Mental health and medication has always been an odd subject to approach, personally from a young age and including my teenage years I refused medication, not liking the idea of a pill changing the way I think and feel. I was suspicious of it and didn’t want to risk the long list of possible side effects which can come with taking medication.
However eventually I did end up on medication in my 20’s and I have been pretty lucky with the results as it has been a massive aid to helping me get myself and my life back on track after years of turbulent emotions and events in my life.
Medication prescribed for mental health reasons is referred to as ‘Psychiatric Medication’ which includes all drugs which can be prescribed to treat different types of mental health problems, or to reduce the symptoms.
The idea of taking this medication is not to cure the mental health problems the individual suffers from but to help reduce the symptoms of their diagnosis and help them cope better.
It’s also known to be combined with other types of therapy so taking medication and undergoing a type of talking therapy can work together very well hand in hand.
Ultimately it is down to each individual on what medication and treatment is best.
Stigma towards mental health medication…
As this medication is ultimately for the mind there is a fair amount of fear and stigma towards whether or not people should be taking this medication or relying on it to help with particular mental health symptoms.
One big fear is the side effects, like most medication it is possible to suffer from them but when taking any medication there is always a risk.
I for one suffered many side effects with trying contraceptive medication but then suffered barely any on roaccutane which was prescribed for my skin at the time.
Personally I think if your symptoms are so bad you are considering medication in the first place it’s worth the risk. But many have a bad history with side effects, so again it’s down to the individual and how they feel, and what they want to do at the end of the day.
The first from of medication I accepted was anti-depressants (one I believe most people are fairly familiar with) I had got to a point where I really needed the help! Depression as in deep, dark, forever looming depression laid heavy on me daily, and I needed ALL the help I could get so I made a doctors appointment and started on a low dose.
This very quickly was made clear to me that it wasn’t working, the dose being far too low. Personally I was unsure of whether this was down to the doctors testing the ‘placebo’ effect at first but either way the dose was quickly increased and I started to feel a difference. It was by no means a miracle cure but the sting of depression was no where near as painful and with no noticeable side effects (which were bad enough to complain about) I was happy to stick to taking this medication which was advised to be taken for the foreseeable future.
A different medication I was not very aware of was prescribed to me within a mental day care centre after a series of many difficult ‘episodes’. Here I was given an antipsychotic, a drug I could barely pronounce and knew very little about. Avoiding reading the long list of side effects I was told by a psychiatric nurse which side effects to look out for and as I was very tuned into my ‘mental make-up’ at this point I was confident going forward on being able to notice if I was becoming worse.
Thankfully I was lucky it had a positive effect, I mean it dulled my senses, particularly my emotions which considering I have an emotional unstable disorder wasn’t bad at all!
Alcohol however often made both of these drugs either not work or do the opposite of what they were supposed to do, encouraging my episodes to spiral put of control quickly. I mean technically you can drink on them but then again the amount I was drinking it was not a good idea at all and caused many problems moving forward.
Not drinking has made a massive difference to taking the medication and I hope to eventually come off the antipsychotic medication all together and take it slowly and monitor the anti-depressants. But I am not ashamed to say that I needed the help this medication gave me and if I have to remain on it then I’m grateful I have it as an option and if I feel strong enough to come off it then again I’m happy it helped me get to the point that I felt comfortable enough to do so.