Medication In It's Place
Writer, commentator and speaker on mental health and emotional wellbeing, with an emphasis on natural approaches, recovery and empowerment.
Founder of The Mind Sanctuary
Finalist in the start-up category of the East of England Businesswoman of The Year Awards 2011.
I spend a lot of time raising awareness of natural approaches to emotional wellbeing and mental health. As a result, people often conclude or assume that I am totally anti medication. This isn’t strictly true however. So in order to set the record straight right from the start, I thought I’d spend a little time talking about my views on medication and mental health.
I took medication for my mental health for around three years, and to be honest, if I hadn’t taken medication at various stages of my life, I really have no idea what would have happened to me. I experienced psychosis. Nobody could reason with me and I’m not convinced anyone could have done or said anything to remove the anxiety, fear, confusion and terror that I felt. I had reached a crisis point. Medication was extremely effective at bringing me back to some kind of equilibrium. It stopped the paranoia, the anxiety, and the incessant delusional thoughts and eventually helped me to reach a much calmer state.
With this in mind, it should be of no surprise, for you to hear me say that I believe medication definitely has it's place.
Some people may discover that medication on an ongoing basis is the most appropriate action for them. I don’t deny that could certainly be the case. But is it really as many as prescription statistics currently indicate?
In my case, I continued to take medication for approximately three years, with no real exploration into what had happened to me and no exploration of alternative approaches that would enable me to heal or manage my condition without medication. I think diagnosis can be useful, but not when diagnosis and prescription are the only approaches adopted.
Medication has its place during times of emotional crisis and it is effective to help people get back on an even keel or temporarily cope with a situation they would feel unable to cope with otherwise. From that point however, I believe it’s important to explore much deeper and try to uncover root causes in order to heal and move forward or establish if this is something you can manage. This exploration can take a long time and it involves a partnership between the person suffering and a qualified professional. The professional cannot do the work for the individual, only guide them and help them.
At some point during this exploration of healing, an individual may feel ready to attempt to come off medication. Those who decide to come off medication need to do so in a well-managed manner, with appropriate levels of support. Many people try to come off medication and then experience a relapse. If no true healing or exploration of the underlying causes has taken place and no coping strategy implemented, this is hardly surprising. If nothing has changed, from the accounts I have heard, it’s no use thinking, you’ll manage this time. Something needs to change before you try to live a life free of medication.
The challenge in our current health system is that it can take a lot of time and support to make genuine long-term changes, or heal trauma. Science of the mind and emotions is also relatively new and in its infancy. Resources are not available to provide the support one needs to heal and come off medication safely. Where resources are available, there is a lack of understanding and information.
We also lack the knowledge and awareness required to look after our wellbeing and prevent mental health issues from arising in the first place.
In addition to this, as a society, we are so hung up on happiness, that we no longer acknowledge some perfectly human emotions as being valid and seek antidepressants to escape the sadness.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not denying mental illness exists and I know that some people reach the darkest places, and medication is a godsend. I’ve been there. My concern is that some people may be on medication for much longer than necessary, because of a lack of alternative options or a belief that their condition is permanent - a fundamental part of their identity over which they have no personal control.
As a society, we need to acknowledge grief, emotional suffering and reactions to trauma as valid responses that need to be heard and accepted in order to heal.
As a society, we need to appreciate the spectrum of emotions and understand that happiness cannot exist without sadness. That sadness is okay and has its own beautiful place in the rich tapestry of emotions we experience as human beings.
As a society, we need to learn to look after our emotional wellbeing and mental health, in the same we look after our physical health.
And as individuals, we need to take responsibility for our own emotional wellbeing and find the peace that lays within us, acknowledging that we may need guidance and help to do so.
At least they're my humble opinions and thoughts. What are your thoughts?