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

Sims 4 – Cats & Dogs

I did up our tax returns this past Tuesday and because we have both only been working part-time and because I spent over half the year technically unemployed, along with the over $2000 I spent in medication this year and diabetic supplies we are getting a hefty amount back, that plus I got approved for EI and also got from December 22nd to now all at once. Somehow once again we managed to avoid a sticky situation as we were concerned financially when I ended up unemployed again. We are going to be able to be back to owing nothing at all except the car (even the credit card will be paid in full) once we get it. Edward also is getting cross-trained in another position, that coupled with me working until I start school we are back in decent shape again and even can start on our savings again. Talk about relief!

So we decided to treat ourselves, he got Red Dead Redemption 2 and I got a bundle for the Sims 4 of Cats & Dogs, Realm of Magic and Backyard Stuff. I had previously purchased Get to Work and Tiny Living for Christmas and never really played with the content and worlds in either yet. I also have some others like Island Living, Seasons, Outdoor Retreat and some of stuff packs. So needless to say I have tons of new content to explore in the Sims 4. I have been a huge Sims fan since the original The Sims back in 2000. I can’t believe it’s been 20 years! Wow, I feel old. I was only 19 when it came out! And I have been hooked on the franchise ever since. I played SimCity as well before The Sims. I think I started with SimCity 2000. Anyways, enough history, I have been playing since I bought the expansion packs yesterday and it is so much fun. I have really only been playing in Brindleton Bay and with the cats. I have not really gone into any of the Realm of Magic stuff yet. I will save that maybe for another day.

I made myself a tiny house last night, a micro actually, 32 x 32 and decorated it. I did base it off a house I tried downloading and using from the gallery that I really liked, but for some reason my Sim had issues moving around the house even though I had the move objects cheat on and I even moved some of the furniture around and tried to get it to work. Finally, I gave up and sort of rebuilt it, sort of made it my own. I love to build but I am not very great with ideas. I do like to try and re-create micro and tiny houses from real house plans and decorate them. They don’t always turn out the way I want though. Just need more practice building I guess. I now have a bit more than half the expansion packs, game packs and stuff packs for Sims 4 now. I don’t want to even think about the amount I have spent on them over the years (we won’t even talk about The Sims or Sims 3, didn’t get into Sims 2 much).

I’ve never really been one to make up an elaborate storyline and record or do much other than play but I wouldn’t mind doing a bit of that, maybe some of the challenges people have come up with as well. The only mod installed right now is the one that stops the damn murphy bed from picking off my Sims one by one. It’s killed so many Sims it’s not funny. So I was glad when I saw the mod. I am going to look for some more mods and cc (custom content) at some point but for right now I am just enjoying what the game itself has to offer with each expansion pack.

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Why the “Spoon Theory” just doesn’t work for me

I used to think the Spoon Theory was a great way to explain to healthy friends, family, and co-workers what it was like living with a chronic illness, chronic pain and/or chronic fatigue. However lately I feel less and less like this theory makes sense to me. I can understand the theory and get why some people would associate with it as a way to explain what day to day life is like for them and how chronic illness, chronic pain and/or chronic fatigue affects them. For me though, I find it is just making less and less sense as time goes by and as I really think about it, it just doesn’t seem to work for me.

Why? Well, first off though I get that by setting the 12 spoons a day is just a way to measure on average how many spoons you will get each day. Setting an average just doesn’t make sense to me, my life has taken a turn that seems anything but average to me. Every step and every day is an unknown for me most of the time. Not always bad, but just unpredictable to say the least. Setting a definitive number of “spoons” per day just doesn’t work on so many levels. For one, I never start the day with a specific number of spoons. Some days I could wake up with 20, other days I could wake up with 2.

I know this is kind of explained in the theory as that overdoing it one day uses too many spoons and therefore you wake up the next morning with fewer spoons. As well as sleeping poorly can take aways spoons, missing medication, or skipping a meal, etc. One would look at that and say it does make sense, but here’s why it doesn’t. I have had sleepless nights where I wake up the next day and function at a higher level then nights I get a decent sleep or vice versa. I will give them the missing medication one, that’s pretty predictable for me, missing medication usually equates to a “spoon” or two missing. I guess in theory the same could be said about getting a cold.

However, as far as every day, day-to-day activities go. I never know how many spoons they will take from me or even give to me. Taking a shower for example. One day taking a shower is a big task that will eat up pretty much all my “spoons” no matter how many I am given. Other days in contrast taking a shower will pep me up and give me more energy, much like a “healthy” person. So tasks that should be low on the list of spoons take away more than tasks that should be higher, or again vice versa.

Having a day where I use up more then my “allotted spoons” doesn’t necessarily mean that I will have fewer spoons the next day either. For that reason, I find the Spoon Theory so hard to connect with and rationalize on a personal level. Some times I will have weeks or months on end that I feel great, other times I have weeks or months that are horrible every single day. Sometimes oddly enough having a cold or recovering from an illness will actually give me more energy for a while, not less.

Often I may wake up with a certain amount of spoons and for some reason for no apparent reason at all my body has just sprung a leak and all the spoons just keep disappearing without doing anything in particular and sometimes in the middle of a random day where I feel like I am on my last spoon suddenly it’s like someone with extra spoons to spare has decided to gift me a few. It is so unpredictable that it just seems to me like another label and one that just doesn’t quite fit all that well for me.

Because it is so unpredictable having a chronic illness, chronic pain and/or chronic fatigue, I find that trying to justify or rationalize it in such a way just seems almost more damaging to me, especially when it comes to trying to help others to understand the chronic illness, chronic pain and/or chronic fatigue, it sets an expectation of predictability where there just isn’t any.

While I am at it I want to take the opportunity to introduce you as well to a little side project I decided to start a while back and have been sitting on for a while well trying to figure out what I want to do with it. I decided I would like to start a stay-at-home blog about being basically for lack of a better term “housewife” where I can share things like recipes, work from home opportunities, crafts, some DIY, and more on mental health and chronic illness from a stay at home perspective beyond this blog. Something I could monetize and maybe even turn into a community with other bloggers, guest posts, etc. My hubby helped me come up with the name. Despite it having the word Canadian in it, it’s not just for Canadians, its for anyone who wants to read, join or be a part of it.

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