For me, it’s really ironic that this week is Mental Health Awareness Week. This week has been among the most difficult ones I’ve ever endured regarding my mental health. I know I tend to be overdramatic with just about everything, but the emotional pain I experienced this past week was so debilitating that I, honestly, thought I couldn’t go on.
I mentioned in a recent post that I decided to turn a new leaf, so to speak, on my health and well-being. I finally went to doctors for things I had been putting off and that included getting a better handle on my mental health. I’m 28 years old and I figured it was time I started taking care of my mind and body….and really mean it. Back in August, I started to see a new psychiatric nurse practitioner and, right from the start, she agreed that I need a different mental health regimen. She suggested getting me down to just one medication and introducing vitamins and supplements to help with it’s efficacy. Over the next few months I weaned off of the medication combination I was on for nearly four years. Everything was going fine…until I reached the final dose of the second medication.
Although I was weaned off of the medication slowly (and I’m so grateful that I was), after being on two medications simultaneously for such a long period of time, my body couldn’t handle all the withdrawals. I felt awful; I was full of fear, guilt, and, at times, hatred of myself. I would be lying to you if I didn’t say that I wished it was all over (it was that bad). But it wasn’t just in my head. I also had physical withdrawal symptoms such as ‘shock-like’ sensations throughout my body, shakiness, and difficulty remembering things.
I’m happy to say that, as of today, I am feeling much better. After I saw my doctor this past Monday, she decided that the best course of action would be if I went back on the last dose of the ‘old’ medication I was stable on while she introduced the new one. I just started new medication and, I would say I’m cautiously optimistic. There’s no telling how one responds to a particular medication until they start taking it and the one I’m on is fairly new. I am, however, very content with the fact that if something were to go wrong, I am in good hands.
At the beginning of this week I wrote a text to my parents explaining how I thought that everyone should think about mental illness (mind you, I forgot that it was Mental Health Awareness Week). I think it sheds some light not only on how we, as a society, should approach mental illness but also on how to treat everyone, every day…because you never know what someone might be going though.
…anxiety and mental illness doesn’t have a face, an age or a “type”. Anyone can get it…it doesn’t matter where you came from and how you were brought up. You don’t wake up one morning and it’s gone. Even when you feel “well”, it’s still with you and it always will be. You can’t see it; it’s hard to understand how someone with it is feeling and how it affects their lives but that doesn’t mean that their feelings aren’t valid. You may be able to escape from them momentarily but please understand that they will never escape this disease.
I wrote that in the midst of several dark and unnerving moments I experienced this past week. In spite of everything I’ve been through, I consider myself lucky. I’m lucky to have access to healthcare and medication when I know that there are so many people in this world that do not. I’m lucky to have a family that still loves me and supports me even though I’m a little (or a lot) anxious. There are still so many people living with mental illness whose families’ stigmatize them. One person dies from suicide every 40 seconds worldwide. Please be kind…not just this week, but every week.