Returning to Medications

It was sometime in my early teens. Finally reached some sort of diagnosis for whatever the hell it was that consumed me.  I was put on whatever might have the potential to work. My therapy at the time was a combination of help from my general practitioner, psychologist and psychiatrist.  The psychiatrist was the only one who felt comfortable prescribing something. Maybe by that point I felt out of options. My parents were still in relatively early stages of a brutal divorce. School felt like a terrible place to be.  I was having tremendous difficulty managing myself mentally. I blamed myself for all of it. Perhaps unfairly. It was ninth grade and maybe I did not have the necessary personal confidence to cope well with things.

There were a lot of maybes. In the ensuing years I found myself on several different things. If something didn’t work it was easy to return and ask for something else. It felt like a way of working on my own health. My initial thinking is that drugs were the easy answer. If it was obtainable by prescription it was somehow okay to use.  How could it be bad for you really?  There was a point where it did get out of control.  Before I originally left my hometown in 1999 I spent a difficult year dependent on a daily dose of Ativan just to ensure I would eventually fall asleep.  When I wanted extras, I was lucky enough to find someone who would give me an extra pill or two if I needed it.

When I left in 1999, I kept a supply of Ativan handy in case I needed it.  Eventually I did go through most of it.  It was nervousness that made me want to rush back to medications then. I was new to a beautiful small mountain town in Alberta.  I had sudden freedom from the depression that haunted me in my hometown. I was on my own again and free to live. Free to make my own mistakes.

I did end up back in therapy while living in Alberta.  It would not be until I moved to Calgary when I would go back on medications.  My general practitioner and a treating psychiatrist put me on Effexor.  This drug remained part of my life for a very long time. To this day I do not even know if it truly worked.  The side effects from it were eventually taking their toll on me.  After many years of being on it I gradually was able to ease off.  At that time I vowed to never return to medications again.  I felt like my system was full of toxins from these pills. My worries seemed justified and maybe they still are.

After my Dad passed away in 2013, I found myself not coping well with life again. I started to drink nightly.  The fact that I was drinking more completely escaped me.  Because of constant flashbacks to the night he died, they diagnosed me with PTSD.  My writing career was suffering tenfold.  Much of my time was spent between working the day job then managing my Dad’s Estate until the late hours of the evening.  In April of 2014, Dad’s Estate was sued by my former Aunts and Uncles for a few thousand dollars. Rather than spend several thousand more on an easily winnable case, we settled out of court and cut them out of our lives.  Days had become instant nightmares.  There was so much going on.

I started to explore the possibility of going back on medication again. To work on a real plan to get my mental health back in line.  I had enough.  I needed to take control with a real positive combination of whatever would be recommended.  

I have come to accept that mental health is part of the overall cycle of proper self-care.  When it was recommended that I go back on medication, I was no longer hesitant to agree, or ashamed at the possibility.  There is still a stigma attached to being on medications as part of mental health treatment.  I used to be very afraid that my credibility would be judged because I was on medication.  If anything, the credibility of a person on medication for their mental health should be looked at favourably.  It means I am taking care of myself.  It means I have a treatment plan that I am following.

In combination with an improved diet, regular exercise and meditation, I can always say I am comfortably working on myself.  There are good days and bad days.  One little victory eventually adds up to hundreds, maybe thousands of them.  I keep going, because I know I’m worth it.

And so are you.

Please note, this is a personal story, and is NOT meant to substitute for the qualified advice of a professional.  Please talk to your doctor about any mental health concerns you may have.  Know that help is available.

tHcJr0rK-300x300Dann Alexander is a Freelance Writer based in Nova Scotia Canada. He is the Author of “Planned UnParenthood – Creating a Life Without Procreating” Available almost anywhere online where books are sold.

Dann can be found on his website, and Twitter