Why it is so Frustrating to Deal with the Stigma of Anti-Depressants

Some will say that this story has no business being posted in a professional platform like LinkedIn.  I differ in opinion.  Mental health is as big an issue in a professional setting as it is in a personal one.  Some people get a little squeamish when deeply personal subjects are discussed.  Some don’t want to hear about it in any forum.  Entrepreneurs, for the most part, don’t like vulnerability.  Mental health affects us all, whether we choose to acknowledge it or not.  If studies are correct, entrepreneurs don’t want to come clean about their dark, innermost thoughts.  

By now, my story is well documented. I’ve suffered through some devastating events over the last number of years. I’ve talked about the struggles of a failed marriage and business, and most tragically, the suicide of my 14-year-old daughter, Madeline. All these events significantly contributed to my own personal battle with depression. I’ve also talked about my own personal victories; the reinventing of myself and launching my business, The Finish Line Group, the successful way I battled depression and turning the tragic death of Maddie into a platform to bring greater awareness towards youth mental illness.

Is my life normal? It’s questionable whether it will ever be truly normal again. Some events will have a life-long effect on who you are and what you have become. By no means does today’s events predetermine who you will be tomorrow. My only true realization, by doing nothing will certainly not change your future path. What works for you today will not necessarily have a positive effect upon you tomorrow. This is as true in life as it is in business.

I’ve been taking anti-depressants for a month after Madeline’s passing. There was an initial reluctance because of the often-feared side effects of anti-depressants and my less than a great experience with them in the past. When the emotion became too great to function normally, my therapist, Dr G, convinced me that it was the right thing to do. Within a week, the medication allowed me to focus, relieved some of the emotional lows that I was experiencing and allowed me to function daily. It’s not that the medication made me emotionally void but instead allowed me to resume life with limited side effects. I had always looked at this as a temporary remedy.

About eighteen months after I had decided to go on these meds, I had decided to wean myself off them. I decided that I didn’t need help anymore. I had people close to me offering different opinions. Some said that I needed to get off them as quickly as possible, and others questioned my decision and said it was too soon and to weigh my decision carefully. A part of me didn’t want to be dependant upon medication to feel better. I could deal with this on my own.

I talked to some people who had confided in me that they were on anti-depressants or anti-anxiety medication. I said, “I would never have known.” “Exactly my point”, they would respond. They had tried to go off their medication but realized the negative side effects of not being on them far outweighed any side effects of being on them. For them, these meds help normalise their lives, allowing them a greater contribution to society and managing their own lives and those of their family.

Does that make them strong or weak? I’m not sure, but it certainly makes them smarter in recognizing that these meds’ aid positively and impacts their richness and quality of life, productivity, and functionality.

“MAINTAINING MENTAL HEALTH IS AS IMPORTANT AS THE DIAGNOSIS”

Mental health is a state that people with a mental illness hope to get to. Whether they’re able to achieve it by exercise, counselling, medication or their approach to living life, it’s better to have mental health regardless of how you achieve it.

One of the objectives of the Maddie Project, the foundation that my ex-wife, Nicole, started in our daughter’s name, is to bring greater awareness to youth mental illness and to reduce the stigma by putting up your hand and asking for help.  It’s a wonderful organization, and to date, has raised over $3 million for its cause.
 
The purpose of my business, The Finish Line Group, is to support the entire Entrepreneur and Business Owner.  Not only to educate and devise strategies related to the financial aspects of their business but also to support the mental health aspect of the entrepreneur.  Studies show that entrepreneurs suffer from mental health challenges at more than twice the rate of average adults, but many try to deal with these issues on their own.  I know first hand, as I suffered in silence for years.  I perceived depression and the vulnerabilities associated with discussing depression as a weakness.  Now, I know it is a strength and gives me a platform to help others.  Part of that includes discussing it openly and seeking help in many ways, including medications that can help navigate this storm.

If medication assists in the achievement of mental health, then maintaining it is as important as the diagnosis.
I’ve decided that my mental health, at least for the time being, is achieved by the aid of me taking medication.  Whether this is a permanent or a temporary assist, it’s one that, at least for the time being, contributes to my mental well-being….and I am the only one that can make that determination.

If you are an entrepreneur or business owner who feels alone and challenged right now,  we have a community of fellow business leaders here to help.  Feel free to follow me or direct message me to see if we can be of assistance.  Confidentiality is assured.

4 Comments on “Why it is so Frustrating to Deal with the Stigma of Anti-Depressants”

  1. I think it takes real strength to.admit when you need help PERIOD. The tragic loss of your daughter was the last straw for you (as it would be for every parent). I’ve always been of the mindset that God didn’t create the brilliance of medicine to leave this earth without partaking of those treasures. I know that being an entrepreneur is difficult amd sometimes lonely with the lows seeming to outweigh the highs BUT if those lows are too extreme, then ask for help. It doesn’t do our children any good for.us to “be strong” for them because then they might think they are not able to.ask/tell you when they need help. A therapist told me that after my parents died and I said I never cried in front of my kids…she was right. Now we talk about EVERYTHING and they know that Mom is not Super Woman and that when I need help I ask….physically or mentally. They are equal in my mind. Anyone that thinks differently is either on denial or a fool frankly. If you broke your leg, your get help (and the devices needed to help you recover). Why mental needs are thought of as any different is beyond me. Frankly, anyone that doesn’t understand and support you in ANY way you need help isn’t worth your time.

    1. Thanks for sharing, Melanie. I’m sure there are still a number of people that roll their eyes when they see anyone showing vulnerability or addressing their mental health needs, especially in a public forum. You’re right, this stuff isn’t for them anyway. Hope you’re doing well.

  2. Chris:
    I was unaware of your journey, however, I applaud your progress, courage and commitment to helping others. If there is anything I could do to assist please contact me. Thanks and God Bless!

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