This morning I woke up and downed my medication. It’s something I do every day and it keeps my symptoms in check and allows me to function at a relatively high level. There have been times in my life when I didn’t need medication but coming off tends to lead to relapse. Throughout my illness I have been pill shamed – told that I didn’t need my drugs and that I was somehow weak to give in to the chemical haze that people expect. So what do these people say to me?
In some cases it was benign and trying to be helpful – “you’re stronger than that” or “you’re taking the easy way out” (doesn’t everyone?) – I understand they were attempting to reassure me but ultimately leads me deeper into anxiety as I am left in doubt as to my own weakness.
Then there’s what I would consider the zealots. “Just try drinking hoby joby oil” or “Take up running”. All good (albeit strange) but the danger is that it encourages you to take their particular “treatment” in lieu of the pills. Running, in particular, is shown to help depression and anxiety but no self-respecting doctor tell you that it is a chance to come off their medication
“It’s only a placebo!”,. Maybe it is but you know what? I flipping love the placebo effect. If it’s the thing that gets me up in the morning, I couldn’t care less if it is down to the effects of the medication or placebo.
What really hacks me off is calling medication “happy pills”. No, they treat my crippling anxiety disorder and allow me to function. The pills themselves don’t cause happiness, they just give some people the ability to get their anxiety to a level where they are able to tackle it (and if they decide to stay on the medication then that’s THEIR decision.
In conclusion, some anxiety sufferers are able to manage their condition through CBT, eating a healthy diet and doing exercise but there are some of us out here who need medication to help. Not because I’m weak, not because the drugs are placebo, not because they’re happy pills, not because I haven’t tried running marathons. It’s simply because that’s what it takes for me to be me. And you don’t get more important than that.