A Big Why

“Three Flowers” drawing 35/40 from my recent Creativity Journey

(Disclaimer: I am neither a doctor nor any kind of medical professional. This post is solely about my own experience. One thing – If you are on psychiatric drugs, and decide to go off of them, please know that for some, the withdrawal effects can be severe and it’s probably best to take it slowly, maybe even very slowly. Please seek outside assistance as necessary.)

In 1994 at age 30, I started taking “meds” for depression for the first time. By then, depression and anxiety had already been a big part of my life for many years. I remember being by my locker in the 4th grade and having an anxious feeling and thinking “This is what they mean by butterflies in the stomach.” And it only grew from there.

Our society tells us “meds” are the solution and so that’s what I did. But they didn’t work. Never completely, sometimes not at all. At one point, my doctor felt that this meant a different diagnosis (bipolar). From there it became a crazy ride of drug “cocktails”, “side” effects, additional diagnoses, support groups, disability, psychiatrists and therapy. At one time, I was taking 10 or 11 “meds” all at once. (Usually it was around three at a time.) I recently made a list of all I was ever prescribed and got to 21. I’m sure I’ve forgotten some and the real number is higher.

And I’m just going to say it straight out; leave if you must: It was all bullshit. But I didn’t know. I didn’t know because I trusted our medical system. I trusted our doctors to know what they are doing and “do no harm.” I didn’t know because the drugs were causing my brain to malfunction and the part that could reason out such things was not able to.

I now know that these “meds” do not cure anything. Yes, they do alleviate symptoms for some, but at what cost in terms of short and long term effects? At what cost in terms of the reduction in quality of life and even lifespan? You see, I thought the drugs (if only we could discover the right combination) were going to heal me, or at least make me feel all better. And they never did because they never can.

Eventually I started sorting it out. I think one of the first glimpses was on a doctor’s visit when, although I was clearly not in a good place and felt need of help or relief, the doctor kept the “meds” the same. Some time later, perhaps a year or two, I finally went off all of them. One at a time. Slowly. This was in June 2014. Twenty years gone by, with about 14 “on meds.”

I have been very angry about this for a long time. How the system has failed me. And I’ve had to get past some of that anger. See my own part in it, too.

I have also felt for a long time that I want to use my experience for the good of others. To tell those like me that they do indeed have a choice. It has taken me years to get to a good enough place where I feel like I have something to offer: feeling pretty good most of the time and expecting to feel even better. And it’s definitely been worth the wait. I have had to find my own path. Maybe that’s how it is always and for everyone in these matters.

Please understand, I’m not trying to tell anyone what to do. People deserve to choose how they live their lives, including whether or not to take “medications.” I just know that for me and, in fact, for many people, there is immense value in taking a different direction.

Thanks for taking the time to read this. With much gratitude,

Monica

Published by lalalamonique

Artist and fabric designer living in the beautiful Adirondacks of NY State.

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