Mental health is a real and serious thing.
I don’t pretend to know you or your background or makeup: my advice may not be the right fit for you and in no way do I have any expertise. That said, I’m a person- perhaps like you- who’s experienced real anxiety and moderate depression and a host of other mental health hiccups.
And medication worked.
I’m as surprised as you are. It helped. I feel better.
I think that there is a staggering silence about the positive experiences many people have with mental health treatment.
I thought this was worth sending to the internet.
Again: I’m no expert. But I am a person. And this may be worth a read.
1. When it works, its like wearing contact lenses.
That’s the best metaphor I could come up with, and I mean it deeply. Mental health is a scary, arcane subject for many people. All sorts of anxieties emerge, well-founded and otherwise. What if I have an adverse reaction? Does this make me crazy? Will this change me or make me a zombie?
I was worried. But it’s like wearing contact lenses. All it does is make you the best, most focused self you are. Yeah, you could tough it out without glasses or lenses but that doesn’t make you you. Similarly, altering that only brings your best traits forward.
2. Yes, it can actually work. I know.
Not always, but often enough that it’s real. When you’re depressed or anxious, especially for years and years, it feels normal and inevitable. You learn to live with it and live around it. The idea of medicating might seem silly and scary. You might not even let that idea in, for fear- that it makes you weak, that it makes you crazy- and very, very few people dare to have any optimism.
Caution is universal and understandable here. But sincere, factual optimism and even excitement are fair game too.
I am on a small dose of Zoloft, an anti-depressant I use to treat my otherwise noteworthy anxiety. I was worried. But for the past six months I’ve never been better in my life. I am happy, confident, chill, calm, and normal.
3. Everyone is scared
Look. I had to be suggested medication multiple times before I even dared to try it. I’ve had bad experiences with medication too. Those suck. But if you’re smart and aware and ready to try, it might be worth it.
I get that you might be scared. I was scared too. But being scared of something that could reasonably help isn’t a good thing to be scared of.
4. You stay the same.
I’m the same person as I was before. Well, not quite. I’m happier. More productive. More confident. I feel like there’s more time in the day and I have more energy. Things that used to stress me out before like crowds or walking alone late are no problem now which means things I subtly avoided (professional sports venues, meeting friends out late for drinks) are now an increased part of my life without any stress. My life has been full of those “hey, neat” bonuses: turns out I like visiting New York better now! Turns out crowds don’t really bother me! Turns out I don’t really have to smoke that much weed to calm down, and, in fact, don’t have to self medicate with alcohol or marijuana anymore- I can just use them as I want for fun!
5. When it works, it’s real and obvious.
I feel 10% better, minimum, in every way. That’s nice, but it’s even better than it sounds. You’re so stuck in yourself that every percentage of you has been calculated. You know your limits exactly. But what if, suddenly, you were just better in every way. That wouldn’t be a small change; it would be a huge one. Suddenly, the carefully divided and understood world you had before becomes a little brighter, a little easier.
Being happier affects your workload. Energy that went into worrying comes out now. I find it hard to kill time now!
Small good personality traits I had long ago lost sight of have come to me. It’s like automatic free bonus points. I’d forgotten to even aspire to be calmer, more balanced, more efficient and happier. It didn’t seem realistic and suddenly I was. And I am.
6. Medication can have side effects, and the wrong medication can make things worse.
But being mindful about that chance and acting on it when experienced will keep you good.
Maybe your medication will screw with you some. That’s a serious and realistic risk. But it’s also paradoxically much less serious when you recognize that. I remember having dark, difficult months, bad and (mildly) serious stuff before tracing it to the medication change. It was awful! But the next time I knew to be much more diligent connecting them. Years later I had an unusually grumpy and sad eight-day stretch, but because I was aware I was able to connect it to a medication cause quickly.
A grumpy eight-day stretch thoroughly sucks, but, frankly that’s a worthwhile thing to risk for long-term health and happiness improvements.
7. It might be worth considering.
That’s it. So many people reject it out of hand, or circle the idea with too much fear to act. They give it connotations or fear unlikely results.
I’m not telling you to do anything. But I am saying that if mental health is a running concern of yours I’m a moderate and chill success story for carefully applied small doses of medication. It’s medicine. It’s science.
It might be worth your time.