"I don't want to be dependent on something my whole life."
Of course, I'm not really suggesting that we all stop wearing glasses. That would be pretty unreasonable given that without vision correction, a lot of people (myself included) would be hard-pressed just to find their keys.
Does it impair our daily lives that millions of people around the world require that extra help?
It's important that we don't lose a pair, or forget to bring a spare on vacation. If a child couldn't see the board at the front of the glass, any teacher would recommend them for glasses. But no one would really say that relying on vision correction reflects negatively on our self-discipline or independence.
Yet I've heard those fears from many college students who have told me that despite loss of appetite, insomnia, nausea, panic attacks, or other symptoms, they will never seek mental health medication.
Because they think that "medication is a crutch."
Yes, but that's a good thing.
Crutches help people do things more effectively and efficiently, just like medication, school or work accommodations for learning disabilities, and glasses. You wouldn't tell someone on crutches to try and get by on their own to prove their strength.
It's a common misconception that people who take mental health medication are guilty of relying on it, and we live in a society that promotes independence.
But the fact is that everyone relies on the neurochemicals in the medication, like serotonin. It's just that some bodies produce enough of it already, while others don't. So even the most proudly self-sufficient person is actually leaning on those chemicals all the time, even if they don't realize it.
Someone without anxiety, for example, requires the right balance in order to sleep well at night and focus at work. Someone without OCD needs the right amount of neurons firing in the right places so that their mind will not be caught up in a "loop" that fixates on repeating tasks.
This is an oversimplification of the process, but our bodies are not supposed to suffer regular panic attacks, just as a person with a broken leg should not run down the street. If you're fortunate enough to have health insurance, you don't have to do either one. Medication doesn't fix everything, but psychiatrists want to find what helps the most.
So while I know that we won't solve the mental health stigma overnight, I hope to encourage everyone to seek whatever help they need and be unashamed of receiving it.