Let’s preface this story by saying, if you disagree with people who take medication for Mental Health purposes, this story will not be for you. This story is intended to be light hearted and is not me seeking advice, and as someone who has been taking medication to control mental health concerns for a number of years, and who has really struggled to find a therapy, strategy or medication that works for me, I feel that I need a certain level of understanding and support from anyone I date (or potentially want to date.) I have also always been a big advocate for people taking measures to help their mental health and feel better. It’s something I feel passionately about, and despite any jokes I may make to the contrary, I would never tear someone down for being passionate about something that I don’t agree with. Aaron, however, was not of the same mindset.
I met Aaron in mid 2016 and while there were no immediate sparks, we planned to meet for lunch before I had to do an assessment at uni to see if things went better in person. A note before we really get into this – Aaron is a vegan. This fact does bare some weight in the story, especially in reference to my statement about not judging someone based on their life choices, but I wasn’t aware of this until the point he mentions it in this story. Continuing.
So we met at Melbourne Central and planned to walk around a bit before getting something to eat, and things immediately seemed weird. He had a hobby I had never really considered or known about before, and when I asked him about it (in a lull in conversation) he almost seemed defensive- even angry, that I had asked. I was simply curious as I had never met someone with an interest in the particular hobby, he acted as though I were attacking him. I asked him questions very carefully in order to find out more information about the hobby (“So how long have you been doing this?” and “Does your family do it too?”) And he responded as if I had asked him what in his right mind possessed him to start such a hobby and why his hobbies weren’t more interesting (“Well Jesus, it’s not that weird, everyone I know does it!” and “Seriously, is it that hard to grasp that I enjoy this?? REALLY?”) I stopped asking questions and asked what he felt like eating, mentioning that there were some great places for Pizza or Pasta nearby.
“I’m a Vegan.” Was his only response. No further information or input, leaving it up to me to decide. When we eventually landed on a place really close to campus, all he ordered was a bowl of chips (making me feel self conscious about ordering anything more.)
Conversation was a little bit awkward, and eventually I had to leave to go to my assessment and I told him we would talk later.
The next day I had to visit my GP to get a blood test and review how my medication was going, as I felt as though there were something wrong – they didn’t feel like they were working. I can always tell when my meds aren’t working as effectively, as I vigilantly monitor my moods and symptoms, ensuring that if I see a fluctuation that lasts more than 7 days (with no ~ physical ~ reason) I check in with myself and work out what’s going on. So, when I noticed a slump I couldn’t explain I decided to check in while at my next GP appointment. So, while I was waiting Aaron messaged me and asked what I was up to for the day, and then asked me whether I was ok when I said that I was in the waiting room at the doctor’s. I let him know why I was there – never one to shy away from discussing mental health and medication as I feel it creates some much needed awareness for the struggles some people go through. I told him I was doing a check up on my meds and on my current mental state, and that it was nothing serious, just something I needed to stay on top of. Normally, this is the only explanation I need to give, but with Aaron this was just the start of a massive argument.
I hadn’t checked my phone since I sent that message, I instead was called into my appointment, had to go pick up my new prescription and went to get a coffee before I needed to go home and work on my next assignment, so when I did get home and found Aaron berating me for my decision to go on medication (as if I weren’t already on them before that very morning) I knew it was the beginning of the end.
“How could you put your body through that? Do you not know how damaging it is to put all those toxic chemicals into your body? You’re already destroying your health eating meat and animal products, how could you then actively choose to put something else in your body like that? Just go outside for a change, get some sun on you and you’ll feel better, it’s not even that hard.”
Ok, Aaron, there are so many things wrong with this. You can NOT tell someone how to live their life, and you certainly can not force your opinion down my throat. I never asked for an opinion, nor did I ask for advice. I was being transparent about my mental health; I was being vulnerable. And this is how it played out. I wasn’t sure how to respond to him, so I decided it best to leave it while I gathered my thoughts. I switched my phone off, disconnected my laptop from the internet and burnt through 2 readings and an assignment (or at least, as far as I could get without needing the internet.) And by the time I responded, I felt as though there were nothing better in the world I could say.
“Right, and what gives you the right to dictate what I can and can’t do with my own body? First to attack my decision to eat meat, which is fine, I’m happy to leave that one alone as it’s your decision what you do and don’t eat, but then to attack my right to be medicated for my mental health concerns? I made the decision to take medication when nothing else was working for me; I have tried as much therapy in as many different styles as possible, with as many different people as possible, and found that day to day it’s easier and better for me to be medicated. I also eat meat because I have a fairly strict diet to follow to remain healthy and balanced, it helps me cope with my eating disorder. Neither of those are yours to comment on and I don’t appreciate you trying to tell me how to live my life when you’ve been in it for less than a month. If you had been expressing concern for my mental health or even just asking a question about why I choose to be on meds, I would respect you more, but attacking me for my choices? I disagree with being a vegan and haven’t once attacked that. But now you think you can attack me? I’m really not interested in this anymore, I’m sorry but this is the one thing that’s non-negotiable for me.”
Again, I would think this was a reasonable end but apparently I was wrong. Aaron had something else to say, some more “friendly advice” to share to critique my every day life and freedom of choice.
“You should go and see my friend, I’ll even take you myself to make sure you go. He knows everything and is better than any medication ever will be, I’ve been to see him a lot and he’s cured all my problems. I’ll even drive you – I won’t come in unless you want me to, but I’ll take you and make sure you see him. Just don’t put any of those chemicals in your body, that’s the first step. We can fix the rest.”
Reading that made me feel a lot of things – Aaron was not only controlling, but was righteous and condescending. He had decided he was the fixer of all my problems and that he knew better than I about my own issues. Aaron was convinced we were a good match and that if I were to just give in to his wishes, things would work between us (go figure. One person gives up all their personal beliefs for the other and things workout – for the other person.)
Funnily enough, I did not respond to Aaron, and nor did he message me again. A few years later, he tried to reconnect via Instagram after seeing a body positivity post I had made about my personal progress. He reassured me that he had grown a lot personally since the last time we had spoken, and that he had done some research into the matter and now understood why I had decided to medicate, however the damage had been done and I was not interested in his nonsense at this stage, as my own personal growth lead me to take no shit from someone who only wanted to control all my problems. Aaron tried to tell me a few more times that he still thought my seeing his friend would fix all my problems (so much for personal growth…) but after a while he gave up. I refused to give up meat or meet his friend, and he refused to accept that I was doing what I knew was best for me.
Truly, a match made in heaven.