Yo Mama: The choice I can live with

Written by on February 1, 2012 in Fort Mill, SC, Yo' Mama - 38 Comments

A few weeks ago, I came out of a fog. It was a hateful, paranoid fog, and it made me feel like I wanted to burn down the place. By place, I mean America.

The fog subtly invaded and got comfortable based on a decision I made last summer, which made sense at the time.  I’d been medicated for anxiety and depression for more than ten years, and wasn’t I doing fine? Or well enough, at least? Some days were better than others, but doesn’t that apply to everyone?

Wouldn’t it be good to give my liver a break from processing the extra serotonin boost every day, especially if I didn’t need it anymore? Not worrying with the monthly trip and expense of the pharmacy would be nice, too.

Those practical reasons were minimal compared to what I really wanted, which was the satisfaction that I beat it. That the nasty specter of unexplained consuming sadness, tears, and the terrifying few minutes of impending doom borne of  anxiety attacks were something I could control on my own.

Factors that had pushed me into toeing the line of madness in my early 20s thankfully haven’t lingered. My parents aren’t in the midst of an ugly and ridiculous divorce anymore, my baby sister is no longer in the immediate recovery zone of a major brain injury, I’m not flat broke, seeking employment and confused why no high-paying job had easily appeared (I had a Master’s degree – where’s my chunk of the good life?), and most of the time I didn’t feel like I was floundering.

Though I still have emotional bruises from that time, and now have adult concerns that sometimes feel all-consuming, I was doing well enough. I probably didn’t need the meds anymore.

I was wrong.

I need the meds, but I don’t like that I do. As one friend said, “You definitely aren’t the only one.” I know that is true, I don’t want to be in that club. Admitting that I need them proves I’m always going to be a little bit broken inside, and that the pain and stigma of mental illness can seep through the unwelcome cracks in my psyche.

Now that I’m back on the meds, I’m shocked at how much better I feel. It isn’t a feeling of elation or bliss, but I feel like I can breathe again. Like the world and its inhabitants might be a little terrible, but that I can stand sunshine and life isn’t a burden. I like the feeling that I might be able to believe in God again. That faith is actually an option.

I’m trying to be grateful I live in a time where depression and anxiety can be somewhat easily controlled, and that I’m not being told to take a Valium every day as previous generations were. Being mentally checked out all of the time isn’t where I want to be. The tulle encrusted haze of narcotics stifles creativity, drive and memory.

But so does depression.

Feeling like I want to strangle everyone in a three mile radius is not conducive to the family life I want, or the relationships or career I want to cultivate.

So I’ll continue to take the medications, and wish I didn’t need them. And I’ll refrain from burning down America.

This column was originally published in the February 1, 2012 edition of the Fort Mill Times

38 Comments on "Yo Mama: The choice I can live with"

  1. Rebecca February 1, 2012 at 9:10 pm · Reply

    BRAVE WONDER WOMAN! xoxo

    • Tricia February 1, 2012 at 9:15 pm · Reply

      Thank you, Rebecca!

  2. Anna February 1, 2012 at 9:29 pm · Reply

    Awesome article!!! True and honest- love it!!

    • Tricia February 1, 2012 at 9:37 pm · Reply

      Thanks, Anna!

  3. Leslie February 2, 2012 at 10:17 am · Reply

    You are so brave to share your struggle!! And hopefully some one will read this and realize they also could benefit from controlling this condition and do it without shame.

    • Tricia February 2, 2012 at 3:19 pm · Reply

      Thanks, Leslie. mwah.

  4. Karen February 2, 2012 at 12:35 pm · Reply

    You are an amazing woman, Tricia. It’s a shame that we feel like something’s “wrong” with us if we take medication; in most instances, we are our own harshest critic. No one expects the diabetic to survive or thrive without insulin, but drepression (or alcoholism, or any number of diseases) isn’t given that same consideration. It’s a stigma that needs to be eliminated, and I applaud you for being one of the voices in that journey.

    • Tricia February 2, 2012 at 3:19 pm · Reply

      Thank you, Karen. It is so kind of you to say that.

  5. Jessica February 5, 2012 at 12:42 pm · Reply

    Thanks for this brave, inspiring and beautifully written column! I admire your fearless honesty.

    • Tricia February 5, 2012 at 7:18 pm · Reply

      Thank you, Jessica.

  6. Annalise February 5, 2012 at 1:11 pm · Reply

    Hi Tricia,
    I have suffered through 3 major depressions in my lifetime. I consider myself to be energetic and full of joy for life, but in those dark times that person disappears and I am a shell of my former self. I am not on medication for depression, but if it were necessary I am sure I would feel the way you did. The question is why? In my case, it is hereditary. My mother suffered from depression her entire life. And one of her Aunts committed suicide because of it, leaving three small children behind.There is a prevailing fear in our society of being branded as mentally ill. I applaud your courage for openly addressing the stigma of depression.

