this post was previously featured on my old blog
For me, addiction is a major part of my mental health. I take a few different medications to combat various symptoms, and I have realised that I live and die by when I can take them.
I am very strict about what time I take them, the same time for each every day. I always carry an extra in my purse for if I find myself in a situation that I can’t handle on my own, and at night if I don’t take my sleeping pill, I will not sleep.
Every medication has what’s called a half-life time. The half-life of the drug I use to oppose my PTSD is 27 to 32 hours. Realistically, I should be able to miss one whole day without feeling the effects of withdrawal. So why can’t I?
Because I have become addicted to the habit of taking them. Not only does my body require the medication, but my psyche requires that I take it. Each tiny pill is a security blanket, it’s the placebo effect – knowing that I’ve taken it helps me to feel better.
If I miss it by an hour I am distracted. I will carry on with my day, but I will be focussing my attention on when I can get home to take my meds. If I miss it by a day, I have a headache, sweaty palms, anxiety is turned up to eleven, I have trouble staying awake. If I miss it by 3 days I start to feel my bones inside of my body. I twitch and shake, feel nauseous, and have trouble focussing on anything. At the end of day three, I feel suicidal. Thankfully, there hasn’t been a day four for me yet, and I do everything I can to prevent these symptoms from coming on. I am very good at planning when I get them refilled, and the only time there is a delay is if I have to see my doctor physically for him to renew for me. (He has a busy schedule and not a lot of days that match up with mine).
Being a somewhat rational person, I understand that many of these symptoms are psychosomatic, especially in the first two days. However, after a few days the psychosomatic mixed with the real withdrawal is a very dangerous combination.
I try to battle it out in my head, reason with myself, not allow it to bother me, but the truth is, I can’t help it. To function as a human being there are several variables that must be satisfied within me. I must see my therapist, I must eat well, I must exercise, I must go to bed on time, and I must take my medication. If even one of these facets is removed or disrupted, I cease to be.
I have weighed my options, talked and thought out everything that I need to be me, and the addiction to stabilisation will always be better than the crippling anxiety and depression that tag along with my PTSD. I have reconciled the fact that I am addicted to prescription drugs, because if I wasn’t, I wouldn’t be who I am right now. My kids need a mother, not someone who can’t get out of bed or have a shower. My addiction allows me to feel OK, and I am not yet ready to try and change that.
Many people that I know do not believe in depression, and believe even less in taking medication for it. When I first started, I hid it. I felt stigmatised just by knowing that they wouldn’t agree. Now that I have found an even keel for myself I’ve realised this: if YOU don’t agree, YOU don’t have to be medicated. It is nobody’s business to tell me how to heal, and if you disagree with my use of medication, feel free to find a less-crazy friend. I don’t push my beliefs on you, so please don’t push yours on me. I experience this a lot because I am open about my disorders as well as my treatment, but I shouldn’t have to hide – addict or not.
I feel that in writing down that I rely on prescription drugs, I am freeing myself of the final stigma – and I encourage others to do the same. I will not pass judgement on anyone who chooses to open up to me, and I hope that in time, if enough people come forward in support of carefully regulated medicinal treatment of mental disorders, there will be less shame for those affected.