I’ve been mentally ill since I was a kid. I can remember it clearly.
My belief is it started when I was 4 years old. My family picked up and moved to the country and we lived in tents while the house was being built.
That’s the first “traumatic” memory I have. It affected me badly. All sense of safety was gone. Just a confused little girl wondering what happened and what was happening.
I have a few scattered memories of my childhood but mostly I remember always crying and being sad. I know that’s not the complete story, I’m sure I had some good memories too, but this isn’t that story. This story is about the events which led me to getting help for mental illness.
I had many challenges growing up as I’m sure many do. I experienced some unconventional ways of growing up. We weren’t like other families and we were poor as well. It made for a hard upbringing.
The depression and anxiety got worse as I got older. My teen years were brutal. I never got help as a child. I’m not really sure why but I do remember being told that God would heal me.
It wasn’t til I was 16 that I finally got help.
I started with natural remedies but they didn’t work so I decided I would try medication.
At first I was embarrassed I was taking them and that lasted for many years. I remember feeling that people on medication were weak. That they couldn’t survive on their own. This made me feel even more weak.
For years I hid the medication from people. I felt so weak for having to take them. Feeling this way hindered my life.
It kept me from forming deep relationships in fear they would find out about the medication. Eventually I started getting involved, but I knew the closer I got to someone the more chance they would find out, so I didn’t get into any serious relationships. I was involved in a couple of relationships, some good some bad but in each one I feared being judged.
In my late twenties I met someone and began a serious relationship. I ended up moving in with him in the big city. It worked out because I was closer to my doctors and could get better help.
Little did I know that going to the doctor would bring me 6 years of misery. Yes, 6 years. I was in too deep to get out and afraid to go back home. Soon he found out I was taking meds for my mental health and here came the lecture.
“Medication is bad for you. It’s nothing but poison.”
That sentence was the beginning of years of “pill shaming”.
I tried to explain to him I needed the meds to stay balanced. That I tried getting off them but it didn’t work for me. He would have none of it.
Pills were for the weak. For those who didn’t want to do the work to get better. That it was a conspiracy by the pharmaceutical companies.
But he was a health nut to the extreme. There was no convincing him that I needed it. He even got his family and friends involved to take his side and pill shame me.
For the entirety of our relationship he pill shamed me. Not only did he pill shame me but he “doctor” shamed me.
Anytime I got sick and wanted to go to the hospital he would start insulting me. Saying I wasn’t sick or that I could get better by taking his herbs. He did this so often that I got to the point to where I couldn’t decide if I was sick enough to go to the hospital or not. I was too ashamed and eventually I gave in and stopped taking the meds and going to the doctor.
I tried doing it his way. With nutrition, clean eating, exercise, meditation and all else that goes with alternative treatments.
Well, it didn’t work. I had too much of a chemical imbalance. But as per him I just wasn’t trying hard enough. So I lived with the shaming. It was very destructive and made me worse off than I had ever been.
I finally got out of that relationship but it took many times trying and help from family and friends. It was such a toxic relationship that I got “trapped” there, I couldn’t get out easily.
He kept shaming me even after I left him for good, leaving me no choice but to block him from my life in every way.
Taking pills is nothing to be ashamed of.
If you have ever been pill shamed, I’m so sorry. Do what you have to do to live a good life… regardless of what others say.
Have you been there? Were you pill shamed? Are you still being shamed?