Every psychiatrist knows that antipsychotic medications can only suppress the symptoms of mental illness. To eradicate the symptoms we need more. No wonder the psychiatric nurse who teamed up with the psychiatrist assigned to me when I was discharged said mental illness cannot be cured. It is because she understands that the meds can only suppress the symptoms. I started having depression only since I was on antipsychotic medications. Don’t get me wrong, I do believe in medications; if not, I wouldn’t practically take meds since the age of 18. I take medications which can cure me; like the 48 weeks of treatment I had for hepatitis c, I diligently gave myself injections, I diligently took oral meds. I knew if I didn’t I’d die of liver cancer. I have been taking antipsychotic meds for years, even when I have helped myself to be rid of depression and if it wasn’t for the terrible side-effects I would still be taking them. Why go against specialists who have spent years of training and hard work to learn their profession? I respect all doctors, they save lives. But since the side-effects have gone out of hand I had to do something about it. Since no specialist wants to help, I make decisions to reduce the meds gradually counting on intelligent ‘guesses’ based on what I could learn from books, from the internet where I could find papers, literature on mental illness and from experiences. I wish there was someone with the expertise to explain to me what to expect when I reduce the meds and why I am feeling like that. But sadly I have to risk doing what I do because there is no other way!
One important thing to keep well is that I can sleep, I have appetite and my mood is stable. I’ve learned ways of helping me to sleep. I started to have insomnia at a very young age, under 10, and I am proud to say that since 2018 after I left the hospital I do not need sleeping pills to help me sleep. I’ve learned some easy to do mindfulness from ACT, from a book on EMDR and I’ve paid to learn about Breatheology and now I can relax at any time, I can actually feel my head relaxing when I need it.
The side-effects are eating me away. I want a quality life and not to be an invalid who can’t walk properly because of lack of balance, dare not to travel on my own, have dizziness, have high blood pressure, gout, reflux, blurred vision, bad memory, difficulty to focus, coughed like hell, liver problem, diabetes… which is why I fight to stop the meds.
Why in Lapland, Finland, where the psychiatrists practise the Open Dialogue Theory will rather prescribe their patients sleeping pills instead of antipsychotic meds? Why I could talk a lady patient out of her death wish while we were in the hospital who wasn’t taking any meds? Why I could talk an elderly lady out of depression and she was taken off antidepressant finally? Are these not hard evidence that there are other therapies who do a better job than antipsychotic meds? What people like us need is LOVE, CARE, TRUST! If we are shown love, care we have a great chance of getting well. Trust is so important, if a patient does not trust his/her doctor it is almost impossible for the doctor to be able to help that patient.
Why did I choose to vote Labour after years of choosing National? It is because Labour is the first government who, ever since I came to New Zealand some thirty years ago, is doing something to improve the mental health system. If the next term of government does differently, I will still fight for improvements to the mental health system. I owe it to those who have suffered under the old mental health system. I’ve been asked to be the bridge and this is the beginning of my work being the bridge!