June 15, 2024
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June 15, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

‘This Is My Medication!’ End Scene.

Let me set the scene: You’re watching a family comedy—something geared toward tweens perhaps, but with enough humor for mom and dad to enjoy. Two young teenagers are getting ready for school, joking about their upcoming math test, when one grabs a bottle from the kitchen cabinet.

“What’s that?” asks her friend. “Oh, this is my medicine,” the first girl responds.

“Are you sick? What’s wrong? Doctor! Doctor!” Her friend worriedly exclaims. The live audience laughs.

The first girl shakes her head, “No, no. At least not physically. I take this medicine for my mental health. I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and these really help me get through the day.”

Her friend nods, “Oh yeah, my brother takes medicine for depression. Cool! Let’s go, or we’ll be late!” Insert another joke about their teacher or a popular kid in the school. The scene moves on, transporting them to school, returning to the plotline.

This scene, sadly, does not exist (at least as far as I know.) Mental health concerns, when addressed by the mainstream media, are typically done in an all-or-nothing manner, or are done on a show that regularly addresses and caters to these themes. In the tween humor genre (and many others), it is completely ignored, or the issue becomes dramatized and central to the story. While I applaud the efforts and can appreciate the time and care given to understanding, validating, and promoting care, they tend to lack the experience of normalizing. On the flip side, I can also recognize the fear of “planting ideas” resulting in complete avoidance of covering these topics—though this fear is one that can be challenged.

The results of this are that the increasing number of individuals struggling with an anxiety or mood disorder can feel as if they are alone or abnormal. People don’t talk about how common this is, or how helpful it can be to seek help through therapy, medication or other avenues that can address the underlying issues, symptoms, and behaviors. This is not to say that I expect or want to pressure individuals to speak about something that feels vulnerable, new, confusing or overwhelming. Rather, I want to speak to you, reader, about how common these experiences can be and that there is help available.

I have spoken to so many individuals through the years, individuals who presumed that depression means not being able to leave one’s bed, and that anxiety means a panic disorder. There are so many types of presentation with regard to mood disorders and diagnoses, and this can include someone who appears to be functioning “normally.” This person, then, because he is able to get out of bed and accomplish most tasks, believes there is something wrong with him, but it cannot possibly be a mood disorder. He feels alone and vulnerable but does not know how to communicate this and definitely doesn’t understand how medication can be helpful, fearing only the side effects and the “numbing” of his personality. So he continues forward, struggling and feeling utterly alone.

I understand that there is a fear out there of “everyone being on medication, even those who do not need it.” I also know that there are so many individuals truly suffering but they do not know where to turn, or are even being told by others to “toughen up.”

We are living in a global pandemic, affecting our everyday functioning and especially impacting our emotional functioning whether or not we are aware. We are socializing differently, coping differently, disconnected from access to our normal routines and ways of managing life’s hardships. And even if we were not living through a crisis, there are those who need more help than is being offered, spoken about, validated and normalized.

There are tools for assessment. There are ways of receiving treatment and support. An estimated 31.9% of adolescents in the USA have an anxiety disorder diagnosis and 13.3% of teens aged 12-17 in the USA suffered from a depressive episode (National Institute Mental Health.) We need to address and process how we and those around us—of all ages—are doing. We need to be honest and note fears and concerns, whether they relate to stigma, come from long-standing core beliefs about needing to be stronger—or whether the fear is what is preventing us from reaching out for help.

I wish that the television scene above could be real; that mental health concerns and treatments could be discussed. Yes, there may be fears, but let’s at least discuss these fears and note the various possibilities rather than assuming that “everyone will be fine” or “it’s just a phase.” Take a moment. Reflect. Ask questions. Seek guidance. Welcome your questions and seek out answers rather than shutting the door. If someone comes to you asking for help, take the time to listen. Help the person feel seen and do your research.

I truly believe help is out there for the taking, in so many forms and avenues. Take the time to take care of those around, and take the time to take care of yourself.


Temimah Zucker, LCSW is a psychotherapist practicing in both New York and New Jersey—virtually, at this time. Temimah specializes in working with those who seek to heal their relationships between their bodies and souls and general mental health concerns. Temimah has spoken on these subjects nationally. She is also an adjunct professor at the Wurzweiler School of Social Work. To learn more or to request a free consultation, visit www.temimah.com 

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