Take a look at these stats (pictured below) shown on the national ITV news this lunch time (29/05/18). Shocking right! 64.7 million anti depressant meds handed out in one year!! 64.7 million!!!!! wow! Now note the date shown on the stats, refers to the number of pills handed out is from 2016 so this figure will have certainly risen. Its unbelievable right? But it gets worse, as those 64.7 million prescriptions are not helping.
The news had two guests on to discuss the situation. One was a service user, meaning someone who suffered from mental health. And they also had a Dr from Kings College or some fancy hospital down London anyway. The lady who had suffered told her story…
She had begun to feel low and very anxious shortly after finishing university. She went to her GP. They prescribed her some anti-depressants with little discussion. She simply said how she felt and was given the pills. She wasn’t told about any potential side effects, nor was she told about any alternative or additional treatments. She was simply given the pills and told to come back for reviews. She always struggled to get the reviews, and nothing was ever changed from them. After taking the pills she began to experience side effects. Her initial symptoms became a lot worse, her moods plummeted, and she began to self-harm. Her intimacy with her partner was affected as where her relationships with people in general. However, during her reviews, no side effects where mentioned, no different pills or other methods of treatment where discussed or offered.
They then asked the Dr for his opinion and asked if more training needed to given to GPS to educate them on mental health. Of course being a Dr himself he was reluctant to say that the GPS needed further training. Instead he took the safe route. He blamed the system. He said that the reason proper treatment or advice isn’t provided is due to the time constraints placed on GP’s, to keep all and every consultation with patients to 10 minutes. He said this doesn’t give them enough time to discuss with the patient. So let’s dissect this for a moment.
First off, it doesn’t take long to say something like “Ok Jane Doe I hear that your feeling down and I can prescribed you some anti depressants if you think they would help you. But let me make you aware there are some side effects attached to taking the medication and you can read more about these on the leaflets within the medication so you can make an informed choice and I employ you to do so. Furthermore, I would like to make you aware that there are many other options available to you and there is a nation wide run charity ‘mind’ who have a great website that would be able to provide you with more information”. That would take less then 2 mins to speak!!
Secondly I have to disagree with the lack of additional training being needed. Speaking from personal experience only last week! My own GP tried to prescribe me anti depressants when I told him my symptoms of Border Line Personality Disorder where becoming over bearing and I had drank heavily and self harmed as a result. Well, the issues is, there is NO medicine available to treat BPD and certainly not anti depressants. I am aware that GP’s can’t possibly know everything about all mental health issues considering it is such a complex area. But what I do slightly agree with is the system failing us. What would happen if this was a physical issue, we would be referred to a specialist. Yet this isn’t always so available or possible with the NHS due to a disgustingly lack of funding. Mental health is the most under funded department of the NHS yet male suicide is THE biggest killer of young men!
So I do agree that the system is to blame but I also do not agree that it is all down to the system. I also think Drs need more training and to be more aware that they are often they only source of support or help to mental health patients and therefore they need to be more educated in that area.
But politics aside now. Back to the issue of the lady who shared her story. The side effects that she suffered.
PILLS ARE NOT THE ONLY ANSWER
The side effects of mental health medications are just too much for many of us to bear. As the lady above discussed and as my own experiences demonstrate also. If you are on medication, I urge you know to look at the leaflet inside your medication and search the section which outlines the side effects. I used to ignore these leaflets and side effects in any medicines thinking oh that is just extreme examples. But you will see that in recent years they now tell you the majority of cases. Such as it will say something like 1 in 10 people will experience … and then list. Now when you compare 1 in 10 with the figures from 2016 that is a hell of a lot of people who are going to experience those side effects.
MY EXPERIENCE WITH MEDS
I won’t go into too much detail. I will focus on the meds more. So, as like the lady in the news, I was at uni! I think this is just a coincidence but maybe not lol. Anyway, I noticed my thoughts were not my own shall we say. I noticed I was having thoughts that I shouldn’t be. To be blunt I was day dreaming of ways to kill myself. I was wondering if life would be better without me in it. I was having these thoughts and just unable to control my moods. I was very reactive but I was worried I was going to act on my thoughts and wanted help. So, I did what you do. I went to the GP. I had a bond with my GP we got on. I see him a lot due to joys of having a chronic illness and auto immune illness. So I was lucky I felt kind of, able to speak to him. So I did, I trusted him, I trusted his expert knowledge. He did what they do, he prescribed me anti depressants. And very much like the lady above, my symptoms went from bad to worse. I couldn’t face uni any more I was trying to work from home and giving excuses as to why my work was late or incomplete. I lost all motivation for, well, anything. I was a lot worse I was no longer me. I was a empty shell. I was numb. I begun to self harm. But this wasn’t enough. My journey with meds ended when I tired to end my life. I was as close to death as you can be without actually dying, To read the rest or more of my story then please do so here, as the purpose of this blog is to discuss meds not little old me.
IS THIS YOU?
So, I am aware how similar my story is to the lady on the news above, and to so many others I speak with too. Is it resonating with you? Do you feel like your meds have affected your life in other ways or made certain things worse than they were before? Have they made you feel like a shell of you? Numb?
IS THERE ANOTHER WAY? – Does it have to be all holistic therapy mumbo jumbo stuff?
There is always is right!? We just must find it and see it and believe in it! I am not the anti-meds type. I am not and have not been a holistic medicine person and into all things natural. I appreciate what this modern world and medicine can do for us. After all my other medications for my auto immune system keep me alive!
