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Step away from my pills

Posted Jul 29 2013 12:00am
In the past week, there has been quite a bit of arguing going on at Pete Earley's blog and at the website of Robert Whitaker, Mad in America . I have no desire to argue with people on my blog (you can go and create your own if you dislike what I have to say), and I will not get into a fight of pro-medication versus anti-psychiatry for the sake of trying to make myself sound like I'm right. But I would refer you back to Pete Earley's blog to read this post.  That post discusses a "recovery college" called Cooper Riis where people can live in a community that is therapeutic, sort of like a state hospital was suppsed to have been at one point in our history.

It's an interesting concept that we could have communities where people with psychosis could receive help that didn't revolve around medication. I think it's also pretty unrealistic, as such facilities are, by their nature, extremely expensive and rare to find in the U.S.

I do want to say that on my blog I've never claimed medication cured me or that medication alone was the best way to go. I've been in therapy for the past six years. I see my current therapist about once a week. The times when I didn't have therapy since being diagnosed were times when I didn't have the insurance coverage to see on who I liked. I now have one who I do like, and I think she's very important in my recovery.

However, I would like to address the anti-psychiatry movement, because after my blog address got typed into some comments on Pete Earley's blog, I noticed some traffic here by new people and a few nasty comments.

You may choose to not take medications, but do not propose to make that the choice everyone has to make, or the first choice amongst a group of options for a psychotic person. The fact is that nothing, no talk therapy, no support groups, nothing that exists, can treat psychosis as well as medication can in the United States today. I don't particularly care who agrees with that; it's an obvious fact. That does not mean that we have to enjoy our medications, or that we have to pretend like there are not horrible side effects like Metabolic Syndrome, obesity, and diabetes. It also does not change the fact that many people try meds which do not work for them. It can take years to find the regimen that works, sometimes you never find that regimen, sometimes you find it and then it stops working after a while and you're back to square one.

The thing is, I don't need to be a journalist, researcher or doctor to talk about this, as it's my life. I lived with active psychosis, florid psychosis, hellish psychosis for a full seven years before being put on medication that worked for me. I almost died numerous times at my own hand during those years.  Iwas in and out of hospitals. I was raped. I was unable to hold a job for more than a few weeks. I was unable to keep a roof over my head. I was unable to have solid relationships with anyone. My life wasn't about any kind of "freedom" to be in my "madness". My life was about living in a world removed from the rest of the planet, a world where I walked alone through various identities and time warps, where I tried to figure out what was going on at the mall by using books I read on quantum physics and Scientology seemed like the answer to it all.

It was a world where I heard people call me Anne Frank, L. Ron Hubbard, an alien, a human e-meter, or Jesus every day, and I thought I was these beings. It was a world where, for four years, I believed I was pregnant. It was a world where I thought a second Holocaust was occurring - in the United States. It was not a world at all. It was hell. A nightmare on another planet, in another universe.

I wasn't able to be "free" or exercise my "rights" living like that. So if you give me the option today of whether I'd like the "freedom" to have that total HELL back as my reality in order to not have to swallow a lot of pills, worry about my liver, or even be overweight, there would be no hesitation in my response. I would rather be on medications for life than to have no life. I would rather be fat, have a fatty liver and not know what the long term effects of these drugs are going to be than I would like to go back to being Anne Frank or driving a car off a bridge or buying a gun with which to shoot myself.

I would rather be alive than dead.

That is what this argument comes down to for me. Therapy alone, cannot keep me alive. Reading books about self help is a mute point when your mind doesn't work well enough for you to read anything. Therapy becomes a mute point when you do not know who you actually are.

I know who I am today. My name is Jennifer, and I'm a survivor of many things. I take medications and I can tell you their names, why I will willingly continue to swallow them, and how much weight I've gained on them. I would never call these medications perfect, but I would also never deny that I'd be dead without them.

Since I enjoy being alive, that is what this boils down to for me. Would I prefer to live without the meds and be healthy, and sane? Of course! Who wouldn't? But for some of us, that really isn't an option. Some of us need pharmaceuticals to restore our sanity. I would not hesitate, if I had a heart attack, to take medications for the rest of my life to avoid having another heart attack. I will not hesitate to see my psychiatrist next week and tell him my Clozaril needs to be increased because I'm hearing voices at times on the low dosage I am on. This is how you advocate for yourself. You figure out what helps you and you take steps to get it. If going off medications works for you, then, more power to you. But don't consider me your enemy or someone who is out to trap and ensnare you and shoot you up with Haldol just because I am not "anti-psychiatry". Give me a break. I am not "anti-life". I am, in every possible way, pro choice, and I choose to believe in science.
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