Emotional Baggage · Personal Opinions

A Note About Meds

Last week I wrote about how I decided to stop taking my anxiety medications. On that post I received a few comments about (1) how great it is that I made the decision to stop medications, and (2) how medications are bad for us, in general, and it’s always better to try and make do without them. I’ve been thinking about these comments for a while now.

It is true that I stopped the medications because I was having some crappy side effects. That being said, I feel that I had reached a point that perhaps I had benefitted as much as I could from the medications. I was (and still am) open to the very real possibility that I might have to re-start the medications if my symptoms come back and become difficult to deal with. I want to make sure that everyone (including myself) understand that I did not stop the medications because I think they are bad for me or that I am better off without them.

I really do not like the pervasive idea that psychiatric medications are bad or a sign of weakness. This thought causes a HUGE problem in out society. Mental health is a serious issue and there is nothing wrong with needing to use medications to obtain (and maintain) a healthy mental state. If mental illness was diabetes, no one would feel bad about using insulin. If mental illness was heart disease, we wouldn’t think twice about using beta-blockers and statins to precent a heart attack. The sad fact, however, is that society seems to think that mental health is something that we should be able to fix without medications. This could not be further from the truth.

I consider myself extremely fortunate to be in the position to stop taking medications. No one likes to take meds if they don’t have to. If my anxiety was more severe than it is, or if I suffered from depression (as I have multiple times in the past), I know that I would not be in a position to stop my medications without dealing with the repercussions of that decision. Even though I have made the decision to stop the medications, I do not, for one second, regret starting to take them in the first place.

Back in January I wrote multiple posts, including this one, about the levels of my anxiety. At the end of November I wrote this post about how stressed out I was and how it was affecting me so negatively. I started taking medication in the middle of February.

While on medications, I was able to deal with many issues and situations that I would not have been able to otherwise.

Remember my Abuse? The stuff I never told anyone about, ever? Well, I dealt with it. I worked it out with my psychiatrist, and I’ve come to terms with it. With all of it.

I learned about Shame and how it has affected me. I started recognizing shame in my life and I even started the shame project here on my blog (I know it’s been neglected lately, but I’m working on it, I promise). I still struggle with this a lot, but at least I recognize it and I know how to improve on it.

My relationship with K… Well, that has been a source of angst for me for pretty much as long as I’ve known her. Before the meds, this is how I felt around her. Dealing with the abuse, vulnerability, self-worth, and shame has all helped me to work on the relationships in my life, including hers. Just last week, I blogged about where our relationship is now.

I know, without a doubt, that none of these changes would have happened in my life without the help of my anti-anxiety medications. Yes, there were side effects, and yes, I didn’t always like the idea that I had to take them. But that doesn’t change the fact that I needed them and that they helped me. That is all that matters.

So, while medications may be something we don’t like to take, I would like to say that sometimes, it is necessary, and that’s okay. In fact, it’s more than okay: it’s what we need to do to make our lives livable and enjoyable.

4 thoughts on “A Note About Meds

  1. If you experience anxiety but don’t want to deal with the side affects of pharmaceuticals I’ve found passionflower in pill form really helpful. You can take quite a lot of it with no ill effects and it helps with sleep too. It got me through the worst breakup of my life, leaving a violent abusive relationship. I still felt things, but I could cope.
    I agree that we need to not stigmatize mental health issues in general and it sounds like you were medicated for the right reasons, got what you needed out of it, and are stopping for the right reasons too. Awesome!
    I had a friend who was taking medication for mental health issues and really hated the side effects, one of which being a sense of disconnection from the world and her own feelings. When she considered going off them her boyfriend said, have you learned anything from taking them? I think this is an incredibly good question. Because she realised that now she knew what a “normal” mental state felt like for the first time and she thought maybe she could get there without help.
    Then again I had another friend who was in a bad marriage and generally stressed out about external, objective, fixable situations. She was not “unbalanced” in any way. Nothing was wrong with her except her husband was a dick. But at his insistence she began taking anti anxiety medication. Because he didn’t like it when she got mad at him for his behaviour and turned that into a problem with her rather than him.
    Meds did nothing in that case but mask the problem and keep her in a bad marriage for another 5 years. Now that she’s left him, glory be! She doesn’t need them anymore.
    So I think things like this might be part of the reason there’s a negative association with psychiatric medication. A doctor would make good and sure you were diabetic before prescribing insulin, but I could go and ask for Ativan because I’m feeling a little stressed and I would get it, despite not having any form of medical need for it.
    Sorry for the length of this comment! I’m chatty.

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    1. Thanks for your reply, and don’t worry about being long! I appreciate your passion for the subject. I think, in general, people are afraid of what they don’t know. Drs don’t really understand mental illness well themselves so if a patient says they are “depressed” or “anxious” or whatever, they are inclined to think the patient is right. As for mire physical illness, well, drs (think) they know what they’re doing in that realm!

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  2. I agree 100% with your post. I have a friend who was very reluctant to take medication for her anxiety and depression while I had no such qualms, and I asked her if she would avoid taking ibuprofen for a headache, medication for high blood pressure, getting a broken arm fixed or some other treatment. That’s what it’s there for and treating anxiety and depression meds as something lesser only adds to the stigma around mental health and that it doesn’t have some biological or chemical origin.

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