. You start to wonder if you really need to be on the medication anymore. You wonder what it does for you. You wonder who you were without it. You wonder if it numbs you, if it dulls you, if it changes you. You wonder if you can stay stable without it.
And that is for another story.