If we have a common cold or a chesty cough we think nothing of reaching for some cold and flu tablets so why then do we have such a different opinion on medication for the mind?
I was first prescribed anti-depressants when I was fourteen years old, in hindsight I think this was a mistake as I was so young and I became dependent on them but I didn’t have a choice at the time as my parents wanted me to be on them so that was that. After getting used to them I toyed with the dosage over the years but never actually tried to come off them until I was twenty for a few disastrous months which saw me end up back in hospital.
Summer of last year after another hospital stint and finally getting a BPD diagnosis I was prescribed a myriad of different medications but I decided I wanted to go it alone and came off everything and focused on therapy. I have been able to stay off any medication up until very recently when I felt myself slipping and wasn’t able to elevate my mood in usual ways such as keeping myself busy, exercising, speaking to friends and working with my therapist. Because of this I made the decision six weeks ago to try a different medication (Citalopram) to see if I could observe and marked improvement. So far life has been a lot more manageable but it wasn’t a decision I took lightly and I think this was largely because of society’s views on medication for mental illness.
I definitely don’t think that medication can cure mental illness but it can certainly help alleviate symptoms which make illnesses easier to treat in therapy. I don’t want to be on medication forever but ultimately if my brain does not produce serotonin the way a healthy brain does then why shouldn’t I rectify it? After-all we would never think it strange to take paracetamol for a headache would we?
In past relationships I’ve had partners tell me off for being on medication and to just have more therapy which is a wholly unhelpful attitude and I think it stems from the idea that depression really can be cured just by snapping out of it rather than acknowledging an actual chemical imbalance. We also as a society have a total mistrust for authoritative figures whether it be pharmaceutical companies or the government and I have definitely been met with opinions of medication just being a placebo or crafted in a way to keep you ill and medicated forever for profit. Most people experience depression at one point in their life, however ongoing depression (chronic) is a whole different kettle of fish and why should people be ashamed for following doctors’ orders? The difference between walking through life as a zombie in a totally numbed, depressed state and being able to function normally can honestly be the difference between life and death for people and I think it’s really important to remember this.
I do support the idea that there are natural remedies, however as many have not been available to me I cannot offer much insight on the subject. What I can offer insight on is the medications that have helped me and I think it’s a subject that is not spoken about much even in the more ‘woke’ time we’re in now. We are happy to discuss mental health for the most part but when medication is brought up we are very quick to make judgments and honestly it’s incredibly invalidating to the people that have found help in taking their meds.
So, has taking medication helped me? Absolutely.
Do I think everyone suffering from mental illness can be healed with medication? Definitely not but when we are in a state of desperation we should take any help we can get and not feel any shame for it.