The Spider Sat Down Beside Her – Mental Illness

Self-Care Tip #178 – Find your courage and answer to stigma.

The Little Miss Muffet scenario explained by D...

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Something as simple as taking pills can sabotage us.  The act of putting it in our mouths signifies all sorts of things from religion, to freedom, to personal identity and beyond; even someone who is trustworthy versus not.  Pill – take away her children.  No pill – could be president.  Pill – discredit whatever he says.  No pill – worth listening to.

Martha is a mother of four lovely girls.  Her husband is divorcing her and she wonders what he will do in the process.  She’s been depressed in the past and anxious with a history of panic attacks.  She took two years to get over them using breathing exercises and other therapies. She didn’t use medication.  I don’t need to tell you what her husband thought of meds or of her during that time.  It was a miserable time for her.

Now, during this new stressful time, she has relapsed in mood and anxiety problems and is terrified that if her husband finds out, he’ll take the kids.  Martha sees mental illness as a bullying tool for anyone to dump her over.  Little Miss Muffet is a story she often has compared to her situation.  The spider is the mental illness she feels is dangled over her to her demise.  Martha is bullied and scared away.

Taking pills makes me feel like I’m crazy!

Note: it’s a type of crazy she interprets as being something different from the crazy of mental illness.  For Martha, the crazy that comes with medication therapy is more sinister and discrediting than the worst experience of terror any of us have ever gone through, i.e. panic attacks.

Every day, we who take medication for emotional illness have to answer to those accusations.  We contend with the fingers pointing our way, the jeering in our memory of loved ones and the boxed presumptions we find ourselves in.

This may sound a little dramatic to some out there, although familiar.  To others, it is an understatement of what they courageously confront to take care of themselves.  Each of us must come up with our own answers and find our own courage.

Martha finally decided on medication treatment and within two days she was amazed to find that she could eat without throwing up and no longer felt anxious.  She still insisted that taking medication was only temporary but getting a pill dispenser had helped her get past some of her daily battle with stigma.  She just opened the lid and poured the pills into her palm, threw them back and swallowed without looking.  Martha found it easier not to dispense each pill each day out of each bottle.  It was also easier for her to keep this information secure in the confines of our office.  For Martha, for now, this was how she answered.

Question:  How do you answer to stigma?  How do you maintain your sense of freedom when other forces tell you that you are not free?  Please tell me your story.

27 thoughts on “The Spider Sat Down Beside Her – Mental Illness

  1. The pills are medicine. They enable us to function. All kinds of people have illness and they need the pills. Perhaps the self imposed(and that’s what it is) stigma is not the pills but admitting we have a form of mental illness. The women on Valium and Librium back in the day had to face addiction to prescription meds and had a bigger challenge – admitting they were addicts. My meds help me a great deal. I am not ashamed of myself for needing medicine.

  2. It seems the stigma is self imposed. People are too busy to care about anyone’s little secrets. It is a secret only because as I would suggest the feeling of inferiority is not the pill taking, it is the inability to accept the fact that we have a degree of mental illness. That’s why they make the pills. So we can function and having them should be seen as liberating not encapsulating(no pun intended).

  3. I agree with Carl, yet I also get where Martha is coming from on this. We would do anything to stay with our children, and it is concerning that Martha’s husband is apparently close-minded enough to attempt to use (or, at least, gives off some kind of vibe that he might attempt to use) her suffering and ensuing self-care to cause the torment of taking her children. However, yay for Martha for being courageous to do what she knows she must do… We are all rooting for her, a community she doesn’t even know she has.

