Medication and the mentally ill

Did You Take Your ‘Crazy’ Meds?

Medication and the mentally ill
Did You Take Your ‘Crazy’ Meds Today?

Unfortunately, I’ve heard this question more times than I can count and every time makes me angrier than the last. But, in all honesty, usually, when I am asked this questions I haven’t taken my bipolar medication in a couple days or more. Is it a coincidence that I’m being asked this? Could they sense a change that I wasn’t aware of? Maybe. Either way, the use of the word, ‘crazy’, troubled me.

There have been times when I have been outraged after being asked this question. Replying back, “I’m not crazy!” while really thinking, am I? I have ofter thoughts to myself If I stopped taking my medication, then I could prove that there wasn’t anything actually wrong with me. Right? This has been one of the many thoughts I’ve had about stopping my medication. Now, however, I feel fortunate. Over the thirteen years of living with bipolar disorder, I have learned some reasons why myself and others are tempted to stop taking our medications. Because I understand this, I am able to negotiate with myself why they are important. I have come to realize that not everyone is that lucky.

Unfortunately, going off of medication seems to be rather common in the psychiatric world. Each reason to stop taking medication is different, to some degree, from person to person.
Through my experience, time in support groups and therapy I have come up with four of the most common reasons that people with mental illness stop taking their medication as prescribed.

stop medicine

4 Reasons People with a Mental Illness Stop Taking Medication:

1. We feel like we don’t need it anymore.
There have been many support groups that I have attended, someone suddenly stopped coming. We were told by our group therapist that he or she didn’t think that they needed therapy anymore because they were feeling better.

The issue with this is that medication works as a temporary fix to stabilize a large internal wound. Because there is no cure for the chemical imbalance of a mental illness all that can be done is to stabilize it.
Usually, it’s not the medication that is making them feel good, but we are over the hump of feeling ‘bad.’ When in actuality we are feeling better because of our medication and other factors like increased therapy and support system.

Why would you take medication anymore when you think you are cured? This is a question I used to hear other people in my support groups say frequently. The answer was always the same, “You feel ‘normal’ because the medication is working.” Then the therapist would follow up with the, “If you think that there is a need for medication or dosage change you should take to your psychiatrist.” While these answers didn’t always feel sincere or empathetic. Now after many years of struggle, I know they are accurate.

Feel fine

2. We can no longer afford medication.

The cost of medication is expensive in itself, and heavens forbid if you aren’t lucky enough to have insuranceInsurance can be expensive especial if you have a pre-diagnosed condition of a mental illness. Even government support can be unobtainable.

Before I was married and had health insurance, there was a point in time that I was paying over $250 for my medication monthly. This understandably stretched my funds almost to their breaking point. Unfortunately, there are mental illnesses don’t allow you to work, and therefore steady income and insurance are hard to come by.

3. We forget to take their medication.

Some illnesses, Alzheimer’s & Dementia, ADHA, Bipolar Disorder, to name a few, all have issues with memory. I have an issue with taking my medication regularly (find out what helped me). There can be all the want to take your medication in the world but when your illness takes over it’s hard to get back on track. There are a few lucky ones that are able to have the assistance of others to be reminded to take their medication. Unfortunately, those people who don’t have that option will likely continue to struggle.

Download this Medication Tracker and Inspiring Reminder Notes as a FREE PRINTABLE gift from me to you!

shame

4. Shame

The stigma around mental illness sometimes forces shame on us needed it. We may stop taking our medications due to the pure shame of someone finding out. Being branded as different or weak. Even with the slightest chance of being ‘caught’ will detour people in need of medication.

There are many times in my life that I’ve ever heard some for of “They are crazy.” These are usually people that are ignorant to all of those that do have a mental illness and feel like we have to hide because we don’t want to be classified as crazy either. All we can do is educate people. That mental illness is a chemical imbalance in our bodies, and this is how we can maintain a healthy balance. Where these are the main reasons for changes in medications, each reason is very personal.

Together we can stop the stigma of mental illness.

In case you missed it here is the Medication Tracker and Inspiring Reminder Notes as a FREE PRINTABLE.

Andrea signature

Comments 61

  1. Jewel Eliese

    Lovely article. It’s true. I do wish we could somehow stop the shame of mental illness. Besides not taking meds there are people who will never get treated because of shame, or friends and family who don’t know how to help someone and fear it.

    Thank you for sharing your insights.

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  2. Ivonne

    Kudos to you for taking on a subject that most steer away from! Mental illness is an illness no different than heart disease, cancer etc and should not come with a stigma but it does unfortunately and will be until more people like you are brave enough to talk about and help people understand!!

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  3. Kim

    STOP THE STIGMA!!! I love this. We can talk about so much in this world, overshare, way over post but we are still afraid to talk about what a huge amount of people live with, mental illness. If we don’t talk about it and support one another, we hand yet another generation our fears and well, all that goes with them. You’ve acknowledged some great, real and true reasons people stop taking medications here. I look forward to you continuing to share more.

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      Mental Health Andrea

      Thank you for your thoughtful reply! When I was originally diagnosed I felt like I had little places to go for support, which made me feel ever worse! Finally, after long struggles I have come to terms with my bipolar disorder enough to share what I have learned from the ‘inside’. And the silly thing is that it affects 1 in 4 of us but there are few that want to talk about it. How does that make sense? Thank you so much for your support! xo, Andrea

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  4. Sylvia

    My friend is suffering from bio polar disorder and unfortunately she cannot see when she is having an episode, she can only see when she is very low or very high but never in between and this is when she’s the worst to handle.

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      Mental Health Andrea

      This is one of the hardest things. It is hard to come to terms with having a mental illness. The key is giving her support and as many tools and resources you can find. Unfortunately, in this case, the rest of it is up to her. xo, Andrea

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  5. BD

    Lol So I’m not the only one who says “crazy meds?” Lol Humor is indeed my favorite coping mechanism. This stigmata against mental illness is ridiculous! Thank you so much for your blog and for speaking out! 🙂

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  6. Ronda Bowen

    No one should be in a position where he or she is called “brave” for sharing a battle with mental illnesses. If you need meds and they work for you, then yay! 😀 My anxiety gets out of control, and unfortunately, I’ve had bad reactions to every single med I’ve tried. 🙁 So…I’ve had to learn other ways of dealing with it…but I long for being able to just take a pill and have the anxiety actually subside.

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      Mental Health Andrea

      This must be so frustrating but I am so happy you have found other alternatives! And you are right… Mental Illness isn’t something that is so ‘bad’ to talk about that when you do you are called brave. But I do appreciate the support! 🙂 xo, Andrea

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  7. Maaya Legaspi

    Very brave to write about such topic. Mental illness though should be taken seriously just like any other illnesses. Although these are insightful because we would know the take of the person, it is still best to always follow what your doctor said and is prescribing. After all, it is for your mental health. 🙂

  8. Eugenia

    Your story touched me a lot! Thanks for raising awareness of such an important issue like mental illness and how to deal with it. I wish you all the best and hugs to you! Always stay strong and positive! 🙂

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  9. Shane

    So happy to have stumbled across your inspirational corner of the webs. I can unfortunately relate far too well to this. We are not alone!

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