After reading some disturbing comments on Facebook, I felt the need to do my own PSA.
Of course, we are back to the gun control debate which then leads to a discussion on mental health. What disturbed me was a few people said psychiatric medications are ineffective and not the answer to mental illness.
I have lived with schizoaffective disorder for most of my life, and while therapy is helpful (I go every week) a cocktail of psych meds is absolutely necessary to manage my symptoms. My mental illness is a medical condition requiring medical treatment.
My Psych Med Story
I’ve always been open about my diagnosis and story, and when I come across stigma, I just want to let everyone in. Schizoaffective disorder can be devastating, and nothing in my life would be possible without my medication. I wouldn’t consider my life normal, but I function really well. I’m productive and fulfilled. Nothing’s perfect, but I’m happy.
I wish everyone could feel what I’ve felt – the drastic change medication made in my life. I used to experience psychosis which was very frightening and confusing. Mood symptoms were debilitating. But now I’m stable – and free.
I realize medications work differently for different people, but I get a little defensive when people discredit psych meds altogether.
Time to Educate the Masses
Question – Have you ever been involved with something – something very important to your life – and you’re frustrated and heartbroken when you realize the vast majority of people know nothing about it? I feel that way about mental health. I’ve been in recovery for nearly twenty years and have worked in the mental health field for sixteen. I’m very open and normally feel safe talking about my illness but it’s hard to remember that not everyone has the same background as me. I even encounter stigma in my own family. Obviously, I am all for education and awareness because while many people don’t know much about mental health, it’s something that affects us all.
For a closing note on mental health – even if you don’t understand mental illness, just be kind.
My parents did their best to pass along their mental health issues as well as a general distrust of the mental health field. It took me a long time to reject that and even longer to seek help because for a long time, my mental health issues made it very, very difficult to afford treatment for them. It’s like being stuck in a computer simulation. Your character in a game decides they don’t want to play anymore. How do they reach out and press the power button to make it stop?
I’m not sure I ever got over a distrust of psych meds though. My issues are all pretty clearly tied to things that happened to me and I tell myself meds wouldn’t help because my root cause isn’t a chemical imbalance. I have a strong suspicion this is an oversimplification to the point of being outright wrong (feel free to tell me – learning is good even if you learn that you’re being foolish; maybe especially then). I’ve not had any strong recommendations that I take meds though, so for now I haven’t. Even if I got a recommendation I’d have to think about it first because they don’t seem like they’d be easy to experiment with. The ones I’m aware of require taking them for some time before effects can be expected.
Raging Bee says
Yes, your issues are (probably) mostly tied to what happened to you. But how your brain processes all that is also a factor, and it’s possible that meds may help, at least here and there in the short term, to alter your thinking just enough to allow you to process your past differently, and maybe that can help you to move on, or at least get a glimpse of a life with less of some debilitating feeling or repetitive thought-track. Meds would almost surely NOT be a substitute for counseling, just an assist.
But then, if your counselors haven’t recommended meds, I’m guessing they don’t feel they’d help. Have you discussed it with them? I suggest you at least bring the subject up, and maybe get some idea of how, specifically, they might help you.
WMDKitty -- Survivor says
Oh, my only complaint regarding medication is this:
Why must they make some of these pills so damn large?!
Raging Bee says
That’s a damn good question. It may be because they really need that much of the active ingredient (you can check the label to get an idea if that’s true); or it may be just to make those pills more easily distinguishable from others.
I suspect much of the disdain of psych meds has to do with the generally lousy state of all medicine research in the USA. Even a supposedly simple case like Tylenol turn out to be practically worthless as an analgesic AND it can damage your liver. For far too long the U.S. government has given too much slack to the pharma industry, and they have taken that slack to rake in profits selling drugs at too high a price and often with too little effectiveness and unacceptable side effects. Medicines CAN work well if they are created by good science with the goal of maximizing benefits to the patients rather than to the shareholders.