  4. I can relate to Martha in the sense that I felt like taking my medication made me feel like a “crazy” person. For years, I did not seek help for my depression and anxiety because I knew that the doctor would probably just give me a prescription, and I felt like I could control it on my own. My depression was finally starting to show physical symptoms and I just couldn’t handle anymore. The doctor gave me a prescription for fluoxetine, I took it, but did not fill the prescription. I asked my husband his opinion if I should start the fluoxetine or not. He said I didn’t need to be taking any pills because “you’re not crazy,” and so I listened and did not take the prescription to the pharmacy. About one month passed and I was still having physical symptoms due to my depression and anxiety. I had seen the doctor a few times, had blood work and other tests done which all came back normal. I came to the realization that I was in fact feeling this way because of my mental illness and not some horrible disease or whatever I had made up. Needless to say, I ended up taking the fluoxetine and it has help me tremendously. Most of my physical symptoms have diminished and I’m starting to feel like a new person day by day. I no longer think that just because a person needs to be on meds for depression/anxiety or whatever it may be, is a “crazy” person. My husband still feels like I don’t need to be taking anything, but I know better than that and I’m moving forward instead of being ashamed for seeking help and trying to move past the stigma. I don’t care if my husband thinks I am crazy or not! Nobody knows what’s best for me than me.

    • Hello Jjen! thank u so very much for your well timed comment. your words are strong and many of us are putting on our shoes and getting moving just by leaning on the courage we now have because of you. we are behind u also and u r not alone. keep talking!

  5. you know i take my tablet but i dont want to be on it becuase i just dont but i have to becuase otherwise there is no controll im never free the day i will be free is the day i perish away and flot to another place i would not take my tablets but they help me to live a good life there not 100% voe but who ever siad life was going to be perfect or easy or theropy i arrived an hour late nerly i was swaring my head off cause it was really erly in the morning and i could not find the place they didnt give me a map for the first time i actualy found a person who cares and kinda knows what im going threw he siad i live in my own world and i tryed to explain everything as best i could to him i was very suprosed at how well it went he even changed my appointment he siad i see you in about a mounth seen my face and he says ill see you in two weels hes not sure if its going to be mutch use to me but i was feeling better for some reson then i went into a real low dont know if there linked my firend over in america recons that im feeling sory for myself at the moment and im blaming everything on bpd but i dont but she might understand one day i think im doing well no ods in 6 mounth does nail varnish count nar that was a slip up 6 mounth i havnt been in hospital so i think im doing fine just got to keep it together not long now we nearly slipped the other night but i coped or some news on uni as well im getting a learning mentor at uni i went for the interview today im over the moon witch means i will be able to complete my degree and move on towards a PhD witch is one of my goals in life i had a learning mentor quite a few years back and i know this person is going to help me greatly sory if ive gone off subject a bit

    • hey kevin. i’ve learned a lot from u these last months and appreciate your going on’s. i was just thinking some traveling thoughts myself about how we bruise ourselves for caring what other people think. few steps away from that though is our natural need to connect. i’m sure they’re related. see, wandering is what is but always better in company! keep on!

  6. When I had a baby, I brought her to my husband’s office so everyone can see her for the first time. I barely knew their first names. The first thing all the women said was, “Did you have her naturally?” I knew what they meant, but I answered, “if it’s coming out of me, that’s as natural as you can get”. That’s a lame answer, but that was my way of telling them that I don’t want to talk about it. But they persisted (this was in NY, by the way) and I had to admit that I had an epidural. Their expressions changed and it was clear I couldn’t wear the same badge of honor they did.

    When the subject of depression comes up with my circle of friends, sometimes I hear them say, “I’m too busy to be depressed. I don’t have time for that.” There is no difference between taking meds for mental illness than it is to take meds for diabetes. You can die from both.

    It is hard work to improve your life in healthy ways. Despite the way some people behave, there is no pride in being miserable without doing anything about it.


    ★ Jasmine Wilmany ★

  7. i do bruise quite easy form what other people tihnk someone online can hurt me just as mutch as not my theropist learnt that quite quicky i dont know if thats just me defending myslef or not having the lifes skills to do that i did do in my blog quite a while back now but ill tell the story of my old boss ive had loads of jobs it was in security i worked for a firm in security i call them e and me and my boss got on really well now he was subcontracted out to l i was in the security office and was on a security shift the and the little turn thing that turned the cammeras s moved down well you couldnt see the screens and there was loads of camera it was very temprimental about the second time using it a bit like a joy pad my boss who worked for e turned round to the staff at l and siad thats why hes only a cleaner he didnt like the l staff anyway i dint take it very well atall i was actualy crying over it i lost at that moment all the respect i had ever had for this boss and i use to put in a lot of hours maybee sometimes 100 in a week i was the right hand man when other people never use to turn in i use to do there shifts to baiscly for seven years when things went rong for him i was there now that i do not think he reliszed by that one comment form loving him to hating him i dont think he really relised how hurt i was

    • nothing wrong w being sensitive Kevin, especially when you so largely and courageously hold yourself accountable for it. That is not an easy task. but as we say at, self-care …the hardest job. u can tell people now that u r working the hardest job and make them wonder.
      i’m sorry u were hurt kevin. i think many of us know where u r coming from. keep on man o courage.

