pink pills on blue background with white question mark

To Take My Pills or Not to Take My Pills… That is the Question.

Many people can’t resist the temptation of a night snack. I have mine every evening at 8:45 PM sharp.  I open the kitchen drawer take two blue and white capsules for an appetizer, three orange pills for the main course, and a mammoth white pill for dessert. I place the psychotropic cocktail on the palm of my hand, grab a glass of water, offer a toast to my brain, and swallow it all down at once. Delicious! 

Do Mental Health Medications Do More Harm Than Good?

Heading: Do Mental Health Medications Do More Harm Than Good? 

Every night as I collect my pills, haunting thoughts cross my mind.  

“Are these chemical ‘candies’ robbing me of my true personality?” 

“Am I hurting my brain?” 

“Should I stop taking them and see if I have the strength to live a good life?” 

And then, as I open the garbage can, I recall my pre-pill life.  Unmedicated, I was out of control, ending up handcuffed in a precinct and locked in a psychiatric ward. The trade-off between going to jail and gaining ten pounds, a tremor on my hand, or feeling sleepy, goes to free Alfredo.   

Taking my pills is part of recognizing that I have a mental illness.  My compliance is a courageous act of acceptance. It involves the humble spiritual stand or admitting that I need help.

The process of making peace with my psychotropic medication demanded much introspection. Lithium, Depakote, and Geodon have taught me valuable lessons.  

What I Learned from My Psychiatric Medication & My Pre-Pill Days 

  • Don’t expect a magic pill. 
    Finding the most effective psychotropic drug for your particular chemistry may require multiple trials and errors. Be patient and persistent. Don’t give up.  
  • Educate yourself about your medication. 
    Learn its benefits and side effects. You are the primary monitor of your illness and a reliable reporter of your progress to your caring team. Keep a medical journal of your symptoms and side effects. 
  • Establish a medication ritual. 
    Set a time and place for taking your medication. You may choose a special cup, take your pills after your favorite TV show, or reward yourself with a delicious snack. A ritual will generate a habit of eliminating obstacles that deter you from taking your medicine.  
  • Stay the course. 
    Paradoxically, because the medication reduces your symptoms, you may deem it unnecessary. That’s a very dangerous conclusion. If feeling better coaxes you to stop your medication, the chances are that you will relapse.  
  • Keep an open mind. 
    Your prior negative experience with medications does not determine your next one. Work under the assumption that the best prescription may be one pill or appointment away.   
  • Your chemistry is unique. 
    Never use somebody else’s medication, even if sharing the same diagnosis. The prescription, dosage, and routine that works for someone else, may not be the best medicine for your unique needs. 
  • Side effects may be significant. 
    As you struggle with side effects, focus on the goodness of taking the medication. Imagine how life would be without the help of your medication. If the side effects severely curtail your functioning, contact your doctor.  
  • Avoid self-medicating. 
    No matter how carefully you have researched medications, been advised by friends and family, or seen a drug on commercials, you should never self-medicate. Trust in medical and psychiatric professionals to help you find the appropriate treatment plan. 
  • Trust the process. 
    Whatever your spiritual preference, remember that doctors are divine agents and drugs tools to pursue and maintain the caring and sanctity of life.  

Are Psychiatric Medications Safe & Necessary? 

Mental illness is not a choice. You do have control over how you confront and accept your illness, though, and medication can be an instrumental aid in reinstating your peace and wellbeing. Do not fear the healing that can come from a chemical crutch offered by a professional! You deserve a life without exacerbating struggles.  

I leave you with a quote from American Actress Gabriele Carteris which, I believe, possesses much wisdom: 

I have permanent damage to my facial nerves. I went to the UCLA Movement Disorder Clinic, and after two years of tests and constant monitoring, I have finally found the right medication that keeps my spasms under control.

Gabriele 

I pray that you find the strength to pursue your healing journey. Never give up! 

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