DON’T STOP YOUR MEDICATION WHEN YOU FEEL WELL

There are different kinds of medications that treat various types of mental illness. There are antidepressants which are used to treat depression, anxiety, and some kinds of personality disorders. Then there are antipsychotics used to treat schizophrenia and sometimes bipolar disorder, and there are mood stabilizers used to treat people with bipolar. These medications help stabilize the chemical imbalance in the brain that causes mental illness. They relieve the symptoms of the illness and can often help people feel so much better that they think they’re cured, when they’re not.

It’s important to know that medication helps treat the illness but doesn’t cure it. There are several people I have known who were put on medication and once they felt better, they stopped taking the medication. Before they knew it, they were falling back down to the bottom of that hole again. One friend told me she was feeling good, so she stopped her medicine. She said she no longer needed it. I told her she should never stop her medication unless she’s told to by her psychiatrist. In a week she had a break down and ended up in a mental health hospital.

When I reached recovery and started to be able to think clearly, function, and feel happiness, I didn’t stop my medication. I kept on it and am still on it. Why? I know that the reason I’m doing well is because of the medication. Antidepressants helped me think clearer, helped with my fatigue, helped lift some of my sadness, and helped me to be able to function in everyday life. Once the medication helped, I added therapy to learn coping techniques, to learn ways to change my thinking, and to learn to love myself.

I was able to put all my effort into therapy to further my recovery because the antidepressants helped me be able to think more clearly. I learned that medication is just part of the process of reaching recovery. Even though the medication helped me feel better, I still had lots of work to do to climb out of that hole.

I knew a woman who was going to therapy and taking medication. She started to talk more; she was smiling and laughing. She was doing good. Then she told me she was doing so well that she quit therapy and her medication. She said she didn’t need it anymore. Before I knew it, I watched her fall backwards, deeper into her illness. She became suicidal and had to go back on her medication and restart therapy. What she didn’t realize was she was doing well because of the medication and therapy.

You don’t have to be in therapy your whole life. There is a point in your recovery process that your therapist will tell you are doing well enough that you will no longer needed it. Unfortunately, medication is something that you will have to always take. It’s the same as a person diagnosed with high blood pressure and put on medication for it. Without it the blood pressure would just go up again. To keep it at the level it should be, the person will have to continue taking the medicine for probably the rest of his or her life.

     Medication for mental illness is the same as medicine for other illnesses like high blood pressure. It treats the symptoms of the illness, stabilizing it, but not curing it. I’ve been in recovery for many years. I no longer go to therapy, but I take my antidepressants everyday and I’m sure I will be taking them the rest of my life. They are my life saver. I’m doing well and able to cope with rough times because of my medicine.

     You may think to be on antidepressants or antipsychotics for the rest of your life is like a death sentence, but it’s not. It’s the light above the dark hole, it’s the hand pulling you up, and it’s the reason you can live a good life. It’s the reason you are alive and well. Antidepressants and antipsychotics are not a death sentence, but a life sentence. By life sentence I mean they give you your chance to live and function well in your life. They give you a chance at reaching recovery and finding happiness.

The reason you are feeling well while you’re on your medication is because they are working. If you stop they will no longer work and you’ll fall hard, to the rock bottom of the hole. Never stop your medication on your own and never stop them just because you’re doing well. Remember you are doing well because of your medication.

Because of my antidepressants I am living a good life. I have a happy marriage, I have a good job, I published a book, and I am truly happy. Medication helps me stand in the light of recovery.

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