Psych Meds Hurt Me, But Helped Others, Part 2 of 2

Psych Meds Hurt Some, Help Others

Psych Meds Hurt Some, Help Others

Anti-psychotic medication made me psychotic, but I met several people during my journey through the mental health system that psych meds helped, at least during the time I knew them.  Each individual reacts differently to every medication, and psych meds can help or hurt, at least in the short term.

I finally ripped myself off anti-psychotics, despite my bullying father’s unfair threat that he wouldn’t have a relationship with me if I didn’t take them. But when I stopped, the psychotic symptoms stopped. I was never really psychotic in the first place.

When I was suffering on the drugs, my grades suffered, because I missed classes and assignments, and couldn’t concentrate. I remember working hard for a lot of “D”‘s, being told I was “irresponsible,” or being misunderstood intellectually, then, being pissed off and humiliated!

Psych Meds Hurt Often

Psychiatric medications don’t work for everyone  The potential harm, from drug side effects and/or toxins can far outweigh the drug’s benefit(s), if any. As even pharma-funded TV ads indicate, all psychiatric medications have at least forty-eighty documented serious side effects.

Also, some drugs are associated with risk for organ damage, early death from health complications, or both.

Mental health providers, aware of these risks, aren’t always honest with clients; the industry benefits from clients’ continued drug use. That’s been a common insight and/or experience with the Wellness Wordworks team and guest bloggers.

Wellness Wordworks is not opposed to psych meds.  We are in favor of full disclosure of all alternatives and risks, and real choice.

The Disease Model ignores a client’s need for a healthy lifestyle. Providers often ignore the importance of issues such as diet, lifestyle, relationships and/or spirituality in an attempt to find a “magic” drug.

Sometimes, Psych Meds Help

I know of someone who had psychotic symptoms caused by trauma.   He evidently needed to do more to deal with the trauma, but also apparently needed the medication to quit experiencing psychosis.

In another case a man I worked as a home health aide needed his meds to quit believing, and talking about, bizarre stuff  — like us trying to poison his dinner, or his imaginary friend.  Psych meds helped relieve that symptom, at least in the short term.

I have a friend in jail right now for addiction relapse. The chief reason it’s been hard to quit is because he didn’t get mental health help when he needed it. He’s suffered from chronic depression and anxiety all his life, as verified by his mother. He’s also had a “hell of a life,” so it’s not clear to me if these issues are trauma-based, inborn, or both.

But he told me recently he would like to try anti-depressants again because he “can’t stand the psychological anguish” — even though he’s been on several wrong drugs, and eventually built tolerance to the right one.  So he thinks he needs his pills, if he can just find a competent, caring and available provider, and the right drug, at least for right now.

I hope it won’t create long-term toxic physical or emotional side effects that hold back his life.

My Current Psych Meds Hurt and Help Me

I’m not sure I’m really “depressed” or “anxious.”  I’ve always been naturally optimistic (yet realistic) and determined (though sensitive). I’ve had hospital and therapist traumas, with the exception of my most recent past therapist. I have been labeled.

I think it is plausible for me to get off of pills at some point. They are not an answer for me. I still feel suicidal on my anti-depressant sometimes, if I’m not dealing well enough with the issues that caused this most recent depression.

But since this anti-depressant works, without any serious known side effects with me, I’m still on it, and will plan on tapering off when I am ready. I’m also on a tranquilizer for anxiety that was diagnosed as temporary, and a sleeping pill I’m hoping to taper off, as I can no longer stand the short-term amnesia and drug tolerance for the ONE pill I’ve found so far that works.

I consider myself mostly a trauma-based person who has been labeled.   Although my formal diagnosis of insomnia is valid, so is my informal diagnosis of Highly Sensitive Person.

I’ve met others at support groups who legitimately weren’t sure they had a mental illness, or at least the one they were diagnosed with. I see mixed stories, although more on Facebook about people being labeled and screwed by the system (Stopping the Harm of Psychiatric Diagnosis, Alternatives 2012, Mindfreedom).

Mary Ellen CopelandSee this well-researched website, outlining an empowering, holistic approach, popular with many diagnosed persons and contemporary minded providers: www.mentalhealthrecovery.com, by Mary Ellen Copeland, Ph.D. Her W.R.A.P. (“Wellness Recovery Action Plan) is outlined here. It’s even considered a “best practice” (a highly proven, system-approved) approach.  It is proven to improve outcomes of conventional psychiatric treatment, and many use it to replace psychiatry.

Medication Helped My Client

On the other hand, others I met really needed the right medication(s), and compassionate, competent doctors.  Disaster had ensued without them — proof these people could not recover on their own at that time.  Many sufferers of psychosis and/or mania could not afford to deny their situation or needs. My former home health care client, now in a nursing home, could not live on his own in the community,  even with supports.

He refused to see his psychiatrist.  He accused his caregivers of poisoning his dinner, and believed an imaginary friend was telling caregivers to do bad things to him.  He was never dangerous but, for his own well-being and productivity in society, he had to be manipulated back into his psychiatrist’s office.

Now, he is happily settled in the nursing home (also because of his late stage Multiple Sclerosis). He is delusion-free, mellow and happy. He connects well to others now, and no longer experiences the degradation from failed attempts to live on his own.  Psych meds help him, apparently.

Medication Helped My Roommate

My hospital roommate was in denial of her schizophrenia diagnosis. Her thought patterns were tangential and often nonsensical — what my Abnormal Psychology professor termed “word salad.”  Some people say that our separations from reality are often out inner most thoughts  that we can’t voice out loud, yet even these people support some temporary and fully informed medication use.

She also insisted the doctors were out to get her because they wanted her medicated. They were unsuccessful until she changed her mind and started an anti-psychotic.   She complained about being fatigued and groggy, and needing frequent naps.  Her fatigue subsided substantially in just a few days. Her delusions disappeared, and she was discharged, with referrals to social services agencies. We don’t know if she could come off again in a few months, since many people can, but in her case she needed that temporary relief.

Wellness Wordworks believes practically all mental health symptoms are caused by emotional distress and trauma, not a chemical or genetic brain disease.  If that’s true for you, then it’s possible, with the right kind of help, to come out whole or stronger on the other side of your emotional pain.

Medication might help in the short term by relieving your symptoms, but in the long run, recent studies show that, very often, psych meds hurt.

Did psych meds hurt or help you, or both?

Wordworks Blog Author: Liza Faith Casey

Liza is creating a volunteer replication of The Chocolate Fairy project in North Dakota. She is working to bring honest mental health information to indigenous people in her community. She volunteers with a Mental Health America affiliate and helps spread social messaging for Wellness Wordworks.

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