Like many neurotic artist types, and other people probably, my brain is everywhere all the time. In order for me to be a normal functioning member of the human race, I require medication.
A few days ago, I forgot to take my pill.
Believe it or not, anxiety is a physical medical condition. Your blood pumps harder, your fight-or-flight response is elevated, and a trickle of adrenaline starts seeping into your blood stream. You’re not making it up, and it’s not all in your head. In my case, a few years ago I went to the doctor for a physical and my blood pressure was so high they had to hook up an EKG to make sure I wasn’t having a heart attack. My heart is healthy; turns out, it was my brain all along. Ever since then, I’ve taken medication every day for anxiety. It keeps my heart from beating into my ears, and it has the added benefit of preventing my naturally unbalanced brain chemistry from coloring the world slightly shittier than it would be otherwise.
When I miss a dose, it’s not the end of the world. It just sucks. It reminds me of two things:
- I am completely reliant on a pill for my mental health.
- Stigma against mental health sucks.
It’s that last one that makes me want to write this post. For years, I’ve been afraid of talking to people about my struggles with anxiety. What will they think of me? Will they think less of me as a person if my brain is broken?
That is internalized stigma, coming out to make the world, well, slightly shittier. That’s not just my opinion, scientific research shows that internalizing these stigmas has a detrimental effect on both self-esteem and the mental health issue being experienced. Not only that, if I have the stigma of mental health internalized to the point that I’m not willing to share my own struggles, how can I expect other people to remove that stigma?
So here it is: I suffer from a mental illness.
And that’s okay.