When you are young you think your parents are infallible. You look to them to tell you right from wrong and depend on them to lead you down the right path. Even as we age, and we start to realize that our parents are human, we still value their opinion over almost anyone else. It’s a hard notion to shake. But sometimes our parents are wrong.
When I was in university my father began to change. He gradually went from attentive, involved, and nurturing to distant, ambivalent, and mean. I can’t tell you exactly what happened, but I know it had something to do with the fact that my dad was having a hard time figuring out the whole “dating thing” after years of being alone. He began to act like a teenager: he didn’t tell us where he was going, he was always forgetting to get groceries, and he didn’t seem interested in his children.
Just before entering my last year of university I went off my depression medication after discovering that it was the cause of my weight gain. I did it without the consent or supervision of either my family doctor or my psychiatrist, because they didn’t believe me. After the withdrawal had passed I went to see my psychiatrist and got the green light from her. Although I was determined to stay off of it, I was relieved to hear that my doctor thought that my mental health was good enough to be without medication. I worked my ass off that school year, and by graduation I had lost 60lbs; I lost the last 20 that summer. I got a new job right out of university, I was healthy, and my head felt clearer than it had in years. I saw a bright future ahead of me. Unfortunately, my father did not.
The summer after I graduated was great- when my father wasn’t around. When he was home he would yell at me, berate me, and make me cry almost daily. I felt the “crazy” pushing at my will power, but I remained surprisingly calm (most of the time). My father believed that I had gone off of my medication too soon and that I was still “crazy.” When my doctor told him that she believed that I was no longer depressed he claimed that I had fooled her. While I appreciated his confidence in my acting abilities, I was devastated that my father wasn’t proud of all that I had accomplished that year. I used to value his opinion so highly that I began to question my own feelings and thoughts. When you are mentally ill feelings and thoughts often get skewed so I began to wonder if maybe I was missing something.
It wasn’t until my father kicked me out (by changing the locks on my when I was at work) that I realized that this time, father didn’t know best. I needed to stand up for myself and what I knew was right for me. I wasn’t going to take medication that I didn’t need because my father told me I should. I wasn’t going to let his insecurities and worries stop me from making progress with my own health. I found my voice and my confidence and stood my ground. I value the opinions of many people in my life, and I take them seriously, but in the end, when it comes to my body and mind, I’m the only opinion that gets the final say.