Sara Bareilles on how starting psychiatric medication helped her ‘see’ herself again

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Sara Bareilles
Sara Bareilles

In 2020, 16.5 percent of US adults took prescription medicine for their mental health, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — a number that’s seemingly only increased since, especially given the ongoing pandemic’s undeniable effects on mental health. (In fact, a 2021 study from QuoteWizard found that more than 24 percent of Americans are now taking prescription mental health meds.)

Despite their prevalence, however, psychiatric drugs (eg anti-anxiety meds, antidepressants) are still stigmatised and will continue to be considered, say, “crazy pills” unless people start talking more regularly about their mental health struggles. And while a growing number of public figures have recently used their platforms to do just that, Sara Bareilles is the latest big name to step up to the plate.

Sara Bareilles talks about taking medicine for anxiety

On Tuesday, the Grammy winner took to Instagram to share a snapshot of a small white pill, which she says has helped her “see” herself again.

“This is my medicine,” she wrote in the caption. “I wanted to write a little bit about the fact that after 20 years of feeling very strongly that it was not the path I needed to take…I have tried medication for the first time. For the first time in months, I can feel myself again- my joy, my optimism and my laughter are among some of the precious parts of myself I have rediscovered. They sit at my soul’s table, along with my sweet sadness and my tender anxiety…who, by the way, aren’t the only ones talking anymore. It is a profound, holy relief.”

From there, Bareilles went on to give her 762k followers a bit more of an idea of her recent experiences with anxiety and depression — both of which made her feel “desperate and overwhelmed all the time” during the past year.

“The amount of energy it took to ‘manage’ my emotions (I use that term loosely because that makes me seem like I had a handle on anything) would exhaust me so much that my whole sense of myself got distorted. I didn’t feel like me anymore,” she explained. “Depression is not rational. It does not respond to ‘I have so much to be grateful for,’ or ‘just concentrate on the good things.’ I have moved through depression and anxiety many times in my life, but this time I needed extra help.”

Still, Bareilles admitted that she had “so many feelings” about taking medication, worrying that she wouldn’t be able to recognise herself anymore and that she was “taking a short cut.” Ultimately, however, the Girls5Eva star came to realise that “this medicine helped [her] see [herself] again, without the cloak of depression and anxiety.”

While Tuesday’s Instagram post marks the first time Bareilles really opened up about taking psychiatric meds, she mentioned the new treatment and spoke about her battle with mental illness on the ‘gram earlier this month. “It has been a very low year for me with regard to my mental health, and I am also grateful that part of the reason I can touch my joy again is I finally got the help of some medication. It’s been a journey to try and pull up, and I found this year I needed more help,” the 42-year-old wrote in an Instagram post on January 2.

Not only is she helping to normalise mental health struggles by getting so candid in both of these posts, but Bareilles is also making a case for asking for help — something that can be particularly difficult to do when you’re in the throes of heightened mental illness and thanks to the massive stigma around the topic.

“If you’re struggling- I see you, and I hope you remember you’re not stuck as long as you’re willing to change the view,” she wrote in the January 2 Instagram post, ending both that caption and the one from Wednesday with “Begin Again” — something she also tweeted in October 2021.

Sure, that’s often easier said than done, but it’s something that everyone should keep in mind when the going gets tough. Whether you’re struggling with your mental health or dealing with other challenges, take a page from Bareilles’ book and “let it all break open…so it can be reassembled to be stronger than before.”

This story first appeared on www.shape.com

(Main and Feature Image Credit: Getty Images)

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