M is for…medication

It is not a secret that I have schizophrenia – far form it. I am quite comfortable talking about my ‘other’ diagnosis. One thing about schizophrenia is that it is usually treated with anti-psychotic medication. I have taken medication continuously since1995 and, barring any medical breakthroughs, I will be taking medication for the rest of my life. 

A lot of people assume medication is a negative. I would disagree with that. For m the medication enables me to live a fulfilled life and keeps me safe from psychosis (most of the time). Psychosis is basically like being in a waking nightmare. It is terrifying and dangerous. I wish I didn’t need to take the meds but I do. 

Psychiatric medications work differently for each person. There is no point recommending a medication to someone because what works for me may not work for someone else. I have had to try a range of medications before I found a regimen that suits me and helps with the symptoms. The medication doesn’t ‘cure’ me of the illness but it makes life more manageable. I now take an antipsychotic medication called Clozapine. Clozapine is like the last line of defence schizophrenia medication. It is only prescribed for treatment-resistant schizophrenia. It has potentially life-threatening side effects so doctors do not prescribe it lightly. For me it has ben life changing and I know that I need to as I had to stop taking it briefly last year and I got impressively unwell!

I have a love hate relationship with the meds. They enable me to work and write and do all the good things I do but they impact on my enjoyment of life. I have to go to bed at 7pm and wake up eleven or twelve hours later. The medication has stolen my evenings! The meds also put on weight and have an impact on my cognition so I am a lot less of an intellect than I was – a pretty difficult  thing for an author and knowledge worker! 

When people say they don’t want to put their child on medication for things like ADHD I am conflicted. I know that for a lot of people ADHD meds are life-changing. Doctors generally have a fair grasp of the impact of medicating a child but I do understand if parents are reluctant as ADHD meds are pretty heavy duty. I also know that ADHD meds can make a huge positive difference for people with ADHD be they a kid or an adult. It is important to know is that neurodivergent people – and especially autistic people – can have different reactions to medication to their neurotypical peers. Doctors prescribing medication really need to know this as an autistic person can need a lot less – or more – medication to their neurotypical peers to achieve a therapeutic and effective dose. 

So for me, medication is an essential part of managing my mental health issues. It is not an option for me to not take it.  I need it and I always well. I am very grateful that the meds exist and I can access them as they enable me to do the things I do. 

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