Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Because everyone likes it when I write about personal stuff like drugs

Not everyone believes in mental illness.

Anxiety, depression, paranoia -- these are merely the makings of the human mind.

Take deep breathes, try yoga, just "think positive".

"Suck it up, Sally!"

But it's really not that simple.

As someone whose been dealing with this over the past 10+ years, I've experienced the benefits and the drawbacks of getting medicated. But most of the time I took it for granted and led a life that has been even-keeled and successful enough.

Weaning off the medication (I'm on month two of 30 mgs now) made me reflect on what life can be like without it.

It's true that medication alone, is not the answer. There are other considerations.

If you are a person who can't deal with a lot of stress, getting into a high stress career would, naturally, not be the best option for you. Pursuing that lifestyle, an otherwise chemically-balanced person might find that they "need" medication to deal with it.

So the stressful world that we as humans have created is much to blame for the pharmaceutical windfall resulting from the sale of anti-stress and anxiety medications.

The same is true for anti-depressants.

But don't tell me they aren't needed -- that chemical imbalances are an imagined phenomenon.

Really? Then maybe hormonal imbalances aren't real either? Ever hear of PMS? I think there are a lot of women (and men) who would disagree that hormonal imbalances have no impact on a person's ability to function.

I have a deep desire to be med-free. But that desire might not be enough to ever make it happen -- lest I live my life with a magnified and unyielding version of PMS.

I believe there are things I can do to make it possible for me to manage my stress and depression -- improving my coping skills, exercising more (the natural way to produce endorphins) and refraining from lifestyle choices that could compromise my ability to manage stress and depression. In that case, my stress and depression would largely dictate my life.

Or I can compromise. Try to do what I can and supplement my efforts with an appropriate but not excessive amount of medication.

But unless you've truly experienced real depression, a deep, sometimes life-ending despair with no clear origin, you'd best not make broad generalizations.