“The doctor says I have depression.”
My eight year old friend stared at me perplexed as I gulped down a handful of pills at our sleepover.
It was rather confusing to me as well.
After my dad “disappeared” one day, things changed.
My mom had to go back to work.
She was terrified that the end of her marriage would somehow destroy the lives of my brother and I.
But I wasn’t the first and wouldn’t be the last eight year old dealing with a broken home.
One day my mom loaded us into the car.
Even my wildest dreams couldn’t imagine the importance of this day.
It was a day that would affect the rest of my life.
Following a long drive we arrived in front of a quaint little office building tucked neatly behind trees.
The interior was decorated like a cabin home.
It was quiet.
I sat innocently in the waiting room and began flipping through a magazine.
Eventually a man emerged from the large oak doors and after speaking with my mother, it was my turn.
“So… How are you?”
I said quietly.
“What brings you in today?”
An odd question for my eight year old self.
“Ummm. I’m not really sure…”
“Your mom informed about the situation at home. I can only imagine how hard that must be.”
“Ummm. Yeah I guess.”
“What are your thoughts on your Father’s drinking behaviors?”
“It can be scary at times. But he’s gone now.”
“Yes. Can you explain to me what’s happening…?”
“Ummm. I don’t know. My parents don’t love each other. They never did really. I was sleeping over at my friends house and when I came home my Dad was gone.”
“Mhmm. Yes. And how does that make you feel?”
At last he had poked me hard enough to unleash the stream of tears he’d been seeking all along.
Responding as he handed me a box of tissues,
“It sounds like you have depression. You can manage your symptoms with medication. I am writing you a prescription for some today.
And that was it.
Looking out the window on the drive home- completely oblivious to how that prescription would change the way I lived my life forever.
These trips to the doctor became routine.
Every visit resulting in a new handful of medications intended to “fix” me.
In a matter of months I was “diagnosed” with three more “conditions”.
The doctor was constantly adding medications and never replacing them.
Each visit solidifying “I am crazy” and “I am broken” in my little head.
Eventually it reached a point when I was taking thirteen prescription medications.
If I wasn’t broken to begin with, I surely would be now.
I was a pharmaceutical guinea pig.
Maybe that’s the reason that to this day I have this deep seeded belief that I’m not normal.
That I’m defective.
That I need to swallow pills to function like other people.
18 years later I still take medication.
I have a handful of mental health conditions which vary based on the doctor you ask.
Currently I take 4 different medications which keep me right at the edge of sanity.
I’ve established as much of a “freedom” from medication as possible.
My body has been relying on meds for so long that I need them to just feel “okay” now.
I don’t know who I am without medication.
There are times I still wish I could get the chance to meet myself.
My real self.
Times I feel that I’ve been robbed of my true identity.
How would my life would be different if my adversity was categorized as “life” instead of a “flaw that needs fixing”?
Maybe I would end up with the exact same prescription cocktail after all, even if I’d never become dependent on meds as a child.
The problem is that I’ll never know.
Parents- If your child is going through a rough time PLEASE weigh ALL of your options before jumping into a treatment plan.
Don’t commit to a permanent solution for a temporary problem.
I’m not disagreeing with medication.
I’m not blaming anyone.