The Shadow Proves the Sunshine

One pill down, one to go; after five years of ingesting a cocktail of medications with breakfast, I now chase my cereal with just one little anti-anxiety pill. While I celebrate this evidence of growth, however, it occurs to me that too much negativity surrounds psychopharmaceuticals: so what if I take lamotrigine? So what if I take zoloft? So what if I hung out for a while with Sam-E and some of his friends? Deep shame lingers over my shoulder as I tap out these names hesitatingly, but my logic encourages me to keep going; the more psychotropic medications are spoken about, the less tabooed they will be.

News for the University of Oregon: we now have personalized 'O' container caps!

News for the University of Oregon: we now have personalized ‘O’ container caps!

My medications live on the kitchen counter next to the toaster: it goes teapot, paper towel holder, pills, toaster. But when guests arrive, these same pills  relocate to my sock draw, somewhere only a famished dog would dare rummage. Why? Because people are scared of them, and because I’m scared of being judged by the scared people.

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Despite the commonness of pills xyz for xyz, psychotropic medications make people nervous. For example, It took months for my psychiatrist – heck, it even took months to say “my” before psychiatrist – to get me to simply try taking an anti-depressant; anti-depressants were for people strapped into straight-jackets and locked in padded rooms, not a nineteen year old clad in a dress and cardigan. I thought medications would turn me into a zombie-freak. That people would be too afraid to talk to me if they knew I was “looney” enough to need to pop pills ritualistically. I thought they were a sign of weakness, failure, and destitution. Of pure brokenness.

How wrong I was. How wrong so many people are.

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Most non-psychotic disorders can be treated purely with behavioral interventions, but some people, like me, choose to combine drugs and therapy, the former acting as a sort of boost to the latter. Although four years of recovery in my pocket shows that the combo deal was a good way to go about healing myself, part of me wishes I could have trodden the path sans pills; to this day, I wonder if it’s the meds that are holding me upright, and if I’d be a lost cause without them. But then I stop right there.

No.

No, Nanna, it is all you.

You are in charge.

You are the leader of your life: Zoloft and lamotrigine- they’re just sidekicks.    

I get that I am not a walking concoction of chemicals, and I get that medications do not dictate my actions, but I still feel disempowered by them; how nice it would be to go camping without having to portion out several days’ worth of anti-anxiety medication, to travel without having to fill my purse with little orange prescription containers, and to have people over to my apartment without worrying that stray pills may be lurking about in plain sight. A four-year relationship with zoloft and lamotrigine means they are as commonplace in my life as brushing my teeth, but this does not mean we’re in it for the long-term; yes, they’ve helped me regain my footing, but it’s time I take off the training wheels, so to speak.

So here goes.

Farewell lamotrigine, thank you for settling me back into the groove of things, but zoloft and I must tackle the road alone now. You are not bad. You do not warrant shame. I am simply ready to feel all that I can. Rest assured, zoloft will one day be set free too.

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