I Am Not Ashamed

By Ashley Schabilion

What do we do when we get sick? Go to the doctor and sometimes, if it’s treatable, we get medication.

It takes strength and courage to go to the doctor, to tell them your most personal thoughts, feelings, and struggles, in hopes of getting the help you need. It’s even harder when you aren’t able to share these struggles and the recommended course of treatment with your friends and family due to their conflicting beliefs on treating mental illness with medication.

You don’t need meds, just talk it out, you’ll be fine.”

I have bipolar disorder and no matter how much talking I do, I will continue to have physiological changes in my brain causing manic and depressive episodes that could be life threatening.

Those meds have so many side effects, how do you even know they’re helping?

Well, the fact is yes, they do have side effects. The side effects suck. But if you work closely with a psychiatrist, you can find the correct combination to minimize side effects and maximize therapeutic benefit. Unfortunately it is trial and error, which can be difficult, but not enough of a reason for me to never try.

You don’t even know who you are without medication.”

Oh, but I do. I’m a self destructive tornado who wreaks havoc on myself and everyone in my path. I’d rather not find her again.

And finally, my personal favorite: “I don’t take medication unless I really need it. Maybe you should try natural remedies!

First, I do really need it. Second, I have tried almost everything you can think of to manage my illness over the years. I exercise every day, I follow a healthy diet, I meditate nightly, I practice yoga, use essential oils and aromatherapy—you name it, I’ve tried it. I enjoy natural remedies, but they do not cure or help me manage my illness nearly enough.

So how can I be so certain that taking medication is the best course of action for me? Well, I’ve gone on and off of them for years—causing relapses and hospitalizations. I caused damage by not accepting my illness for what it is—an illness. Not a choice. Not a character flaw. Not a lack of willpower or determination.

I am not ashamed of the prescription medications I take to manage my chronic mental health conditions. I own that shit. And I invite you to own yours too.

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Comments (7)

  1. Julie Ann Keene

    Amen. I feel like I could have written this myself.

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  2. Michele

    Very brave of you to share, thank you!, and wishing you continued strength to carry on. You are amazing, and this story is so precise, and a realization so many can’t even understand. Keeping you in my prayers, and reiterating those perfect words from TWLOHA * that you my dear, ARE ENOUGH ♥️ God bless

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  3. Anne

    Finally accepting this myself. Thank you for your words of encouragement.

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  4. roberta contois

    I finally after over 30 years of suffering I have accepted my bi-polar medicated is a gift. Many years of denial and destruction of self and others i decided I love me as I am, that this piece of me is not who I am. Thanks for posting this

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  5. Melissa Sudbery

    This really puts it all in perspective. Thank you for sharing it. You helped me.

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  6. Roxanne

    Thank you for sharing. I feel by expressing, you are admitting you have a problem. No big deal. Everybody has problems and you are brave enough to put it out there. I admire your courage!!! You have come along way. Be proud.

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  7. Alyssa

    Thank you. I just came from a yoga/massage/ meditation/ dolphin retreat on the big island. One of the instructors, a self-proclaimed spiritual master, gave a talk about how all mental illness, including bipolar, were the result of spiritual unrest and modern day programming. I said pretty much word for word what you did as this has been my personal experience with trying to handle my illness “naturally” without meds- disasterous consequences for me and those around me. So many people are still clueless about what this illness does and how to best manage it. Thank you for sharing.

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