I am just so tired of this gross and grossly common ~belief~ that, for someone with mental illness, medication will numb you; it will strip out your feelings; it will cut out what makes you you.
The thing is, some medications work differently than other medications! Paxil is not Effexor is not Wellbutrin is not Lithium. And sometimes medication doesn’t work for some people with mental illness, at all. But sometimes medication does work! Sometimes it works BEAUTIFULLY. Sometimes you have to try a couple different medications before you find one that works for you. Sometimes you have to take a couple different medications together. Sometimes you need just one. Sometimes medication, while effective, just isn’t for you!
Blanket statements are nobody’s friend. No one person’s mental illness is the same as another person’s. The problem with the aforementioned belief—that psychiatric medication will effectively shut you down—is that it demonizes psychiatric medication! It says, “Psychiatric medication is scary and bad, and wouldn’t it be better just to deal with your illness on your own instead of taking this medication? After all, your illness can’t be that bad!” It says, “You shouldn’t take psychiatric medication. You should do this on your own.” It says, “Your mental illness is you.”
Maybe you, reading this, can do it on your own. But I can’t. When I’m not medicated, that’s when I’m numb. That’s when my feelings are dull and washed out and gone. I’m erratic and irrational and dangerous to myself. I have horrible and terrifying obsessive thoughts and compulsions of self-violence. None of that is me. For me, medication has proved a savior. I write when I’m medicated, because I have the clarity of mind needed to concentrate on my work. I read books and watch TV and play games, because I can enjoy them. When I’m on my medication, I can feel. And I love feeling. I love emotions. I love loving. Sometimes I even love arguments, not because I enjoy arguing, but because it’s just so astounding to be able to feel anger.
So—when you say “psychiatric medication is dangerous and it will fuck you up,” what I hear is “you would be better off scared and alone and dead inside again.”
Stop saying that.
I’ve struggled with depression since I was about 12. I’ve had severe anxiety issues for literally as long as I can remember. For my entire life, I never once sought help or treatment because I grew up in a culture that told me that psychiatric treatment was for whiners, for people who weren’t strong enough to deal with their own problems, and that there was nothing REALLY wrong with me buckling down and getting over it wouldn’t fix; a culture that told me that medication would make me a zombie and really that was only for CRAZY people, you know, people who needed to be institutionalized, not people ~like me.
I sought treatment for the very first time in my life earlier this year. I got a therapist and subsequently a psychiatrist and I started medication for the first time in the beginning of August.
Sometimes, I think back to how I felt before and I don’t know how I survived. It is almost impossible for me to conceive that I lived for 27 years that full of despair, that unrelentingly miserable, that beaten down and dull and barely able to muster the energy to bother to get out bed or the belief that it would matter at all if I did or if I just… stopped and ceased to exist. I lived terrified of my own brain, of my own thoughts, because I couldn’t control them, because sometimes they just appeared as if from somewhere else and plopped down in my head and wouldn’t go away and tormented me until I didn’t want to be alive. I just wanted oblivion because it had to be better than that. And the worst part was, I didn’t know that there was another way. I knew it intellectually but I had never experienced it except for fleeting moments of peace. I didn’t know what it was like to walk through life without constantly being on red alert for the moment when my brain would stop the constant dull hum that was the closest I knew to quiet and go back to blaring at me so loudly that I had no time or energy or emotion to do anything but try to shut it up.
Medication saved my fucking life. I actually live now. I write and I laugh and I have fun and I’m happy, not for just a few moments until my mind catches up with me, but sustained and it is still so completely fucking weird to me that that’s even possible.
Medication doesn’t work for everyone, nothing does, but it sure as fuck worked for me, so don’t you ever tell me I’d be better off without it.
This post is wonderful. For the first time ever, a medication I’ve just started taking is actually working, and it’s amazing. I don’t know how long it’s been since I’ve felt as carefree and happy as I have the past week or so, and that’s because of my medication. I am me, now. I’m what I used to pretend to be around my friends. I haven’t burst into tears or a panic attack for no reason whatsoever. It’s amazing. I hate the attitude that medication will make you not you. It’s different for everyone.