Friday, October 7, 2016

Going on the Pill

I try to be very open and honest about my struggles with mental health issues. I'm a high functioning depressive with social anxiety, and far too often I find that the stigma keeps far too many people quiet, particularly in the LGBT Community. If I'm having a bad day, I try to tell my boss that it's hard for me to be at work, or if I'm suffering from a really bad episode, I will lay in bed for hours on end. Before I started dating my ex, I was taking antidepressants, and I admit that I actually started to enjoy life again. However, as time progressed, my ex expressed a certain discomfort with antidepressants and also that he (eventually) wanted me to stop taking them.

So I did. For better or worse, over the last two-ish years, I've been managing my depression as best I can without medication. Being with my ex certainly helped, because he was very attentive when I was having a black day. But now that I'm back on my own, it's become very nearly unmanageable (no need to worry, I'm surrounded by people who are aware and who care very deeply). So I'm going to my doctor today to go back on the pill. I don't know why, but I actually really hate myself for doing it. I know that it's hypocritical of me to feel this way, especially when I've told fellow depressives that going on antidepressants is a good thing and can really help, and they truly can. So why am I struggling with this so much?

Well, I'm sure part of it has to do with social conditioning. Another part of it has to do with my upbringing, and the final part has to do with the fact that I don't want to ingest a chemical just to feel 'normal'. It's a bit ironic really. I know that, just like my grief, this depression is just the result of chemical cocktails and reactions in my brain. My brain isn't producing enough seratonin, and that is, mechanically, what my depression is. Like I said, everything I am feeling as I process this break up are just chemical reactions in my brain, and opting to not take a small pill to counteract and correct one of the symptoms is just plain foolish.

But that's the thing of it, isn't it? That's how strong the social conditioning can be, that I would play with fire, essentially, just to avoid the stigma of being on antidepressants. I hate telling people that I'm clinically depressed, because then they treat me like a little bird with a broken wing. Bitch, I am not a delicate little flower. Don't treat me differently just because my brain literally tries to kill me on occasion. For that matter, don't treat anyone with mental illness differently. But it's important to be open about it and to educate people that mental illness isn't a defining characteristic of someone's personality.

It's uncomfortable and I hate doing it, but we can't be quiet about it anymore, particularly when we have young men and women killing themselves. LGBT men and women are at a significantly higher risk of major depression and suicide due to their sexual identity than our heterosexual counterparts. And that's what truly sucks about being gay. When you're in the closet, you're depressed. When you come out, you feel better, but if you live in an uber conservative area like me, you have to deal with homophobia and ignorance on a daily basis. So, as much as I hate to say it, sometimes, it doesn't get better. Sometimes, you just have to keep fighting even when the sea seems so big and your boat so small.

But the potential for things to get better automatically ends if you off yourself. So, brothers and sisters, don't stop fighting. Go talk to your doctor, find a mental health professional (which is a lot cheaper for my French readers, ;-). Find a good friend who won't treat you like a wounded bird. I've got to jet, but stay humble, don't stumble, and I'll see you next time.

If you or someone you know is suffering from a major depressive episode and is considering suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. Stay strong, you can make it. 

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