Everyone’s mental health story is different, but here’s where meds fit into mine…
I love other people’s bathrooms. I want to crack open your cabinets. Let me take a shelfie. I’m incurably nosy, you see, and I want to know all about you. Can I covet your Crème De La Mer while empathasing with your eczma? I’m envious of your Armani Luminous Silk foundation, but comforted to know that you too, have at some point suffered from Athlete’s Foot.
This blog is a place to be flagrant about your pharmaceutical needs. I know my cupboards and cabinets reflect who I am, and not just because the main one is made out of mirror. I have some fancy ass shit. My bathroom tiles might be a bit cracked, the sink a little stained, but come on and look at my gear! Behold the Molton Brown shampoo! Check out my Korres shower gel! Marvel at the mini Muji candle! But I also have some less than lovely stuff to show you. Here’s some Imodium, for my occasional but devastating IBS. Super tampons, non applicator, for when my flow is all go. A rusty razor and single, used, false eyelash I haven’t chucked out because I am lazy, busy and disgusting. And a couple of boxes of Citalopram, the antidepressant.
It has taken me a long time to learn that my anxiety isn’t a flaw to work on. I didn’t ask for it, I can’t make it go away, and all I can do is manage it. I’ve tried this dozens of different ways, and for me, medication makes a real difference. There are secondary activities that help, like therapy, exercise, meditation, regular naps and eating lots of vegetables. But without Citalopram, I can’t do any of this. I’ve tried. When I am unmedicated, I constantly feel as though the world is ending, I am underwater, and there’s no air, only wet and tears. I’m smothered with self loathing and fear forcing my body down like a big, bad, scratchy blanket. Medication is an important, positive part of my story. So I was taken aback when I read a few unkind comments ‘shaming’ my decision to picture it on the blog. After all, that’s what I’m here to write about. This is why there are two boxes of antidepressants in the picture.
Anxiety doesn’t need a reason, explanation or excuse. Everyone experiences it in a different way, and it can be as unexpected and hard to control as the weather. But a drug that boosts my levels of Serotonin and regulates the way that the chemicals in my brain behave is what makes my emotions easier to manage. It doesn’t go away. It doesn’t stop me from ever feeling sad or scared. But it allows me to live my life and do my job in a way that sometimes wasn’t possible when I wasn’t using medication. It gives me the mental energy to catch ‘unhelpful thoughts’ – the ones about worthlessness and pointlessness. The ones that can create a current that won’t stop whirling until it drowns you.
When you grow up feeling scared of everything, you learn how to stay silent. You keep still, you do your very best to be unseen, but hopefully, eventually, one day you think “Fuck this. I can’t miss out on my own life because I’m afraid. There has to be a different way to survive.”
Living out loud is hard, but it’s what helps the most. This is show and tell. There have been very bad days when seeing a real, relatable person post a picture of a box of their medication might have made me feel less alone. I don’t want to hide the packet. I want it out there, with my perfume, powder and battered paperbacks. When people question my right to reveal it, it makes me very angry. But I don’t feel worthless or frightened. I think that’s progress.