I was having a conversation with a friend today about treatment options regarding her Depression. After our talk I realized there was a time I would’ve judged her decision to take medication. I would’ve complained about “Big Pharma” and how they do everything for money without caring about the individual. I probably would’ve mentioned “natural alternatives” and suggested acupuncture, meditation or St. John’s Wort.
It wasn’t until I accepted I would be on (and off) medication my entire life that I stopped placing judgment on others experience with meds. Do you tell someone with a painful broken leg to only utilize physical therapy? Of course not. We would tell them to continue to check in with their doctor and take the medication prescribed for their recovery. You could probably think of other forms of treatment to go along with a broken leg but that isn’t my point. My point is to urge you to consider holding your judgment when it comes to people making tough decisions about their health care.
I was listening to a Podcast this week titled “Healing Anger” and heard the best advice I think I’ve ever received on the subject. The author asked the audience “When you get angry ask yourself-what am I defending?” I think this can be applied to our lives in so many ways. When you are judging someone for determining medication may be one of the best options for them, what are you defending?
Perhaps you are defending your ego. Our ego keeps us safe. It protects us. Why do you perceive this person’s decision as a personal threat? Is it really something you need to get involved with? What am I defending?
Maybe you have personal experience with this subject and you have strong views on it. The last thing you want is someone telling you your experience is invalid or that it isn’t what should’ve happened.What am I defending?
I personally struggled with the negative messages overheard from peers (in conversation & on social media) regarding medication and cried every day for 3 years because I didn’t want to take medication for fear of judgement. I wanted to be someone who didn’t need medication and someone who embraced feeling, rather than “running away from it with medication” so I tried yoga, St John’s Wort, I changed my diet and learned how to meditate. But, guess what? I was still struggling with thoughts of suicide and I didn’t want to get out of bed. I found it difficult to work because I didn’t want to go and I isolated myself from friends. It wasn’t until someone I trusted lovingly urged me to consider trying medication again that I started considering it. After discussing it with my therapist and psychiatrist I decided to give medication another chance. This was no easy decision and a lack of support and encouragement could’ve ended in my deciding to take my own life. What am I defending?
Consider learning you or a loved one has cancer. We all pretty much know what our options are regarding treatment and each of us has an idea of what we’d like our treatment to consist of, but what if your doctor assures you that this particular option will assure at least a 90-100% chance of you being healed? I’d like you to think about what it would be like for you to have to decide on a treatment choice. How long would it take you? Would you know right away? Would you consult with friends and family? Would you “take the pill”? What am I defending?
These are the same questions someone with mental illness is asking themselves about their treatment and in some ways it’s harder because you can’t always see what we deal with on an MRI or X-Ray. We don’t like having to rely on medication but do you know the crappy side effects are better than some of the extremely negative emotions we feel on a regular basis? Do we know Big Pharma is possibly just a tyrant and out for themselves? We do…and some of us have lived in misery for years because we don’t want to be part of it. Are some of us afraid to seek help because we are scared we will be stigmatized as a “crazy” person? Yes. And…some of us no longer have a voice because we chose suicide. What am I defending?
Just like when a family member is struggling with cancer, the people around us experience our pain, too. When you throw your value judgements out there as condemnation rather than an option for consideration, we internalize it and suffer even more. Our partners suffer. Our children suffer. Our friends and family suffer. Our co-workers suffer. Our pets suffer. Your judgment hurts.
~ Carmen Joyce, Founder & Director of ISM