I can still remember standing in that line. The store was busy and the lines were long. I kept looking around to see if there was anyone I knew standing close by. Someone that might hear the conversation that was going to take place.
My turn was next. What would they think of me? What did I think of me? How did I end up in this place? I’m supposed to know how to “fix” this, make it better. It’s what I do all day for others, so why was I finding it so hard to do it for myself?
Handing over that white piece of paper was either going to define who I am or it was going to allow me to finally choose a different path on my journey. As I told myself you’ve got this, feelings of doubt and hope began to resonate. Then, those words. “Have you ever taken this medication before?”
A few months ago, I had a family come to me privately for help. They believed wholeheartedly their daughter needed medication for depression and anxiety. They had been to the doctor. The therapist was lined up and their daughter was on board with the plan, but nothing was happening.
In one simple sentence, they defined what many people struggle with when making this very personal decision. “We don’t know what people will think of us — what they will think of her.”
It feels like we live in a world that has two opinions in regards to antidepressants.
You’re either for it or against it.
What I have learned in my many years as a counselor is that we cannot let our most personal decisions be influenced by the opinions of others. We have to believe the right decision lies deep in our heart. We must believe in the knowledge we have and trust ourselves enough to embrace the unknown.
I am not an expert on anything. Most days I struggle with being the expert on me, but that is the only thing I come close to being an expert on. I often tell the kids who come to my office, that no one knows them better than they know themselves. I am not going to tell them what to do or how to think. That hard work is up to them.
That white piece of paper did not end up defining me. I am OK with my decision to take medication to help me with my anxiety. A decision that came from acceptance, not shame. A decision that allowed me to start down a new path on my journey.
I did one simple thing with that family before leaving them to make their decision on that fateful day. I reached across the table, took each of their hands and told them the only thing I know to be true. “It’s OK.“
Follow this journey on FitMom.
The Mighty is asking the following: Tell us a story about a time you encountered a commonly held misconception about your mental illness. How did you react, and what do you want to tell people who hold his misconception? If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.