There are many people in my life that have been surprised by my willingness to share that I take medications for psychological reasons. I actually take 3. One to help quiet the Helpers voices at night so I can sleep, an anti-depressant because my brain doesn’t make enough serotonin and another that reduces my sky-high anxiety to a more manageable level. I guess I could really say I take 4 since I need to take medication to slow my galloping heart but let’s not be picky okay? 😉
I am really sorry but I truly do not understand why this should be an embarrassment to anyone yet I know it is. Why should we be made to feel like we are weak or don’t try hard enough? Why should we need to fear judgement from others or worry about employment options if someone higher up find out this dirty little secret? Quite frankly? I’m sick of it!
How about rather than just staying being peeved, I try to dispel a few common misconceptions about mental illness and medication?
Shouldn’t you be able to feel better without taking medication?
Eventually, some people will feel better, even without treatment. Unfortunately, feeling better can take a year or more, and if untreated, many mental health issues can get worse and seriously interfere with your ability to study, work, and enjoy relationships. They can also be life-threatening when there is a risk of suicide. Medication might not fix everything, but it may help improve your mood and help you to function so that you can begin making progress in other areas of your life.
Does having a mental illness make you weak?
It is not a sign of personal weakness. Abraham Lincoln, Queen Victoria and Winston Churchill are only a few of the strong people history suggests struggled with depression. Ludwig van Beethoven and Academy Award-winning actress Patty Duke experienced bipolar disorder. Earl Campbell, former football pro and current business owner, documented his personal struggle with a panic disorder. Diana, Princess of Wales lived with bulimia. Actress Ashley Judd has revealed that she had suffered from depression and an eating disorder. Marie Osmond described a bout with postpartum depression in her book, “Behind the Smile.”
Were any of these highly regarded, talented, intelligent people weak?
Won’t medication change your personality?
Medication will not change who you are as a person, your unique personal characteristics, or your life circumstances. The goal of medication (and therapy) is to allow you to work toward positive changes in your mood state and thinking patterns. These medications assists people in experiencing the full range of human emotions without feeling overwhelmed. Although these positive changes may seem like personality changes, most often they are a sign that you are recovering your ability to react to people and situations in a non-depressed way.
I know the list of myths is much longer but I’ll need something to write about some other time. 😉
In the end, I feel we need to start looking at medication for mental illnesses the same way that we look at it for physical health. We would never tell a diabetic that they should be able to do without insulin. We don’t call cancer patients weak because they need chemotherapy. No one worries that a pill for heart disease will make you a different person. Psychiatric illnesses are no different. They need to be diagnosed, treated and monitored. Plain and simple.