Medicated and Mighty

12647337_10205898464556288_514598743923290892_nHi. How are you? Well, I hope.

I know I’m posting Capture Your Grief stuff every day, and there will be a post later today for that, too. (Double post day!  Yay? Hopefully not too spammy?) But I wanted to pop by to share something important. So important.

Apparently this was a viral thing last fall and I missed it (in my defense, I was losing a baby and mega-grieving right when this thing hit), so I am very late jumping on this train, but I am jumping on it so hard.

See that gal up there? The one holding the pill bottle?  That’s me. That’s little ‘ol me, and my Alprazolam, better known as Xanax. That’s the medication that I currently use to manage my anxiety disorder. It works for me and I am not ashamed. I am not going to make excuses. I take Xanax on an as-needed basis because it is what works for me when anxiety takes control. It is one tool in my toolbox. It is one part of my treatment and recovery plan. I will not apologize for that.

For a long time I was very hesitant to take medication for anxiety. I brushed it aside whenever my therapist would bring it up. I had heard horror stories about certain medications intensifying symptoms. Or people becoming addicted to them. Medication didn’t seem to fit in with my lifestyle, which trends towards the very natural. I wanted to heal myself “naturally”. You know, like you do when you have appendicitis. Or an infection. Or cancer. Oh… right.

Mood disorders and other mental illness affect the brain, which just so happens to be an organ. Meaning it is a part of your physical body. In other words, mood disorders are a physical illness, like appendicitis, like an infection, like cancer. That last one may sound shocking or sensational but it is not a stretch. Mental illness kills people, just like cancer. It is not always that bad, but it can be. Yes, many people do choose to to treat illness and disease naturally, and I do not mean any disrespect. However, I believe that modern medicine has a place in modern life, even a natural, mostly organic one. It took this realization, plus a trip to the ER during a panic attack that was so bad that I didn’t know it was a panic attack, for me to see that maybe, just maybe, medication had a place in my life. The way that anxiety manifests in my life right now, means that Xanax is a good choice for me. I don’t believe that I will be on it long term. It is not an ideal long term medication after all, and so if I need to stay on something for a longer period of time, my doctors and I will explore some other options. I am lucky to have these informed doctors and therapists who have my best interests at heart.

My medication allows me to remain present for my family, when anxiety tries to rip me away from them. My medication (plus a side of mediTation) quiets my mind when it becomes filled with horrific thoughts of bad things happening to my children (yes, this is an anxiety symptom, and it is as awful as it sounds). Medication is but one of many tools that I use to manage my anxiety disorder. My medication represents my courage, because I had to be strong enough to recognize when I needed help, and then brave enough to ask for it. My medication represents the love I bear for my family, and for myself, because I work hard every day, using this tool and others, to be stronger and healthier for them, and for me.

I am Medicated and Mighty.

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5 thoughts on “Medicated and Mighty

    • robokel says:

      Two things.

      First, this quote hits the nail on the head: “Because hopelessness and inertia are often part and parcel of depression, it can be challenging for persons living with depression to keep at it until finding the treatment that is right for them.” I saw 2 therapists before being properly diagnosed. The first told me that I “seem like a very well rounded and successful woman.” and paid no mind whatsoever to the symptoms that I was explaining to her. She also happened to be a general therapist, and not one who specialized in Postpartum life. SO, sticking with the search until you find the right person is paramount. It is also SO HARD. After meeting with that first therapist I was so disheartened. It took months, 6 to be exact, before I started the search again and found the right therapist.

      Second, while I commend the recommendation to increase screening for PPD in new mothers, I am disappointed, again, to find the focus solely on PPD. I WAS screened for PPD, at every single one of our well baby visits for the first year of life. I passed the Edinburg Postnatal Depression Scale with flying colors time and time again, because I didn’t have PPD, I had PPA. Until we expand postnatal screening to include Postpartum Anxiety, Postpartum Psychosis and PTSD, in addition to Postpartum Depression, we will continue to let mothers go un-diagnosed in what I believe are alarming numbers.

      Like

  1. Jenny says:

    Medication is a tough issue for me because I am 100% supportive of it and agree entirely that we should treat mental illness like we treat physical illness… but at the same time, I don’t want to be a person on medication. I think part of it is that I’ve internalized the stigma that medication is a crutch for people who can’t hack it (but I only really apply that myself) but also, medication makes it all realer and scarier somehow. If I can fix myself with therapy and meditation, I can pretend this is just a blip and no big deal, rather than this thing I *have*. Which is so dumb because I have allergies and asthma and an ulcer and these are things I don’t hesitate to take medication for when they bother me. I think that’s why it’s so great and important that people braver than me talk about it. (And for what it’s worth, I feel confident that if my therapist thought I needed medication, she would tell me and I’m willing to try pretty much anything my therapists asks.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kelly Bauer says:

      Jenny, I could hug you. Your comment resonates so much with me, because it is exactly how I felt… feel? I don’t know, it’s complicated. I tried to fight this beast without medication, and actually succeeded for a long time. I’d even go so far as to say I beat it. A few years after the birth of my son, when I got pregnant with Clara, I was basically anxiety free, and had never used any form of medication. Maybe anxiety free is the wrong way to describe it. A better way would be to say that I had normal levels of anxiety, no intrusive thoughts, no panic attacks, no insomnia, etc. All accomplished through therapy, mindfulness and self-care (which included a lot of trigger avoidance). I felt like I could breathe again.

      Then I lost Clara.

      As we processed our loss, I knew that anxiety returning was likely. But, I expected it to feel a lot like it did the first time, and so I expected it to recede like it did the first time. I was so wrong. Not only has this bout of PPA felt different, but it is responding differently to the way I manage it. Namely, it wasn’t responding at all to my old, tried and true methods. I think that things like this manifest differently among different people, obviously, but I also think that among the same person, their experiences with PPD or PPA, can be different, based on the circumstances. Since birthing a healthy son and losing an unborn daughter via surgical abortion after receiving a lethal fetal anomaly diagnosis are so vastly different in their circumstances, my anxiety has been vastly different, and far more severe, this time around. It took me understanding this change in circumstance, to give myself permission for meds. Something else that helped was something that my therapist said. Well, two things actually. One, she has promised me that she will not let me get hooked. She is very connected to how much I am taking, etc. so that we can monitor for any signs of addiction or reliance, because she knows that I am concerned about it becoming a crutch or addiction. Two, she explained that my medication allows me some leeway while I heal. Battling anxiety takes a lot of emotional fortitude, and quite frankly, after losing a child, I don’t have a lot of emotional fortitude. Think of it like using training wheels while you learn to ride a bike. The training wheels are there to keep you upright while you learn the basic mechanics of bike riding. Once you get that down, you take the wheels away. Sure, you might fall a few times, but since you had the training wheels, you were able to really get the mechanics of bike riding down, and after a few tries, they come back to you, and you’re off! The bike analogy is of my own invention, but the concept of “meds help me until I’m strong enough to do it alone” was my therapist’s, and it makes a lot of sense to me.

      The point is. I totally get your perspective, and I agree with it. I have definitely internalized the stigma of meds being a crutch, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t at all worried about that. I think about it a lot, but I also think about the training wheels and it helps. Also, like you, I trust my therapist, and I have faith that she’s going to help deliver me (again) to the other side of this. Hugs to you!

      Liked by 1 person

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