Jesse’s Off His Meds Again

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Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.

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11 Responses

  1. Avatar DensityDuck says:

    Medication for mental conditions is like insulin for diabetics. You cannot just tough your way through the issue. If I eat a candy bar, my blood sugar will go up unless I take insulin. Even if I do the things that make regular people’s blood sugar go down; I could eat a candy bar and go run a mile and my blood sugar would be higher than when I started, unless I took insulin to deal with that candy bar.

    It is not some kind of moral failing to say “hey, the chemistry in my body doesn’t work right and needs assistance”.Report

    • I know a couple who have managed to get themselves off of it – Abel Keogh discusses it with regards to his wife in his great memoir – but it’s pretty rare.Report

    • Avatar Alan Scott in reply to DensityDuck says:

      It’s not always that simple though.

      I used to take SSRIs for clinical depression, and I don’t anymore. I wouldn’t qualify what I do now as “toughing my way through”, but I am jumping over walls that my medicine used to knock down.

      But whatever the benefits for my mental illness, the medicine too often made me physically sick. And, while I didn’t realize it until I stopped taking it, it suppressed my sexuality, which was a big factor in the social isolation of my teenage years that was so linked to my depression.

      The key isn’t that there’s one right way. It’s that there’s no one morally superior way. My choice to not take meds is no more or less valid than someone else’s choice to take them. Likewise, my boyfriend’s choice to rely on an insulin pump to permit him a high-carb diet is no more or less valid than my grandmother’s choice to eat a low-carb diet. In each case, the decision relies on the specifics of the medical situation (not all depression is the same, not all diabetes is the same) and factors related to personal preferences and habits (my grandmother has a broad palate and a shelf full of recipe books. My boyfriend is such a picky eater that any dietary restrictions on top of that would see him starve.)Report

      • Avatar PD Shaw in reply to Alan Scott says:

        In most cases of clinical depression, the best treatment is medication and cognitive therapy. People invariably stop taking the medication for the reasons you describe, and are at risk of suicide during the withdrawal period, some argue worse than had no medication been taken at all.Report

        • Avatar Kim in reply to PD Shaw says:

          It’s a bad sign when the researchers won’t take the meds, ain’t it?Report

        • Avatar Alan Scott in reply to PD Shaw says:

          Plus the increased suicide risk when people start the pills. Supervision by a doctor is important for medical changes in either direction. Sadly, I didn’t have that. I quit taking my medicine because it suddenly became unavailable in the US, and I was in college and not under the care of a local doctor who could be aware of this and prescribe a replacement. I didn’t so much as decide to stop taking it as decide to not start taking it again once that was an option.

          But that’s one of the things that really matters when it comes to such meds. When I was first put on them in my pre-teens, I was under the care of a family doctor, who referred me to a regular specialist. In my adult life, I’ve never had that same stability of medical care. If I get to the point where I see the same doctor three times in a row again, I might reconsider my decision.Report

  2. Avatar Doctor Jay says:

    I am intimately familiar with multiple people who are supposed to be taking psychotropic medication, and I’m not just talking about SSRIs for depression.

    One of them is now committed to it, and as a result is consistently much better off. The other two can’t seem to figure it out. I think the biggest difference between them is age. I think young people under the age of 25 have a very hard time accepting the idea that they need to take the medication. Watching them go off, and knowing that you have no ability to change what they are doing is pretty tough.

    And in that mix you will see people who went off something and say, “Yeah, I beat it. I don’t have to take those.” Considering how often people I love have said that and been wrong, it’s hard to listen to.Report