Friday, July 16, 2010

What is an acceptable trade-off for the meds?

I realize that if I don't apply myself in this heat, the blog will wilt away. Even though I don't have much to offer these days, you're going to get a post anyway. Here are my latest musings about why I am so against meds when any "reasonable" person can see that meds are an important part of treatment.

Meds are a code word in schizophrenia for the doctor is in charge for life if you aren't careful. Meds never cured anyone, in the context of mental illness, that is. Doctors will be the first to admit this, because after all, there is "no cure" for schizophrenia, is there? There is only management of this "disease." This means that your life is placed in the hands of social workers and doctors and occupational therapists, who will manage your life to death while urging you to take charge of it, which is difficult (though not impossible) to do on meds, as I attempt to illustrate below.

It is axiomatic that an involvement with social workers, doctors and occupational therapists means your life is dysfunctional. This sounds like an obvious slight to generally good people doing difficult jobs, but, they are there to aid the dysfunctional. If you managed your own life better, there would be no need for social workers and doctors. If you want to get functional, you will eventually have to cut the ties that bind.

When I think of why I hate the meds so much, I always think of a lovely young woman in Chris's day program. She was pretty and petite and developed into an absolute butterball on the meds. She went from being socially acceptable and very attractive in terms of appearance to being an outcast based on her appearance. She dropped out of the program for a while and when she reappeared, she had shed all the weight and looked great, but her eyes were very, very sad. Fast forward a few months into the program (and the medications). Her mother and sister continue to be slim and fashionable, and Rosita (not her real name) was once again huge. Setting aside her problems that got her a diagnosis in the first place, Rosita now had a further problem of social stigma based on her weight. She was also now a physical oddity in her own family. No doubt her family felt more pity towards her because of the weight. No doubt she felt it. A young woman her age would be interested in dating - how was this going to happen?

Doctors feel that this is an acceptable trade-off for the meds, which don't cure anyone and supposedly help you manage your life better. At the same time, psychiatrists are offering you no real alternatives to the meds, such as the kind I write about in my blog.
So, yes, I hate the meds because they are symptomatic of the larger problem of hiding unpleasant truths from people while making others glaringly obvious and they prevent doctors from empowering their patients.


  1. I have a friend who is huge due to the cocktail of six or seven (I've lost track of how many exactly) "meds" she's on, too. It's not only that others treat her like an outcast because of her appearance, she also hates herself because of it. How is self-hatred supposed to be healing??

  2. "How is self-hatred supposed to be healing??"


  3. I gained a great deal of weight while taking antipsychotics, too. Most of it was due to massive overeating (a result of stress and staying in my house all day) but the drugs didn't help matters.

    My illness was enough to deal with and I was very sad to have lost my looks in addition to my sanity.

    Unlike a lot of people who respond to this blog, I credit my antipsychotic medication with restoring my sanity. I had no intention of giving it up. The better I felt mentally, though, the more I wanted to lose weight.

    In addition to dieting and starting a serious excercise regimen, I began to take a diabetes drug called metformin.

    This use off-label use for metformin is no secret. It has been written about in medical journals and can be looked up by anyone who is interested. I find it incredible that so few doctors seem to know about it. I guess they just don't keep up with their reading.

    It worked out well for me. I'm still taking an antipsychotic but I've lost a lot of weight and I am continuing to lose even more.

    People, especially doctors, should understand that you do not always need to trade your physical health and appearance for your mental health.

    I know people who read these blogs are suspicious of people who recommend drugs. Well, I'm no drug rep--if I were, I would tell people to take the more expensive, brand-name version of metformin (Glucophage). The cheap generic version works just fine for me, however.

    Just remember: I'm a patient, not a doctor. If anyone who reads this is interested in metformin, please talk to your doctor about it and do some research first.

    (Ms. Forbes, I mentioned this to you elsewhere and I know you don't like the idea of using one drug to counteract the bad side effects of another. I understand and respect your opinion, but I wanted your readers to be aware of metformin's potential to help people who gain weight on antipsychotics.)


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