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When Depending on Medication Makes You Feel 'Weak'

Prior to becoming ill, I wasn’t what you’d call a big “fan” of medications.

Sure, I’d take a few over-the-counter pain meds for a headache, but generally speaking, I’d avoid medication if I could. “Better that the body be left to do what it does best,” was my motto.

This motto has become one of my unexpected battles since developing chronic illness.

Certain psychological aspects of chronic illness are well known in the CI lexicon: Mourning. Anger. Grief. Fear.

But for me, a newfound reliance on medication has been an additional emotional blow: Shame.


In my previous, healthy life, I took for granted that I’d get through each day taking nothing more than a multivitamin. Now, when I have to take my handful of powerful (and addictive) medications, I feel ashamed.

I feel ashamed because just a few years ago, I was very cautious not to take too many ibuprofen – now, I have to take scary medicines you hear about on the news. Medicines government agencies want to crack down on because they can be addictive. Medicines that, taken inappropriately (and even sometimes as the doctor prescribes), can kill you.

And now I need them to get through the day. I feel shame for taking these because, to the old, healthy me, these medicines are an admission of weakness – a mea culpa that I can’t “hack it” on my own. That I have somehow failed at being the tough-as-nails Superwoman I once thought myself to be.

Each dose feels like an acknowledgement that my body isn’t working correctly. That I am broken, and cannot be fixed. That I am somehow less than I was.

For what it’s worth, I recognize the shame I feel is but one of many difficult emotions with which I struggle each day. I am seeing a counselor to attempt to better battle the shame and the blame, as I realize they are detrimental to my overall fight.

It remains my hope that I will one day no longer need medication, but I am working, in the meantime, to see meds as part of my Warrior Armor instead of as an Achilles Heel.

It’s a slog.

A painful, terrible, daily slog.

But I will conquer this as I have conquered so much else, and I will do it in my own time.

Because I am a tough-as-nails Superwoman. And shame ain’t got nuthin’ on me!

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Thinkstock photo via Purestock.