No shame and the Joy of Freedom

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Photo by Mohamed Nohassi on Unsplash

 

I want to try something a little different with this post. Most of my writing consists of memories I’m sifting through and I think I do this to avoid myself; mainly out of shame. I then have to ask myself what it is I am ashamed of? My mental illness and the stigma? The belief I’m being pitied and seen as a victim? The shame of all that has been done to me and that I see myself as weak?

 

All the above is true and proven by a particular experience that happened last week that just now got resolved. The nurse practitioner that manages my medication is trying to wean me off zoloft because I was blunt and on such a high dose and trying to get me on pristiq as she feels it will better help with my PTSD. my initial reaction to this was scepticism mixed with trust and hope. My gut kept screaming at me though and I wanted to tell her that going down on the zoloft was ok since she added an add on med that boosted the effectiveness of the zoloft but to wean me completely might cause a drop in my stability; meaning the depression and anxiety would creep back into the picture.

 

Sure enough, after 2 months of getting my dosage down to 100 mg I started sinking. I felt the effects of going from 150 mg to 100 mg the very next day as I called my nurse in the middle of a panic attack. I left her a message and when she called back I did not answer nor did I listen to her voicemail.

 

My therapist works very closely with my nurse and I recounted the situation to her. Explaining the shame I feel in regards to the stigma that surrounds mental illness and the fact I was not strong enough to handle the transition with my meds. She immediately texted my nurse and I was given the OK to go back up to 150 mg which was a huge relief in and of itself but my reaction to the whole situation left me confused.

 

I’m a runner. When people get too close I bolt, or if I accidentally let some of my weakness show through I cut whoever saw it off. I hate that I do this; but I understand why. Growing up weakness was exploited. For example, if I made a comment about not liking my hair my mother would play on this as a result of her jealousy of any female she was “intimidated” by. She always had to be the prettiest, smartest or whatever else ran through her head and anyone she perceived as a threat to her superiority was targeted.

 

There are several lessons I want people to take from my experience. The first is that there is no shame in mental illness. I take this belief to the edge, pushing the envelope. My mother was mentally ill and that is the reason I am able to forgive her on some level. The only shame is when your mental illness hurts others and you refuse treatment. In the end, we are all broken. It is how we handle the broken pieces that dictates who we are and which direction our life will go.

 

Secondly, for those with a past of abuse trust is next to impossible. We somehow build our own islands in the middle of the sea far away from civilization to avoid interaction with people seen as a threat or “predators”. Childhood abuse survivors take this concept to the extreme. We have grown up having our trust broken at every turn so it is understandable that we isolate to such an extent. But, as adults trying to overcome, we have to accept the fact not everyone is set on breaking our trust which is already in a fragile state.

 

We are strong because we have known weakness and brave because we have been afraid.