Recognising you may need help with your mental health is a big first step.
Recognising you may need help with your mental health is a big first step. There is still, despite many efforts a stigma around mental health.
A stigma with taking medication to help with a mental health illness. It can leave most feeling very vulnerable talking about your struggles. But, to be vulnerable is to be brave.
Doing anything at all to help your mental health can only be seen as a positive. Whether that is telling somebody, making an appointment with your GP, going to see a therapist or even going on some medication. You are doing something to make yourself better. Feel better, be the person you want to be before your mental illness took over.
It’s a cliché, but the truth still remains. If you broke your leg would you leave it untreated? If you lack iron or vitamin b12 would you refuse to take a supplement for fear of being looked down upon?
The answer is no, and neither would anybody else. You wouldn't shame a person with a physical illness for taking medication, so why do we shame people with mental illness for taking a medication that could potentially save their lives?
Remember, always talk with your doctor before taking any medication. Medication alone will not resolve a mental illness, but it may, for some people, be that extra step they need to feel like themselves again. They will help only with the symptoms of the illness but not addressing the root cause, will cause it to remain.
Here are a few things you should know if you are considering going on medication.
1. There are different types
There are many different types of anti-depressants. If you have a good relationship with your doctor they will know which one will probably suit you best. It can be a case of trial and error at the beginning but know there are many different types all with different uses and side effects.
2. Most side effects are temporary
Most, but not all, side effects are only temporary. Try to stick with it for the first two weeks until the initial side effects wear off. If you’re feeling nauseous your GP can prescribe anti-sickness medication for the first few weeks.
3. Listening to your body is crucial
Think of yourself as the only liaison between your doctors and your body. No one is as keyed into what you’re feeling and as equipped to communicate your experience. Listen to your gut when something feels off, and address relevant issues (even the embarrassing ones), or uncomfortable stuff-with your doctor.
4. You shouldn’t stop suddenly
If you’re ready to come off your medication, gradually tapering your dosage under the guidance of your doctor is the way to go. Not only could cutting off medication cold turkey trigger withdrawal symptoms like nausea, dizziness, insomnia, and incredibly unpleasant electric-shock sensations, it could worsen the condition or symptoms you’re treating in the first place. If that happens and you decide you do actually want to be on medication, you may have to wait weeks for it to become effective again.
Going on medication may end up being the right fit for you, or it may not. Either way, there is no shame in making an effort to help yourself. And remember you are not alone. There is always someone to listen. Let it be a GP, a friend, a helpline. Don’t suffer in silence.
Laura Doyle, Mum of 4. Kyle 9, Noa Belle 4, Briar 2 and Milla 12 months. Breastfeeder, co-sleeper, coffee drinker. Staying positive and inspired by the chaos of it all. Follow her on Instagram.