Only So Far

This week (and by this week, I mean last week, according to when I actually write and post) has been very difficult for me. Simply put, I am a depressed and anxious mess as I simultaneously worry about doing well on my midterms and possess almost zero motivation or energy to focus on it. The only energy comes when I’m freaking out over getting everything done, except my rational mind tells me that I can easily accomplish everything.

These are the kinds of days when I just want to take a few sick days off and just let myself take a breath, except that isn’t a very reasonable option in college, let alone finals week. I have to remember that this situation and feeling is temporary and that everything will get better with time. If you know the feeling, however, that eventual light at the end of the tunnel seems nonexistent through the haze of mental illness.

One thought that crosses my mind is the medication I take. I began a daily antidepressant earlier this year, which luckily I only had to make one adjustment to the prescription was to go up a dosage. That didn’t necessarily make the side effects any easier, which mainly consisted of a pounding headache whilst feeling like my head was floating above my body, along with a woozy stomach. Not too fun.

One major note I need to make is that there is absolutely no shame in wanting or needing medication for your mental health. You wouldn’t want to bear the burden of allergies, flu, or a cold without any form of health, and mental illness is no different.

The results I have received from them are worth those few days of annoying symptoms. From first starting the medication, I was appalled by how different the world felt, as if I was seeing colors for the first time. It made me feel so hopeful and encouraged me further to work on myself. Sadly, that initial dosage, which was quite low to see how it might effect me, worked for only about a month before I felt myself not feeling any of those benefits anymore. That’s when I decided to double my dosage.

My family was understandably worried if that was the best option to take, but if I already felt positive effects before, a little more medication might do the trick. Which, since then, has been a wonderful decision. I have felt even better than before, but less of that “brand new world” feeling, and more of a greater appreciation for life and newly found resiliency to combat any negative thoughts that cross my path.

Well, for the most part. I do still have my moments, like this week, when life is very very tough. When getting out of a bed is one the hardest decisions to make. When I want to be focused on my schoolwork and activities, but all I can manage is staring blankly off into the distance. At the same time, every little moment out of my limited mindset provokes intense anxiety where it’s hard to breathe, my heart pounds, and I feel like I’m on the verge of a nervous breakdown. It’s as if there are two forces in my head fighting against each other, one wanting me to do absolutely nothing, the other refusing to let me sit still even for a second.

When I first began medication, in the back of my head, I knew it wasn’t an end-all solution. I’ve read plenty of resources telling me that it took a combination of treatments to actually feel better, but the medication would make it easier. But that doesn’t mean I don’t wish for such a simple way that I never have to face those demons again, especially as regularly as I do. The drug makes it easier to fight back against them, but I want them to destroy them altogether. It’s not realistic, but especially for those just beginning antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications, a common assumption is that it truly is that easy. Which, depending on the severity of your case, it really can be. Heck, eventually you can probably go off the drugs and continue living normally.

Those medications only go so far. You are not just a sponge soaking in certain chemicals that fix every single problem. We are much more complex than that. With those with more severe cases that are fairly genetic, the battle never ends. It’s always there, perhaps in the background, but still there. My gut reaction to feeling this way is to continue upping my medication, mainly because I have an addictive type of personality, but because I want all of those emotions to disappear and never return. I just want to feel sane more often than not, preferably all the time.

But I also realize that without those uglier parts of me, I wouldn’t be me. They might not be my complete self, but they are certainly still there. If I was just stuffing myself with drugs, I wouldn’t think the same way I do, or even be able to talk about these struggles and help others who might be feeling the same way. I wouldn’t have a random burst of inspiration like I do right now from my empty pain. These overwhelming emotions may feel very foggy and grey, but the light still pokes through.

So yes, I am very thankful for my prescription reuniting me with my true, vibrant self. But I can’t rely on it completely as some miracle worker. It does it’s job as it should, and I also have a job to partake in. I am the one in charge of my life, not my medication. I choose to still get out of bed each morning and live each day, even if my sole accomplishment for the day is in fact just living. The medication strengthens my foundation to handle life, but then I have to take over. And that’s what I continue to do and will do every single day. Life is too precious to do otherwise.

Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie

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