The Privilege of Being ‘Against’ Mental Health Medication

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“I would never take medication.” It’s something I’ve heard a lot in my life.

At age 20, I lost my mind overnight, but this isn’t really about that. It’s about what resulted in the following years.

After this incident happened in college, I sought psychiatric help. I went through years of med trials, therapeutic interventions, shamanic depossessions, you name it. I tried over 20 different medications looking for something, anything, that would help me get my basic sense of mental functioning back. Since bipolar disorder is something that runs in my family, I was lucky to have some basic background knowledge of what treatment includes. What I was not lucky to have, however, was an unrelenting sense of societal stigma around everything I was doing to try and get better.

“Have you tried prayer?” 

“Exercise?” 

“This diet?”

“That diet?” 

“Have you tried focusing on your breath?”

The answer is yes, yes and yes. And the answer is also no  — it did not make my bipolar disorder stable enough to live my life functionally.

Wanna know the only thing that has allowed me to continue living my life?

Medication. And yes, I do absolutely everything else therapeutic for myself as well. And I still often have meltdowns, med adjustments, moments of extreme hopelessness… but you know what — I can live. And many days I can feel deep gratitude for my life as well.

After a friend of mine died by suicide in college, I know what it’s like to survive that kind of tragedy. So, naturally, I’m going to do whatever it takes to be here — even if it means medication.

I’m a Reiki Master and a devoutly spiritual person. I’m studying holistic health in school. I go to women’s moon circles, sound healings and ecstatic dance. I have some amazing community in my life. I also encounter a lot of straight “hippiecrites.”

What is a hippiecrite, you ask?

A hippiecrite is someone who preaches love and light, but in reality harshly judges others. Their spirituality is wrapped deeply in their ego, even though they will claim to have risen above the ego construct. Wanna know what a hippiecrite hates more than anything?

Western medicine.

I understand why. There are side effects, toxicity and a lot of corporate bullshit wrapped up in pharmaceutical companies. The majority of doctors do not know anything about nutrition and preventative modalities, and are quick to push medications on their patients. Many people end up on meds who do not benefit from them, and they actually cause harm.

But what about those of us who do need them?

We are then put into an even more highly stigmatized category. Now, we are not only struggling to go on with our lives in a healthy way, we are shamed for taking our medicine. Yes, it does not solve “the root cause,” but if that root cause is genuinely something in our brains, it might keep us going when nothing else does.

I’m not suggesting that everyone who struggles with their mental health should go pop some pills. All I’m suggesting is that we stop being so black and white in our conversations around mental illness and medication. It’s case by case, brain by brain, person by person. Just because one person took ayahuasca in Peru and felt happier does not mean if I take ayahuasca in Peru I’ll stop being bipolar. Those of us who have severe mental health issues are fucking brave to keep on keeping on, and this level of stigma does not make our lives easier.

Whatever circles you run in, keep this in mind next time you decide to start shaming Western medicine. I can guarantee someone in your circle is benefiting from that “poison you would never come near.” And I guarantee you’re making them feel like shit because you’re coming from a place of health privilege. Don’t be a hippiecrite, you’re better than that.

RESOURCES FROM DEPRESSION AND BIPOLAR SUPPORT ALLIANCE

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