Last week I made an appointment with my therapist. It’s been a while. I also made an appointment with my doctor. I’d been thinking of it for a couple of months, but it took time to build up the courage.
I walked into the doctor’s office and felt a twinge of shame as I sat down across from him in his office. I rubbed my forehead and meekly said, “I think I want to give antidepressants a try.”
I’ve taken them in the past. I took them for years following the birth of my oldest daughter when I was diagnosed with postpartum psychosis. Taking an antidepressant isn’t such a big deal to me.
But after more than a year off of them, getting better and finding physical and mental stability, staying off drugs—it felt like a step backwards.
More than anything, I felt the weight of disappointment radiating from my doctor, who had watched me go through the worst moments of my life, in detox curled up in a ball in my bed unable to move, dazed and confused in such a way that I couldn’t even recognize him. He’d watched me overcome every obstacle life threw at me. He’d seen me relapse, and hide it. He’d seen me relapse and then sit down in front of him, admitting my mistakes and pleading for help.
He’d seen me stay sober through probation, after probation, getting kicked out of my house, physical altercations with my husband, through accusations that I must be using; he’d seen me stay sober after having my kids taken from me and he’d seen me stand up for myself and prove myself time and time again as my husband did everything in his power to slander my name.
He’d seen me do all of this without the help of an antidepressant. He knows that I can. I know that I can.
But that’s not it. It isn’t a matter of can I, or even will I? Because I can, and I will.
It’s a matter of being so tired of faking it every day, day in and day out, forcing a smile on my face so no one can see how badly I’m hurting. It’s a matter of showing up to work every day, late because I overslept, slathering makeup on my face to make myself feel better on the inside.
It’s a matter of being so tired and angry when I get home that all I want to do is sleep, even when I do have my kids.
It’s a matter of living with myself in those moments when I’m alone, without my kids, tormenting myself over everything I did wrong to lead me to this place where my children are suffering.
Simply, it’s a matter of reaching out for help when I need it.
Because I don’t have to live like this.
I’ve been doing everything I know how to do and I’m still coming up short most days.
This isn’t a permanent solution for me. I don’t need a permanent solution, nor do I need a quick fix.
I need to manufacture stability in the most unstable time of my life. I need a reboot. I need a change and a fresh outlook.
I need help.
And for the first time, I didn’t tell my doctor what to prescribe me. I didn’t insist on a prescription for what I took before. I had an honest conversation with the doctor who has a PhD in medicine and has given me a place in my program and fought for me to stay, who’s believed in me even when I didn’t believe in myself. I trusted him to help me, and I vowed to take his advice no matter what.
Asking for help feels like a setback, but it isn’t. It’s strength. It’s courage. It’s the desire and will to continue moving forward no matter what.
It isn’t a relapse. It isn’t shameful. It’s one tool of many tools that I have in my toolbox, and I’ll be damned if I’m not going to use whatever tool I need when I need it to get the job done—to keep me sober, healthy, stable, and able to care for my kids and continue growing.