Why We Need to Talk About Medication for Mental Illnesses

We need to normalize mental health medications.

At the beginning of the semester, I finally went to a psychiatrist at our student health center to seek medication for something I've known I've had since my freshman year of college - depression. It had been affecting my performance in classes, my relationships with my friends, and my general function day-to-day since my second semester at college, but I waited until my senior year to seek help because I didn't want to be dependent on medication to be "normal" and to function in a college environment. I worried about what would happen if I ever tried to get off medication, and what others would think if they saw me taking it.

This year, I moved in with a friend who also has depression. Seeing how much his meds helped him got me thinking I needed to explore my options for treating my mental health condition. Living with him normalized the taking of medication to help improve mental health and gave me the courage to schedule an appointment with a doctor - just as I would have with any other illness.

I now take two medications and my mental health has improved drastically since the beginning of the semester. Since I started taking them, I've also made it a point to talk about them with my friends and family, sharing with them how I am doing and what medications I am taking. When I opened my mouth, so did others. I learned that so many of my friends were also dealing with mental health conditions - and taking some of the same meds I do - and they had never spoken about it. If I had known so many people I am close with relied on medication, I would not have waited so long to make my appointment and get the help I so desperately needed.

The worries I had about meds seem trivial now that I see how much they have done for me. We don't warn diabetics about being "dependent" on insulin. We don't tell people with broken legs that they should try to heal them on their own with yoga and meditation. And we shouldn't shame and stigmatize mental health treatments so that people like me are discouraged from seeking that treatment. We should be loud, honest, and open about our mental health - and how we treat it. It may help someone just like me.

 

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