Do I Deserve to Feel Better?

reachoutThis morning I talked with my psychiatrist about whether I deserve to feel better. We were talking about increasing my one antidepressant, and the idea of changing my mood, even for the better, scares me a little. Change is scary!

Obviously, my psychiatrist feels that I deserve to feel better. But my mental health is in my hands more than his, and a medication increase would affect my life most of all. Am I ready to feel better than this?

For the record, I’m aware that no pill can take away the pain I feel about my life, but I believe that medication can influence my abilities to cope with that pain. Everything from energy levels to organization skills can be improved through psychiatric meds. They can take overwhelming feelings and put them in a more approachable state to deal with.

Depression is a disease affecting the neurotransmitters in our brain. Literally, we depressed people don’t have the ‘happy’ chemicals that the rest of the world operates with. It’s like trying to run a car without gas. We need these chemicals to feel better. Medication can be an answer to having those chemicals released. Exercise and eating the right foods help with those chemicals too.

Antidepressants can level the playing field, so that we have the same resources in our brains to help us get through the day. No pill magically takes away all pain, but it can make pain bearable. And I need my current pain to be more bearable.

So, back to my question of whether I deserve to feel better. It’s time to examine that thought.

- First of all, who decides whether someone deserves happiness?

- What are the qualifications of being deserving?

- Can I suspend my belief of being undeserving long enough to just see what happens if I let change into my life?

I wouldn’t point to some stranger on the sidewalk and say, “Hey, you don’t deserve to be smiling right now,” so it might be equally as ridiculous to give myself the same message. Every person deserves the same as everyone else.

I’m starting to not care if I don’t feel like deserve something. Maybe I deserve good things, maybe not, but I can still aim for good things and hope for the best.

All my life I’ve thought I didn’t deserve to live but I’m still alive. No lightning bolt has struck me down. It’s time to start fighting the odds.

My abuser is out there living his life, happy as a clam. He doesn’t deserve freedom, but he has it. And if he can live a happy life than I’m allowed to as well.

I’m going to try increasing my medication to see if it helps me cope. I’m going to feel the sun on my face and not worry about clouds rolling in until they do.

So, dear readers, do yourself a favour today because you CAN. That’s all the “deserving” you need to do whatever you want. Believe it and make it happen. Fuck that self talk that says “YOU CAN’T” all the time. Seriously, kick that voice in the face.

Fate has no power over us. Neither does our negative self-talk. Let’s choose change and choose letting good stuff into our lives. We need it. Being sad and depressed and suicidal isn’t helping me at all. It’s not like I get paid for it, so why should I stay stuck in such an awful place? When we are happy and confident and self-loving, we have the resources to give back to the world in return. It’s all connected. We can’t grow until we let go, and there is so much out there just waiting for us to reach out and grasp.

Still not convinced? Let me persuade you with a little Labyrinth footage:

♥ “You have no power over me!” ♥

Mondays: Music, Memories & Medication

Along with music and memories, I’ve chosen the third “M” word for Monday’s themed posts to be medication. It’s the largest reason I am still alive today, still breathing, and functioning enough to write here.

I have to spend a chunk of this week making sure I have enough medication to take with me on my upcoming travels. My psychiatrist wrote me a note this morning to explain my many bottles of pills (they all have to be in their original containers) in case they get me held up at the airport.

Medication is a huge topic which I would like to introduce merely with a quote today. It is from The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression by Andrew Solomon, the very best book I’ve read on depression.

“Since I am writing a book about depression, I am often asked in social situations to describe my own experiences, and I usually end by saying that I am on medication.

“Still?” people ask. “But you seem fine!” To which I invariably reply that I seem fine because I am fine, and that I am fine in part because of medication.

“So how long do you expect to go on taking this stuff?” people ask. When I say that I will be on medication indefinitely, people who have dealt calmly and sympathetically with the news of suicide attempts, catatonia, missed years of work, significant loss of body weight, and so on stare at me with alarm.

“But it’s really bad to be on medicine that way,” they say. “Surely now you are strong enough to be able to phase out some of these drugs!” If you say to them that this is like phasing the carburetor out of your car or the buttresses out of Notre Dame, they laugh.

“So maybe you’ll stay on a really low maintenance dose?” They ask. You explain that the level of medication you take was chosen because it normalizes the systems that can go haywire, and that a low dose of medication would be like removing half of your carburetor. You add that you have experienced almost no side effects from the medication you are taking, and that there is no evidence of negative effects of long-term medication. You say that you really don’t want to get sick again. But wellness is still, in this area, associated not with achieving control of your problem, but with discontinuation of medication.

“Well, I sure hope you get off it sometime soon,” they say.

So as I travel to visit family and a best friend over the next two weeks, I will take my medications with me. I will take them everywhere with me until the day I die because they simply keep me alive. I am very grateful.

The Brave New World of Medication

I’m not going to lie: I’m swamped in getting ready for my craft show this weekend and have not written a new post. While I hope to be a Speedy Gonzales-esque writer one of these days and write ten posts ahead of schedule, it hasn’t happened yet. Don’t be disappointed, however! Tonight you get to step into the shoes of a MENTAL HEALTH PROFESSIONAL. WOOO!!! No university degree required.

mindyourmindpro.ca aims at helping health care professionals help youth. They have a kick-ass blog that I’m sampling from here, a post I wrote in February on educating youth on medication. It was amazing to be able to talk to professionals in an arena where they would be open to my opinions on health care. While the post is aimed at professionals, it has a lot of good advice for people new to antidepressants. I wish I could have read such an article when I first went on medication. Click the “more” arrow below to read the article.

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Meds, Part Two: Bad Emotional Reactions

It was basically my worst nightmare to become suicidal from medication because after all, I was taking it to feel better, not worse. Thankfully, I didn’t have any really bad emotional effects from medication until I was well into treatment and could recognize when I was going downhill. Otherwise, it could have been fatal.

As I write this I question whether a) this will scare my new readers away or b) that this will dissuade people from trying medication at all, but this story has a happy ending so I hope you will trust me. Obviously, I urge anyone that is considering ending their life to go to the hospital. Please see my Help Section if you are feeling like hurting yourself. Also, before I go on I want to add that everyone reacts differently to medications, so even though I had bad reactions to these drugs, they could work wonders for you. I am no doctor, just a writer with her story, so work with your own doctor when figuring out meds for yourself.

So, out of the different medications I have tried, two drugs made me feel emotionally worse. The first was a complete shock to both me and my doctor because it wasn’t a new medication at all, just a different form of the same drug. I had previously been taking the generic Wellbutrin twice a day, but when I switched psychiatrists my new doctor told me that the name brand pill came in a once-a-day dosage. It was inconvenient to take it twice a day so I switched from two purple pills to one white pill and thought little of it.

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Meds, Part One: An Overview

I am a walking cocktail of medication and have been since I was diagnosed with depression. One by one pills have been added and subtracted to balance out my brain, some making me physically sick, some making me sleepy, some making me suicidal. Why put myself though all that? I do it because the alternative is worse. After years and years of trying medications that did not help, I’ve finally found pills that help me enough to function. It would be safe to say that without my medication this blog would not exist. Neither would my apartment or my art or the fact that I can function in day-to-day life.

I take seven pills at breakfast, three pills at dinner, and four pills at bedtime. Cymbalta and Wellbutrin are antidepressants to treat depression, Seroquel is an anti-psychotic I take to help me sleep, and Xanax is a PRN (Pro Re Nata – Latin for as needed) I take once in a while for anxiety. Those are the straightforward medications and why I take them.

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