I saw this article posted to a friend’s Facebook wall. Often, I’m hesitant to look at articles on Mental Health, but I’m glad I did with this one. I had to chuckle at the title. I know too many friends who have been “lectured” about their mental health medications.
Because the stigmas & stereotypes are still so pervasive, I figured this was worth sharing today.
My own mental health journey has been at points very uphill & rocky.
I also have had grandparents who were prone to depression after a loss, or had other struggles with mental illness.
I myself have had periods of severe depression & anxiety that I will talk with people one-on-one about but am hesitant to share openly because of judgement & commentary about my own choices (often from people I don’t know).
I will say this… in chronic & rare illness it is not uncommon to have these issues. Think about it. Look at the magnitude of living life from one crisis to the next. Or feeling the edge of your own mortality very acutely. That can push people to difficult places.
After my last round of health junk had subsided (a few years ago) I still couldn’t get my body out of the constant fight-or-flight crisis mode that had been my norm for at least 5 years straight before that period (if not more).
I had real physical anxiety symptoms & sensations which worsened in the winter.
I resisted medication at first because I had tried some antidepressants when I was younger & felt after awhile they were ineffective & unhelpful. They made me numb. I stopped taking them to try other approaches.
Yet circumstances changed. I did find that this time when I tried a different set of medications I did benefit. Especially from anxiety medication. I had to add an antidepressant to that mix shortly after I found out I needed a transplant & the winter came again & the anxiety medicine alone wasn’t quite enough.
After my car accident in October, I temporarily had to tweak too.
I luckily have found several good therapists who have dealt with many terminal & chronic illness patients. They are an extremely helpful resource & helped me for quite a long time, even when I wasn’t taking medication.
I know the pills alone aren’t a magic bullet in & of themselves.
I have also tried meditation, hypnosis, & imagery. They sometimes help, but not always.
Several natural medications I can’t even think about taking because they interact with the medicines I take to control my LAM, asthma, & other health problems.
There are several scholarly journal articles that point to the increased prevalence of depression in transplant patients. This one is but one more recent study.
It also is not surprising to see studies point to an increased prevalence of these issues in the context of chronic illness & rare disease.
This is especially true in TSC where neurology is impacted either by seizures or tubers in the brain & can also have an impact on mental health & behavior. The degree this all manifests in our populace is quite unique (like most manifestations of our disease). Some aren’t affected, others are affected quite greatly.
My point is ultimately the author is correct with what he’s trying to articulate.
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to mental health. I’m not even sure it would be effective if someone wasted time trying to develop one.
I have gotten angry when such “helpful” suggestions that the article points out have been foisted obtrusively & judgmentally on family & friends as the solution to all their problems.
I also think the time has come both in the media & as a whole to stop the blanket stigmatizations of people with mental illness as the sole perpetrators of crimes & violent behavior.
Sure, there are those who commit crimes that are mentally ill.
But not everyone who has a mental illness commits crimes or is a criminal. It’s time to stop treating people like they are.
But then again attitudes like this don’t surprise me either because I see how any form of disability is so readily stigmatized & stereotyped in society.
Furthermore, the health system is getting better in taking more integrative & innovative approaches in caring for people. But there are still too few mental resources to go around for everyone to get the help they need when they need it as it stands now. (Even with the simplest of requests.)
When I was forced to switch practices after I could no longer work (the place I had been going to for my mental health medication management was near where I was working), it took me about a month or two to get any decent leads from any of my current healthcare providers to figure out who I could see in my area that was taking new patients.
I even tried calling my old health system’s office I had to use temporarily a few years ago & they never called me back to even let me know whether they were taking new patients (or not).
The place I landed with eventually turned out to be a great fit. Yet even there it was about 3 months before they had an opening.
Luckily, I had enough refills & was open with my primary care doctor about the situation. He did help me if I was in a pinch & was running low on medication refills so the wait didn’t cause a major problem or bump in my care.
But for many people it often does, & with sometimes serious consequences.
I know some people will read this article & be put off by the tone of the writer perhaps. Yet I felt it was a worthy share because of the important message it says & reminder of the true crisis that exists in our healthcare system with inadequate mental health resources for people who need them.
Those that are lucky enough to find them do appreciate them.
People deserve better than to be judged for their choices of how to best manage their health, period. That also includes mental health.
Thank you for your honest and thoughtful discussion of this topic.
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thanks for reading it.
When I stepped back into therapy a couple of months ago, I specifically asked for a therapist who had experience with chronically and terminally ill patients. The therapist I was assigned did not have that listed on her qualifications but seems to be a good fit anyway because she has family members who are significantly chronically ill. We have to be cognizant regarding who handles our mental health because it’s largely driven by circumstance rather than brain chemistry – but I fully acknowledge that a certain proclivity of the brain chemistry just makes it easier to tip our thoughts and feelings into the depression and anxiety pool.
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Totally agree 🙂
Nikki, another terrific post. Take a look at the attached link – Telemedicine startup Doctor on Demand adds psychiatrists – MedCity NewsMedCity News http://ow.ly/XZFre. Might this be another channel of access to assistance?
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thanks Dennis. I’m a huge fan of telemedicine for this purpose and maybe even intakes just to shorten wait time frames. Also very interested in exploring some of these apps that have come about that property to be equivalents of counseling. By no means a substitute but a potential stop gap or additional resource to an under resourced population.