Some have asked how I manage to write so much, where do my ideas come from, et al. Honestly, sometimes it’s something as innocuous as watching a cartoon that I adore.
While watching a Foamy cartoon (Drugs In Your Head, www.illwillpress.com) the other day, I was stricken with the eternal dilemma for people with mental illness: Do I really need to take all these pills or has the pharmaceutical industry and daily life stressors made me turn to these pills as a crutch?
I hear it every day at the shop from Kenny, who doesn’t seem to think even machete wielding voice hearing psychotics need medication because mental illness is just some sort of excuse for weakness of character.
Then I hear it from my family, though not as much as I used to.
And now, one of my favorite “icons” has spouted off about it.
Which has lead me to ponder the question: To medicate or not?
From what I understand it is fairly common, especially for bipolar patients, to go off and on their meds, because if you hit a stretch of stability, you think you are fine and cured therefore you don’t need the meds. I’ve done this a couple of times myself, especially when the meds began to conk out and not really do much and the shrink wouldn’t listen to me and change them.
Other times, I have allowed my sense of fair play to veto my gut instincts, and listened to others who wield their anti-medication propaganda like a sword.
Time and again, I have watched myself do okay for a few months, then dissolve into a basketcase of depression, paranoia, suspicion, and anxiety, too scared to leave my own house.
So, with fairness in mind, I do,to some extent, believe some doctors dish out the “happy pills” a little too easily, especially to people who have been down for a couple of weeks and suddenly think they have clinical depression. Don’t talk to me about depression until you have spent six months locked in your own apartment afraid to answer the door sleeping sixteen hours a day. Just because you have a couple of bad weeks does not mean you need pills.
On that same token, there are some who really do need help out of a depressive slump and are wary of taking pills because of the social stigma attached,so they sink down to a barely functional level and end up having to be hospitalized when it could have been avoided by taking an anti depressant.
Society is unkind, often downright cruel. You mention being on an anti depressant, and suddenly, the tides turn and you are viewed differently. I used to be on an antipsychotic that was cross labeled for use with bipolar. A friend would look the med up on the net, see anti psychotic, and their attitude toward me would change drastically.
Ignorance of this nature really pisses me off.
I have come to the point, where as far as my personal situation is concerned, I need medication.
I am full fledged bipolar two, and every time I go off my meds,I sink into an abyss so black a nuclear blast couldn’t shed light on me.
If people choose to see this as some weakness of character, well their stupidity is really not my problem.
The proof for me, was when R saw me after ten years, and my moods were fairly level and my thinking was logical, and he said, “If you’d been like this ten years ago, you’d be wearing the ring instead of (current wife).”
Okay, maybe that makes him an ass, because had he truly loved me he would have stuck by me and tried to get me a real doctor who would have helped instead of literally nearly killing me.
Still…it goes to show that a proper diagnosis and the right med combo can transform even a big train wreck like me into a something entirely different.
Does this mean the meds have taken away my true identity?
I know to some it does.
To me, it does not. Because my true identity is NOT a screaming crying manic throwing shit psycho.
In my book, it’s not different than a diabetic taking insulin. I mean, without insulin, they’d be, like ya know, dead. Is dead their natural personality?
I think not.
What it boils down to is personal choice.
If you don’t think you need meds and want to be depressed and struggle when you don’t have to, you have that right.
But if you feel so lousy that getting out of bed is a chore and your prevalent thought is going to sleep or death…and you make the choice to see a doctor and get medicated…
DO NOT EVER LET SOCIAL STIGMA STOP YOU.
It’s your life, and quality of life MATTERS. Being alive does not mean you are living life and enjoying it. If some medication helps you do this, it cannot be a bad thing.
If you do not have a chronic condition and can go off the meds and be okay, I am happy for you.
On that same note, if some of us simply cannot function without maintenance meds, don’t make us feel weak because you stopped your meds and we cannot.
Mental illness is not weakness of character.
Admitting you need help is a sign of strength.
And allowing ANYONE, no matter how much you love or respect them or think they *might* have a valid point, to convince you not to take meds or stay on meds, is asinine. They don’t have to walk in your shoes, it’s easy for them to say “You don’t need the pills.”
Bottom line: Serious mental illness often dictates medication. It is your choice, but what it comes back to,for me, is the quality of life issue.
And sitting in bed all day, unbathed, unfed, in a depressive stupor, is not a quality life.
Society and its stigma can bite me. As much as I hate taking 8 pills a day…my quality of life is so much better this, to go back to where I have been so many times, in that darkness…is unthinkable.