The Struggle of Medicating and Mothering

Let me please start by admitting that as my daughter grows, I grow.

After all, I am learning how to navigate delicate situations that will shape this human being for years to come. In the process I am learning how to be patient, be kind and to be as empathetic as humanely possible.

And I need help, everyday, to accomplish this to the best of my ability.

The struggle of taking prescription medication and accepting that this will be my life, forever, has been a hard pill to swallow. (pun intended!)

I think this feeling is due to my experiences growing up. I would bet that a large population of thirty-somethings and on can remember their parents or grandparents heavily medicated with prescription medication, and perhaps it was mixed with booze at times.

I remember my mother having a plethora of pills. Pills for every occasion, and she had no problem sharing them with me in later years. An over-medicated parent is not a parent, and so I can see the struggle with making the decision to go that route. I can empathize with the desire to keep your household medication free.

But after years of being in denial, the best thing I ever did for myself and my family was to get on medication. I take JUST ENOUGH of a dose that allows me to control my emotions and stay motivated to keep moving forward. I truly believe that spiraling out of control on a consistent basis is counter productive to your desire to live on your own, free of medication. In my own experience, my relationships are better, my day-to-day life is better and my motivation to go after my goals in heightened. And lets be honest, most people, myself included, end up self-medicating.

I think another reason that people tend to avoid treatment is that they sort of view mental illness as a ‘cross they bear’ and something they ‘live with’. For example, I never linked my chest pains or over active sweating and constant queasiness to anxiety. I thought it was just me, just something I had to deal with. The whole time I was just experiencing symptoms of anxiety disorder. Perhaps lack of education leads us to ignore it because it is an illness we can’t see on the outside; other than physiological symptoms you experience (i.e. sweating).

In reality, mental illness is not much different that the illnesses you can see, meaning it needs to be treated. Your brain simply does not perform the way a healthy brain does. Boom, there you go. If you can’t treat narcolepsy or schizophrenia with will power, why would you think you can treat anxiety and depression the same way?

“Hey, wake the fuck up and pull yourself together Carol…” or “you do not see or hear things that are not there, stop fucking around and get back to work Carol so we can make happy hour.” – side note: I am obsessed with the name Carol from that tennis scene in Bridesmaides.  “Get it together, Carol!”

Of course, prescription medication is the just one of the treatments I have in my arsenal. You need to exercise regularly and release those endorphins naturally. Get some vitamin D daily, breathe fresh air. Meditate. Find a hobby that makes your heart sing. And pet your cat (whichever one you want).

One of the ways my daughter is keeping me on my toes and keeping my mind always focused on the big picture is how she mimics my every move. In the morning, I take my prescriptions when I pour my coffee and she sees me do this every day. Well, this past month she has demanded that she take her ‘medicine’ too.

My heart crushes every time, because it brings me right back to my child hood and how I can still remember my mom and her pills. I cried about this my husband and to my girlfriends. I struggle with wanting her to see me work hard to manage my mental health yet I want to preserve that innocence of childhood. However, at the end of the day, she needs a mother who can keep it together and a mom she can count on.

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So for now, I will alter my routine and save that conversation for when she is developmentally ready. With how fast she is growing, that will probably be next week. Sigh.

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