Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Shame

I was visiting my family a few weeks ago and my mom reminded me to take my medication one morning. I dug into my purse, explaining that I keep my pills in there so I don't find myself at work and suddenly realize, oh crap, I haven't taken my damn pills! I have learned the hard way that I will forget to take my pills in the morning before leaving for work and if I do that for 2-3 days straight, I am a complete mess. So I take my medication at work and I take them stealthily because they are antidepressants and I'm kind of, sort of ashamed to be taking them. I'm ashamed of my shame, too, which is great.

The medication I'm taking and have been taking for a while now is sertraline (generic Zoloft) and the (for me) unpronounceable bupropion (generic Wellbutrin). I've been taking sertraline since before my second child was born and the bupropion came into the mix maybe 2 years ago. As I have written about before, I went through postpartum depression after my oldest son was born. While the crushing sadness and feelings of helplessness and terror subsided after a few months, they never went away entirely. I was angrier, more worn out, and sadder than I had been prior to the whole ordeal. I was encountering more and more days during which I could barely bring myself to get out of bed because I felt so worthless and awful. I hit a particularly low point and scheduled an appointment with my doctor at the time who prescribed the sertraline. It made a very positive difference. However, all medications have side effects and the sertraline, while doing a great job of keeping me from feeling miserable, also sapped me of my energy. Another doctor's appointment (with a new doctor b/c we had moved back to Missoula by this time) resulted in me walking away with a new prescription for bupropion to take in tandem with the sertraline. With their powers combined, I would be functioning at a more reasonable capacity!

Now, I know that these medications have been working for me. I'm less moody, a little more energetic, and the hopeless feelings are fewer and further between. My brain wasn't functioning as it should, so I started taking medicine. What's shameful in that? Nothing! Except...depression is sort of treated like a weakness of character rather than an actual bonafide...thing. There's still this attitude of, "you're depressed? Well, boo-friggin'-hoo! Go for a jog and quit your bitching!" Other mental illnesses like schizophrenia and autism are treated more seriously but Hollywood has made sure that everyone still gets them wrong. Schizophrenics are all ticking time bombs and autistic kids are all super good at math and hold all the secrets of the universe if only Jack Bauer would come along and see the signs or whatever. The truth is, most of us really don't know what to do or think about mental illness because it isn't something that we can point to and say "there's the problem," so we either write it off as something frivolous or stereotype the crap out of it.

I take my meds as inconspicuously as possible because I don't want my coworkers to see the bottles and hear the word "antidepressants" and judge me as deficient. I also don't want their pity or to be treated with kid gloves as though I would totally jump out my window if only it would open. This problem that I have is a real thing but I'm handling it. Well, handling it except for the whole "DON'T JUDGE ME!!!!" part. That still needs work.

3 comments:

Carrie said...

I keep mine in my purse too. Someday we can compare :)

Mr. and Mrs. Wright said...

Bedside table :)

Mr. and Mrs. Wright said...
This comment has been removed by the author.