    • Tricia February 5, 2012 at 7:18 pm · Reply

      Thank you, Annalise!

  7. Dixie February 18, 2012 at 8:16 am · Reply

    Amen sista!

    • Tricia February 19, 2012 at 4:31 pm · Reply

      Thanks, Dixie. xoxo

  8. Holly May 10, 2012 at 12:04 pm · Reply

    Nothing wrong in knowing what is right for you!

  9. Nikki May 14, 2012 at 7:31 pm · Reply

    Thank you for writing this Tricia! I have been on a similar journey & also have hated having to be on
    medication. I wasted years of my life fighting depression & anxiety instead of allowing myself to be helped!

  10. bonnie May 30, 2012 at 7:55 am · Reply

    Oh, I just love this! I can totally relate. Thanks for sharing, and Happy Sits Day!

  11. Tara @ secretsofamomaholic.com May 30, 2012 at 8:41 am · Reply

    I suffer from anxiety as well and take meds as needed which makes me feel better than taking something every day. Its crazy that we are so reluctant to do something that will help us so much…taking something every day isnt so bad when the outcome is so much better than not taking. Hang in there girlfriend…and if you cant- we can always burn down America together!!!

  12. Ashley May 30, 2012 at 8:54 am · Reply

    Thank you for posting this article! I think one of the biggest misconceptions is how many people actually struggle with mental illness. It takes a lot of courage to stand up and share your story, but know that you are helping so many people by letting them know that they are not alone!

  13. Martine | Work at Home Mom Writer May 30, 2012 at 10:37 am · Reply

    Hi, Tricia! Thank you for your transparency in sharing this struggle. It’s very honorable (and your name means that: “honorable,” “noble.”) Bloggers like you are to be commended, because you do such a great job of empathizing with other women who might be going through the same struggles.

    I wish you all the best! Happy SITS Day, too!

  14. misssrobin May 30, 2012 at 11:31 am · Reply

    I am glad you’re feeling better. Having something sneak up on you and then take over your life, without you realizing it has, is a horrible situation. I’m glad you’ve found meds that help, even if it sucks to need them. I’ve been trying different meds and treatments for more than ten years and haven’t found anything that helps yet.

    Best wishes that you are able to keep the monster at bay.

  15. kyfirewife May 30, 2012 at 12:43 pm · Reply

    Thank you for sharing your story! I truly believe it’s only by people coming forward and sharing similar stories that the stigma of mental illness will even have a chance of going away.

    Good for you. For sharing. For realizing what you needed. For doing what you needed to do.

  16. Denise May 30, 2012 at 2:36 pm · Reply

    I know how you feel. Whenever I think I might be able to get off my medication, I realize that it is helping me.

  17. Cynthia M May 30, 2012 at 4:23 pm · Reply

    My mom suffers from diabetes and gives herself several shots a day. I suffer from depression and take several pills a day. I’ve come to terms with the fact that it’s the same thing. I’m grateful that we live in a time where we have medication that can help us.

    Thanks for sharing your story.

  18. Jenn June 4, 2012 at 10:22 pm · Reply

    Loved this and totally relate. I’ve been on Vitamin L (Lexapro) for six years, and I thank Sweet Baby Jesus every day for it and for my husband’s job that provides the kick-ass health insurance that pays for it.

    • Tricia June 5, 2012 at 12:30 pm · Reply

      You are cracking me up. Yes, praise the Lord for meds and health insurance. :)

  19. krystle June 7, 2012 at 11:24 am · Reply

    I probably have suffereed from depression at one point or another but never sought help for it. Thank you for sharing!

  20. Anne (@notasupermom) September 18, 2012 at 12:02 pm · Reply

    You aren’t alone.
    I like to say “Some of the best people are a little mentally ill.”

    • Tricia September 18, 2012 at 12:47 pm · Reply

      I only have a few friends who aren’t in some way, shape or form mentally ill. And I think I scare them.

      • Anne (@notasupermom) September 18, 2012 at 2:22 pm · Reply

        Or they love your intensity?

        • Tricia September 18, 2012 at 7:06 pm · Reply

          Something like that. :)

  21. Julie Kaloz September 30, 2012 at 1:48 am · Reply

    I’m so grateful that you shared this experience, you are a brave woman :). I’m doing my own trial of “getting off” now so I’m appreciative of hearing about your experience.

  22. Single Mom in the South December 30, 2012 at 12:42 pm · Reply

    This is so well-written. I’d not seen it until you mentioned it (see, top ten posts are always a good idea) I have a friend grappling with the same thing… been on meds for years, would like to wean off. I’m so sending this on!

    • Tricia Oakes December 30, 2012 at 12:44 pm · Reply

      Thank you! It is different for everyone, but it was a huge mistake for me. I did learn from it, though. I won’t make that mistake again.

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