Medication...

I am writing about this in the hope that even one person reads it and it helps

them in some way. I would also like to add that I acknowledge every person is

different, and I am not saying medication might not make you feel worse for a

while, or you have to spend ages finding the right one, going through the process

yourself. I just wish to share my own experience and opinions regarding

medication.

 

I have been on and off medication for mental illness since I was 14 years old (I

am almost 22 now). During this time I have tried countless antidepressants,

mood stabilisers, sedatives and one antipsychotic thrown in for good measure. I

want to talk about medication, weight gain caused by certain medications, stigma

surrounding medication and what I have learned over these 8 years dealing with

medication.

 

When it was first made clear to me that I had not only depression, but PTSD and

anxiety, I was in major denial. I didn’t want any of that, but it didn’t matter, it was

there anyways. I didn’t want to numb the pain at first, I wanted to continue

hurting as much as I possibly could, damage myself to the very core with my own

self hatred and destructive behaviours. It was a punishment… because I blamed

myself for every single shit thing that had ever happened to me. I didn’t want to

take medication and possibly feel better at first. After much persuasion I

eventually gave in.

 

The first antidepressant I was prescribed did absolutely nothing.

As I type the above sentence, I can honestly say that I don’t even know if that was

true at this point in my life. I would not be surprised if it did actually help me in

some way that I was not even remotely aware of at the time. I was way too far-

gone; I can barely remember this point in my life. It starts to become clear again

in my memory around the time I was hospitalised in an adolescent mental health

ward and weaned off the first antidepressant I was prescribed in order to start

me on a new one. The reason I was admitted to hospital for that is because I was

deemed too unstable and suicidal at that point to be un-medicated and

unmonitored at that time.

 

After that it becomes blurry again for a couple of years. I have spent a lot of time

un-medicated during these 8 years. Each time has almost killed me. I cannot

function. I cannot get myself out of bed, or stop crying. I self harm. I lose my

absolute shit. I don’t want to go too into detail about that aspect as it doesn’t

really have any value in this discussion. Each time I wind up back in the

psychologist office getting a prescription after a few months of absolutely

ruining my life, and then getting the mandatory lecture from the doctor that

“medication doesn’t cure you”. Until very recently did I accept this fact, even

though I had lied to myself very successfully for many years that ‘I knew this, and

I accepted it’. I didn’t. I managed to convince myself, or let someone else convince

me, every single time I was medicated that I didn’t actually need it - that I was

well enough to function without it. I was in the cycle of getting medicated and

functional enough to the exact point I was able to be susceptible to thinking I was

going to be normal and cured. It has taken me a very long time to understand

that sometimes that isn’t a possibility for people, myself included. I am never

going to be totally okay, and I have been told countless times now by doctors I

will most likely have to take medicine for the rest of my life, that is finally okay

with me. And I will tell you why.

 

The sooner you accept yourself for who you are, the sooner you show yourself

the most pure form of kindness and stop punishing yourself and instead give

yourself a chance to heal in whatever way possible, things really change in your

life. I am not flawed because I have mental illness diagnoses that really affect my

everyday life, I am not weak because I take medicine. I take medicine because of

the pure fact that it helps me GET OUT OF BED. Which is the beginning to every

day. I used to spend days on end in bed. I wouldn’t eat, wouldn’t drink water.

Would barely do anything except cry and wish for sedation. That is not a way to

live, and if I have to take medicine every day in order for me to function I will do

it. I also take medicine to sleep, which also doubles as a mood stabiliser. I am still

very troubled with my sleep but that is for a different post. I would not be able to

sleep at all if I didn’t take medicine; I have a lot of trouble ‘switching my brain

off’.

 

When I was around 16 years old I was prescribed an antipsychotic. A side effect

was weight gain (so many medications are like this, if this is something you

aren’t comfortable with I advise you to always straight up ask for a medication

that doesn’t have this side effect) and I gained around 20 kilos (44 lbs.). It was

absolutely mortifying for me. I have so many messages from people who have

experienced this in some way, it is absolutely soul destroying for someone who is

very focussed on their appearance and weight (I was very focused on both at that

point in my life). I felt like Hannah had died and someone else had replaced her. I

eventually lost that weight, but I had big angry stretch marks everywhere that I

desperately tried to hide and felt very ashamed of. And I lost the weight by going

vegan, and also by starving myself. I still struggle with starving myself and binge

eating to this day.

 

I love every single thing that came from that time of my life now though, it

knocked me down a few pegs. I was a terribly angry and vindictive person after

my trauma, for a very long time. And still am in a lot of ways, no matter how I

portray myself. I find that not many people like angry young women, and I have

also learned it is much more effective to come from a place of love rather than

hate.

 

I have also spent a large portion of this 8 years self medicating with drugs, the

main two that come to mind are MDMA and marijuana. There were many more

in there, but those are the two I found most ‘useful’. I have recently gone sober

from weed. I have been smoking it since I was almost 15, still 14. I have nothing

bad to say about weed except for the fact IT IS psychologically addictive, at least

for me. I am trying to get control over that aspect of my life. I also used a lot of

MDMA, and amphetamines in general - which I think a lot of people my age

do/did. It was all very easy when you’re high to convince yourself of anything at

all. I did a lot of self-counselling when high on MDMA. It took me a long time to

realise that shit you think about when you’re on amphetamines isn’t necessarily

helpful. The same goes for hallucinogens. Mental illness and drugs don’t mix well,

every time. Except for maybe marijuana, it is very helpful in reducing anxiety and

has a lot of benefits for many different people. I know a lot of people that I

believe have taken too many hallucinogens and have changed forever. Just be

careful with what you do to your brain, and the sooner you realise that “drugs”

and “medication” are very different, the better. The sooner you realise that your

self medicating habits combined with prescribed medicine is having an affect on

the way the prescription meds are working for you, the better. I have been told

countless times that smoking too much weed makes it impossible for

antidepressants to actually do their job.

 

In regards to medication, if I have one piece of wisdom to impart to anyone, it is

that if you cannot get out of bed, if you are having a bunch of the major

depressive symptoms, maybe medication will be able to get you to the point

where you can function enough to start living your life again, and that is NOT a

bad thing. It is so easy to want to continue punishing yourself because it is easier

than pulling yourself up for the millionth time and accept that maybe you aren’t

going to kill yourself and need to look to the future for the first time in your life.

It is scary. But it is worth it. It is so worth being brave and trying medication.

Going to therapy, getting into the system in some way. Nobody is going to come

to you and cure you, nobody is even going to help you unless you speak up, ask

for help. It makes you strong, not weak. It might save your life.

 

For people who don’t take medication, who know someone who has taken

medication, ISN’T THE PERSON BEING PRESCRIBED THE ACTUAL MEDICINE,

please do not interfere and try to tell depressed/mentally ill people that they

would be better off without medication. The amount of times I have let someone

convince me of this who was in absolutely no capacity a trained medical

professional I cannot even tell you. And I regret it every single time. The fact is, if

you aren’t someone’s doctor please do not tell someone to go off their meds. It is

none of your business. I don’t care if someone you know has whatever diagnosis

and is off their medication and doing fine, every single person is different. It is

truly not your place to try to convince someone of something that important no

matter how good hearted your intentions may be.

 

Once again, if you have read this, I thank you.

HL BW