Is medication for the weak?

I often get a lot of peeps asking about medication. Is it ok? Is it a one way ticket to messing me up? Do they even work? Meds can seem quite daunting and scary. And loaded with stigma.

I have to start this off by saying I’m not a medical doctor, and I never go advising clients on medication. Always go and see your medical professional for that stuff. Buuut, meds and psych are closely related, we’re trained in understanding meds and what they do to you, and why they might be used etc. We just don’t prescribe them.

With Mark Latham being a general douche in the media last year (well, a general douche any year really these days. Let’s not get picky here), talking about taking medication equating to being ‘weak’, people get all cagey and embarrassed to discuss these kind of things. Like how cold sores are a form of herpes, medication for mental health is the ‘seedy underbelly’ that no one wants to talk about, or admit they’re dealing with. Like we talked about with PND, if you had a nasty infection, would you just hide away and hope it disappears? No! You’d be up at the doctors asking for help, and taking antibiotics etc. Well our mental health should be no different.

medication meme
THIS

Medication isn’t the first pit stop. It’s never the first pit stop. It won’t fix everything. I think there’s two sides of this debate- those who think that medication will fix all and sundry, and those who think meds are uber bad and you should never take them.

My spiel to peeps is we always try behaviour therapy first. We need to at least give a few strategies a whirl and see if we can get some change happening. However, you know, sometimes mental health issues are so deep they actually fuck with our neurochemicals. Those things that make our brain fire in certain ways. Sometimes levels are erratic, or too low, or firing at the wrong times. No amount of behaviour therapy will fix some of those really ingrained neurochem issues. Behaviour therapy CAN change neural pathways- but sometimes we need a small kick start.

There are times I think that we get a bit too gung-ho about meds, and we get this notion that this little pill will fix everything. But it won’t. It never does. Nothing but you and hard work is going to fix everything. The pills only straighten things up a bit so you can get to work. It’s a shitty realisation, but it’s the truth.

medication comic

It’s understandable to be hesitant to jump on meds. But if you’ve tried and tried and tried all kinds of therapy to no avail, sometimes continuing on the behaviour therapy path can be more harmful than good. Because you start to wonder why the hell you’re not getting any better, and then blame yourself, and then blame the psych and then blame the air we breathe. It can be a really shitty path. I try to explain it as giving meds a whirl if behaviour therapy has been tried and tried with no success. Then pair the meds with the behaviour therapy, and slowly where possible, fade the meds away until you’re feeling on track and making progress with the behavioural strategies.

The same strategy goes for our kids. I think we can be even more hesitant when it comes to medication and children. For good reason too! Our little cherubs brains are furiously developing, making all sorts of connections. What if we throw some chemicals at them? Will it mess them up? Kids and meds are a bit trickier, and the docs take their developing bodies and minds into consideration when looking at prescribing stuff. Often if kids need medication, they’ve gone through the full gauntlet of tried and true strategies, and they’ll be given a very mild dosage of specific medications. It’s a tough call to make as a parent. But honestly, if you’ve tried it all, and your child isn’t showing any improvement, and may be deteriorating? Are meds really the worst thing that can be offered? I don’t think so.

From the Left Field- medications
Image source

At the end of the day, if we’re not feeling it, and we’re doing all the ‘right’ things and nothing is improving, then mediation can be a very necessary and important part of treatment. It’s not weak #fuckyoulatham, it’s necessary for some. Is it going to magically make all the bad stuff go away? No. But it can help even the playing field so that you can get back on track.

So if you’re reading this and you’ve taken medication, are on medication, or about to start taking medication- good on you. You’re not weak, you’re clever. Clever for realising that something was up and you needed support. Clever for going to talk to a health professional to get things back on track. Clever for taking a stand and not just putting up with feeling like shit. Because we don’t have to feel crap, we can do something about it.

And if you feel like something is up- don’t let the stigma win. Go and talk to someone, open up. There are plenty of people like me willing to give you a friendly nudge in the right direction. But be prepared to work. I’m a taskmaster. But I do pay in lollies at the end.

