I’ve seen this dumb as fuck post on twitter going around by @johnyelizar about how people do not need medication because he got off all of his. I thought about responding on Twitter, but I have quite a lot to say so decided to write it here.
I’m going to start with my personal relationship to medications, of all kinds. I have been on hundreds of different medications since I was around 14 or 15 when I first started taking the contraceptive pill. I have tried 3 different types of medications for mental health reasons and I’ve also re-tried them. I am currently not on any medication for my mental health because I didn’t feel like they sit well with me and exacerbated my symptoms. That does not mean they would not work for other people. I’ve met many people who have taken sertraline and really liked it, whereas I hated that one the most. That is okay. We all have a different chemical structure in our bodies, what works for me might not work for you. I have worked very hard on my mental health outside of medication and even then my trauma is different to yours and you may not find the therapies I liked helpful to you.
Here is my medication draw.
I take many medications a day just to function and hearing someone say ‘you don’t need them’ does really bother me. But I don’t think his intent was malicious, I think he was directing this for the people who maybe don’t need to be taking the medication they are on. BUT you should always, always speak to your doctor before coming off medication. There are all kinds of side effects and withdrawal symptoms you could experience if you go cold turkey. So please speak to your doctor if you’d like to come off any medication.
I do have to say though, particularly when it comes to mental health medication, lots of people think ‘oh I feel better now, I don’t need my medication’. This is fine, but I’ve heard this from my doctors and I’ve heard it in all kinds of other places, that if you feel like you don’t need your mental health medication, it means it is working and it may be best you stay on them. I would still say go speak to your doctor, maybe you don’t need as high a dose anymore and could lower it, or you may not actually need it. But I often feel that when you get to that point, your meds are doing what they are supposed to be doing and they’ve finally chemically evened out in your system. I feel it is similar to me taking my pain meds and thinking, wow I’m not in pain anymore I don’t think I need them, but coming off them would just bring the pain back because the protective barrier is gone.
I have some people in my life who used to be on crazy amounts of medication and did come off all of them. She found that a lot of her meds were making other symptoms worse that lead to taking more meds for those symptoms, etc. She was taking meds to try and undo what the other meds were doing. Treating the symptom rather than the cause. Yes, sometimes all you can do is treat the symptom (I, myself, have numerous illnesses where all I can do is treat the symptom and not the cause.) but her medication was causing the symptom. Some of them did not work well together, she recommended I speak to a pharmacist about my medication in case there were any that conflicted, that is something I recommend others to do as well. Her story was that she came off of all these medications, had an operation she needed and also quit smoking and found someone who told her specific allergies she had. She is allergic to a lot of foods that you wouldn’t even think of. In her case, she had been on medications for a long, long time but they didn’t seem to help so much.
But that is an extreme situation. Lots of people are put on medications for a reason, though I know that being put on mental health medications rather than given other support is a bit of an issue these days.
The thing is, I cannot tell you what is right for you, and neither can this random man. Only you and your doctor can decide this. Shaming people for taking medication isn’t the way. That is incredibly ableist and counter productive. Lots of people feel shameful of taking medication as it is without adding this to it as well. If you have come off medications and you feel better, good for you! If you feel better on medication, that’s great!
We are all different, one person’s standards of health isn’t someone else’s.
If you want more of my ramblings, go follow my Twitter where I rant on the regular.