I’ve been on antidepressants since I was 18. I remember crying in the car to my grandmother after the appointment because I didn’t understand why I needed a pill to help me function. The words that came out of her mouth next forever changed me.
Mouse, you have one of the most genuine hearts. If you see someone suffering, you’d do anything to help them. Don’t be ashamed to take help yourself because your brain works differently.
I can tell when I’ve missed my dose. I’ve become in tune with my body to know that I hate the feelings of unwarranted emptiness and unsolicited hopelessness.
I’m not addicted to my medication. I am addicted to functioning clearly.
My husband feels similarly about his prescription as well. When he moved to Milwaukee, he started college. For one semester, I thought he was going to classes. For one semester, he sat in his car because he couldn’t function in class. I held his hand as he received an ADD diagnosis at the age of 23.
He can tell when he’s missed a dose. After being together for over a decade, I can tell when he’s missed a dose too as I’m sure he can tell when I have. We’ve unfairly accused each other during arguments of not taking our meds and each time we realize we’ve taken it too far.
We’re a better couple when we’re on our meds because we’re able to function as individuals first.
Our son was diagnosed with ADHD in October 2013 and putting him on medication was one of the hardest decisions I’ve made in my almost nine years of mothering. I’m no stranger to the stigma behind taking medication for a chemical imbalance, and neither is my husband. But we can take our pills in the safe haven of our house and do not have to tell anyone except our chosen medical professionals. For Cristian, who’d need a dose at school, many more people would know….and judge him and our parenting choices.
I struggled with our decision even as I held the prescription in my hand at the pharmacy. And as my child had problems swallowing the pills at first, I felt like I’d failed as a parent. He didn’t get to make the choice that his father and I had. We’d made this decision for him as his parents. And in a moment that brought everything full circle, I heard my grandmother’s voice in my head. “If you see someone suffering, you’d do anything to help them.”
I didn’t fail as a parent; I was doing the exact opposite. I armed my child with a tool he needed to help him learn in the classroom and to function without suffering as a result of his chemical imbalance.
Cristian’s medication routine has evolved into one which he only takes medicines at home or out with us. As we were walking to the arena to take in a Milwaukee Wave game with one of his friends from school, I took him aside as we waited to walk at an intersection and asked him if he wanted me to give him his afternoon pill in secret. He looked at me with wisdom so much greater than a boy of eight and said, “Don’t worry, Momma. I’ve got this.” He then ran to his friend and started a conversation.
“So, I take medicine. It helps me focus and control my emotions. I don’t feel like Cristian without it. My mom has it in her purse and will give it to me at the game. Okay?”
“Okay…I take a pill sometimes for my allergies. So on YouTube…”
I looked at my dad who joined me on the trip and smiled. My son had come to a conclusion it had taken me years to figure out. His medication helps him to be the best version of himself he can be. And that version of Cristian has improved in school and has friends who understand.
A family is only as strong as its weakest link. If someone has a cold, the whole family is affected. Mental health should be no different than physical health. My depression isn’t different than my hypothyroidism. My husband’s ADD isn’t different than his high blood pressure. There is only a stigma if we allow there to be one, as my son and his friend taught me that afternoon.
Our family is better when we’re medicated. I don’t feel chained to my depression. My boys’ brains don’t feel so disconnected from their bodies. We become three strong parts to an even stronger whole.