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Why I Use Silly Names for My Psych Meds

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Editor's Note

Please see a doctor before starting or stopping a medication.

This morning, I took my “happy pill,” my “stay happy pill” and my “don’t get pregnant pill.” These medications are otherwise known as an antidepressant, a mood stabilizer and birth control. But I much prefer my names for them, over the impossible to pronounce pharmacy names.

It was quite a process to convince me to try medication for depression, and mental illness more generally. I don’t really have a good reason for why I was opposed for so many years. I appreciate science and how much these medications do for so many people. Doctor after doctor recommended medications, since I was in high school. Even in college, I was hospitalized for depression, and still wouldn’t consistently take medications. It wasn’t until medications were no longer pushed on me, that I could decide for myself to give them a real try. Really, I was just scared. I was scared of side effects and mood changes and mostly, giving up control.

So, now I don’t call them my antidepressants. Each morning, when I pour the pills into my palm and fill a glass of water, I call them my “happy pills.” And maybe these names are silly and a bit ridiculous, not to mention oversimplified for how psych medications work, but they make me chuckle a bit each day.

I’ve never believed taking medications, especially for mental health, should be stigmatized. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have my own internalized stigma, toward only myself. Maybe these silly names help reduce that self-stigma enough to keep me taking the medications I need to stay well. And when it comes up in conversation with others, my “happy pill” and “stay happy pill,” make them laugh, too. I’ll do anything to break the ice and normalize talking about mental health.

I will likely be on some form of a psych medication for the rest of my life. I’ve found those that work well for me to keep me out of a depression, and I’m OK with taking them for the foreseeable future. Any “loss of control” is worth the gains I experience in my mental health. And, maybe one day, I’ll call them by their real names again, but for now, I’m going to do whatever keeps me taking them and keeps me well. Plus, the resulting bonus laugh each morning as I take my “happy pills” isn’t so bad either.

Getty image by svetabelaya

Originally published: August 3, 2021
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