Why going back on meds for mental health issues is not failure

Warning: this post may be triggering to some and deals with the topics of mental health, depression, anxiety, medications, therapy, and suicide. Please do not read this post if you are sensitive at the moment to any of these topics or unsure how you would react. Please reach out to your local helpline if you are having thought of suicide or of harming yourself or others. I am not a mental health or health professional and this is just my own opinion. I am not advocating one way or another for the use of medications or therapy in mental health, just my own observations.

I’ll be the first to admit that when I was able to come off medication for depression and anxiety in the mid-2000s, I swore I would never go back on them. I hated the stigma. I hated the side effects. I hated remembering to take them. I hated everything about them. I was not ready, not willing, and not able to come to terms with my diagnosis and start the path to healing. Should still have been on them? Was it the right decision? Probably not, but since I refused to take them properly my doctor was more concerned about them causing harm to me, or me causing harm to myself with them and so she took me off. I had moved back home at the time after a couple of years of living away from my family. When I moved back I had good support so I think this might have been part of her thought process at the time.

Surprisingly I did okay for a number of years, after the initial rocky few months of withdrawal symptoms. So I don’t know, maybe it was the right decision at the time? I guess I will never really know. Six years later I ended up back on medication after trying to take my life for the second or third time. At the time I was going through some tough stuff and in a relationship that was very abusive. I felt like a complete and utter failure when I was told I needed to go back on some sort of medication by my family doctor. He prescribed me Paxil and referred me for a second time to a psychologist. I again was having a hard time with my diagnosis and with the idea of taking medication which I felt just compounded the situation. I talk a bit more about mental illness & me in other posts.

One of the things I failed to notice at the time and honestly so did everyone else around me, was that I was still not taking the medication properly. I didn’t think much if I missed a day here or there. There were days I just didn’t feel like taking it. I would start taking them, have some bad side effects and then stop taking them for a few days or weeks and then I would try again. This was the worst thing I could have done. I can’t say that I wasn’t warned because I was, in passing, by both the psychologist and pharmacist but no real emphasis was put on what this would do to me, to my mind, to my body. So I continued on taking them whenever I remembered or felt like it. I wondered why I felt so horrible. I wondered why I had continued thoughts of suicide. I wondered why I felt so down and felt like it was absolutely impossible to function day in, day out. Again I started hating the medication, hating the stigma of being on them because misguidedly I felt like people knew I was on them because of the side effect like falling asleep at work. I swore to myself again that I would never ever go back on them.

Fast forward another 5 or 6 years and once again I am back on them after losing my job and having a car accident. This time around however has been completely different. After talking with my new psychologist who is wonderful, we both agree that I am now ready to face the truth, willing to admit that I needed help and that I was struggling. With help from her, my husband, and my parents, they helped me realize the truth, that taking medication is not failure, instead, it is success. I am now willing and able to keep track of my medication, to use an app to ensure I don’t forget them. I have my husband to remind me as well, but I am learning to take control myself. The road ahead may not be easy. I may have setbacks. I may even feel again that I’m failing but the truth of it is, is that I am not failing. I am succeeding.

I am taking control of my life in a way I have never done before or only ever attempted at. I am accepting therapy in person (well, via zoom at the moment), I am doing the homework I am given. I am taking the medication, Cymbalta this time around. Beyond the initial side effects the first 2-3 weeks I am tolerating the medication rather well. I am feeling better. I am feeling hopeful. I feel refreshed. I am taking them on time and every day. I think I have only missed one day in about 6 months, which really didn’t affect me because I am taking them properly. This has made such a huge difference in my mood, my attitude and how I am processing things.

I still have a ways to go, but another difference this time is I am coming up with my own goals, my own things to work on and accomplish rather than waiting for other people to suggest things in my absence of being able to. In therapy when she suggests setting goals I come up with a lot of them myself. I participate and give suggestions on what I want to work on and how I want to improve my mental health and tackle my anxiety. All of these things make, for me, going back on medication a success. Do I still hope one day to get off them? Of course, I do. However, I no longer look at being on them as a failure, as being a necessary evil but instead as a tool to help me be the best me I can be. If I am able to come off of them again sometime in the future then great, and if not, that’s perfectly fine too.

