stigma of mental illness and subsequent prescription drugs: why am I so ashamed?

alone man person sadness
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I’m bipolar.

I require prescription medication to manage this mental illness. I’ve been on medication for a number of years, and it has allowed me to lead a “normal” life (whatever THAT means). Mania and depression have plagued me for so long…it was a welcome, overwhelming wash of “even-temperedness” and well-being that came over me with the appropriate medicine. I just felt CALM; something I hadn’t enjoyed for quite some time. It took a while to find the right dosages,, but my doctor and I have finally found the right combination. I know it may not last forever, but it has allowed me to live my life relatively easily and happily.

So why am I so ashamed? I am embarrassed to admit I have a mental illness, and that I take prescription drugs. Why is there such stigma associated with mental illness? Am I LESS THAN? What is it about “mental illness” that incites such JUDGEMENT? I don’t understand it. I’m sick…just not in the physically ill way. I have symptoms just like physically ill people have. The symptoms became unmanageable, so I saw a mental health professional and began a prescription drug regimen. These medications literally saved my life, on more than one occasion. The mania has decreased. And the depression has responded to the meds as well. I am lucky.

So why the shame?

I don’t know. Maybe lack of understanding. Ignorance? Probably. Fear? Definitely.

Anyway, I know I’m not alone with my illness. I’ve done the research; I know how many of us have mental health issues. People are speaking out…it’s time we educate ourselves. Why the shame? I’m not ashamed that I have MS…it’s an ILLNESS. It’s chronic and I receive medication for it. Why is this any different to other chronic diseases? Bipolar disorder has given me black depressions and super-charged manias that have impacted my life negatively. Before my meds, I was at the mercy of my own mind. Now, I look forward to emotional stability. It took a while to get used to the meds and to feel their effects, but eventually it happened. It wasn’t like “magic.” It took about 6-8 weeks, but I noticed signs immediately. I slowly began to feel less depressed. I started to take better care of myself. When mania came, it was manageable. All in all, I began to feel happier.

So why is this bad? Why are mental illnesses discriminated against? I don’t get it. My medicine has made me participate in life again, when all I used to do is lay in bed and watch TV. Or hang out at home, crying periodically.

Like I said…mental illness medication has saved my life. And given it BACK to me. This is HUGE for me, and I’m SO grateful.

Gratitude is a much better feeling than mania, or depression. I hope to live with it, as long as I can.

1 Comment

  1. I feel this. I don’t know that I’m ashamed – I’m very open about taking them – but I’ve experienced the withdrawal and judgement that comes with sharing you’re on meds for mental illness, and it sucks. People judge in a way they don’t judge, as you mentioned, things like MS. Great piece. đŸ’—

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