In what ways have you found psychiatric medication(s) harmful, if any?
The whole process has been harmful by diverting me from working on core issues. Numbing emotional responses, blunting and making some of the spiritual and psychological growth around emotions difficult, because they are difficult to access.
During your mental health care, have you often felt hopeless about your chance of getting better?
Yes. I have been told that medications can be temporary helpful, that you can get off, but my experience has been that the reality is, there is a layering on. And, when more or other medications have been suggested, both my doctor and my psychologist have said that the reality is, life just gets more stressful as you get older, so getting off antidepressants isn’t necessarily realistic. Definitely a contradictory message from when I agreed to try them in the first place.
If you overcame hopelessness that you could get better from a mental health or emotional problem, was there a turning point for you?
Finding meaningful work in service to others, becoming aware of the recovery movement. Being given the message of hope by those who have recovered themselves.
Tell us what recovery means to you. How would you define recovery from mental health or emotional problems in your own words?
I believe it means different things to different people and is different over time. Right now, today, my hope for recovery is to be able to build an empowered, medication-free life, so that struggling with depression/anxiety is not a daily issue. Create wellness routines, more regular meditation, service, better diet, exercise etc. Learning to live a balanced life. So, recovery is a desire to move beyond limitations and feel joyful in my body. I’ve never identified with diagnoses, nor really received them, but have accepted a chronic level of depression that I’d like to recover from. For me, I guess, recovery also means making a spiritual transformation.
If you could send a brief message to someone receiving mental health care today who is feeling hopeless about getting better, what would you say?
You can get better. Many people have. You do have inner resources and you can uncover them. You are not a diagnosis, you are a whole and wonderful human being. Find your strengths and celebrate them. Do not apologize for yourself. Be kind. Make supportive friends. Hang in there. Surround yourself with love, even when you feel you don’t deserve it. Find your passion and pursue it, even if it is to help one other person today, even if only with a smile or a kind word. Small steps lead to big changes.
Can you give examples showing you have gotten better from a mental or emotional problem, such as how you are doing well or accomplishing goals you have chosen?
I have been able to reduce medications while taking on an incredibly stressful new job. I have found something I am passionate about, helping others, and am blessed to be able to do it for a living. I still struggle with anxiety and depression on a weekly basis, but I haven’t been hobbled or bedridden by it in a very long time.