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Medication: To Take Or Not To Take? My Journey with Mental Health Treatment

My journey with mental health and medicating.


By Emily Wohl 


Photo By Ria Huang

When my mom first told me I might benefit from medication to help with my anxiety back in high school, I was nearly offended. I thought it was crazy that she thought a 16-year-old’s regular stress about school, applying to college, and her appearance was enough to warrant medication. To me, needing medication was equivalent to her saying I needed electroshock therapy—something invasive and unnatural to fix the natural flow of my thoughts. So what if they were mostly negative, overpowering, and consumed me 23 out of 24 hours of the day? “Mom, I just overthink a lot. It’s completely normal,” I told her. 


I had to repeat this line to her year after year as my anxiety progressed, and she suggested it each time I ranted about all that I had to do or every time I talked negatively about myself. She would tell me it’s not normal to think this much about all these things and allow it to consume my life. 

Flash forward to college, specifically sophomore year, I found myself wishing I had listened to my mom years ago. 


While my anxiety had done nothing but worsen throughout the years, it was at an all-time high in the fall semester of my sophomore year. Something about the combination of a whole new school year, my schedule filling up, and overall being unhappy brought my anxiety to new heights. I was struggling to sleep at night, taking over an hour tossing and turning to fall asleep. I was having anxiety attacks where I would cry constantly and struggle to breathe multiple times a week. I could barely focus. At this point, I realized I needed something to help me. While it wasn’t as bad in high school when my mom suggested I look into medication, I wished I had taken her advice because I wouldn’t have had to wait for it to reach its peak before finally accepting that I needed more help than just therapy. 


I can safely say that starting medication in the middle of the semester was one of the hardest decisions I have ever made. To say I was terrified of possible side effects would be an understatement. I did not want to start my body on something foreign while in the thick of classes, sharing a room with someone, and being far from home. Something that helped make the decision was my therapist asking me if I really wanted to keep putting off feeling better and continue feeling the way I was for weeks, if not months, more. The answer to that was obviously no. If medication was going to help me feel better than I had been feeling that entire semester thus far, then I had to do it. I owed it to myself to take a chance on myself -- to think of it in a positive light, as something that is going to help me, instead of the negative side effects. Maybe my body wouldn’t reject it, and I would begin to feel miles better. If it was going to make me feel better than I did currently, I didn’t have a choice.



While it took weeks to set in, by the end of my semester, things had already started to look up. Today, I look back and know I made the right decision for myself. If you ask any of my friends, I tell them at least once a week that I know medication is working for me because despite my schedule getting even more packed this semester, I’m not nearly as anxious as I was in the first semester. I’m able to sleep at night and breathe when I feel myself getting overly anxious. 


Medication has changed my life for the better, and I couldn’t be happier with the choice I made to prioritize my mental health and take this step for myself. 

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