The Stigma towards Medication

Whole Context

I did my daily scoping of Facebook and saw a conversation that irritated and fascinated me. An acquaintance posted a status that basically asked the rhetorical question, What is going to prevent mass shootings? She posted this status after the recent Oregon shooting at a community college. I looked at the first two comments, and thought they were interesting. The third post made my blood boil.

SSRI's are dangerous           I dislike it when people say SSRI’s or any type of mental illness medication is dangerous. I’ve taken the generic brand of Lexapro since I was nineteen years old. My anxiety has decreased and I’m much more focused. I’m less squirrelly and more me. When people tell me that “Pharmaceuticals are bad!” “They only want your money!” I want to strangle them. Pharmaceuticals work for me, hun, if they don’t for you, don’t take the medicine. Don’t follow any doctor’s orders, do you! The worst is when people advise me by saying “Why don’t you meditate? or take Yoga? or smoke pot?”  Are you me? Then don’t f*cking advise me. Are you a credentialed medical professional? Then you don’t have the authority to say anything to me. I’ve done medication, I’ve done yoga, and I’ve done therapy. I think if you’re struggling through trauma, depression, or any other mental illness, therapy in combination with medication helps. I’m only saying this from my experience.

The medicine I’m taking may not work for you, the medicine you’re taking, may not work for me. There are a variety of medications for different mental illnesses. People only take one medication, like me, and others taken a cocktail. There’s nothing wrong with taking multiple medications, if it helps you function, good for you. I’ve taken the anti-psychotic Abilify on top of my regular medication before when my obsessions were too much. It didn’t do jacks*it. My obsessions still felt intense.

I’ve experience stigma from my parents and friends for taking medication for my OCD. My parents repeatedly ask me, “Do you still need your Lexapro? Are you still anxious?” With an irritated grunt, I often reply, “Yes, I do need it. Can you stop asking?” My friends tell me I don’t need medication and that it’s just part of my personality to be anxious. Yes, being anxious is part of my personality, but where is the line drawn between a character quirk and a disruption? I like being less anxious and being able to focus.

Big Pharma is bad

So the crux of this argument is that perhaps pharmaceuticals played a role in the recent mass shooters rampages. Did it? I don’t know. Did it not? I don’t know either. Yes, we do have a problem with mental health care in the U.S, I blame the Reagan era for it’s downfall, but I think a mass shooter’s objective to kill is more complex than the general view. This is another post for another time, I don’t think that a mass shooter necessarily has mental illness but rather intense self loathing, anger, resentment, and an internal logic that we don’t understand. Blaming pharmaceuticals is not a pro active approach, but rather a reactive approach. There has to be long term solutions for these types of problems.

“Oh, I’m sorry I’m not able to come to work because I’m still depressed, and my therapy is slow?” Doubt it.

Having stigma towards medicated therapy increases the stigma towards mental lllness. People who have undiagnosed mental illness(es) may not want to get the help they need because of pressure from friends, family, and society  telling them that medication is dangerous. Yeah, therapy works as a stand alone treatment, but the progress is slow. If you have depression, are you going to tell your boss, “Oh, I’m sorry I’m not able to come to work because I’m still depressed, and my therapy is slow?” Doubt it. Taking medication can help speed up the therapy process, and making your illness more bearable to deal with.

no one is forcing you to follow doctor’s orders

I’ll reiterate again, no one is forcing you to follow doctor’s orders if you have strong beliefs against medication, but it is in their job description for you as a patient to get well. Do you know how much malpractice insurance costs? It’s hellishly expensive! Business owners lose a shit ton of money when a class lawsuit is made against them for medications that fail miserably on the market.

So don’t criticize them for not doing your way.

I think people with mental illness have different ways of coping, one way is not better than the other. So don’t criticize them for not doing your way. Salute to those who can deal with mental illness without medication! Salute to those who can deal with mental illness with medication!

Photo: By Harbin (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

6 thoughts on “The Stigma towards Medication

  1. Gonna go ahead and like this because it’s pretty feeling-evoking.

    “My friends tell me I don’t need medication and that it’s just part of my personality to be anxious.” – those people clearly haven’t a clue what mental illness is. I feel bad that you have to hear crap like that, frankly.

    As for the medication thing, I have zero doubt that some medication can be dangerous—note that I’m not saying it’ll necessarily result in a mass-shooting—as I personally experienced.

    It goes both ways: while you can say “it works well for me”, people can say “it didn’t work well for me”, so it is essentially as you later highlighted, that some medication simply works for some and not for others, unfortunately, there is a risk there, but that’s why doctors should be monitoring you, and I imagine the “risk” is drastically less than things like that of which you found on Facebook makes it out to be.

    To clarify: when I say risk, I only mean a risk to a person with depression that they may become incredibly self-destructive, and that be the danger.

    I remember talking to a doctor about the idea of risk with SSRIs but I can’t remember how the conversation went down; shame, because it would’ve been interesting about now. I think the general conclusion was that it’s just a risk worth taking if it helps someone live a better life and/or get treatment (such as CBT) alongside it.

    I took Citalipram and Prozac when OCD and anxiety were the primary problems I had some years ago and they did nothing for either, only (presumably) helped my depression at the time.

    I gave up with medication in the end, at least until Propranolol came around, when I finally got a bit of relief from anxiety (typically caused by my OCD) only to find out I have pretty low blood pressure and shouldn’t have been put on it in the first place! So now I’m without again. I make do as best I can, but it’s not that great sometimes.

    Sorry for the long reply. Your post just got me thinking.

  2. I personally think i would have been better with the correct therapy and less medication. That is not how it wen’t down though and i do succesfully manage on 3 medications as a cocktail 🙂

    Keep fighting

      1. Moving out has helped me alot, some OCD wise and general wellbeing wise even though i find myself returning home too often! I suppose that which is stressfull is having to live with people who don’t understand. I am free of that now. It’s not their fault they don’t understand, i think that some people just can’t understand even if they close.

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