The Geek Shall Inherit The Earth

Monday, December 31, 2012


Take Yo' Meds

Since the world almost came to an end the other day, I thought it appropriate to talk about something personal. Like taking my pills everyday. Physically there is nothing wrong with me, but my brain always likes to keep things interesting.

Maybe my brain is wired a little differently than others. Perhaps my genetics make me predisposed for this kind of thing. Or maybe I am just crazy.

I have bi-polar type II. The reason why I don’t say “I am bi-polar” is because it is a part of me, but I don’t let it define me. Well I try not to. I have to admit, the silly side of me loves to joke about it. I mean, now I can be the butt of my own crazy quips. Plus when someone asks if I am crazy, I can say “yes” with a straight, sardonic face.

You say crazy like it is a bad thing. 

Levity aside, coming to a place where I can write for the whole world to read about my “disorder” has been fraught with ups and downs. (You see what I did there? I made a bi-polar joke…because ups and down and I’m up and down…not funny? Sorry I will keep writing…)

Rampant stereotypes about the mental health arena terrified me. I thought it was a sign of weakness and inferiority to admit I needed help. My family believes asking for help is weak, and my church told me I didn't trust God enough to fix my problems.

With all due respect to my family and church, I believe they are both grossly wrong on that particular account. No matter who says otherwise, asking for help is not weakness but a veritable sign of strength. It is an inner strength that can quietly admit “What I am doing isn't working out; let’s see what else is out there.”

Yet I was still hesitant. I knew something was wrong. But I believed counselors and doctors were frou frou Freudian quacks and shrinks who wanted to brainwash and prescribe me every sedative under the sun.

Oh how I was mistaken.

With the support of a dear friend who also shares the name of my favorite 24-hour diner, I explored my options. It was hard, but I soon found a therapist. Talking to a complete stranger for an hour each week was awkward as hell at first. But it grew more comfortable with each passing session. Now I feel like she is a good friend, a good friend who is paid to talk to me, nevertheless, but whatever.

Finding the right mental health professionals was akin to getting fitted for a bra; it was awkward, embarrassing, all too personal, and my boobs were sweaty from nerves.

But when it is all over…ahhh…your breasts are fully supported, and you find your mind feels magnificent.

Bra fittings and mental health professionals...way too close for comfort. 

So after a few weeks of therapy, I warmed up to the idea of finding a psychiatrist, or as I like to say, my friendly happy pill doctor.

Yes, there are many psychiatrists that are soul-less pill pushers. One doctor I previously encountered conducted a three minute session with before wanting shoving prescriptions down my throat without going giving me options or discussing side effects. Plus my gut didn't feel good about him. Like any kind of doctor, some psychiatrists are idiots, some are lazy, and some don’t give a number two about your long term improvement.

But I found an amazing doctor. It took months, but she was worth it. And now I’m on a medication that helps, not hinder my daily life.

Despite my wishful thinking, pills are not a magical cure all. Taking pills without working on the root problems such as abuse, neglect, or self-esteem won’t fix anything.

Even if you’re not as far off on the crazy scale as me, talking with a therapist is never a bad idea. Because it’s exactly that, just talking. Simple, yet meaningful conversation is like the chicken noodle soup for the soul.

I am in a much better place than I was just a few months ago. Some of that is because of the medication, but the meds couldn’t take root without some deep therapy sessions (I go through tissue boxes like they are going out of style) and openness to accept who I am. I have worth. I have importance. And I happen to have a mental illness.

So here is to a better 2013. And don’t forget to take your meds ;)


  1. Thank you for your candor on this topic Shanna. I have a couple of family members that suffer from it, but choose not to seek help for it. This is a problem that quite often gets ignored (especially in the Black community). I really appreciate you discussing this issue and being frank with your own personal experience. You've touched many people with your words.

  2. I couldn't agree with you more Jamie. Within the black community, the stigma is even stronger. While many in my family suffer from anxiety, emotional outbursts, and abusive natures (without outing legal names, my parents are on that list).

    And everyone thinks its ok, that dysfunction should be ignored and tolerated. That if we just pray hard enough, they will get better. This type of thing just gets even worse as you age and become more set in your ways.

    I could write about this forever, but bottom line if your mental state is hurting you and those around you. Go see a shrink :)

  3. Hey Shanna!

    I, too, am bipolar. I see a therapist regularly as well as a psychiatrist who maintains my meds. I am not ashamed or embarrassed by my condition because it is a part of me; it is me. I think the way I do and can do the things I do because my brain is wired just a bit differently from everyone else's. I was diagnosed four years ago, and when I was properly medicated, everything in my life began to make sense and I was able to find my way to happiness.

    Mental disorders are such a stigma on the black community, but we HAVE to get away from that. It's okay to ask for help; it doesn't mean that you're weak. We have to change the narrative. I don't hide who I am and people who want to put me in a box have no part in my life. Like you, I can say I'm crazy with a straight face (even though I usually do so in jest), and mean it. I love me. I am fearfully and wonderfully made; and it's like I tell people: "If God intended for everyone to be the same, then y'all would all be like me."

    *grins* They should be so lucky! Anyway, thanks for sharing your story. TAKE YO MEDS!

  4. This blog was like reading words about myself. I so can understand this situation because I too suffer from the same and taking meds to help deal with it as well. It has been rough but I came to understand its okay and to not beat myself up about it. Its great seeked the help that was needed because with out it I know life would have harder for me. With the meds I take I don't think about the situation at hand I go through life with ease and trying to stay focused with what's important. Thank you so much for sharing this I know it can be tough sharing something like this but just know you are not alone and by sharing this it can help some else out there.
    Nikki Lajoy

  5. What a great post!!! I deal with anxiety at times and let's just say my "happy pills" keep me from snapping on a mofu! It would be nice if we could talk more about this without a stigma attached. Thanks for sharing your story!