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Crazy Colleen: Crazy Pills

Posted Feb 10 2011 11:00am

by Colleen Baker, mental health blogger

I’ve hinted at the use of medicinal therapy for the use of depression or anxiety in the past, but I feel as though it deserves a full post. So, here is my “crazy pill” story:

I will never forget it—it was my last therapy session before Christmas break, senior year of high school. I had been seeing my counselor Dave for almost four years now. Up to this point, coming in and chatting with him was all the medicine I needed. I got every last anxious thought, self-esteem issue and friend issue out of my head for the week and replaced them with supportive ideas and helpful tips from Dave. That was, of course, up until this day.

For some reason, my anxiety had skyrocketed this year and my bulimia was at a new peak of nastiness. To put it lightly, I was a mess. I had always promised myself from day one of therapy that the last thing I would ever allow myself to do was start medication. I was under the impression that by altering my mind in any way that was not completely natural, I would be accepting a life that was not controlled by me anymore. The medicine would change me forever. But, such is the life of an anxious bulimic! Control is everything we need and crave. If I did badly on a test, I would binge on anything I could find and then control the situation by getting rid of it. Just like this, by being able to talk out my issues and do it myself, I was in control of my disease.

Sometimes, you just have to give in and let something else take the wheel for a while. For me, it was Lexapro©.

I remember walking out of Dave’s office this particular snowy evening with tears welling up already. The decision would, of course, always be mine to start anxiety meds or not, but I knew what I needed. It just felt like the end of the world to accept it. My boyfriend Tim waited outside  to take me home, as always ready with a hug and a smile. I have never gotten his t-shirt so wet with tears. I dove my head into his chest and sobbed for a good half hour, hysterical about the idea that I was officially not “normal.” Starting medication for my head meant that I was unstable and incapable of working through my issues on my own. I was a failure. This was something I could no longer control—my head needed help and I had to go through with it.

Looking back on my decision now, I can confidently state that starting Lexapro was the greatest decision I have ever made. It will never be easy to decide, but the obvious choice is the right one. I can say with full confidence that I have had possibly two anxiety attacks since December 2008 when I started this process.

Most people, including some close friends and family also on anxiety or depression medication, fear that medication in your brain means a change in who you are. “Without my anxiety, I will be numb.” “Without my depression, I will never feel any more.” Your anxiety or depression does not define you or how you see the world—you are more than what your brain puts you through. Realizing this and living life without fear of an attack was the most fulfilling realization to make.

The thing about these medications is that they simply take off the “edge.” Instead of reaching that dreadful “10” on a scale of 1 to 10 of anxiety, the most one will probably ever reach is a “7.” The feelings are there, you are who you are and feel what you normally feel, but you will never have a breakdown again. Like I’ve stated in previous posts, if you had strep throat, you would get medicine for it to soothe the pain and make it go away. Just like that, anxiety medications soothe the feelings and take away the pain—and without these feelings eating away at me, I found that life was simply better. I could wake up in the morning, get through a day of tests, and accept situations that were not ideal without hurting my body.

The edge was off, my mood was up, and I never had to fear a hysterical breakdown outside of my high school—and I still don’t! I remain a proud patient of Lexapro and see myself in control, happy, and incredibly normal for the first time in a long time. All it takes is two little pills a day—not too shabby.

Counseling Center on campus: 315-443-4715. Help is never out of reach.

Editor’s Note: What the Health Online and What the Health magazine are not licensed to give medical advice. The tips above are simply tips from a student with experience. If you are struggling with a mental disorders, please refer to your doctors to seek options that are right for you.

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