When I told my mom I’d gone on an antidepressant/anti anxiety medication, I’d been on it for around three months I think. I didn’t really have a reason for not telling her when I started it, I just didn’t. She asked if I knew that it was ok that I’d gotten on something. I said yes. Her response was, “Really? Because you don’t act like you know it.”
That stopped me short, not going to lie. So I started thinking. Was I really ok with being on a medication for my depression and anxiety? I thought so. I was definitely on board with feeling better. What then was the hold up on telling people? On telling my mother of all people?
The more I thought about it, I realized that it wasn’t about being on the medication. It was what the medication was for. This wasn’t a uti or pneumonia. I was taking medication for depression and anxiety, mental illnesses. Did this meant that I was mentally ill?
Wrapping my head around what that means or doesn’t mean has been a lot harder than I want to admit. So has realizing why I’m struggling categorizing myself as having mental health issues. Having anxiety and depression means that, on top of being physically disabled, there’s something wrong with my brain. That wasn’t supposed to a be thing (outside of Hydrocephalus), not for me.
At least that’s how I realized I’d been framing it in reference to myself. It wasn’t something I had to deal with because I was already disabled. I couldn’t have anxiety or depression on top of Spina Bifida. No way!
Realizing that I felt this way was a major gut punch. It wasn’t even anything that I’d questioned truthfully before. I just never believed I would have to deal with those things because I was already disabled. *cue the lobby clock from the Hotel Denouement* I was wrong…wrong…wrong. Because of course both is a thing that happens to people, frequently even!
Now obviously as soon as I started looking back I realized I’ve probably been dealing with anxiety and depression in some combination to some degree for a good portion of my life. I can recall conversations with my mom about how anxious and mad I would get sometimes growing up. But never once did I seriously consider the possibility that I had anxiety or depression. I thought the same thing about executive dysfunction though, and unless you’re very new to this blog you know how that turned out.
It was a major revelation to realize how deeply I’d let internalized ableism affect me. I hate to think about how much time I spent actively avoiding the possibility that I might be dealing with anxiety and depression. Especially considering how prevalent they are for disabled children and adults. But I am so glad that I did finally take the first step toward improving my mental health. And I look forward to much more progress in the future, however slow and tumultuous it may be.