To the People Who Tell Me to Go Off My Psych Meds

Melissa S.
medical bottle with pills on pink background.

When you tell me I don’t need my psych meds, I want you to know you’re also telling me I do not deserve to be a functional member of society, simply because I can’t do it the “natural” way.

You are saying I do not deserve to hold down a job or maintain a relationship of any kind, because I cannot do those things on my own without the help of my medications.

When you tell me to go off my meds, you are telling me to accept being repeatedly hospitalized for suicide attempts, to accept being isolated and to accept having no sense of normalcy because that’s just how my life is when I’m unmedicated. And since, in your opinion, being unmedicated is the only solution, you’re implying that’s the quality of life I deserve.

A little known secret that many neurotypical don’t seem to realize is that some people who take psychiatric medications do not want to take them. They are not taking the “easy way out,” nor are they med-seeking. The reality is, they’ve exhausted all other options. Yet, despite this reality, I still hear ignorant comments quite often from people who seem to think they know better than my doctor.

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“Psych meds just seem to be the ‘trendy’ thing to do these days. But most people who are on them don’t need them,” you say.

Except most people do. Most people don’t pay co-pays and deductibles for fun, and they don’t put up with the awful, life-altering side effects for no reason. Choosing between mental stability and dealing with endless fatigue, increased appetite, nausea and tremors (just to name a few) is not an easy choice to make.

“Do you really want to rely on medication to make you happy? Don’t you want to learn how to be happy on your own?” you ask as if I actually have a choice.

Because trust me, I’ve tried to be happy without taking medications. Multiple times, in fact. If I could, I would. I do not like taking these meds.

“Psych meds ruin your life,” you tell me. “They mess with your brain and make you into a totally different person.”

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And maybe if you took them, psych meds would ruin your life, but they save mine every single day. Why, you ask? Because they do mess with my brain. They do make me into a totally different person — a person who’s not on the constant verge of killing herself, and a person who’s happy to still be alive.

My personal favorite to hear: “You just haven’t tried everything yet. Try more all-natural remedies first, like aroma therapy or exercise!”

Which, you’re absolutely right, those things could help. Living a healthy life can make you feel better, I’ve seen that for myself. But sometimes, it’s not enough.

Because believe me when I say that people like me have tried every other option out there, but every other option didn’t work. And hearing all of your med-shaming comments don’t help us, they only cause us to feel guilty — or worse, trigger us to go off our meds despite needing them. And when that happens…

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Well, when that happens, it’s a pretty dark place. It might not be at first, you might think you were right and gave great advice, but in my experience, as all of the meds gradually drain out of my system, my mind turns to a place of chaos and despair. Personally, I always end up in the hospital after deciding people like you are right and stopping my meds is a good idea, because the medications I’m on are the key to my stability. They’re the only thing that stops me from jumping off the edge every day.

So, before you med-shame, I want you to realize that a healthy diet will not stop me from killing myself. Drinking more water will not stop me from killing myself. Even your beloved exercise will not stop me from killing myself.

But for me, psych meds might. And sometimes, they’re the only thing that will.

So, let us take them in peace.

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