Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Anti-Depressants Help Me Be My True Self

Did I mention it's Mental Health Awareness Month? It's always something month and often multiple somethings month(s?) but this awareness is near and dear to me, because I am a mentally ill person.

I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder as a teen and more recently with complex PTSD. These anxiety disorders come on a spectrum and I would say that mine are perhaps on the less severe side, but I have a tendency to minimize my symptoms so honestly who knows. I have enough privilege to have been able to collect several years of therapy under my belt, with two of the therapists being very good and teaching me valuable skills to cope with my mental illness.

I've also been blessed with SSRIs. I take the generic version of Lexapro, the trendy new version of Zoloft. And there's something I NEED you to KNOW.

It doesn't make me a zombie. It doesn't change who I am. It doesn't take away my creativity and it doesn't make me less motivated.

In fact, it was the antidote to the zombie virus I had been afflicted with. It reduces the intensity of barriers to creativity and action and everything else. It didn't change my personality, it made me feel more safe to act like the real me instead of hiding myself out of the fear that people wouldn't like me, that they would be annoyed by my odd sense of humor or think me an asshole because I'm not naturally talkative. It made it easier to take creative risks.

And the fear that held me back from doing much of anything now only holds me back a little, but I can overpower that fear much more often. I sleep better and my mind isn't so clouded with anxiety that I can't talk myself down from panic or counter that unreasonable negative voice in my head that tells me that of course the most terrible outcome imaginable is the one that is going to take place.

I'm not saying anything new here. Plenty of mentally ill people before me have explained how medication is a tool, how anti-anxiety meds these days are not just sedatives, how anti-depressants don't numb you and if they do, then the medication just isn't right for you and you should try one of the many other options out there. But I want to add my voice to the chorus.

And yes, it's true that we don't know the long term effects of many of these newer medications. Lexapro may end up having long term negative effects on my memory or have any number of unforeseen effects, and I don't trust the pharmaceutical industry to test things as well as they should, because capitalism. But I'd rather take the risk of being kind of fucked up in my old age so that I can live closer to my full potential now, when I'm still young and can do my best work. And that's my risk to take, anyway. Telling me I should try any number of remedies that, trust me, I've already tried and didn't work because you're pretending to care about future old lady Lindsey is not helpful and not appreciated.

SSRIs have taken the ridiculously and unnecessarily high hurdles placed in my life path by my mental illnesses and lowered them to something I can handle without completely exhausting myself. That's all. And with that extra energy, I can be something closer to who I truly am, and I have more energy to find that person among the unending calamity of my society. I have a shot at figuring out how to be happy.

So thank you, drugs. And to everyone else, just say no to telling people they shouldn't be taking their medication. Mind your own goddamn business.

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