By Nyemade Boiwu

March 23, 2020

I have asthma. I use an inhaler because sometimes my lungs need the extra chemicals to help them function properly. No one thinks it’s “weird” or “weak” to use my inhaler. No one suggests that I should struggle through my inability to breathe rather than taking medication that will help. No one has a problem accepting that my lungs need the assistance of medication to work the same way other people’s do naturally. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same about my depression and anxiety medication.

I think we’re getting better at talking about mental health. Even mentioning a therapist isn’t as taboo as it used to be. But there’s still so much stigma around using medication to treat mental illness. Unfortunately, it was stigma that delayed me taking the medication I needed to feel okay.

I spent years doing everything I could to avoid needing to be on meds. I even moved to Florida on my own when I was 19 because of my depression with a seasonal pattern. My symptoms were so intense I was crying myself to sleep every night for months. It helped for a while, but I realized you can’t outrun depression, even with palm trees and sunshine.

I can’t tell you how much better my life has been on medication. I’m all for trying other therapeutic methods before medication. However, just like any other health-related concern, sometimes medication is necessary to resolve the problem. Some people with depression may find success by working with a therapist to develop coping mechanisms. Others, including me, may find that therapy without medication is not enough. Especially when my symptoms are triggered by nothing at all.

Everyone experiencing a mental illness is different, and their treatments will be too. But no matter how a person and their mental health professional manages their treatment — we shouldn’t look down on them.

I want everyone to hear what I wish I had known years ago: it’s okay if you need to take meds to be okay. This past winter, I was amazed how well I was functioning. I know it’s because of my medication. When I think back to last winter, all I remember is darkness. It was my first winter back up north, and every day was a struggle. This winter, I felt like myself. I felt blessed.

Don’t suffer because of other people’s opinions about medication for mental illness. No one has to walk in your shoes but you. So it’s no one’s business what type of shoes you put on, and how you walk through your days in them. Life is hard enough. Do what you need to make that walk a little easier for yourself. That way, you can keep going.
Nyemade is a writer, speaker and digital content strategist. She strives to use her talent for communication to raise awareness about various social issues and encourage individuals to see things from the perspective of others. Find her other writing and learn more about her at https://linktr.ee/thatafricanbutterfly.  

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