I need the meme culture to backoff medicated people. A tale of anxiety.
Hi. I’m medicated.
“oh, well have you tried taking a walk?”
“just lay out in the sun, you’ll feel better!”
“I get sad too! Everyone does!”
“Make sure to eat your vegetables”
“drink some coffee, it’s basically the same thing”
“you should meditate more”
While, yes, all these things are wonderful and every person should do these basic activities regularly, comments like these make me want to scream. Not that I think anyone is coming from a place of hate or negativity when they say these things — — but sometimes I just want to respond with,
YEAH IF THE FREAKING SUN AND DAISIES COULD MAKE ME STOP HYPERVENTILATING IN THE BACKSEAT OF MY CAR WHILE I SWEAT BULLETS, CRYING ON MY LUNCH BREAK — — BECAUSE I HAVE AN OVERALL PANIC SENSATION THROUGHOUT EVERY CELL IN MY BODY THAT I CANNOT BEGIN TO DESCRIBE… then yes, I would gladly wear a flower halo everyday of my life.
However, that’s not the case with my depression and anxiety.
Some people these methods could work and that’s not to discount their accounts of panic, anxiety, or depression — it just doesn’t work for my brain.
I had a friend once explain it like this — — imagine your mental health as a cup. You are born with so much, maybe it’s just a drop, maybe it’s half full — who knows. But as life throws us loss, difficult situations, unbearable pain, and even just walks through life — then your cup starts to fill up and sometimes — it flows over.
For one, it runs in my family. Sorry to call you out fam but let’s face the facts — — we are all on the same “happy pills”.
I started medication in college after some tough family losses, a change of relationship, living situation, and the end of my college career. That’s when I started having panic attacks a few times a day.
They would start out as nervousness, I could feel it creep up my legs as I’m sweating trying to calm myself down with the “yourefineyourefineyouresafestopbeingweird” and then it would eventually encompass every limb, muscle, and cell in my body where I knew there was nothing more to do than find a safe space (normally my car), turn the air on full blast, and just lay there until the fear of doom and darkness went away.
I started medication and it was fine.
There were a few bumps in the road, dates that I ended early or without a word because I couldn’t deal with socializing, family gatherings where I would drive around the block a couple of times, days I needed to sleep to give my brain a rest — but for the most part it was fine.
I stopped taking them a few years later — and I remember feeling really great and being my goofy, hyper-self at work one evening and a co-worker made the comment “Damn dude, how much of your meds did you take today?!”
Actually none, this is my brain “sober”
— — immediately felt the shame and embarrassment of having a hyperactive personality. Where it takes me hours to do something simple like there are 150 tabs open at once, where I sing or make unintentional dinosaur noises that might seem like outbursts but it was helping me stick to the rhythm of a task.
Then there were the down days.
I once called in sick to the museum I worked at because I couldn’t get myself out of bed. I starred at the ceiling for 2 days. Not moving. Not answering my phone. Not sleeping. Just sitting and staring waiting for this gloom to pass.
I stayed off my meds for a good while and just dealt with the side effects. Which led to lots of wine, lots of sleep, and 100+ missed calls and texts.
It wasn’t until the beginning of this year when it became unbearable again.
The first week of my new job, a step into my dream career, I was having the worst panic episodes. Exactly like I described before but add dizziness and brain fog to the mix. I would text my friend during lunch and she would walk me through exercises to help me feel grounded — and it would help a little. I would be in meetings and not hear a word — just completely inside my own brain, feeling helpless.
I thought it’s just a phase. Change puts added stress and it will pass.
My group of friends had been planning a weekend trip to New Orleans for a while. We were going to see my favorite band, in a city I’d never been to and I was STOKED. We camped the first night halfway and then as soon as we entered the city, I knew something was off with me.
I left dinner the first night in tears because I was having full-blown panic. I was so pissed at myself, thinking I had ruined everyone’s night — and I went home early and just slept at the Airbnb. The whole weekend was that a complete blur and I drank maybe 3 beers — — most were poured out.
That’s when I knew I had to get back on my medication. I couldn’t function like this. I was missing out on the best days of my life, memories with my friends and family — all because I didn’t want to be medicated.
Now, 5 months strong back on my meds — — I can finally breathe.
Sure, some days are better than others — but I haven’t had a panic attack since my New Orleans trip and lawwwwd that feels amazing. It’s like my brain was a dry erase board painted with marker and someone just took an eraser and wiped it clean.
My medication has side effects. All meds do. However — —
If I’m 10 pounds heavier with a couple of years knocked off my life, I’m fine with that.
Because even though these effects are negative, I can finally live without triggers. Without worrying about social situations making me panic. Enjoying time with my partner, friends, and family without having brain fog or fighting depressing thoughts every minute.
Eventually, when I have kids, it means not having to excuse myself from recitals, playdates, teacher conferences, sports, etc because I’m having an episode.
It means I get to live every moment the way I want.
If that means medicated, fat, and happy. Then so be it.
So before you post a meme about how exercise is better than medication for someone like me, think. It may help someone — but it also might knock someone a few pegs back from all the hard work they’ve put into being “normal”.
Don’t be an asshole. Let the people enjoy their lives without the judgment of how they choose to live it.
(unless it’s endangering their lives and/or others, obviously)