I have a pretty sweet life. I do music and art for a living , I travel whenever I want, and have never had to work a day job. I had a pretty rocky childhood but I got through it and made a cool little life for myself. So when I experienced a trauma last year that I couldn't cope with, I tried to end my life. Over the past year I'd been living as if it never happened, until I ended up in a psychiatric hospital. The hospital is where I started taking 3 medications: Klonopin, Doxepin, and Paxil.
My story is sad, but it's not unique. Everyday millions of people with various mental health issues suffer in silence because of the stigma attached to the subject. And when we do seek treatment, we are medicated into functionality. I detailed my experience in the psychiatric hospital in an article for BlackDoctor.org and discussed the fact that the meds initially turned me into a zombie. So I faked like I was taking them just to get released from the hospital. When I got out, I found my own doctor and took the meds in a way that worked for me.
I'm not gonna lie, medication helps with mental health issues. When you get to the point of being suicidal, extreme measures need to be taken. The meds aren't exactly happy pills that make your life like a walk in a park on a sunny day. For me, they just made me feel detached from things. It was an emotional numbness that I was incapable of before I took them. I've never actually gotten high or drunk before so I don't know if they compare to those experiences. They just made me feel numb, but in a good way. On the flip side, they made me gain weight, I got trembly when I didn't take them on time, and the constant low level grogginess was not a sexy way to feel.
A week ago I stopped taking my depression and anxiety meds. It was time for me to increase the dosage in order for them to continue to have an affect, and I told my doctor I'm not doing it anymore. Pharmaceuticals is a multi-billion dollar industry, and doctors make more money by keeping people with mental health issues on meds than they do from working though their issues with behavioral therapy. There are some people who can not function without meds because their issues require it, they don't have the option of quitting. I am not one of those people. And yeah, being reintroduced to feeling my anxiety isn't pleasant. And I still struggle with the suicidal thoughts. But I'm in control of my life and making music again, and the main thing people take away from folks who have mental health issues is respect for their ability to make choices for themselves.
I decided to be open about my recovery for my mental health issues in order to make it so others don't have to be ashamed. And though I did get the initial scrutiny and judgement that I expected, I also got an outpouring of support, and many messages from people telling me that they were afraid to come out about their own mental issues.
We have to break the stigma around mental health. There are many people living with high functioning depression like I am, and you never find out until it's too late. To those people, I feel you. You will get better. It won't happen overnight. But you can't start to recover until you stop hiding.