What I Consider Fundamentally “Me”

Sara Hale; Maidsville, WV

In total for your whole lifetime, about how long have you taken prescribed psychiatric medications?

More than 10 years

Are you currently taking any prescribed psychiatric medications?


In what ways have you found psychiatric medication(s) helpful, if any?

When my emotions, physical symptoms, and thoughts were extremely disturbing the meds ‘took the edge off’ so to speak. But ironically, had I been encouraged to ‘hold on’ when I first presented with symptoms and let nature do its thing, I wouldn’t have ended up experiencing those more extreme, disturbing experiences…

Most of my serious problems were caused by psychiatric drugs in my opinion. I’ve suspected that for a while and now I’m reading things that confirm that.

In what ways have you found psychiatric medication(s) harmful, if any?

My thinking has been handicapped. I remember what it used to feel like when my brain was firing on all its pistons, at a high level, and on meds that experience doesn’t exist.

They’ve physically taken their toll in some ways, causing me to gain 30-40 pounds, depending on where you start counting.

My self-esteem has probably suffered most of all. It’s indescribable being told that you must take meds for the rest of your life to make your brain work. The brain is what we associate with being ‘ourselves’. So in essence, I’ve been told that I do not exists without medications. What could be called ‘me’, my brain, is not valid without a slew of medications that, if anything, contort my regular responses, reactions, and intentionalities into things that my biological brain was never naturally meant to convey as part of what I consider fundamentally ‘me’.

During your mental health care, have you often felt hopeless about your chance of getting better?

Yes. I have been told many times that I would need to take meds for the rest of my life. There has been the specter there, for me, of gradually declining to the point where I would need round the clock observation and looking after, even whilst on the medications. I’ve often wondered how my husband would deal with that, and I’ve felt hopeless about the progress of my life and my illness.

Although I’ve never been told this to my face by doctors, that I would gradually decline until I couldn’t care for myself, they always presented a hopeful prognosis, I felt this way. I had an overwhelming feeling that it was going to play out that way. I’m not a pessimistic person. I got this very distinct impression of my prognosis, I believe, observing the almost 20 years in the ‘system’ I spent and my steady dissolution and greater reliance on psych meds over those 20 years.

If you overcame hopelessness that you could get better from a mental health or emotional problem, was there a turning point for you? Please describe:

I think it very well could be now. I am now in my first week of being completely fee of all psych meds. It is EXTREMELY difficult right now, physically and emotionally, as well as in my thought life. I’m struggling to maintain a positive outlook. Or I should say that differently….I’m struggling not to give in to my extremely negative outlook right now.

But I find it very interesting and amazing that there is a part of my brain that keeps repeating: “What you’re feeling is NOT you, if you hold on through this time, there is hope to be had, you will feel it.”

Tell us what recovery means to you. How would you define recovery from mental health or emotional problems in your own words?

What I want is to feel like what is coming from my brain and heart, the ‘product’ of me, is genuinely of me. Whatever is coming out; fear, anger, self-loathing, shame, happiness, elation, unreality, not fitting into society—whatever—I want to know for sure that it’s my product and not a byproduct of a psych drug. Maybe that is a sad lowering of expectations for me.

At one point in my life, I was so uncomfortable with those natural products coming from me that I just wanted them all to go away…immediately! But I was not informed that there would be such horrible trade-offs while taking meds, and that they could actually harm me. Now, I’m no longer confident that I will EVER fit into society. As f@#%ed up as this American society is, I don’t even care if I ‘fit in’ anymore. But to recover, all I want now is to exude myself and not the stench of drugs.

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 am still working full time, after all these almost 20 years…I’ve been one of the lucky ones who was able to function fairly well in spite of my illness (and the treatment). But I don’t hold up my supposed ‘success’ over the years as an example of what meds can do for you. Rather, I hung on through horrible horrible times in spite of all of this. I’ve been miserable for 20 years and managed to keep plugging along. I have intellectual hope that my life is going to get better, but that hope, as a feeling, has not yet reached my heart.