My family has a long history of mental health issues ranging from anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder and I’m sure there is more that I’m not even aware of. I can safely say I’m mentally healthy – or so I seem to think! I like to joke about this because some days I feel like I’m losing my mind except I shouldn’t joke – this really is serious. Mental illness is real and not something people make up. If you have family members who suffer you understand what I am talking about. It is not something we can see but most times neither is cancer. It is a disease and even I am guilty for not acknowledging it or giving much sympathy to particular family members. Do they really choose to have issues with their brain and hormones that make them unbalanced at times and not like the rest of us? I think not.
I bring this very raw and emotional topic up and I feel naked writing this. As though I will be judged. I will be thought to be like the others in my family. When you have a family history of the illness you partially feel as though it defines you but I remind myself often that this is not the case. It has shaped me and impacted my life but it is not who I am. It also has made me realize that if I feel like I need help it is okay to ask for help – others I know have not done this.
Medicine is something that scares me when it comes to mental illness yet it has helped to make those close to me sane and what I like to think of as “normal” and so I cannot completely throw medicine out the window – sometimes it is necessary. I remember in college feeling very depressed, wanting to have the year end and be done with the experience. I hated where I lived, the guy I loved did not love me and I missed friends and family. My doctor prescribed an antidepressant and I filled the prescription. I did not take one pill. I knew I was not clinically depressed and medicine was not going to make things better or me happier – only I could do this. Only I could move on from this broken heart, deal with school for a few months and make the best of a bad situation. I did this without medicine but looking back I am angry with the doctor for just filling out a script. Was it because of my family history?
I fear this for my own children. My cousin was diagnosed recently with ADHD and possibly some other illnesses and he is so young that it breaks my heart. I’m not a proponent of medicine but I recognize with our history and his own history that the other options have been exhausted. Talk therapy is something he will go through in conjunction with medicine and figuring out the right course of treatment. For some people this form of therapy is all they need. I’m intrigued by the notion that talking can actually be a solution for fewer prescriptions and children taking less medicine. What a novel idea because we all know it helps to just talk to through – get it out there and off our chest. For my dear cousin, he’ll need both for now but maybe not always. I’m torn knowing that I have that history and recognizing that prescription drugs have side effects and are over prescribed but also knowing that they can give an unhealthy person a second chance at living happy.
What if talk therapy is used at a younger age with children, could it be possible that this could help them long term not need medicine at all? The study is fascinating and could give many parents a great solution before prescribing medicine. I recognize alternative medicine and other suggestions and embrace them as solutions for some families and children, this just seems like an idea that some families could explore safely and feel comfortable with.
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