I’ve been reading more and more accounts that are anti medication, anti psychiatry recently. As mental health awareness is being raised by celebrities, bloggers, media outlets and pushed further up the political agenda (supposedly), there seems to be an increase of those who seek alternatives to the advice of medical professionals. There are numerous conspiracy theories of how medication is forced on us only for profit. That the pharmaceutical industry works only to secure customers long term, or for life. That they purposefully create medications that cause difficult withdrawal symptoms, with the hope it forces people to stay on them for longer. That Psychiatrists are somehow ‘in on it’ and make money by pushing drugs on patients that don’t need them.
All of these conspiracy theories are harmful to those that need help. They create a stigma around mental illness that it isn’t a problem at all, or in fact, it isn’t real. This is pure unadulterated bullshit. This is just another example of people pushing their own agenda. Whether it’s the ‘healthy eating and exercise cures all’ agenda, or ‘mental illness can be treated by psychologists alone’ agenda, or even the ‘mental illness doesn’t exist because my religion tells me so’ agenda. With so many conflicting, loud, brash opinions bombarding us, no wonder so many people are reluctant to find help they so desperately need.
Of course, like everyone, I have an agenda also. The exception is that I have my own lived experience as evidence and current scientific fact to back me up. I have said to people on many occasions that psychiatric drugs changed my life for the better. No; actually they saved my life. Bipolar disorder was wearing me down, year after year. I have been suicidal without medication and have come close to taking my own life. Nothing was working for me; until I found the right medication. I am not ashamed that I rely on medication to stay healthy, the same as many rely on insulin to stay healthy for diabetes. And why should I be ashamed? Without medication I was a mess. I was either manic and a danger to myself, or severely depressed and a danger to myself. I lived a healthy lifestyle and exercised (especially when manic). I tried therapy before I was diagnosed with Bipolar, but it didn’t work. Being asked constantly,
“Why do you think you feel that way?” or “What made you act like that?” was not helpful when I had no clue why I was trapped in an endless self destructive cycle. I went to therapy for answers, but all I got were questions thrown back at me. I talk about my experience in the post, My experience of Talking Therapies
My own lived experience tells not just a story, but provides evidence that medication does work. With the right balance of mood stabilisers and anti depressants, I feel stable. I am able to not just live my life, but create enjoyable experiences and lasting, positive memories. Without it, and I’m not creating hysteria around my condition, I could easily die. It’s a fact. Anyone who has spent time with me when I have been depressed or manic will be extremely aware of this. I don’t deny that a combination of medication, enough refreshing sleep, therapy, a healthy diet and exercise helps to combat mental illness. These as a combination are the most successful treatment.