After almost three years of being diagnosed with anxiety and depression, I recently found out that I have bipolar disorder.
Taking six pills daily is what keeps me afloat. I'm writing this in the hope that it will help just one person feel confident enough to seek help. Or to speak out and break the stigma surrounding mental health.
Pill shaming is toxic, and it's time to break down the societal taboo. Having a mental illness is hard enough as it is without the pill shaming stigma that floats among those struggling. There is so much misinformation out there about antidepressants and antipsychotic drugs — that they're addictive or that you're weak for taking them.
That's not the case.
Exercise, eating healthy, and keeping busy are enough for some people, but others need that extra bit of help to enable them to live a "normal," happy life.
Don't we all deserve that? A life neither ruled by fear nor crushed by depression and anxiety? In the same way you'd wear glasses to help you see better, some people take a pill (or six) to give them the assistance they need to help their mind. And that's OK.
Just because it isn't physical, visible, or tangible doesn't mean that mental illness is less of a disease. And just like any other disease, there's no shame in accepting the assistance of medication. It doesn't make you any less human, it doesn't make you weak or any less capable of doing the job, writing the essay, or completing the degree — the same way a person without a mental illness would.
By acknowledging the issue and accepting the assistance of medication, personally, I think you're admirable. Because it is often the people who take meds that are the strong ones, the fighters.
Post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, bipolar, borderline personality disorder — none of these illnesses are flaws in character or flaws in self. You don't need to feel ashamed of them.
We can all work together to break this stigma pattern. For one, educate yourself. Find out more about these illnesses before jumping on the stigma stallion.
If you are a person with a mental illness, you don't need to feel ashamed or guilty for seeking help and taking medication. If you're the friend, the partner, the family member, the employer — it shows only naivety and ignorance when you pill-shame others. Instead, learn about mental illnesses, their treatments, and how the person is coping. Maybe even adopt a supportive, accepting attitude.
For anyone who's going through a dark patch right now, I'm here for you. Talk, take meds if you need to, go for jogs, walk the dog, go to therapy, drink some herbal tea. And if you need them, take the meds.
One glove doesn't fit all, but everything's worth a try. Don't be afraid — seek help. End the stigma.