My success is measured by who I am as a person and how I treat others and not whether or not I am on medications for mental health issues. I am so much more then that

Some small randon ghost stories

My mom got a hold of a local paranormal investigator who has a really good reputation and she had a really long conversation with him about Edith and the hauntings at my parent’s house. He mentioned that instead of inviting whoever is outside in, that they should instead sit down on a quiet night in the living room and invite Edith to come sit with them and talk to them and tell her that they are really interested in helping her and let her know that there appears to be another spirit outside the house walking the grounds and ask her if she knows who he is? Obviously this will likely be a one-sided conversation as we are not expecting her to answer back, but let her know anyway and tell her if she knows who it is and if it is someone she wants to see invite her to go outside to him.

I guess we should say them because even though we feel it’s her husband we don’t know this for sure obviously, so instead of potentially inviting someone who might not have the best of intentions inside the house that they should tell her she can go out if she feels it safe. We obviously don’t really want someone harmful getting in by invitation because then it would be difficult getting them out. Mom said the conversation was sort of surreal and both her and dad said after that they couldn’t believe they were talking about a haunting in such a common way. But honestly how else do you talk about one? I agree with the paranormal investigator 100% and had voiced a similar concern to them as well.

So, because of the conversation, I had with her after and us talking about how my nan, my mom, and I as well as some of my nan’s sisters all have had experiences that maybe we are just more in tune and open to it because we believe. I would not use the term medium or psychic but just open to experiences due maybe to some genetic fact or something like that and so we experience stuff or attract maybe even and so it got us talking more about some of the experience we’ve had and mom was telling me about a story when I was little, plus I have a few smaller stories. I have some longer ones from when we lived in Europe and those eventually deserve their own posts but for now, let me tell you about some of the other ones I have had or been a part of.

When I was about 3 or 4 my mom’s best friend lived in a house that she said was haunted by a ghost of an older man. Mom’s friend had two kids who were just a little younger than me, 3 and 2 I believe a boy and a girl.  Mom said she would bring me over a couple of times a month to babysit the kids when her friend and her husband went out somewhere and mom’s friend would do the same with me and bring her kids over. So this one night we were over there and babysitting her friend’s kids and we were playing in the living room on the floor with some toys and mom was watching tv and talking with us kids. The little boy took out one of those fisher-price corn popper toys like the picture below.

He was running around downstairs with it and making a lot of noise and screaming and he came around the living room through the kitchen and then back out into the living room and it was all fairly smooth wood flooring. There was no flooring transition strips or rubber/metal strips if you know what I mean between the rooms as it was all one and just continued. As he came back through the kitchen into the living room mom said it looked like the popper just hit a brick wall and he tumbled over it landing on his feet. He was in pj’s she said but they were not too long and did not have feet. He was giggling she said and said: “the man doesn’t like it”. So when her friend got home mom described what happened her friend went white and said: “yeah, no he doesn’t like it and that’s happened before and no matter how much we try my husband and I can not recreate it only happens when he is playing with it” and she said that he would do other things sometimes when they kids were too loud like banging drawers out in the kitchen or turning things off like the tv when they were watching it.

Yet at the same time, he would tuck the kids in at night! And apparently saved the little girl from falling down the basement stairs. The kids sometimes when the parents came up to tuck them in would look like they had already been tucked in and would say “It’s okay mommy (or daddy) the man already tucked us in and we said our prayers” and the little girl was leaning against a wall near the basement stairs which had a door one day when we were visiting and she was talking to her brother in the way that toddlers do and she was inching her way towards the door, she leaned up against it and it apparently hadn’t been latched and opened and she started to fall and we watched as her shirt tented looking like someone had grabbed her by it and pulled her back onto her feet and the door swung shut behind her. Those were the first experiences that I can remember.

