Most people take Tylenol when they have a headache. Tums when they have heartburn. Sudafed when they have a cold.
Why then, is it so controversial for people to take medications for mental illnesses?
Just because you can't see the symptoms of mental illness (disorders, syndromes, etc.), doesn't make them any less real.
Why do so many people scoff at mental illness and call it an excuse? Sure, it is sometimes. But it's not always. People who are truly in the grips of a mental illness do not always have control over what they are doing.
Mental illness is so tragically misunderstood in this country. Many people just have zero sympathy for an illness that does not have physical symptoms.
I'll be the first to admit that it's hard to figure out if someone is truly mentally ill or just a flawed personality. This is a huge issue with Andrew's "mother", C. She has claimed several different mental illnesses in her lifetime, whatever seems to fit the occasion. Sometimes she says she's on meds, sometimes she says she's not. I have no idea what the truth is. I used to have so much sympathy for her, and blamed most of her problems on her illness....but you have to wonder at some point, is that just a crutch? Is she just a screwed up person claiming illness to shirk responsbility for her own actions? I don't know.
I do know that mental illness needs to be better understood. And people shouldn't judge until they've walked in someone else's shoes.

"Madness is tonic and invigorating. It makes the sane more sane. The only ones who are unable to profit by it are the insane." Henry Miller

"I became insane, with long intervals of horrible sanity." Edgar Allen Poe

"I am not, strictly speaking, mad, for my mind is absolutely normal in the intervals, and even more so than before. But during the attacks it is terrible - and then I lose consciousness of everything. But that spurs me on to work and to seriousness, as a miner who is always in danger makese haste in what he does." Vincent Van Gogh


Anonymous said...

I take happy pills. I think I have an emotionally draining career and sometimes I need to have a little pick me up.

I feel sad for some people who scoff at others who have mental illness. Sometimes you are right, it is a crutch for some. But for others it's very real disease, but they are still amazing people.

Just have to look past all the other.

Unknown said...

I take some happy pills too. But I do think some people use crazy as a crutch.

♥ Boomer ♥ said...

It's a question that has long-plagued us. We fear what we do not understand. We think we have experienced everything and overcome -- why can't 'they'??

Not everyone has the family/friend support system. Tolerance is needed. Compassion. Prayers for the helpless.

Kim said...

I do see people that use it as a crutch.. and it just sucks for the people really suffering..

GypsiAdventure said...

I think that is what makes mental illness so easy to deny - we simply do not understand it therefore the person with the 'issue' must be faking. Its really sad, but you are so right..do not judge until you've walked in their shoes. In the end - your conclusions about the heart of the matter should lie in what you choose to let into your life, if this person is hurting you or your family, then perhaps (illness or not) it is best to maintain some limits.
Sorry you're dealing with this!

Hattie said...

Your "C" sounds just like my "C"!!! She's (or her husband) had every illness and taken ever medication there is according to her. She just had gastric bypass so that's all we're hearing about now.

Mrsbear said...

My mom has recently had a hard time with depression. I know for a fact her illness has affected her, but I also know for a fact that she uses it as an excuse more than she needs to. It's a tough call.

Anonymous said...

I used to take medication for depression, now I go to therapy. My mother definitely needs them, but can't -- has hugely adverse reactions. It's really tough.

Lori said...

Hey, I think a lot like Poe and you've seen my new tag, so I enjoy my moments of insanity, I embrace them and if others don't like them then I suggest strongly that they stay away from me. I don't take any meds because I don't think meds alone would work for me. And I just don't have time for therapy, at least not the full amount that I'm sure I need. LOL

Keeper of the Skies Wife said...

Oh I have a dear friend who had a mental breakdown last year...she SO needs those happy pills!!!

anymommy said...

Mental illness is so hard to deal with; and I agree completely, if medication helps someone, fantastic!

Anonymous said...

My mom is bipolar and uses it to her advantage, and as a crutch sometimes. But at the same time, it truly is a huge disease, one that swallows her whole at times. We just finished a horrible battle through one of her "moments". It's always worse before the holidays and big events in my life. I'm worried about my wedding, but only time will tell. FOr now, I just pray that she stays on her meds, and keeps with her therapy.

Rob-bear said...

I've suffered with depression since I was in my late teens (probably earlier). I've tired a variety of medications, and they keep getting better. I'm on a very minimal dose. If I forget to take my pills for a day or two, I notice it, recognize I've been careless, and get back on them.

I've also had really nasty problems, with significant emotional damage, but without a significant change in my meds. The meds simple help to keep me calm while I work through my problems. I have a good doctor, a good counselor, and good friends; they all help me in different ways. I consider myself incredibly fortunate.

On the other hand, I also know people with mental illnesses who are treated shamefully. Most of the "street people" in our cities have untreated mental illness, which is largely why they are where they are. But they are stigmatized because they are obviously different. That is the real shame.

Unknown said...

I'm going against the grain here as scoffing the "mental illness" that seems to plague over 90% of the mommy bloggers I read.

As you probably remember, last year I went to my doctor after a few weeks of feeling really "down" and was prescribed the "happy pill" Effexor.

I hummed and hawed. I blogged about it. Out of 60+ comments I got on that post, 50 of them were taking anit depressants.

I'm sorry. But that was enough to NOT want to take them. I dealt with my blues in a non-medicated ways and continue to deal with depression on almost a monthly basis.

I 150% believe that North America is overly medicated. I 150% believe that 80% of people medicated by happy pills could just change their goddamn diet and exercise habits, get off the social networks where there is always someone better than you, actually BE in your marriage rather than lusting for this stupid Twilight/Edward scenario...and fix themselves.

That being said. Clinically diagnosed depression runs in my family. I have aunts, uncles and cousins that are on serious anti-depressants. But they are also in serious therapy. I have the UTMOST sympathy for those truly in need of drugs.

But I do not believe that the average person with the blues needs happy pills. In my experience, they are WAY too easy to get from your doctor, FAR too addictive and the bane of our society as a whole.

Even "happy pills" is almost mocking individuals with REAL mental illness.

I'll set off my soapbox now. That is all :)

Issa said...

How funny, because I never would have thought of explaining it that way. I love me some happy pills and I get sick of the idea that I there is something wrong with me (besides the obvious) because I need them.

Issa said...

Also @Huckdoll I agree with you in some ways, as I do think doctors over medicate. But that doesn't mean people don't need the meds for a while. However, most insurance companies will pay for meds, but not the therapy to help the problem.

That being said, I'm still on medication for depression. After a 14 week miscarriage a few years ago, I fell into a deep depression and the pills were the only thing that helped. Unfortunately, I haven't managed to get off of them yet. If I never do, that will have to be okay. I am better parent, wife and friend because of them.

I think because a lot of us are parents with small kids, you are going to see a higher amount of people on depression meds. A lot of it is that women have a hard time becoming moms. A ton of us have post-partum issues and that needs medication. If you polled a different group of people, maybe you'd have gotten a different response.

Putting the FUN in DysFUNctional said...

From Cyndy:
I agree with Huckdoll and Issa. It's the ones who use the meds to combat a crappy day or a little bit of stress, that give a bad name to those who are truly ill and can't cope without the meds.
It's hard to tell who really needs the meds and who uses them as a crutch...but really, it's not our place to judge.

Mrs4444 said...

I agree. It sometimes takes experience with a mental illness to truly appreciate it. While I don't have one (that I know of), I have witnessed the struggles of others first-hand, and it is heartbreaking.