Battling Myths About Medication
This right here? This is a great article.
Sarah Schuster at The Mighty spoke to a whole bunch of people who take medication as part of the treatment for their mental illnesses, and asked them about the myths they often see or hear about psychiatric medication. Then she listed out their responses, which shatter those myths.
Confession time: Up until about six weeks after I started taking sertraline — about a year ago — I believed most of those myths, and it badly sabotaged my treatment.
Now that I’ve seen the effects of medication on myself, I understand how wrong my beliefs about psychiatric medication were.
For example, #4: Medication Changes Your Identity. Like a couple of the commenters in Schuster’s article, I was petrified that medication would make me a zombie, especially the lithium I take for my mood disorder. You see it so often in the media.
I’ve been on it for a year, and it has helped me have so many more good days. Not up days, but good ones, where I am in touch with myself and able to face the outside world. Before I began medication, my typical day revolved around my obsessions and anxiety. I could usually pull it together for work, but outside of that, I didn’t socialize, I didn’t leave my apartment. I was barely existing. Now, I have a social life and I get out more, even though I work from home. I’m not miserable.
Medication has helped me immensely. It’s not a permanent fix. I still have bad days. It’s just that now, they last for two or three days instead of months at a time.
It’s not my only treatment. I’m still going to therapy, and still doing exposure exercises for my OCD. I’m also still working on learning about mindfulness and meditation on my own time; my HMO offers a class, and I’m hoping to be able to take it sometime later this year.
But medication has enormously changed my life for the better, and allowed the other areas of my treatment to be effective.
So why was I so resistant? Because of those myths in Schuster’s article at The Mighty. I saw those myths in media, heard them from my dad, and picked up on them elsewhere, and I internalized them, along with similar beliefs about therapy. That caused me to struggle for years with a devastating illness by myself.
No one tries to fight heart disease or diabetes on their own. They get help, and there’s nothing wrong with that. I wish I’d realized that mental illness was no different.
Just last month, I was talking with my family about how much better I was doing on medication, and my dad told me that he didn’t believe in medicating mental illnesses — my dad, who takes multiple medications for his own medical issues.
This kind of thing isn’t going to stop as long as we keep quiet about how incredibly helpful psychiatric medication can be as one component of a treatment plan (for people who need it, anyway), and work to break the myths about it.
Personally, I’m grateful for people like those who spoke up for the Mighty article, and I wish I’d been exposed to more stories like this one and fewer fictional accounts of how psychiatric medication makes people worse. [EDIT: I’m speaking about actual works of fiction here — movies and novels. I apologize for not being more careful with my wording.]
Cathey, K. (2016). Battling Myths About Medication. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 18, 2018, from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/overcoming-ocd/2016/02/battling-myths-about-medication/