A view from the inside


I saw this post from @lamsimon retweeted by my good friend @MrsBYork this morning. Having previously posted about my own issues with prescribed anti-depressants, this is an interesting, considered and, yes, slightly sarcastic view of their benefits. Again, I’m amazed by just who can suffer from this mental anguish and never let on in their day to day life. Thanks Simon for this input.

16/05/2011

Drugs and Mental Healthcare

 
Recently I was accused of exploiting my illness for financial gains. That’s nothing new and whilst I write this from my anchored yacht just off the coast of Portofino, my latest antagonist isn’t the first and certainly isn’t going to be the last piece of sub-human scum to take that poke at me. He will simply be yet another difficult, uncomfortable person wishing us “loonies” would shut up about being mad and take our vicious, vile, evil and coarse language somewhere where we can’t be heard. In the past that is what used to happen. We were locked up in hospitals left to howl to the moon out of sight of the comfortable classes, who have jobs and pay their taxes. Then a lovely old grey haired lady came along in the 80’s and threw us all out onto the streets and that’s where the trouble really started. We got accused of all sort of evil things, we still do. Whenever something really bad happens the protagonist’s mental health is always first thing to be brought into question. We were out in the community, drugged up on anti-psychotics. Loons looking to eat your children!

Well nothing has really changed it seems, we still are looked upon in that way unfortunately and most of us are still on drugs. And that really is where the stigma of drugs comes from. Not only are we crazy individuals looking to abuse everyone and everything, but look out, if your doctor tries to give you the same drugs you will turn into one of us too. THE WALKING DEAD. Look out if one of us is angry or pissed off because you won’t know what to do with yourself. But don’t worry, you can still be angry with us. We might be mentally ill but we might also just be an arsehole. Damn this mental illness game we play it’s so difficult to understand.

But, this article isn’t about that. It is about drugs and why some of us need to take them, why they can be so scary to start, and why even the mentally ill who need them talk so badly about them.

Almost every person I know now, who has to reply on medication, hates to be on medication. We all do. It’s natural to want to be natural. But think of this. If your friend discovered they had diabetes. Would you criticise their need to take insulin? Probably not. Insulin is a major force in the treatment of diabetes, it would seem natural to take it if your body needed it. So why the stigma around mental health drugs? Depression is like diabetes, it is something that never really gets cured. It simply gets managed. We manage to live with it, sometimes well, sometimes not so well, just like the diabetic. Drugs for depression never really cure depression, they can’t, and unfortunately that is something that anyone who finds themselves suffering from this type of mental illness has to come to terms with. The drugs simply help the sufferer carry on and at some point we might need more or less. Sometimes we might not need any. Sometimes we might need a lot during a crisis in our health.

In the last four years I have taken a lot of drugs and had a lot of bad times all in the attempt to try and help control and manage my illness. Risperidone, Clozapine, Quetiapine, and Ziprasidone. Olanzapine, Aripiprazole, Lithium and Citalopram, Fluoxetine and Sertraline. I think that is most of them.

Some of them have helped and some of them have turned me into a walking zombie. Yes that last statement is true, some of these drugs will turn you into a walking zombie, especially Olanzapine that one is an evil little bugger. I do nothing but dribble into the pillow on that drug but unfortunately at some points in this last four years that is what I have needed to be like. My mind has needed that rest and just like the cancer patient whose drugs ravage their body some mental health drugs do the same to your body.

At the moment I’m pretty drug free. I only take a small dose of Prozac (Fluoxetine). Just to keep the wind in my sails. Around Christmas 2010 I was completely drug free, no drugs at all for three months and then I had a little breakdown again in March 2011 and had to go back onto the drugs.

The point I am trying to make is, that is how it goes. If you find that your doctor has suggested you go onto anti-depressants, or need to go back on them don’t be scared. Question their judgement sure, find a good doctor. Find out as much as you can about them first, do your own research, but really, the most important thing is don’t be scared and don’t think badly of yourself or your illness. You may only need them for a while but you may also need them for a long time. Unfortunately you are taking them because you are one in the four people in this country who might need to take them at some point in their life. So, whatever situation you find yourself in be it social, political, economical or whatever, there is a likelihood that someone else in the same room, same workplace, same school is going through a similar thing. Soon you will realise that talking about these things is not such a difficult thing to do because you aren’t mad you are just unwell and illness comes in many forms and is treatable in many different ways. All of those ways are valid to some point at any given time. Don’t rely on the drugs to make you better. They won’t, they will just help you get out of bed in the morning and sometimes that is all we need to then go and do something naturally beneficial like a good diet or exercise to help us back on the road to recovery and manage a stable life.

 
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