I may need mental health medication forever – and that’s OK

From the METRO – Original HERE


 

Every four weeks, like clockwork, I file a repeat prescription request for five separate medications.

I take four tablets every morning, two every night, and another two as and when my illness flares up. How to talk to your child about mental health Without them, I’d be unable to function day-to-day. I wouldn’t be able to work, look after my kids, or have any sort of social life. Worse, my life would be in grave danger. And yet, research shows that a significant proportion of the population believes I don’t need them and shouldn’t be taking them.

Why?

Because these medications aren’t treating a physical illness, but an illness of the mind.

According to a review published in the Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease in 2011, people associate the use of psychiatric medication with emotional weakness and an inability to solve problems, and dispute that antidepressants actually have any therapeutic effect.

But there’s no doubt in my mind that my mental health meds have saved my life.

Five months ago, I spent five weeks in a psychiatric hospital, my mental health having deteriorated to the point that I wasn’t safe at home.

While I was there, my meds were changed. A new one was introduced; the dose of another was increased. Fast forward to now, and my mental state is, on the whole, reasonably stable.

There are still ups and downs, but thanks to my medication, the downs are shorter lived and more manageable than they were. Yet apparently, most people would say that I don’t need them; that I’m emotionally weak for taking them; that any benefits are purely a placebo effect.

I’ve seen these attitudes in practice. (Picture: Getty Images – Myles Goode) Friends and family have asked, ‘Are you still on meds? Any news on when you can stop taking them?’ The implication is that mental health medication is somehow ‘bad,’ and the sooner I can stop taking it, the better. But I’m most definitely not coming off my meds any time soon.

In fact, I’m pretty sure I’ll be on them for the rest of my life – and that’s OK. The negative attitude to antidepressants strikes me as yet another example of the stigma surrounding mental health. No one would question the need of a diabetic who needs lifelong insulin, or of someone with epilepsy who relies on anticonvulsants, so why should it be any different for mental health medication? I’m as reliant on my meds to stay healthy as people with physical illnesses like diabetes, heart disease or asthma.

I won’t deny that there are things I dislike about being on long-term medication. MORE: HEALTH Cheese and salami are apparently the best foods for your teeth Extroverts are more likely to have good nights’ sleep Bigger breasts and increased sex drive?

PMS isn’t all bad and here are a few reasons why They’ve made me gain weight, and their sedative effects mean I struggle with tiredness on a daily basis. There are also questions about their impact on physical health in the long run, which means I have to have regular blood pressure and cholesterol checks.

But despite that, I’ve no intention of discontinuing any of my meds either now or in the future, unless my mental health stabilises to the point where my doctors feel it’s safe to try – and even then, I’d have reservations. I’m in my late 30s now, and if I’m still taking them when I’m 80, so be it – because, put simply, they’re keeping me alive. And why, after experiencing the terrifying reality of a mental health crisis that I almost didn’t survive, would I do anything to jeopardise that?

 

 

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‘I will not crumble. You will not win’: An open letter to my depression

From The Metro newspaper, original HERE


 

Dear you, I feel you, my depression, creeping in again, gradually. You never come banging down doors; you prefer to move back in piece by piece – first bringing the self-doubt, then piling in the emotional baggage coupled with dread.

You whisper in my ear like a lover but it’s never the sweet nothings I expect. You tell me I’m unlovable and that any time a plan changes it’s because nobody wants to spend time with me.

You wait until I’m sat in front of the mirror to tell me my hair is too frizzy, my skin too patchy and that my body is too lumpy, too angular, too thin, too wobbly all in one. You slur incoherently from one bad notion to the next, and I know you make even less sense than a drunk, but I just cannot stop listen to you.

You stop me from leaving my bed, from changing my clothes, then tell me I’m lazy and disgusting. (Picture: Liberty Antonia Sadler for Metro.co.uk) You make me control my eating, and only eat to not be found out, then hiss that I’m gaunt and a mess.

You make me paranoid that everyone is talking about me, that my friends are only humouring me, that I’m a burden on my family and that I’m ruining my relationship. Then, you tell me to pick myself up and stop being so pathetic when I cry cos I’m scared my boyfriend will dump me.

You with your twisted words and suggestions make me want to carve into my flesh or drown out everything with a bottle of wine until I can’t think. I didn’t want to think. I don’t anymore, it’s all you. My favourite thing to do at the moment, the only thing I ever want to do, is sleep.

To stop remembering, stop the living nightmares and just black out. Please let me do that. Worst of all, you robbed me of so much.

You take the happiness from my eyes and stop me from laughing until I double over. You steal my will to do anything.  You don’t let me write – you take the words and leave me shaking if I try and get any feelings onto paper. You drum inside of me ‘you stupid bitch, nobody wants to read your drivel, give up’ until I believe it. You leave me wanting to do nothing. My greatest love is reading and I can’t even concentrate on that.

 

 

 

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