Stigma Won’t Stop Me From My Recovery

by Danielle Cooper

THE STIGMA AROUND MENTAL ILLNESS HIT ME HARD THIS WEEK.

Stigma won’t stop me from my recovery.

Last week I went to the pharmacy to pick up my meds, and was asked to sign a document titled ‘Narcotics Monitoring Program’. The med in question was my lorazepam.

It was the first time I’ve ever had to do such a thing despite having been getting these specific meds for over a year now. For some reason, it really shook me. Seeing ‘narcotics’ on something that I thought helped me made me feel like I was doing something wrong and that I couldn’t be trusted.

I did some research and I now know that this specific program in Canada is fairly new, and is put in place to protect those that use the medication correctly.

I asked for feedback on my stories if it was something you had experienced before or not, and some of the responses surprised me. I was told that the medication I use is addictive, shouldn’t be used long-term, and is dangerous. I felt shamed even more; like I was doing something wrong. I felt like I needed to defend the treatment regime that my doctor and I had agreed was best for me to complete strangers.

I’ve never been afraid or resistant to take lorazepam, but suddenly, I am. I’m afraid I’m going to get addicted to it, and am questioning whether I need it now when I’m having a panic attack. I’m questioning if I even want to take it anymore because I don’t want the government monitoring me like I’m doing something wrong.

The deeply rooted societal stigmas surrounding mental illness and use of medication made me question my own progress and treatment. While I still don’t know how I feel about having to sign every time I pickup my lorazepam, I do know that having it is important to managing my mental illness. And no matter how loud the voices of stigma and the world are, I won’t cave in.

Medication is not shameful. Medication is not harmful when used properly under the supervision of a doctor. Medication has saved my life, and that’s all that matters.