I have come to the realization that I have been taking the wrong medication for far too long, and I wonder how many people are in the same boat. How long have we been taking medications with more side effects than there are benefits? How do we realize this? How do we bring it to our doctor’s attention? Isn’t that truly their job to conclude? How long do we put up with this nonsense and continue to pump unnecessary chemicals into our bodies? Do we finally just adjust the meds down/out ourselves? How safe is this decision? How many of you are having to pay out of pocket for these medications causing unruly side effects with no real improvement in the quality of life? I can only share my story, but I know there are literally millions of people dealing with the same qualms.
I have been on a medication called quetiapine (along with many others) for probably around eight months now. And for those eight months getting out of bed in the morning has been physically impossible. Some doctors have referred to this as the “hangover” effect, and I have been told to just wait it out and “hopefully” it will just go away. It has been eight months and I still cry nearly every morning with overwhelming emotions and a body that feels like lead when it’s time for me to rise for the day. Though, there have been three specific times where this did not occur. When prescribed the medication I was told not to take it if I was not going to be able to get a full eight hours of sleep. Three times I have gone to bed super late, knowing I wasn’t going to get a full eight hours, and I did not take my nighttime medications. Even on only two hours of sleep, I felt better waking up those mornings than I had in many months. Why could this be?
Perhaps these medications are simply not right for me specifically, and I simply need to find another course. I recently started seeing a different psychiatrist, though instead of changing any of my current medications he simply added another one – a tranquilizer. He told me this would help with those overwhelming emotions, racing thoughts, and anxiety. Neither my partner nor myself have noticed any difference in those facets of my life. This doctor truly believes this medication will help me. I disagree. At what point do I take the situation into my own hands and just stop taking the medication(s)? If I feel a million times better (and less depressed and hopeless) in the morning without the medication, how can there truly be a benefit?
I have to acknowledge the danger of just stopping a medication – particularly some of the antipsychotics – without a doctor’s review. There can be more major side effects from this; another downside to these medications. Psychosis and depression can worsen to an extreme degree for the first several weeks off of a medication that was providing a steady level of chemical to the brain particularly for an extended period of time. When taking those medications it is, generally, supplying the brain with chemicals that the brain is supposedly not producing sufficient amounts of naturally – so the brain will stop self-producing these chemicals entirely because the pills are keeping the steady levels. So, when one removes those chemicals the brain goes into a varying level of shock – which can produce a multitude of different side effects on the brain and body.
Thankfully, I have insurance that pays for the doctors to keep throwing these different pills at me. Though, I’m aware of plenty of people that are actually throwing their hard earned money into these “treatments” – just to end up with horrible side effects and little-to-no benefit. People that are reaching out for assistance because this world and society have simply become too much to bear on our own. This is NOT a weakness. It takes a massive level of strength to ask for help. I would know – because I never do. I am one of those people that is entirely too stubborn and would rather fail on my own than ask for help to succeed. It’s a problem. Though, a long time ago I started down this path of medicinal mental health treatment because if I didn’t I was going to end my life. And that’s a kind of failure that was not fair to the individuals around me to embrace.
That is the primary reason I still support the current mental health system even with all of its flaws and broken aspects. Because there are people out there that do benefit from medicinal treatment. Less than we would desire or expect, but they are still out there. People that would be ending their lives otherwise and diminishing any potential they may have had. Yet, there are some people that have been in treatment for most of their lives and still can’t manage to survive. Robin Williams is the primary example. He struggled with anxiety and depression his entire life. He was also in treatment for it for most of his life. Though at a certain point, he simply couldn’t handle it anymore. He wasn’t seeing enough benefit from the treatment his surplus of money could easily afford to WANT to survive. There are all too many of us living a similar reality. At what point do we take a stand? HOW do we even take a stand?
I am lucky enough to love and live with someone that accepts all of my flaws and helps me monitor myself. He reigns me in when my emotions become uncontrollable or unbearable, and he steadies me when I feel like I’m in a tailspin. I would do anything to wish upon all of you still reading this a person like I have. I would not still be breathing or typing this today if I had not met him. And it truly sucks to be dependent on another human in this way, but just the other day he was telling me how much better I am at handling myself and my emotions from a year ago. Not since the medications, because they came later, but because he has helped me to improve myself and make myself better.
Part of our treatment has to be what exists within our surroundings and the people we allow to be present in our lives. There are too many people suffering from depression and anxiety that is made entirely worse due to the toxic people they keep around them. A toxic job will also play a huge part in this. Leave that job, and leave that relationship. Even if the toxicity is caused by a parent or relative. Just because you may share some of the same genetic markers as another human does not mean they have to remain within your life and environment. It’s clearly easier said than done, but it is so very essential for our treatment. Perhaps it is only for a short while that you have to remove them from your environment in order for you to do some self-healing, but it is so very essential to be able to acknowledge these toxic markers that are preventing one from improving themselves.
I’ve clearly varied slightly from the topic of medications, but every word I’ve relayed is essential. It has taken over two decades of suffering to put the pieces together. And in reality, I’m still working on my self-healing. My brain suffered such severe PTSD that it actually developed narcolepsy. As if my brain just said, “I can’t handle this anymore, I’m just going to shut down and sleep at random times”. This is something that is going to take an extensive amount of time to heal. And I hope using the word “heal” is understood not in the way of repair, but rather the capability to move beyond the damage to still have a relatively happy and fulfilling life despite the things we are lacking. This is something we all deserve, and should never stop fighting for until we find it.