So, I came across this in a friend’s Facebook — a share from @ThePsychologyBabes (also on Facebook):
My reply to my friend was enthusiastic and, I hope, well thought-out. Possibly helpful to someone who sees that meme but sees it, perhaps, from a different angle, as I do. Or is capable of seeing it from another angle.
In my reply, I said (with editing for typos and addition for clarity):
THIS. Only my revelation on that front was the REVERSE. I’m — according to my medical professionals — fantastically difficult and tricky to medicate. Everything I’ve ever been on, with the exception of ONE mood stabilizer, either hasn’t worked, or only works for a every limited time (less than six months). Some of them changed my behavior and responses so drastically that in the aftermath, after taking myself off them, with a “clearer” head, I could recognize, say, that NO, a mood-stabilizer should not shift my mood and personality so drastically that burning down my apartment building with me and everyone in it seems like a good and merciful idea.
Not long after that, I stopped with the meds and focused on counseling. DBT (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy) and CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy). Management that’s firmly in my conscious hands, rather than in my brain chemicals. I didn’t like having no warning I was moving into certain states — heavily psychotic (both hallucinating and delusional, and unable to tell where the line between those things and reality was) or dissociative — because the meds were rearranging stuff.
Now, with the counseling as my only lever — and other things, based in that counseling, and that compliment it, like writing — I can actually predict where my brain is going ninety-eight percent of the time. And since getting off meds, it’s NEVER gone back to “let’s barbecue me and my neighbors because . . . COMPASSION!!!1!!1@!”
I think the message in this meme serves two purposes, at least:
1. Meds don’t have to change who you are. They can help clarify and stabilize that so that you can function. If that’s a change, it’s probably a good one.
2. Meds CAN, SOMETIMES, change who you are. Or make it too easy to sink into who you DON’T want to be (anymore). There’s nothing wrong with walking away from meds if they don’t work for you and make you uncomfortable with who you are or who you’re becoming.
Basically: Do/Use whatever is the most help and the least harm.
But I think the key is finding the right set of meds sooner, rather than later. I tried for almost nine years and finally said: “No more.” I was tried on nearly one hundred different meds, only one of which went the distance in a good way. But it also made me physically ill (diabetic), so I had to stop it, too, eventually.
I think there’s a chemical combo out there for everyone. But not everyone has the time, tolerance, or safety net to test the waters until they find it. I’m one of those folks. And there are alternatives, which seem tougher on the face of it. But nearly nine years of med-addled, med-fueled confusion and crazy was pretty tough, too. The past couple of years have been difficult, but the progress I’ve made in counseling has been real and it STICKS, and I don’t have to worry about it suddenly not working or making me want to commit murder-suicide. And I’m PROUD that I’ve got the mental chops to heal myself since meds can’t or won’t, and haven’t. I’m lucky and happy that despite not being able to naturally regulate chemicals in my brain, I CAN regulate how I let them effect me and how I behave in response to that.
I CAN CONTROL MY BEHAVIOR, and teach my addled brain newer, better routines to do as responses to good AND less-than-good situations. That power is MINE, and meds did not make that so. I made that so on my own. I did it the hard way, true, but I could do it again, if need be. I have that power. I know that, now, and I will never forget it.
But I also still get that not everyone is in the same shoes, though. And if meds can solve it, hallelujah, pass the propranalol. If they can’t, it’s important that other avenues are known and explored.
“TAKE the meds that help you,” is a good rallying cry. But in some cases, so is: “Take the meds that HELP you.”
To anyone out there, struggling with meds that don’t help — or meds that DO HELP — my best, most hopeful and heartfelt advice to you is:
Do/Use whatever is the most help and the least harm.
It may not be easy figuring that out, or quick. But it’s what will work for you. DOING WHAT WORKS FOR YOU is literally THE ONLY THING THAT WILL WORK FOR YOU.
And whether you take this advice or not, you have, as ever, my best wishes, hopes, and vibes. I am PROUD of you for making it this far, and I UNDERSTAND just how tough and painful, lonely and frightening that journey can be.
And I ADMIRE YOU for working to go further, still. Maybe, even with little or no support from cheerleaders or medical/psychological professionals.
You’re a fucking SUPERHERO, my friend, and you don’t even need a cape to prove it.
Though . . . a flowing cape can be a pretty boss-ass look, with the right fabric and colors. . . .