How Do I Know If I Need Medication?

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Sometimes we find ourselves struggling through this journey as parents in ways that are beyond the normal struggle. But often, we're afraid to admit that we may need medication too. How do we reach out? Our hope is that this post encourages you to bravely step into the light. You are not alone!

My children were preschool and elementary age and had struggles. The kind that keeps you up at night. That drains you. That most people don’t get. The behavior kind. The invisible special needs-kind which gives way to more judgement from others, even if just perceived. It had been years and was taking a toll on me.

Looking though my family history now, it didn’t come out of nowhere. There was some significant mental illness in my extended family. But no one really talked about that or even recognized it. Still don’t. I went to therapy a few years before to work through some things, so I decided I needed to do it again. I told my therapist of my struggles that was now leading to my doubts and fears about God. Very normal thoughts for anyone who is struggling emotionally.

What wasn’t normal however, was my new coping mechanism. I hesitate saying it here to add more judgement from others. But I don’t think I’m alone. And so if I can help someone else work through their struggles, then I believe hiding behind shame is wrong at this point in my life. So here it goes…

I visualized cutting myself. A lot. All day. Everyday. Anytime something happened that made me stress or doubt myself, the vivid imagery was there. And it was natural. It wasn’t something I manufactured on my own. I had to do it. It didn’t make sense to me why I did it. I just did it.

But I was still healthy enough to know this wasn’t right. So I braved telling my therapist one day in spite of the fear of what she would say or do. And to my surprise and HUGE relief, she wasn’t shocked at all. She just explained how our brains try to find a release for the pain and the stress, and actually feeling the physical pain of cutting brings peace to the part of our brain that is feeling the emotional pain, bringing relief. The way she explained it was so right. That IS why I did it even though I didn’t know. And yes, it did bring some relief even in just visualizing it.

Thankfully, I was able to get the help I needed before it got worse. My therapist recommended seeing a psychiatrist, and I started on a low dose of anxiety medication.

Now I will tell you, I’m a firm believer in going to the specialist for these things and not a general practitioner. It’s always best when dealing with any medical problem to go to a specialist. There are many GPs who will prescribe all kinds of medications. But this is one area I think should always be dealt with by a psychiatrist who knows these kind of medications and how to prescribe them. And they will follow you closely to monitor their effects, and has the knowledge to know how and when to change them if needed.

He started me on a 1/2 a dose for a few days, raised me to still a low dose to allow my body to adapt, and then told me it would take up to 6 weeks for it to take a full effect. This is where I think many doctors err and just give meds, not instructing well and causing an exaggerated response too quickly. In us and our kids.

Within a week, I began to feel numb emotionally. Didn’t feel sad anymore. But didn’t feel joy either. I just existed. It was a very weird sensation actually. And I can see why people quit taking them. But I was told not to quit abruptly because people can have negative effects from this. Because I was terrified of this for my family, I followed the instructions. After about 2 weeks on the medication, I began to feel normal. My circumstances hadn’t changed. Still had to deal with stressful situations, but I felt happiness again. I found pleasure in life in spite of the crazy going on around me. And most importantly, the desire to cut myself went away. Completely. It was the strangest thing because it was what I had done for so long. But it stopped. Just like that.

And again the doctor explained that now the chemicals in my brain were balanced, allowing my brain to function properly. My personality wasn’t altered one bit. I was just able to find pleasure in life again.

I am grateful I decided to take anxiety mediation. I am grateful for doctors who specialize in this and are able to help in this way. It has helped me to heal. It has helped our home to heal. It has also helped me to feel more comfortable in giving my children this same kind of medication. I know (at least in part) how it made me feel, how it helped me and now can help my children find this same kind of healing through this one tool.

We needs lots of tools in life. This might be one you need too. Don’t be afraid of what you heard happened to someone else. Don’t hide behind the shame. We’re all on our own journey. And there IS still joy to be found on this journey regardless of our circumstances. Hope and healing can be found for our children. And it can be found for us too.

Have you gone through something similar, or wondered if it were time to consider medication? Share your story with us in the comment section below this post.

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Mike and Kristin Berry are the Co-Founders of The Honestly Adoption Company and have been parents for nearly two decades. They are the authors of six books, and the host of The Honestly Adoption Podcast.

Sarah Gray

Sarah Gray is the executive assistant to Mike and Kristin Berry. And she is the best in the land. In addition to providing a warm and friendly response to the many emails our company receives on a weekly basis, she also manages Mike and Kristin’s speaking and meeting schedules, and makes sure that team events go off without a hitch.

Nicole Goerges

Nicole Goerges is a Content Contributor & Special Consultant for The Honestly Adoption Company. She works with Mike and Kristin as a recurring co-host for the Honestly Adoption Podcast, and co-host of Kitchen Table Talks, exclusive video content for Oasis Community, along with Kristin. She is a fellow adoptive mom, and former foster parent.

Matt McCarrick

Matt McCarrick is the Content Production Specialist for The Honestly Adoption Company. If you’ve loved listening to our podcast, or enjoyed any of the videos trainings we’ve published, you have Matt to thank. He oversees all of our content production, from video edits, to making sure the tags are correct on YouTube, to uploading new videos to Oasis, to hitting publish on a podcast episode, he’s a content wonder!

Karen Anderson

Karen Anderson is the Community Engagement Specialist for The Honestly Adoption Company. She spends the bulk of her time interacting with, and helping, people through our various social media channels, as well as providing support for Oasis Community members through chat support or Zoom calls. In the same spirit as Beaver, Karen is also passionate about connecting with parents and making them feel loved and supported. Karen is also an FASD trainer and travels often, equipping and encouraging parents.

Beaver Trumble

Beaver Trumble is the Customer Care Specialist for The Honestly Adoption Company. Chances are, if you have been in need of technical support, or forgotten your password to one of our courses, you have interacted with Beaver. He is an absolute pro at customer care. In fact, he single-handedly revolutionized our customer care department last year. Beaver is passionate about connecting with parents and making them feel loved and encouraged.

Kristin Berry

Kristin Berry is the co-founder of, and Chief Content Specialist for, The Honestly Adoption Company. She spends most of her time researching and connecting with guests for our podcast, as well as direction, designing and publishing a lot of the content for our social media channels, blog and podcast. She loves to connect with fellow parents around the world, and share the message of hope with them.

Mike Berry

Mike Berry is the co-founder of, and Chief Marketing Specialist for, The Honestly Adoption Company. He spends the bulk of his time and energy designing and building many of the resources you see within our company, as well as social media and email campaigns. His goal is to use media as a means to encourage and equip parents around the world. He is also the co-host of The Honestly Adoption Podcast.