Physical illnesses differ. And mental illnesses differ.
I think it's impossible to generalize.
I also need to do more research on this topic.
It's also late and I probably should not blunder into this topic.
And I know I have blown it a bit out of proportion. But I remember a very prominent blogger once wrote a rant against some friend or relative she had who was depressed or had some type of mood disorder and refused to take medication.
Why the nerve!
I wish I had some colorful story to tell but the fact is that no one should ever have to take medication. No one. Particularly not for mental illness.
The sad truth is that there is a distinct possiblity, one being debated in various corners, that anti-depressants barely work. Anti-psychotics may work better for some people. But they also cripple some people.
Everyone should absolutely be offered the best medical treatment for any illness they have, mental or physical. And this includes medication. I simply don't believe that people should have to take medication that could be mood or personality altering. I think our humanness, our highest freedom, is to decide to the best of our capacities whom we shall be. And when it comes to 'mental health,' a person who is is burdened with some condition is given a less wide set of options than other people. But those are their options. And if they believe that a medication is deadening or they dislike it, then I think even psychotics should be allowed to refuse if--like 95% of psychotics--they pose no special threat to other people.
This is especially true for the anxious, the depressed and other mood-disordered or personality-disordered sufferers.
I admit to being suspicious of medication for mood disorders, in terms of their effectiveness vs. the ubiquity of their use.
They are taken because having a mood disorder can be a terrifying thing.
And yes, I've certainly stood in front of a live source of electricty with a water bottle in my hand and done various other life-threatening things. Anyone who reads this blog--well, it's fucking obvious I am not an entirely sane individual, whatever the fuck that is.
But at the same time, I really have gotten down into the dirt and dug. I am someone who is classic in every way. Classically compulsive, mood-disordered mentally ill. And I've discovered some very real things about how profoundly the life one lives can contribute to this illness. Now getting past that with the illness--there is the terrible challenge. How do you survive that. For example, now. How do I survive now?
I am lucky; I think I can do it. I've acquired the knack. I've spent most of my life wishing I were dead. It's such a shame but medication never made it much different. It would work for a bit and then have some horrible side effect and then stop working but I'd be stuck with the lingering health problems caused by it.
I learned that I have to continually dig myself out. I like what people say about drugs, for them. I am glad for them. But I want someone to say something different because I am sure there are people like me.
If the medication is not working so well or if you've taken everything or if you don't want to do it, you will be afraid because you won't know whether you can survive. But get off them and watch--watch. Becuase you may find it is not very different than it was before.
You'll have to find other solutions. I think for some people medication can also be dangerous because when it stops working people don't thik there are other things they can do. Medication is far from the best way to deal with mood disorders. It's just the cheapest way, it works for some people, it makes other people money, it makes everyone think you'll stop being a pain in their ass, it makes people feel safe--it makes you feel safer.
It's hope in a bottle, it really is.
I remember the day I stepped back after my body was so screwed up and my brain was so screwed up by paxil--I remember finding dozens and dozens of web postings about this horrible drug. And youtube videos of people discussing the awful side effects. Then finding people had actually died on another drug I'd taken. One that used to make me sick and I didn't know why but it was also the only one that didn't cause severe weight gain. Now I have liver issues that may be tracable to that medicine.
I only needed this medicine because I hadn't learned about other mind-body solutions--I was too afraid to wing it. Of course, one reason is that people won't like you if you are suffering mentally, you won't be as successful in life. There were things I wanted that I felt I could get more easily if I could mask the symptoms. But I also didn't want the terrible distress I felt. I was afraid of how overwhelmed I would be.
I think my first freedom happened because I was too afraid to take any medicine when I was pregnant so I got off it before getting pregnant. I was insane my whole pregnancy but not a danger to myself--another life was at stake. In some ways, even when I had this very bad PPD, I started to become truly sane then. I can't explain it. Sanity...I sought some other kind of sanity. A more real sanity.
I still seek this. It is an authenticity, a groundedness. I am so far from having it but I get glimpses now and again.
I had to really go through a lot of garbage to reach this point though. I had to really face what utter shit I'd been through growing up. When I took medicine I didn't have to do that. It seems never ending, the memories, sorting through all that trash.
And feelings, horrible feelings. I had to feel them. All the time.
This isn't a story of me coming out through the other side. And sometimes I'm simply going to have to perform and I don't know if I can do that without taking a single anti-anxiety pill ever as long as I live. I will fuck things up too much probably.
It's not a success story, or some how-to. I only say it because it seems like there isn't an alternative narrative to the psychopharm narrative.
I'm going through a terrible time right now because I am on fertility medications that cause severe depression and it's winter and I have SAD and there is probably no way any of this nightmare infertility experience is going to be resolved in my favor. It is unpleasant to say the least (only people who've been through this really get it--you honestly have to be there).
And people will be so angry if I say I just decided this won't kill me this time or ever. True, you can't decide not to be depressed and you certainly can't decide how bad to get. Sure, I want to drive my Toyota off the bridge today into the frozen river--I thought about this tonight. But I won't do it. So I'll just put up with this shit 'til whenever.
That's my motto for 2011: I'll just put up with this shit 'til whenever. Because this shit's not going away.
Those are my words to live by. For now anyway.