Sick, not weak.

I thought about not posting this. I worried about what people would think of me. I wondered what would they say? Will people look at me differently? Anti-depressants seem to be more widely accepted these days but there’s still a lot of stigma attached to anti-psychotics. Yes, this here is my anti-psychotic medication.

The first time I picked these up from the pharmacy I sheepishly scoped the room to make sure there was no one I knew nearby. I didn’t want a label, I didn’t want anyone seeing me pick these up. It’s only a very small dose given by my GP alongside my anti depressants. My GP is lovely but she was reluctant to prescribe me more than 2.5mg as I have a medical review next week with a consultant psychiatrist.

I’ve waited for this for months. Whilst waiting for this appointment my health, my life, was in jeopardy. I had been taking anti-depressants since I fell pregnant with Max over a year ago, and they worked sometimes, or so I thought. Yet throughout my pregnancy and post partum I’ve experienced more mixed manic and depressive episodes than ever before. I’ve experienced hallucinations, paranoia and I’ve made several attempts to take my own life. The last year has been one of the hardest I’ve had to face with trauma and tragedy rife at a time when I should have been happy.

When you’re pregnant you want to take vitamins and be healthy, not take medication with possible side effects. My apprehension of medication did me no favours though . It hindered me, it halted me and I let myself suffer, and why? Because the stigma attached to mental health medication still exists. Yes, I take anti psychotic medication. Yes I take anti depressants. I have a chronic illness and I rely on these tablets to function, just like a diabetic needs insulin or an asthma sufferer needs a pump, I need these to get by. There is nothing wrong with that. I am not a psycho, a weirdo, or a nutter. I am a mother, a sister, a daughter, a friend. I am a woman with a chronic mental illness, and I’m not ashamed anymore.

I’m learning. Learning that it’s okay not to be okay, accepting that, yes I have an illness but not allowing it to define me. Bipolar has robbed me of many things but it has also brought me great experiences, instilling me with empathy and enabling me to see the beauty in everything. Because once you’ve hit rock bottom, you look at the world a little differently. Having access to this medication and being able to recover is a privilege that many don’t have and I no longer take it for granted.

I’m ready to live now, I’m sick of just existing. I’m sick of the inconsistency that bipolar brings, and if taking mood stabilisers improves that then I’ll take them with pride. Don’t let fear or stigma stop you from protecting your health and happiness. I deserve happiness, I deserve a better standard of care, I deserve a chance at life for me and my family. I deserve to live, and if you’re reading feeling the same as me, then so do you. I was worried about being labelled but there is no shame in needing a bit of help, I wish I had done it sooner.

I’m still recovering and every day is a struggle to get back all the things my depression has robbed from me, to prize my life from its brutal grip. But it’s getting better. It does get better. I promise. Alternatives methods of recovery are great and I commend them, but don’t ever tell anyone they shouldn’t take a tablet. Don’t look down on them either.

Remember we all have mental health, and like psychical health it can deteriorate at any time. I used to think succumbing to medication made me weak but that couldn’t be further from the truth. I am strong. It takes great strength to accept a destiny you never planned for, to commit to lifelong recovery. We are warriors fighting an invisible battle, fighting for recovery, fighting for acceptances and fighting for our lives. Our medication being our only shields.

Just remember, you don’t need to fight this battle alone.


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