So many people in our society suffer from anxiety, depression, and other mental afflictions. I’m one of those people. I’m not speaking from a professional standpoint. I am not a doctor or psychiatrist or therapist. I have no credentials or licensing. What I am is an expert in my own emotional and physical health.
I have always felt that our society is too quick to take a pill for better health and wellness. We want that magic pill to make everything all right. To take away the pain or to take away the sadness or to take away the sniffles. Our bodies are amazingly perceptive machines. When there is something wrong, the body will try to correct it. We have pain to alert us to a problem and to not do what makes it hurt. We have coughs and sneezes to expel contaminants from the body. These things that make us feel discomfort have a purpose. They are indications that we need to pay attention to ourselves and rest or take it easy or take action.
Recently I was prescribed Wellbutrin for major depression. I had resisted in the past because I never wanted to depend on a pill for my state of mind. I have taken Xanax and Lunesta when I have gone through some bumpy times in my life. I didn’t like taking pills and when the bump in the road passed I quit taking them. But this time was different. My depression had been ongoing for about two years. I was in mourning for the passing of my parents, I was highly stressed at work, and I found myself having marital problems. I was separated from my husband and found myself in the deepest depression I had ever felt. I was suicidal. I refused to socialize. I would go through cycles of insomnia and sleeping excessively. I felt isolated and alone. I was estranged from my family.
I finally relented and filled the prescription for Wellbutrin. It was against everything I have always believed. It was my last ditch effort at pulling myself out of this abyss of life. I didn’t want to admit to depression. I didn’t want to take pills for the rest of my life. I just wanted to feel happy again. I picked up my pill bottle and looked at it every morning for about a week. Dragging myself out of bed had become almost impossible. Faking my way through the day so no one would know what I was going through was my new norm. After fighting with myself over whether I should take the pills, I finally did it. I took that little pill I dreaded.
I wish I could say that it changed my life….but far from it. As soon as I started taking it I would get horrible headaches. I had to take Aleve every day to tolerate the headaches. So I went from not taking any pills to taking 3-5 per day just to try to elevate my mood. It seemed ridiculous to me to take a pill to counteract the side effect of a pill I didn’t even want to take. I emailed my doctor and he strongly advised me to stay on the Wellbutrin.
I decided to listen to my body rather than my doctor. I immediately stopped taking the Wellbutrin. After a few days I was able to quit taking Aleve for the headaches. I wish I could say that I was cured of my depression, but the reality is, is it’s still there. But it is getting better.
The number one reason that my depression is getting better is that I ASKED FOR HELP! It was as simple as that! I asked my therapist for help. I asked for professional help in navigating family stress. I asked for help from a new doctor who has the same view on prescription drugs that I have. I have asked for help from my husband and friends in overcoming my addiction.….sugar. Again, I am not a medical expert, but I feel that my sugar addiction has disrupted the homeostasis of my body. The balance is shifted due to excessive sugar and my body’s response to this substance.
So what does this have to do with what’s going on inside my head? Intellectually I know that sugar is bad for me. Intellectually I know that I exhibit signs of depression. Intellectually I know I need to take control. But I also know that sugar has a pull. It is everywhere. In the check out lane, recipes on Pinterest and Facebook, ads on tv. And there are triggers everywhere! When I feel bad I want that magic pill, aka an Oreo, to make me feel better. And it works for about a minute. Then I start to think about having another. I just want the taste of chocolate and cream. I’ll eat just one more. After a little while I realize I just ate one whole row of cookies! This is an addiction! And it’s powerful. Just as powerful as drugs or alcohol
My body doesn’t need more sugar. But I’ve tricked myself into thinking that yummy little cookie will make me feel better. But I’m also smart enough to know that I don’t NEED that Oreo. I WANT it for a short-term feel-good solution…a magic pill. You can substitute your own addiction in this scenario. Whether it’s alcohol, meth, sex, credit cards, or gambling, the feeling is the same.
This is where the hard work begins. When that craving for sugar hits, my response is what makes all the difference. This is why we have support groups like AA, OA and Y12SR. These groups exist for helping each other. Part of knowing what’s going on in your head is knowing when you need help. It’s ok to ask! Someone has been in your shoes and understands what you are going through. You don’t need to navigate your addiction or depression or anxiety on your own! Don’t be afraid or ashamed. You have to do the work, but you can’t do it alone. We are a community and we support each other!