To take or not to take

Medication – tread carefully. If you are feeling low, or feeling anxious, maybe out of control, odds are you are going to see your doctor. The only thing the doctor has to offer is medication. There is very little psychological intervention like CBT or talk therapy, that all comes later, if at all. But in the first instance, your doctor will medicate. And if you take that medication you enter into the medical model. And in my experience it is almost impossible to get out of that model.

I often wonder – what if my family had just let me sleep it off. When I first became mentally ill, I was out of control. I realise now I was psychotic, I was definitely thinking things that were not right. I thought I was the second coming of Christ. I went sunbathing naked in the back garden. But I wonder, if I had not been given anti-psychotic medication would I have just shrugged it off as an episode and been better. I’ll never know. All I know is that once I took anti-psychotic medication, I was hooked. I was in the medical model.

Did taking medication make me ill? Did filling my body full of drugs create the condition I now live with? Did medication invent my bipolar symptoms? Did I become dependent on drugs?

It’s the same with anti-depressants, once you are on them it is difficult to get off. My girlfriend once did a time with Prozac. She said it kept her head above water. Perfect, this is exactly what we want, something that helps us afloat. Unfortunately too often we don’t just keep our head above water, we medicate until there is a yacht we are sailing on.

I take medication now, - mostly for anxiety - and it helps. But I believe it is a short cut. It takes away from all the hard work; the exercise, the meditation, the journaling, the nutrition and the challenging of our negative thoughts. Medication is easy. But once you are on that merry go round, it is almost impossible to get off. By its very nature psychiatric medication is addictive. When we take it away, the body graves it. When we take it away the symptoms return.

I must not be negative about medication. Now that it is in my arsenal I must use it. Trying to get off medication too often creates an environment where symptoms flare. I reckon, now that I am on medication I will stay on medication.

Medication must be used as a tool. Not as an answer. It must go along with all our self-help remedies and just be one more brick in the wall of wellness. Unfortunately too often we use it as our only solution. Medication takes away the need to live a life of recovery. It is like taking a diet pill while still eating like a pig.

If I were at the beginning of my journey, I would fight with all my might not to introduce medication into my body. I believe medication should be the last recourse, not, as it is now, the first. I’ll never know if I could have lived a life without medication. All I would say, is if you are thinking about taking medication – tread carefully. It is a life changing decision. Not an easy answer. Tread carefully.

About the Author – Kate Hull Rodgers is an expert by experience. She has been mentally ill since 1986, more than 30 years. She is diagnosed as bi polar and GAD (generalized anxiety disorder) Every day she battles to be in recovery, many days she wins. She speaks in corporate workplaces with her company She has spoken in 29 countries. Also she runs Stepping Stone Theatre for Mental Health with her husband, Bill- and she is still happily married. Mustn’t forget, she is the proud mother of Harvey and Dominic – and the dog, Zebbie.