Risk/Benefit/Big Pharma and Me

I understand that there are people that are afraid of medications. I understand that there are people that fully believe that ‘Big Pharma‘ is only out to get our money and we don’t matter. It’s hard to know how expensive medications are and still accept that we may need them.

I was diagnosed at 16 and put on Zoloft. All I really remember is it made me feel weird and I wasn’t ready to accept that I would need medications for the rest of my life. I took myself off of it, stopped seeing the doctor that I couldn’t open up to anyway. I avoided medications and psychiatrists for the next eight years. I was totally displaying symptoms of bipolar, there was never a doubt in my mind, my family’s minds, my significant others… I didn’t want to be dependent on anything to function or for my sanity.

I managed to cope with things until one day I just sort of lost the ability to cope with anything. It started with a two hour crying spell at work over nothing, and continued with daily crying spells or anxiety attacks that made it impossible to finish an entire shift at work. I gave in and called the therapist I saw in high school to get a referral for one that worked with adults. I saw a psychiatrist that was covered by my insurance. My new psychologist was wonderful… the psychiatrist, not so much.

She prescribed a few different antidepressants, she didn’t put me on a mood stabilizer despite my family history and earlier diagnosis of bipolar. She didn’t comprehend everything I was trying to convey about my moods. I had bad side effects and no effects and finally when I had an allergic reaction, her response was telling me I needed to go inpatient. I tell you this to acknowledge there ARE some bad doctors.

The referral I got from my new therapist saw me the next week. He immediately put me on a mood stabilizer. He had me come in every week because I was underweight and having trouble with side effects on most medications. He did not prescribe the most recent medications. I did not end up with pens advertising the latest antidepressant from visiting the office. He changed things based on what I said and felt, not just what the majority of people presented with. I was the focus, not just my diagnoses.

I have been suicidal. I have attempted to take my own life. I have gone manic and spent every dime in my bank account on sex toys instead of bills. These things did not happen when I was on certain medications. I could list them but they work differently for everyone and I’m not endorsing them individually. I fully believe that being on these medications is what keeps me alive.

Pharmaceutical companies make more than psychiatric medications. They make heart medications and blood pressure and pain medication. They make allergy medication, insulin, vaccines and medications to fight infections and disease. Why, then, do we get so afraid and cynical about psych meds? Honestly, I believe it is because it is a trial and error thing, because some can make me worse, some can make me feel like a zombie and if I had stayed with that “bad” psychiatrist I saw, I think I might believe that medication wasn’t the answer. I found a doctor that believed I could be better and because of that we found medications that made me more functional, able to laugh yet still cry, discarded any zombifying medication, and got to the point that my mother told me to thank him for giving her her daughter back.

Medication is not for everyone but if you can’t function or are having trouble functioning beyond what therapy can do for you, I hope you at least consider meds. I won’t pretend the process of finding the right medication is easy but I do promise that if you find medications that work, the rewards are priceless. We can survive, or we can live. Sometimes medication can make that difference. They have and are making it for me.

~Brutally Honest Eccentric~

**I’m not any sort of doctor, this is not to take the place of medical advice. If anything, this is a plea to seek medical advice. And yes, I understand some people are medication resistant and this is not an option for them.

**Medication in picture is what I was on five years ago – not on the same set anymore. As I said, it’s trial and error, and that means changing them out as needed.