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 (16)

  1. Johnnie Venegas

    I Needed This! For so long in the back of my mind I know its true. I didn’t like feeling like i was taking pills to smile and laugh- It felt Fake. Truth is. I have anxiety and depression. Some days I can’t get out of bed- Not hungry- Tired- Panic Attacks- Cry and think of ways to be strong. I can’t function without meds. I’ve tried to excersize; be on a diet; Use oils and other natural remedies. But it doesn’t help the fact that I’m afraid of My life. How can I ignore my brain telling me to go to the doctors when I’m afraid of meeting new people; I can’t even get a job. I end up in a cycle of anxiety-Depression state.
    I’m trying my best just to get up. Making me food is hard, cleaning is even harder. I just want to lay in bed. Then there are the days where I can get up and do things, but I can’t breathe. Like I’m drowning constantly.
    This really hit my heart. Because now I know that I’m not alone. That I can do this! I shouldn’t be ashamed to say “Hey I’m depressed again” Even when everyone else gets upset and assumes that I was okay, that I was just lazy.. Not depressed again and being a dramatic unfunctioning Female Adult. Thanks 🙂

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  2. Jessica Zen Rosado

    I’m 46 and the people that adopted me knew my condition before I did and were ashamed to put me on meds at my first suicide attempt at age 16 this just followed into my 20 with my x husband. Again I am 46 with bipolar disorder PTSD borderline personality disorder and I have tried on and of to take care of my illness on my own without meds. I know for a fact that I need meds for the rest of my life even if some people think that this is not a real disease but just a large dose of me just being impatient and that physiatrist are just quacks. No I am not ashamed anymore and I hope more people without that do not have these issues become more informed not just for our sakes but for the sakes of those children of parents with these illnesses and our spouses and significant others

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    1. TWLOHA

      Hi Jessica,

      We are sorry you’ve faced so many challenges throughout your life. We are so glad that you are still here and you’re still fighting. Your story matters and we have so much hope for you and all you’ll do in the future.

      If you need help or someone to talk to right now, we list resources and help lines here:

      If you’d like like to share your story with our team, or have any general questions about TWLOHA, please email us at We’d love to send some encouragement your way.

      You’ve got this, Jessica. We’re rooting for you.

      Reply  |  
  3. Julie Ann Keene

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

    Reply  |  
  4. 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

    Reply  |  
  5. Anne

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

    Reply  |  
  6. 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

    Reply  |  
  7. Melissa Sudbery

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

    Reply  |  
  8. 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.

    Reply  |  
  9. 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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  10. Kailey

    Amen ?

    Reply  |  
  11. Dawn

    Thank you! I don’t have a problem telling people I’m bipolar, but I’ve heard all these things. And, like you, I know the person I am without medication and I’d rather she not show up again.

    I didn’t know what was happening to me. In my 20s I tried to commit suicide more than once and I didn’t see any way out of how awful I felt. Then mania hit and, even thought I was feeling 100% better, my friends were scared for me and of me. Then deep depression again. Finally, in desperation, I reached out to a doctor on an afternoon when I was gathering sleeping pills to kill the pain. I was diagnosed quickly and yes, those first couple months were really tough until a therapeutic mix of 4 different meds was found. Then…I could suddenly concentrate. My depressions lessened, then disappeared; my mania gentled. Hallucinations stopped haunting me. But my friends and family kept telling me all I needed was less time working and “more fresh air”, not meds. “It’s all in your head.” Yes it is, and it’s not curable but it is treatable. Why were they not happy I seemed happier? Eventually they stopped trying to change my mind. None of them knew how utterly terrified I was that I would find myself in a losing battle with my own brain again. I still am.

    And I own every minute.

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  12. Heather

    Thank you so much for helping people to have hope and not shame because they are ill I also have bipolar disorder and I have heard the exact same things that you have

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  13. Ronnie

    Thank you for writing this. I too am bipolar. It’s as if I could have written this myself.
    I’ve heard the same things all the time. People just don’t believe that I need medication. I’m often told I should get off it but I’ve seen the person I am without meds and quite frankly she scares me. I often find myself telling people that my brain is wired wrong which is pretty much true.
    I’ve also done those homeopathic remedies. they work to an extent but only as calming factors.
    I’d rather be on meds since they help keep me stable.

    Reply  |  
  14. Sandy Reimers

    Good for you.say on the will be the person you want to will be better for you and the family that lives you

    Reply  |  
  15. Sam

    I wanted to read more! You described what I’ve felt. Those questions were ones I asked myself since many people don’t know. Continue to write and take your meds.

    Reply  |  
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