THE BLOG
07/31/2014 11:49 am ET Updated Sep 30, 2014

A Spoonful of Support Helps the Medicine Go Down

When I was a little girl I remember watching an episode of Oprah. Man, did that woman know how to work a talk show and get those tears going. Almost every single time I happened to bump into one of her shows, she was somehow giving the audience members gifts of ginormous proportions.

But there was one episode in particular that has stuck in my head since and it was this whole discussion about medicine. How people in this day and age use pills to numb their aching backs, heal their headaches, relieve their stomach pain or even mend their broken hearts.

This guest speaker kept talking about how we are so incredibly dependent on medicine that we no longer know what real emotion, real pain and real human struggle feels like. We use these tablets as crutches and sooner or later it becomes us.

And I remember sitting there as a young healthy 9-year-old girl agreeing with every word they said.

Then as an 18-year-old, I decided it was time to talk about medicine and the good that it does to society.

When I talk about the good of medicine, I am not referring to people with addictions that absolutely need heroin or cocaine in order to function. There is a difference between drugs and medicine.

I believe we are actually a society that fears taking medicine. For some reason, having a prescription for anything but the common cold makes us feel like we are doing ourselves a disservice.

For some odd reason, we are suddenly not normal. We push ourselves and for others to not take medicine, because having to swallow something that sits in an orange pill bottle from Walgreens pharmacy makes us feel defeated.

To say to others, "Yes, I need to take Xanax every single day in order to feel okay," suddenly equates itself with "I am a failure of a human being and I cannot count on myself to be okay."

I'm saying this because I have said it. Having depression in the fourth grade and then being re-diagnosed with depression and anxiety disorder my freshman year has led me to believe the latter statement.

I have cried many nights telling myself that I can do without medicine. I have heard people tell me that they wish they didn't have to see me take my prescriptions. I have been pressured by my parents to not take medication because their excuse is "it's bad to take medicine. And you're so young, you shouldn't have to take it."

I have cried to my therapist and told her that I didn't want whatever she prescribed to me. I have seen doctors look at me funny when I tell them what I have to take for my medical history.

I believed that I would be normal if I didn't take medication.

I have experienced internal conflict where I feel as if I am less capable or less brave since I need to be on something in order to not cry, panic or feel hopeless; I try to not take anything because I would rather fake being normal and believe that I am stronger and I am able to do without what I have been prescribed.

There should never be stigma about taking medicine. As long as you are not misusing it and becoming physically/mentally dependent on it and you are instead using it to forward yourself and to make your life better and more controllable, then you are doing nothing wrong. If what you are taking is giving you the ability to feel normal, then for the love of God, please take it.

Is it nice to be able to say that you don't need to take pills to be okay?

Yes, of course it is.

But as long as human beings exist, problems will surface and as long as we are alive, we will have to suffer through pain. And sometimes despite all the things that we use to make life a little easier, we need to take what is necessary to get through that one day or that year or that decade.

I am not saying at all that we should convert to shoving pills down our throats constantly; I am saying that with proper use, no one should be shamed or feel guilt for having to do so. How can we expect people to get better if we are slamming down the very thing that can aid them to become better?

A good attitude and healthy lifestyle goes along with taking medication. Taking pills can only do so much, but if we allow ourselves to accept it instead of marking it with disgust and disappointment, then we will be taking the first step to understand what good medicine can do.

Are you weak for having to take pills?

No.

Am I normal?

Yes. 

Life by no means is perfect and neither is the human body. We do what we can, but at the end of the day sometimes things don't work out the way we want them to. And you know what?

That's okay. 

So I guess in the end, we learned that Oprah isn't always right.

By: Erin Lin, University of Illinois

Subscribe to the Lifestyle email.
Life hacks and juicy stories to get you through the week.