Take Your Medicine!
I find many clients unwilling or hesitant to take medication that has been appropriately prescribed for them. Or they take it, but not at full strength or as often as prescribed. So they end up with more anxiety or depression that necessary. Or serious symptoms linger longer. I am speaking about folks who have medicine that WORKS for them. It HELPS them. They know it does. And in most cases there are no bad side effects stopping them from taking it. They just won’t take it. Why?
For some it is fear of addiction. They worry about their “need” for the medicine. Some have family history of addiction and don’t want to fall prey to it. I can understand this concern. Let me share what I tell them.
There is substance use, substance dependence and substance abuse. When we take a medicine that is substance use technically speaking. This is fine and necessary at times. And then it is possible for our bodies to become dependant on a medication. This is not necessarily a problem. If we have anxiety or depression our brains are literally not making certain chemicals needed for contentment and well being. So yes, if our medicine provides or creates those feel good chemicals, our system will “like” that, will function better with that, and will want us to keep providing that! Is that “substance dependence?” Perhaps. In a sense. But in this case it is FIXING a lack. It is addressing a deficiency. This is very different than a person who is generally ok, but takes illegal drugs at parties to alter their state then loses control of the usage. It is also different because a recreational user has no medical supervision.
Finally there is substance abuse. This would be when someone is misusing medicine (crushing and snorting tablets meant to be swallowed for instance) or taking more than prescribed or taking things in addition to what your doctor gives without them knowing. This is done for the purpose of getting “high”, getting some physical or mental effect. Now this can be a problem, especially if there are other life or relationship effects due to the misuse of medicine.
Abuse is rarely the case with my clients. So why else do we not utilize resources that would help us?
Guilt. Shame. Embarrassment. A perception of being weak somehow. A thought that we need to be able to WILL ourselves to feel better. Despite all the public education about mental health care, and how it is a MEDICAL CONDITION…..far too many people still treat biochemical imbalances as though they are moral or character deficits.
For the greater health of all we need to treat depression and anxiety as the (at least in part for many) biologically based conditions they are. We need to treat ourselves and others kindly and with support as they take care of themselves in this difficult and stressful world in the best way possible.
I recently faced this very issue. Since I stopped using CBD oil, I noticed my depression and anxiety returning. Spoke to my doctor. She approved me going back on generic Prozac even with being on blood thinners. I myself paused a moment, thinking, maybe it won’t be TOO bad this episode of depression. Maybe I could tough it out?
Then I said…….F*** that! I have medicine I KNOW will work for me (it has several times in the past), no noticeable side effects and very low cost each month. And this is a difficult time of year for me for mood. It’s foolish not to avail myself of proper care. So I began my meds. And the depression is at bay.
Life is often hard. Why make it harder? Why indeed.
Self hatred is a large factor here. So many of us struggle to care for ourselves, to love ourselves (as we are NOW) and to treat ourselves with kindness and compassion. We are SO good to others and frankly quite cruel to ourselves. This needs to stop. We need to practice caring for ourselves AT LEAST as nicely as we care for others.
So…..I bet you would encourage a friend or your child to take their medicine. So let’s take our own!