“Psych drugs are poison pushed onto people by greedy drug companies.”
“Don’t take a pill, going to therapy is the only thing that works.”
“You don’t need to pay some therapist, just talk to your friends and stay positive.”
“ADD isn’t real, you just have that prescription to help you study.”
“If you just got out more, you wouldn’t be so sad.”
They’re theories that we hear day in and day out, time and time again. Given that one in five people in America suffers from mental illness, it’s not uncommon to hear people’s individual takes on the subject. And if it wasn’t hard enough to face the possibility that you might need help, the societal stigmatization that comes along with mental illness make it that much harder to be publicly open about your own struggles. And I don’t understand why it’s so stigmatized to come out as mentally ill, but so acceptable for everyone else to voice their opinion on whether you’re ill or not and how you should treat it.
A mix of things worked for me: medication, therapy, a fixed sleep schedule, eating healthier and more regularly, relaxation techniques, journaling, the list goes on. Different strokes work for different folks, and how I effectively treated my mental illness might not work for yours, or your child’s, or your cousin’s. And yet in any given conversation, I find myself defending one of them from someone who thinks it’s crap or thinks there is only only way to sanity.
Maybe therapy was a waste for your cousin. Maybe they hated the medication that was forced upon them. Maybe they’re still working through how to best cope with their problems. But I’m going to defend the things that worked for me as possible treatment options, because I am proof that what worked for me can work sometimes. And any uninformed, blanket statement—you know the kind, drugs bad, nature good—that keeps struggling people from exploring a treatment option that may make them better, is cruel.
What really gets me is that all this unhelpful, uninformed speculating has drained all the energy and focus away from real problems facing the mental health care system. It’s like watching a dog chase it’s own tail when you’re trying to get it to bark and scare away the intruder at the door. There are real problems within the system, including underfunding, understaffing, stigma, professional burnout, lack of treatment options, and high cost of treatment.
But the stigma that taking “crazy pills” is crazy in and of itself shouldn’t exist. You know what’s crazy? Decrying something that could genuinely help, if only we could give it a chance.