On real courage… a note for a friend

A friend wrote me today.   This note is for her.

She told me she felt like a coward.  She had listened to people talk about the evils of psychotropic medication and she felt a failure or somehow lacking because she did not think she could live without them.  Some time ago I had a friend tell me something similar.   He  said he felt disloyal in a strange way.   He said,  “My life is an inconvenient truth.   What I need to function is what I most badly don’t think I should need…..”

I told her that she was wrong that real strength was in the commitment however tentative to take care of yourself.   Strength is in honoring you by caring about the kind of person you are,  in caring about others,  in caring about the life you live. Strength is more than success. It is more than coping. Ultimately it might be about a persistent commitment to surviving what you can’t succeed at and don’t know how to cope with as much as anything else.

I am often not strong. The urgency of too many moments still overwhelm me and sometimes I worry more about getting away than I do working through. Strength I think also has something to do with forgiving ourselves for being so inconveniently human. I don’t know for sure you ever turn the corner and part of wisdom is learning to value small steps.

I also think strength had something to do with honesty and when honesty conflicts truth perhaps there was never that much truth.

Medication didn’t help me. I have known some I thought it destroyed. I have known some I thought it killed. But I also know some I thought it saved and being ashamed of being saved seems to me to be such a wrong thing.

I think my friend is courageous. It does not disappoint me she takes meds or that she finds them essential to her health. Knowing the little I know of her circumstances and life it would disappoint me if she didn’t.

Care for yourself. You matter in every way. There is nothing more important, more righteous, or more true than that.


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