This is my sister Courtney (AKA lil C, penguin, moongoosey poosey, kitty or whatever other silly nickname I make up for her). She’s 5 years younger than me, beautiful, knows her worth and how to speak her mind (she swears there is a filter there somewhere), an accounts wiz, dresses way better than me (always has, always will), snorts when she laughs, has a wicked sense of humour, loves movies, is the best monopoly player, and is the best sister I have! Granted she’s my only sister but she’s a hell of a sister!
Courtney also has a mental illness. She has social anxiety. At its simplest this means any type of interaction socially with other people can send her into a panic attack.
From when she was a little girl Courtney was a kid who hated going out to dinner or to a friend’s house. She would much rather stay at home. If she knew she was going out it would take mum and I to help her choose an outfit….Not because she wanted to be the centre of attention; but because she honestly didn’t want to go, and hated the thought of having to choose something to wear that someone might judge her on.
My beautiful mother says that Courtney and I are just different kids. Where I crave meeting new people; even though I get nervous about meeting new people, I also kinda like it; Courtney does not. I don’t get so anxious about it that I feel physically sick, or burst into tears, or don’t want to get dressed/can’t find the right outfit, or can’t make myself get out of my car. These are all things my sister has suffered through with her anxiety.
Courtney so far hasn’t had to take anti-depressants. She started seeing a therapist when she was 19 (I brought her a bag of marbles as a gift – black humour is an art in my family); and now at 28 while she may not see her therapist regularly anymore, she is by no means ‘cured’. She knows she’ll always have anxiety and does her best with the tools her therapist has given her. However if for any reason whatsoever she, or anyone else I love and care about, needs to take medication to help then there is no judgement here.
Today I read a post from Mia Freedman at Mamamia who was triumphantly on her soapbox in defence of women, depression, and anti-depression after ex-opposition (yep this guy held political power in how the country is run) leader Mark Latham wrote a column in response to Lisa Pryor’s honest, dry, and brave column about motherhood, depression and studying medicine full time.
You can read Mia’s words here http://www.mamamia.com.au/wellbeing/mark-latham-column/
You can read Lisa’s words here: http://www.smh.com.au/good-weekend/pillpop-culture-20141114-11mldl.html
I’m not posting the link to Mark Latham’s words. I refuse to give his heinous words more traction. Needless to say his column left me breathless with rage.
His main focus of the article is:
- Why should people with depression have kids? How does it make a kid feel knowing their mother is on anti-depressants?
- People who ‘pop pills’ for depression are coping out on their responsibilities of adulthood.
- His children are the best form of anti-depressant he’s ever found, what is wrong with Lisa (who has 2 small children) what she can’t see how wonderful her children are and therefore shouldn’t need anti-depressants.
OMG. SO much rage. So breathless with it!
So I say to Mark Latham and anyone else who has the misguided view that people who take medication for mental illness are coping out on their responsibilities ….FUCK YOU! Seriously a HUGE BIG FUCK YOU*.
To the women out there who I know who are currently taking (or have taken) anti-depressants to help them cope with motherhood, life, grief, whatever…No one has the right to shame you because you needed help. By owning up to your struggles and going to get help in the form of medication makes you an adult and a damn responsible human being.
Tell me what you think? Or do you have a story to share about anxiety or depression as well?
*sorry about the swearing mum.