“Realizing and listening to what your body and mind is telling you — that’s most important.”
-Author Tianna G. Hansen
In yesterday’s post, I discussed a few but certainly not all, of the factors that may have contributed to the current opioid epidemic. In this part, it’s my hope and my goal to not only carry that conversation forward but to also give hope to people that there can be a life beyond dependancy on opioids and a positive one at that.
Before I go any further, a disclaimer here is necessary. I am not a doctor nor do I have any kind of expertise in medicine or mental health. What I do have to offer is my own experience as well as a few others who have spoken about their own experiences. It’s important to note while reading this post that every mind and body operates differently and uniquely and a single medical philosphy can never be universally applied. As today’s quote states, you have to listen to your own body and mind to decide what works for you.
A factor of this topic I deliberately avoided alluding to yesterday, because I feel it deserves its own space, is that very often, mental health patients are made to believe that they cannot function without some kind of chemical assistance.
And perhaps at a rudimentary stage of a mental illness, that may even be true for some people. The problem occurs when you’re led to believe that you’ll need it for the rest of your life or at least for the better part of the next few years. And before you know it you’re hooked.
The problem with that is that essentially, all medication prescribed for depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder or any other mental illness, provides the same result. It numbs your mind. The rate at which it does so and dosage may vary but conclusion remains the same.
When the mind is numb, you may forget what’s keeping you down, but you’ll forget other emotions as well. This may sound a bit extreme but I wouldn’t hesitate to say that the intention of those drugs is basically to turn you into a robot with the numbness substituting for an “off” switch.
When that occurs, you lose the ability to differentiate between the world in your mind and the world outside of it. And before you know it, your pyschological state is far worse than it ever was.
In an article titled “My Rebel Heart” for ElephantsNever.com in November 2018, Tianna G. Hansen spoke of how when she first introduced the idea of getting off of her medication, her pyschiatrist “prescribed me something stronger, on top of what of I was already taking.”
Hansen’s situation pushes the point I made above further that the overall goal, no matter what it takes, is to turn the patient into a robot. Someone’s questioning what we prescribed them? Pile on more pills till they shut up about it.
Of course I realize and acknowledge that not every single psychiatrist is like that. Like in any profession, there are good people and bad people. Still, when the majority is bad, it’s the patient who ends up suffering.
Hansen wrote of how the addition of another medication made her feel much worse and “irritable, suicidal, hopeless.”
I had a similar experience a couple of years ago when due to personal circumstances, my depression took a turn for the worse. When I suggested to my pyschologist about possibly attending a retreat in my town which taught natural techniques to calm down during depression attacks, he dismissed it. Instead, I was instructed to stop taking my normal medication and replace it with a “super” version of it. His words, not mine.
A week after I started taking that medication, I did something that I used to claim to not only not understand, but felt sorry for those who did it.
I became a cutter. I won’t go into how and why that started as I’ve already done that in a previous post that focused on that part of my life.
Regardless, for nearly a year, I would take my medicine, cut myself, fall alseep and wake up with wounds I had no memory of inflicting. It was only when an another, more caring counselor saw the cuts that he insisted on stopping my “super” medicine and switching to my older dosage that actually helped me.
I’m convinced that in a way, he might have even saved my life. I was cutting my arms, my legs and on one occasion, even my stomach. Who’s to say that I wouldn’t have taken aim for my throat or my wrist had I continued?
The solution to medication that is not proving effective for any ailment, mental or physical, is not to add to it. The goal should be to find out why it’s not working. Putting a black tape over your “check engine” light will only result in a bigger hazard.
The first thing we need to do is to rid ourselves of the thought drilled into our heads that we’ll never be able to function without the medication.
No doubt, it’s a lot easier said than done. And unfortunately, there might be some ugly withdrawal symptoms along the way like there is when cutting any substance out of your body which it’s use to, be it alcohol, nicotine or a prescription drug.
But things do get better.
Nearly a year after the article alluded to above, Hansen has said she’s still off of her medication and doing fine. The struggles are still there at times as is the fear of things taking a turn for the worse. But the overall situation is better, signaling a bright future ahead even if the future will inevitably have a few bumps along the way.
I am on the losest dosage of my medicine I’ve ever been on since I was first diagnosed with depression and I’ve never felt better. Much like Hansen, there are times when my tears don’t stop flowing and I cry myself to sleep. Yet I still wake up and embrace the new day with the tightest hug my mind can birth.
And my worst symptoms, depression seizures and slipping into a catatonic state have gone from daily to approximately three or four times a year.
The point of this post is not to state that everyone with an ailment should eventually rid themselves of all medication. The purpose should be to find out what works on an individual basis and help keep that in moderation by having a healthcare professional and the patient work together.
And ignoring that purpose, perhaps, is the biggest cause of an opioid epidemic.
Have you or someone you know ever been in the situations described above? What do you feel is the biggest cause for an opioid epidemic? Share your thoughts and experiences by commenting below.