    • cindy, u never cease to amaze me. thank u for your frankness, your way of opening yourself up w so much grace and seemingly in so few words! u r talented in that and i’m glad we get to celebrate it w u. thank u for sharing these experiences and pressing on’s w us. hugs

  8. Today I met with a psychiatrist here in California. My family and friends have hated that I have been in therapy for seventeen years now, and I’ve found, over the years, that I avoid the subject (and even put my appointments on my calendar in the kitchen in a shorthand that only I recognize) as much as I can. So telling them I saw (am seeing) someone here was something I really, really didn’t want to admit. It’s a stigma I have put on myself (with the help of my family and friends) and one I need to get over. Being on medications, they have said, was never a bad thing (except for how badly I reacted to them), but being in therapy….well, just not a good thing – ever.

    So, after my appointment today, I got a call from my daughter and, after catching up on what’s happening at home and with my granddaughter, and with my heart in my mouth, I told her about my appointment today. She was thrilled!! She was happy I had found someone here and even had some questions for me to ask at my next visit! Stigma? What stigma?? And freedom from the stigma that I have felt….oh, my goodness, do I feel better just having made the appointment – and gone through with it – and then having been able to tell my daughter (who, next to my husband, is my best friend) and having her react positively. Wow! It’s amazing what damage one can do with one’s self by allowing the fear of people’s reactions to rule one’s life. It’s been a good day…and I’m so grateful for this blog that allows me to share. Have I mentioned that before? 🙂

  9. hi everyone im in trouble loking after myslef im at a complicated bit in my life i currntly feel rejected im told that i dont listen and i talk over my friend in america and i make her feel uninportant i felt this yesterday and my feeling serve me very well when there is a probelm how do i become a better listner instead of been the talker im kinda in a mini crisis cause i dont actualy know what to do im trying to deal with it

    • Dear mini crisis, this is just a guess, but I wonder how much of this is about u vs America-person. Sometimes when we just stand beside someone in thier own yelling state and remain present, things turn on their own. Blessings. Keep us posted

  10. i have carmed down quite a bit form last night kev got loads of hell off me this morning he can take it better than me and he did say i go on a bit sometimes but he siad the problem there is that that is me he says he has learned to live with it he has such a caring personaity maybees at america at the moment i am just holding onto a dream and this is the thing she doesnt wnat to know me becuase i am ultra suseptable to rejection but i dont think i can change that maybee threw theropy in time i could but ive also been thinking to myself am i ready for another relationship can i cope and i am qwestioning that now at this time i am very mutch on edge but that is just cirrcumstances around my life at the moment i am going to try a bit of a diffrent trick i am not going to talk to her about myself for a few weeks atall and i am going to see where that gets me i did appoligise to her and siad i would do something about it so i will i dont know if it will work but anything is worth a try i will no longer interupt conversations and i will try not to speek everything on my mind in two minutes the problem with me is i think there is a solution to everything but someone mentioned to me when i first went out with a girlfirend at 29 years old shes not a computer so you will get unexpected results what ever you do

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  13. I suffer from Anxiety disorder & panic attacks & I am extremely grateful for my medication. I tried the therapy stuff but it made little difference. Because Lexapro is also an anti-depressant I rarely ever get down in the dumps even though I don’t suffer from actual depression & am always happy & cheerful. I’m sure it’s the meds that keeps me that way. Things just don’t seem to get me down anymore since I’ve been on the Lexapro plus it works great for the anxiety most of the time. I still get occasional anxiety & panic attacks but nothing like I used to before the medication..

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