Awareness of the stigma around mental health is vital to removing it.
My policy is to combat ageism by being ‘out’ about my age. I’m 65.
Similarly, I am ‘out’ about my mental health condition, which for medical convenience has the label ‘Bi-Polar 2’.
While I respect this, and agree that deep sadness should not be pathologized, procuring a label from a psychiatrist opened up some treatment options that have panned out well for me.
Consequently, I don’t feel the need to condemn the allopathic approach to treating mental illness at large as nefarious.
As a matter of fact, I’ve been on meds for years. It took a minute to get the ‘cocktail’ right, but it’s been years since I’ve needed to up the dosage of anything. I realize this is not the case for everyone.
But it is for some, as it was for me. Moreover, being on medication allowed me to do the work of emotional and spiritual recovery. While I think there are probably health benefits to being free of the need to take medications, whether that be for physical or mental reasons, in both cases chemical intervention enabled me to live a life worth living.
I may have a bit more work to do before my need for medication is obviated. Just as there is anecdotal evidence that an advanced yogi can drop acid without feeling it, conversely I believe at some point I can wean myself off of medication without a nose-dive from a positive to negative perception of my life.
Dependence on anything external is troubling to me, especially when that dependance requires money and permission. So far I have the privilege of both.
There are physiological downsides to withdrawal from one of my meds in particular, even at a very gradual pace of reduction. I get what are called ‘brain shivers’. It’s an altogether unpleasant and difficult sensation to describe, not to mention inconveniently disruptive. Frankly, next time I try to get off it, I’ll opt to be more engaged with my prescriber. Heck, I’ll opt to do it under some fancy in-house clinical environment.
That said, my first obligation is to my family’s survival in a capitalistic society. So I’m using the tools at my disposal to attend to that. My hope is that at some point, I will accrue the fiscal resources necessary for the aforementioned optimal environment in which to come off the meds.
In the meantime, even if that day never comes, at least I’m helping people and enjoying myself.