The one mental illness stigma I would change if I could wave a magic wand

God knows, there’s so much stigma around mental illness. Sometimes, I don’t know where to start. But if I had a magic wand, and I could only change one false perception, it would be this: the idea that it’s somehow self-destructive, or even a sign of weakness, to take meds for your illness.

Persona che prende una pillola, pastiglia

There are no “magic pills” for mental illness treatment. But the right meds, given with the consultation of your doctor, can be a lifeline.

I hear this resistance all the time, and I get a little angry any time I hear it. For any other type of illness, most people have very little resistance to meds. If you had a heart condition, or diabetes, or cancer, or anything else, you’d want to get treatment for it, wouldn’t you? But somehow, when mental illness is involved, so many react like they’re being asked to drink cyanide.

Here are the three resistance reasons I hear most often.

I don’t want anything affecting my brain or who I am. I think this comes from the very outdated notion that you’ll somehow wind up like a permanent zombie. You won’t. Meds and treatment have become much more advanced nowadays. And I’m not necessarily talking about pharmaceutical meds. There are alternative treatments as well, and the type of treatment you get should be between you and your doctor. But damn it, get treatment! You’ll still be you!

Meds will ruin my creativity. I’ve heard this from quite a few writers, painters, musicians and actors. And it’s complete bullshit. If you don’t believe me, maybe you’ll believe people like James Taylor, Carrie Fisher, or Sarah Silverman — people who are quite creative, and who will tell you, from experience, that the right treatment actually OPENS your creativity. If you want to turn your pain into art, great. The world needs more of that. But you’re much more likely to create something great if your brain’s actually running on all cylinders.

I don’t want to deal with the side effects.  This one does have some validity. But only some. Because the truth is, no matter what meds you take, there probably will be some side effects. But a good doctor can help you manage them, and may even be able to adjust your meds in order to reduce side effects.

So, if there’s anyone reading this who is resisting taking meds, please, please at least give them a try, in consultation with your doctor. With the right treatment, so many mental illnesses can be managed.

I’ve learned to become very grateful for my meds. I don’t even want to think about where I’d be without them. I’m much more ME with them than I ever was without them.





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