I spent eleven years in a developing nation where my family was often low on finances. Because of this we were raised with the idea to pray before making a visit to the doctor and to disregard certain ailments that could be stabilized by medication. One of these ailments was mental health.
I remember one of the first times I got an anxiety attack. It was after starting university. I was lying in bed trying to read my text book and suddenly the thought came to my mind, “what if I forget what I’m reading as I read it?”. My chest tightened up and it became hard to breathe. I got dizzy and my vision became blurry. That was the end of my time studying.
This began to happen frequently and for the simplest of reasons. If I planned to go meet a friend on a Saturday afternoon and had no plans before that, I spent that entire morning feeling tense and anxious as I looked at the clock.
I often woke up before my alarm clock with an anxiety attack as I anticipated it going off. My mother noticed these anxious habits of mine and assured me that this was simply a part of life and I can handle it.
As I grew into adulthood and life got more chaotic with planning a wedding, moving countries twice and having children, these anxiety attacks began to rule the decisions I made. I began cancelling plans to meet with friends and family. When anxiety overcame me while in a room full of people, I became impulsive and reckless. This got worst after developing Postpartum Depression. It felt like my mind was constantly racing and my thoughts were on fast forward as I jumped quickly to conclusions on everything.
After talking to my doctor about my symptoms of Postpartum Depression she asked if I was willing to go on medication. The thought of my mother discovering I gave in to the “western way” overwhelmed me and in an instant the word, “no!” came out of my mouth.
When the doctor asked why, I was embarrassed to say, “my mother would be so disappointed in me”. The doctor’s response got me to a defining moment. She said, “this is not about your mother, this is about you. And you’re at the point that you’re unable to think things through rationally”.
I saw how right she truly was. It was like I no longer knew how to take a deep breath, I was constantly hyperventilating. I had forgotten what it was like to not have my mind racing and I desired to have that peace back.
Of course I understand we live in a world ruled by money and the pharmaceutical industry is no exception. So I went to my husband and therapist about this. We talked it over and then we prayed. My husband and therapist asked me once again how I felt and I decided I was ready to go on medication.
At the start my doctor and I agreed we would begin with a low dosage and raise it as needed. We decided our goal would be for me to be on medication for six months and then the doctor would wean me off of it.
It’s been over three months now since I’ve started the medication and I’m not the only one experiencing the effects. My husband and close friends have noticed that I am calmer and no longer showing signs of anxiety about different situations.
I understand everyone’s different and what’s worked for me won’t work for everyone that suffers from anxiety attacks or postpartum depression. But if you’ve been offered medication for mental health issues and you aren’t considering it because of what someone else might think… well it’s not worth it for that one individual.
As for my mom, she did seem disappointed at first to hear I was on medication. But she’s since become more understanding. She hasn’t made any snarky comments or put me down. It seems she’s decided to accept it because she wants what’s best for me and wants to trust in my decision.