Why it’s so hard to tell someone you’ve been on medications…

Well, why on earth would you tell them THAT? People these days want to share so much.

And therein lies the reason.

For so long humans have struggled with vulnerability. It’s (arguably) easier to tell someone that you wrestled with drug addiction than it is to tell them that you were prescribed anti-depressants.  With drugs, you are forgiven for having no control.  With anti-depressants, well, you’re just weak.  You couldn’t keep up the charade.

Why would you tell them THAT?

Well, what if we all shared more often? What if we were honest with each other about the fact that life is the most beautiful thing, but sometimes it has sharp edges that Facebook and Instagram don’t show. What if we weren’t so attached to the ideal? What if we accepted the fact that life is complicated and we can’t control the variables to achieve only one end state: happy.

I’ll relate my opinion.  And it may not ring true to you and I accept that.

I think that the normalization of alternative emotions needs to be a priority for us as a society.  And the fact that its not is doing us great harm.

I remember being young and in torment because I was drowning in feelings that I couldn’t process.  I looked around me and I saw two options.  In order to explain them I have to tell you about my father.

My father was a train wreck my whole life.  While I have empathy for his struggle, I need to relate it honestly from my perspective.  He was diagnosed with many illnesses and constantly in and out of hospitals. Each time I saw him he was on a different medication.  Emotions were not talked about in his family of origin and it was written all over his coping mechanisms.

Given this, my examples of human emotional states were: Perfectly happy or completely unstable.  This was the contrast in my field of vision.  Because I wasn’t constantly happy, then I must be completely unstable.  

This became my identity and it took me 15 years to figure out what bullshit it was.

I found my pattern matching that of my father’s: a Russian roulette of medications and hospital visits.  

I lost count of how many times in those years I tried to quit my medications because I wanted to be “normal” but gave up when I had a bad day:  Clearly I’m still having these emotions that don’t equate to happy, so therefore I need them.

I’m going to relate my experience with finally quitting. Please don’t take it in any way to be a reflection on you or your life’s journey.

When I first heard the statement “what if you’re ok just the way you are?” at a Landmark Forum, it resonated.  I was primed for change as I had recently hit one year sober from drugs and alcohol and I was starting to question the identity I had wrapped around myself.

What if you’re not weak? What if you’re not crazy? What if you’re not neurotic? What if you are just human.  What if being human is a mosaic of emotions that you don’t have to fight until you are bloody and sore? What if fighting the crazy is making you crazy?

And what if as a society we talked about it?

I was angry at first.  How could I forgive the collective denial that had me fighting myself for so many years? That had me medicate my emotions in a vain attempt to snuff them out of existence? I looked back on the minefield that was my life up to that point and felt such despair that it all could have been spared if I had just known.  No one is happy all the time.  We all struggle, and it’s ok.

This awareness was the foundation of my final attempt at quitting my medications for good.  This time was different.  I knew that it wasn’t going to be easy and that I would have tough moments and tough days, but the acknowledgement and acceptance rather than fear and denial prevented me from drowning in an attempt to fight the current. 

I educated myself, I consulted with a supportive doctor (they can be hard to find) and over the course of a year I tapered off of them.  I have never looked back.

Do I have difficult days? Yes

This is why I run, and eat a low carb diet, and attend yoga regularly.  It takes work.  I hate to be cliché but there is no magic pill for life.

Do I have good days? YES

There is a richness to my emotions that was taken from me all those years.  I would not trade it for anything.

Let me be real with you.  You are human.  You are going to struggle sometimes.  You are going to have emotions that you wish you didn’t.  You are going to have thoughts that scare you.  But let it be.  

As Pema Chodron writes: “you are the sky, everything else is just the weather.”

Let it be.

Keep sharing.

4 Comments

  1. I spent many years hiding behind a mask of “ok ness”. I looked like a fairly successful person, with a good job, a nice house, two kids (boy and girl). I was fit.

    Of course, I was also full of self loathing, severe anxiety and depression. I hated myself. To cope I starved, drank too much and shopped. I did not believe in happiness. I thought it was a lie. I feared being found out for the fake, unworthy person I was.

    Now, years later, I know part of the reason I ended up there was fear. Fear of showing my real self. So today I embrace openness and full transparency. If you know me, which you do, lol, you know everything.

    Medication was a stepping stone out of that hell. As were sobriety, yoga, therapy, self acceptance and spirituality.

    Some days I consider weaning off my antidepressant but, even after 5 years, the risk of going back to where I was seems too great. I consider the medication as part of my stable base from which I can do the work of finding stillness and peace.

    I definitely do not think it is a cure all. It’s just another potential tool.

    Anne

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes we have very similar experiences but they seem to diverge on the medication part. My experience was that I never really felt better because of them, if anything they tore my life up even more. Mind you I was on a cocktail, and quite heavy doses too.

      Like

  2. Thanks for reading and commenting on my piece on “Retired, Not Dead about my experience about coming off of Wellbutrin. It was interesting to learn how long you had in coming off of it. Several weeks after my rather rapid taper off of the drug, I read that doctors were now recommending a much slower withdrawal from certain classes of antidepressants. I guess my doctor didn’t get the memo. Fingers crossed though–things seem to be going well.

    Liked by 1 person

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