 

What’s your view on medications? Quick fix or important step in recovery?

 

  • Love this Sash. I’ve had my time with anti-d’s in the past and they really helped when nothing else did. Not a cure-all, more part of a toolkit!

  • Sand HasNohome

    There shouldn’t be a stigma in regards to medicating, for some people it is a necessity, that they need to continue funtioning. My little boy is autistic and needs melatonin to sleep. No amount of changing routines, limiting screen time, lavender oil or epsom salts changes the fact that he can’t switch off, and used to lie in his bed for hours on end before finally falling asleep for a little while. We are plagued by studies warning that there are no long term studies, and yet we have no choice, knowing for certain that sustained and chronic sleep deprivation is most certainly detrimental to his health and ours.

    • You’re so right, there really shouldn’t be a stigma. But sadly there is. And some of our public figures don’t help the cause. Oh my, sleep is everything, you do what you need to for your gorgeous boy and show the hand to anyone who might say otherwise. x

  • It is sadly true that there is a stigma attached to them. But I think those that do take them are stronger for it in so many ways.

    • Absolutely Malinda. It’s so bloody hard to take that first step and recognise that extra support is needed. No one willingly jumps on meds without a lot of consideration and heartache. x

  • I take a range of medication and remember years ago someone scoffing at people taking thyroid meds cos they were overweight and losing weight would improve the situation. I was gobsmacked as it’s an autoimmune disease!

    • It’s sad that in this day and age we still have people roaming around with such attitudes, isn’t it? There’s so much misinformation out there it’s ridiculous! x

  • Sara Brewster

    great info Doc <3 I truly believe if I hadn't started my treatment with medication I would never have got to a place where I felt receptive/open and willing to try therapy as well. It was definitely part of my toolkit to rebuilding my mental health – like the foundations for building a strong framework on… it all goes hand in hand :) xx

    • You are just amazeballs lady. <3 <3 That's it, isn't it? You have to be open to try things, and sometimes those damn neurochems have everything closed off. It's just a part of the toolkit. And look at where you are now. So so so in awe of you. xxx

  • I think they can definitely be an important step in the right direction. It’s the same as anything really, if you’re informed and working with professionals, there is no reason why taking medication has to be a bad or “weak” thing.
    #teamIBOT

    • Spot on Kylie! It’s a step in the right direction. But they’re not the be all and end all, just a helping hand. x

  • My view from personal experience is that they (the ones I’m on for my PND/Depression/Anxiety) have definitely been a very important step in my recovery. I know that they are not what will make it go away, they just make me feel more in control so I can focus on doing what I need to do to straighten out my thought processes and handle situations properly.

    • Absolutely! Good on you for taking that step- it’s such a hard first step to take, and sometimes we feel a bit nervous for doing it, but it’s getting you to where you need to be. xx

  • Natalie @ Our Parallel Connect

    In the past few months I have thought more about maybe needing something to help be be happy. As they year is ending, the happiness seems to be coming back. I will assess next year early as I know my kids have suffered. #IBOT team

  • Hugzilla

    This is such a wonderfully balanced and pragmatic approach to medication. There seems to be a lot of misinformation and hysteria on either side of this debate – it definitely polarises people.

    • Oh lady, thank you! That really means a lot, I value your opinion a ton. xx There is SO much misinformation and SO much bullshit in the media (and from the government) around it all. x

  • If it works, take it. I have been for nearly 20 years; when I stop things fall apart. So why stop?!

  • It’s such a shame that so many people see seeking help for some mental illnesses as “weak”, it doesn’t help the sufferers in anyway and it’s so true about people having no problem taking meds for other physical illnesses, if you had high blood pressure you’d take meds so why not a mental illness as well. I’m linking this post lady. x

    • It really is a shame. Because 1 in 4 of us will suffer from a mental health issue these days, and it’s ridiculous to think that all those people are just ‘weak’. I call bullshit. It’s a big task to shift perceptions though. Thanks gorgeous!! Mwah. xx