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"Just be happy."
I'm sure you've heard that when you tell someone you're feeling down.
And I'm sure you've thought in your head, "Oh, right. Ha, if only I thought of that."
Everyone's story is different.
But here is how mine goes.
My pills don't make me happy. There is no instant cure. And sometimes I still feel blue.
But I don't wake up nearly as terrified to get out of bed.
And I've never suffered through anything remotely close to the four day long panic attack I had in my first year of university. The one that ended up in me taking a month off of school, dropping a credit, and consider not returning to school the next year.
Returning to my second semester of first year after the Christmas break, I fell apart. Whether it was the stress of school, or home sicknesses, or a variety of other reasons, I thought my life was over.
We hear about climate change and its devastating impacts on the daily, and my mind became obsessed. I thought for sure there was no way our world would survive. I thought if we didn't radically change now, we were doomed. I thought my life was over. I actually thought I was going to die.
My parents drove six hours in the middle of the night to take me home.
It didn't make me feel any better.
I knew I was gone because the love and comfort of my parents couldn't even snap me out of it.
The next day I was in the hospital and saw a doctor, a trauma specialist, and a psychiatrist. I thought I was psychotic. I was sure I'd hit that breaking point.
I'm not psychotic.
After four agonizing days, my panic subsided.
I was prescribed fluoxetine (more commonly known as Prozac) for anxiety and depression with obsessive tendencies.
I told my parents I wanted to go back to school.
A week and a half later, my mum drove me the six hours back.
A week later, I was home again.
I was devastated. I wanted to be able to do this so badly. I wanted to be able to go back to school, to be on my own. I loved my independence first semester. I wondered what had happened to me.
This wasn't the first time I had dealt with mental health issues.
When I was a child, I struggled with phobias.
And from between the ages of 15 and 18, I dealt with a pervasive eating disorder.
I started to think I was crazy.
For a while I became more depressed because I wanted to know why other young adults could live their lives perfectly happy and I couldn't. I didn't know why this was happening to me. And I didn't know why I couldn't push past it.
It didn't help that I lost some very good friends because of it.
My parents were determined to help me achieve my goals.
I was adamant about returning to school. I knew God gave me this challenge because he knew I was strong enough to fight it. I didn't want to walk away from the ring before even throwing a punch.
I went back to school and finished my semester. I only lost one credit. I did it. And with special thanks to some very precious individuals who helped me succeed.
My medication regulates my mood. It doesn't mean I'm always happy and it doesn't mean I'm never sad. But it does help reduce my anxieties.
I've learned to live in the moment like my father always encouraged me to do. I've been way happier ever since.
To say you have a happy life, or that you are a happy person, doesn't mean you never feel blue. it just means you have a positive outlook on life. That is what I have been striving for.
I haven't had many side effects from my medication which is good. At the beginning it did make me very tired and I slept a lot more than usual, but I learned how to rework my schedule so I felt well rested without waking up at noon everyday.
Other than that I feel great.
And I'm not ashamed to be taking my medication.
Some worry that people will shame you or treat you different because you take a pill or because you have a mental illness. Those people are ignorant and they aren't worth your time.
I am now in my second semester of my second year of university. I am a journalism student and am loving every minute of it.
I wake up every morning and I take a pill.
And I'm proud of it.
Because it is a part of my life, and a part of who I am.