My mom told of a similar but scarier story when she was younger (a toddler) living in a house in Weymouth that had a trap door in the floor (their house now has one as well, was quite common here in those days) and every time she went near the door it would swing open. Now, these things are heavy! The need to be unlatched and pulled upward and usually swung to the side and then lowered to the ground and she said her mom said that it happened almost every time she was in the room except when company was there. After that my grandfather and nan tried to keep mom out of the room but she said it was like someone was drawing her back there so they moved. They were terrified she would fall down the stairs and get hurt or worse.

My last two stories are about when my nan died and when her sister died. Nan died first back in the early 2000s and I was living in Fredericton, New Brunswick with my ex-boyfriend right out of high school. We had been there a year or so and had moved into a small apartment that had a small bedroom directly off the living room. I was taking a nap in the afternoon on a day off work and my ex-was also off work that day and was on his computer in the living room. I woke up from a dream and went and wrote down the poem Footprints In The Sand on a piece of printer paper and handed it to my ex and said nan just passed away.

Now I had seen the poem before in her house but I didn’t know it off by heart and still don’t but I wrote it all down without looking it up. He told me to call mom and I said no she’s going to call me and sure enough within 5 minutes the phone rang and my mom was crying on the other end and I was crying so hard and said I already know and she said yeah she passed about 30 minutes ago. Mom was the one that found her. It was traumatizing for her because of the way she was found but I won’t go into detail.

Lastly when my great aunt, one of my nan’s sisters died both mom and I had the same experience at the same time. She died in the night and both mom and I dreamed of her coming to us and tucking us in and telling us that she was with her parents and brothers and sisters who had passed before her. She was the second last to pass away out of I think 6 or 7 kids. We woke up and called each other and started laughing and crying at the same time. Laughing because we experience the same thing and said it was just what Aunt Marge would have done and crying because we knew it was true and that she had passed. You would think this would be sad and sure there was sad days, weeks and months ahead after each of them but for me the Footprints In The Sand poem was her way of saying that she was walking beside me in the sand all the time. We had a great bond. As for my Aunt again it was comforting knowing that she would always be there to tuck me in at night if I needed her. Both are a cause of great comfort to me and also let me know that I don’t have to fear death.

Am I particularly religious? No. Not at all. If I had to choose a church I would say I most identify with the Anglican faith but I don’t go to church, don’t pray every day, and don’t even fully know or understand my belief or lack thereof in God. I believe that if there is a God he would understand this and not fault me or anyone else for this and would love us all the same and if there isn’t then what does it really matter anyways?

I’m officially a university student!

Well almost, the very last thing is the final approval for my loan but I am 100% registered, got my class schedule for my first semester, my student email account set up and Office 365 downloaded and installed, and I even have access to classes as of today. I can get started anytime. I just can’t submit anything, contact the professor or take tests until my final loan approval (as they had to update the amount) and until I receive it and pay tuition. Which should be roughly 10 days before my official start date.

I am so excited! I will be getting started as soon as I get back today from driving my husband to work. He works 2-8 so I plan to spend the whole time looking over the course information, syllabus, study guide, and maybe start on the actual course today. It’s been so long since I was in school and I never finished community college and it’s so different now anyways that I might need today to get acclimated and get an idea of what the process is for doing the work online. But that’s okay, I am just so excited to get myself started and praying that last step goes smoothly.

If for some reason it doesn’t I know I can drop any courses I can’t afford, switch to part-time and pay for one course or two at a time with our Visa paying them off before taking the next one(s). But we are not going to think about that right now right? Positive thoughts. It’s been approved basically anyways, they just need to change the amount, and it is going down not up as they would only let me apply for 2 semesters at a time but the university does it one at a time so you have to apply for two, wait for them to approve, send to the university, the university responds with the updated dates and amounts sends it back (which was done last week) and then student loans reviews and gives final approval. So I am thinking it shouldn’t be an issue.

So, yeah, I am so thrilled and so proud of myself!

Oh and btw, my mom started university today at the University of Manitoba (online) so we are both full-time university students! One almost 40 and the other almost 66!