How many times have you tried to quit the medication you take for your mental illness? How many times have you thought about quitting?
That many, huh?
My feelings toward medication change daily depending on how I feel. I’ve been on some form of medication for my mental health issues for the past 35 years. I’ve been up and down — back and forth, but nothing never changes for me.
I hate taking pills!
In the beginning, it was a rollercoaster of dosages and ever-changing prescriptions. The battle with side-effects was horrible, and one time I almost died because of an adverse effect. I felt like a guinea pig because my doctors would change my meds so often. I felt like they were doing it on a whim and my body was protesting. It seemed I just got used to taking one and it was changed over to something “new and better.”
For the past six months, I have been on the same medications — one antipsychotic and an anti-depressant. I have tried other cocktails but always stayed with the same two as a base.
I was addicted to Benzodiazepines that I was taking for anxiety, but somehow, I managed to break the dependence and have been clean and sober for some time. It was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do, and I never want to go through it again. You can read the story here:
When I am feeling great, I praise the medication for helping. But most of the time, nothing I take seems to help. Worse yet, when I do start feeling better, my mind tricks me into thinking I am “healed.” I start wondering if I don’t need my meds anymore.
A few weeks of going cold-turkey is enough to convince me that I do need them to help me through.
I was almost free
The last time I quit my medication I thought I was doing everything right. I tapered off over months under the supervision of a psychiatrist. I had my diet dialed in and was taking high doses of vitamins. I had been thinking about doing this very thing for a long time.
Things were going great for about a month when I noticed that my anxiety was getting much worse. I was always depressed, and I could feel the intrusive thoughts and voices pressing in on all sides of my brain.
I made it another month until I broke down and found an old antipsychotic prescription and filled it. Even though it helped with the invasive thoughts, it only helped a little with the anxiety.
I’m doing my best to manage depression and anxiety, but it is an uphill battle. I’m still dealing with the voices, but I’ve learned to live my life despite them.
Knowing what I know now, I would never have gone off my meds in the first place.
Why do I flip-flop on the medication issue?
Even after dealing with mental illness my whole life, part of my mind still convinces me that I am not sick anymore and I shouldn’t be on medication. My emotions always win out in the end, and I tell myself time and time again that I don’t need medication to control my illness.
I also listen to the people who have stopped the medication in favor of a healthy diet and supplements. I listen to the functional medicine doctors who say that medication is poisoning me and I’ll die an early death.
I should know better. I’ve been doing this long enough to know that despite the problems with psychiatric medication, it has been one of the few things keeping me alive all these years.
I’m not perfect. I don’t want to be anything other than normal, but I am. My brain doesn’t work like a “normie.” Why can’t I accept that?
I don’t want to be different
Again — I’m not perfect. As much of a mental health advocate as I am, or how honestly I write for the world to see, I just want to be like everyone else.
Even though I know my wife and all my kids don’t think less of me, it still would be nice for them to think of me as a complete person. It would be nice not to feel like a burden.
I’d like to write without having to devote so much time worrying about my next breakdown. I’d like to do a budget without seeing a huge chunk of my money going to medication. I’d like not to have sexual side-effects from the medication keeping me alive. I’d like to sleep a whole night without terrors or make a decision without voices in my head. I like to be thinner, and not have a big belly and man breasts from taking pills.
So yes, I would like to be normal, and I never will be while I have to take a bunch of pills every day.
I hate complaining. I guess I shouldn’t be so hard on myself because I’m not superhuman. I’m not any stronger than the average person would be in my situation.
But, I’ve learned to be a stubborn bastard that won’t give up on myself. I’ve started being confident in myself and my abilities. I’ve started to realize that if I am going to make it, I need help.
Right now, I need medication.
If you struggle as well, know that there is nothing wrong with taking pills. Yes, the side-effects can be bad, but considering the alternative, you should choose to be well.
How do you feel about medication?
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Jason Weiland is a writer, blogger, vlogger, and mental health advocate living a dream life in far-away destinations he only dreamed of as a kid. He talks about difficult issues but has never lost his sense of humor or willingness to understand others and help when he can.
He would love to connect with you on social media.