Except me, just this one time. I promise this will be entertaining or I’ll give you your money back. Oh wait… this is free. Well, you get what you pay for.
I must confess to a terrible habit. I have a deeply ingrained tendency to value other people’s advice and ideas above my own. Especially when it comes to my own life. Yes, it is absurd, I’m well aware of that. This habit is so entrenched it’s taken two massively painful life events to smack me in the face before I even woke up to it. Thankfully I was on my toes the second time and stopped my downward spiral early on before I hit the bottom so hard my teeth fell out. I stopped caring about other people’s opinions just long enough to pop a pill in my mouth and turn the titanic around.
You look a little confused. Perhaps we should go back in time so I can explain. Now where did I park the DeLorean?
A short while ago I decided that I absolutely did not want to be on antidepressant medication for the rest of my life*. Who in their right mind would want that? I was also convinced I was “healed” because things were going quite smoothly and I was on my way to becoming a wealthy writer [in about 12 years]. I’m sure you can sense where this is going.
Under the guidance of a doctor I eased myself off the medication and waited out the lousy side-effects while trying to hold my life together which mostly consists of making sure my son doesn’t die. Some parents might think my standards are a little low but I have found perfectionism to be a most destructive pursuit and so I’m erring on the side of nonchalance. Which, being a French term, makes it all sound very European and progressive. Anyway, after the slightly strange effects wore off I thought I was on the road to being drug-free.
I was so very wrong. To spare you the details of my dreadful mood, let’s just say I was incapable of feeling anything but hatred, anger and annoyance. Oh yeah, and I was really tired, slept a lot, and had no energy. I was a mess. I’m actually surprised my previous post about stupid people was as upbeat as it was. If someone were to cross me during this dark time they might remark with a classic,” Well, someone forgot to take their meds today”. And they’d be right, sadly.
Here’s the worst part of all this drama. The thing I was most worried about was what other people would think if I went back on medication. You see, among the “enlightened”, many of whom I consider my good friends and mentors, there exists a strong conviction that any kind of modern medication is an evil so sinister it makes the one ring** look like candy (mmmmm candy). Essentially, I didn’t want to be dragged into a debate in defense of my decision to protect my mental health in the most effective way I felt was possible. Even if that debate raged only in my head. After a week I realized I’ve walked this road before and I started to recognize the scenery.
The first time I’d failed in a major way to listen to myself occurred when my son was born. At that time I was firmly convinced by the medical establishment that formula was toxic and breastfeeding was the holy alternative with angels singing in the background. I was brainwashed by the lactation community and felt my options were the boob or nothing so when the boob failed us both I completely crumbled. I felt like a failure as a mother right from the first week for being unable to give my son the best start in life. Being out in public and feeding my son from a bottle was mortifying, I thought other mothers were going to start throwing rocks at me, or worse, say horrible things to my face. I worried all the bad things the breastfeeding pamphlets and lactation consultants said would happen were actually true and my son would be forever handicapped.
I know this all sounds insane and dramatic, but that’s what happens when you’re brainwashed. Common sense is completely erased and overwritten by new (ridiculous and usually unfounded) information. If you want to lead a peaceful and happy life the only truth that matters is your own. The outcome of the decisions you make are your responsibility and are not the business of anyone else. There are rare exceptions but I can’t tell you what those are, only you can decide that.
I implore you to learn from my mistakes. And if you do make a mistake and take the advice of someone who is not you (and you will), do right by yourself and turn the titanic around before you get too close to that iceberg. As you practice following your own truth you’ll get faster at recognizing the feeling of discontent that rises up in your core when something just isn’t right for you. If you’re polite about it, you won’t feel quite so bad if you do decide the other person was right and want to change your mind.
Change your mind a million times. It doesn’t matter. Life is just an experiment and no one has discovered the perfect way to live it.
I’m now back on my medication and feeling normal again. I don’t believe I would have been able to write this post without it. If you disagree with my decision that’s okay. You don’t have to take medication just because I choose to. If you breastfed and are convinced I’m a lousy mother for giving my son formula that’s fine too. If you’re a man or a person without kids (or both) and are wondering what the big deal is you’ve probably got the right attitude about the whole thing.
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*The recommendation for people who have experienced a major depressive episode more than twice is a life of pill-popping and therapy in order to prevent a relapse. I’ve had four of them. Yeah, I know, that’s a lot.
**That was a Lord of the Rings reference for those who didn’t catch it. I’m totally geeking out right now.