But I also appreciate that in some instance, pills just aint the answer! And its ok. There are plenty of times when pills aint the answer so why can’t this be one too? Why just because society says ‘if your depressed take meds and your fixed, deal with it’. We have learned before that we have carried on ‘traditions’ for years only to find out it was the wrong way, or lets rephrase that, it wasn’t the best way.
PILLS ARE NOT THE ONLY ANSWER
So lets get to the point then. What is the other answer? Is there just one? Is it guaranteed to work and cure you?
So many questions are buzzing in your head right now. I know. Let me get real tough here for a moment ok? Bear with me!
TOUGH LOVING – TIME TO GET REAL
Ok, so I am going to say something now that might hurt you, anger you, and make you want to close this blog right now and call me all the names under the sun and say I am wrong. I get that I have been there too. So if this I you now, I will meet you again soon, when you are ready, our paths will cross again.
But for now the truth is this –
You are mentally ill you are battling against your own mind and YOU ALWAYS WILL! You may never be FULLY CURED. You may feel like you have overcome your mental illness, your depression lets say, but then one day, one year it creeps back in from no where! Just like it did to begin with. You are mentally ill and you need to accept this. Don’t feel dirty by it, don’t feel ashamed, don’t feel like a bad part of society, don’t feel like why me? Don’t feel shunned by society. Don’t beat yourself up over it. It is as much a part of you as your heart is, as your lungs are. It is simply a part of you and you get to choose how big a part, with my help. YOU ARE ILL AND YOU MAY NEVER BE CURED, FULLY.
OK SO NOW WHAT?
That is the first part to any other help. To do more than pills, to have more than pills you need to accept you and your situation. You need to get to terms with it. Not be ok with it, but just be aware of it and ok with it. Its you.
So what if I could tell you that you can get the exact same chemicals as in the pills BUT WITHOUT THE SIDE EFFECTS! Yes you herd me right. I can teach you and help you to get the important “happy hormones” pumped right into your vein’s. But with no pills or needles!!!
Serotonin and dopamine are two of the chemicals used in mental health medications. These are what are duped the happy hormones. They stabilise our moods and contribute to us being ‘happy’.
EXERCISE releases happy hormones! Yes, exercise releases serotonin and dopamine to name a few. Exercise is rightly so dubbed as the most under utilised anti depressant!
BREAK OFF TRADITION
Traditionally we look at exercise as a chore, something we do merely for our physical appearance, for cosmetic affect. To look good basically, to feel confident in our skin. But it is far far far far far, from what it really is or what I really use it for. The cosmetic effect is simply a positive side effect. And it also helps many other physical areas in our anatomy such as our heart, blood pressure etc. But in a nice way I aint concerned with that. I am only concerned with getting those happy chemicals directly into my body with NO PILLS AND NO NASTY SIDE EFFECTS.
I know it can seem hard at first, and motivation plays a huge factor! But they key is to re open your eyes. Re look at why you are doing it.
PAIN V PLEASURE
Everything we do in our lives is associated with pain or pleasure. This is the basis of ALL our decision making in the pursuit of and the avoidance of these two feelings. And being aware of this will make a dramatic shift in itself. I wont go into too much detail. But basically if we have associated pain to something, we just wont go there again, or any more. So let me try and contextualise this for you.
You went to a concert, it was your first one, it was outside and it was summer. It rained, you felt awful you was so embarrassed by how your hair looked, your makeup sliding off your face, your clothes stunk and you just felt rotten. To top it off people kept standing on your toes, spilling drinks on you and the music was that loud your hears went on to hurt for days ! you spend days recovering from your bruised feet, pride and your hears ringing.
Now let me ask you, next time someone invites you to a summer concert do you think you would accept? A lot of us would say no. We had a bad experience and that sort of thing just isn’t for us. So, we decline. Then imagine this. You didn’t go, but if you had you would have met your soul mate! Your idol, your celeb crush. But your fear of history repeating it self robbed you of that.
WHATS MY POINT HERE?
My point is you need to erase all your old thoughts and feelings towards exercise. You need to forget everything you used to negatively associate with exercise. Because now it has changed, your reason for it has changed and that is exactly what you need to focus on! The new end result!!! The way to get the chemicals you need but without the side effects that you don’t.
I know, I get you, how can you get out of bed and workout when most days getting out of bed alone is enough. I know ! I have been there and will be there again. Sometimes, many times I have spent HOURS trying to motivate myself to workout and I know exactly how much better it makes me feel. But I still have to summon my motivation. I have a whole series of lives that I have done in my support group (www.facebook.com/groups/headstrong) where I have discussed motivation and how I have found it or more so what I do to find it. So if motivation is worrying you then take some time to work through these ‘motivational’ videos below.
THERE IS MORE …
There are so many other things you can do that doesn’t involve pills. And that you use in combination with exercise. Mindset work is a crucial part of learning to become stronger than the mind. Learning how to love you, learning how and why to keep a journal, learning tips and techniques to stop yourself from overthinking. Learning how to beat insomnia, because insomnia goes hand in hand with most, if not all mental illnesses. There is so much more. And I put all this into one place. I have built a single place for us all to come together and become stroner than the mind. To become a tribe of like minded people committed to becoming a new version of us, a better version, a version that is simply stronger than our minds!
Love and hugs as always