Saturday, 10 September 2016

Medication Vs. Therapy

When I went to the first doctor that I ever saw about my mental illness, she asked me to make a decision; "We can either go down the therapy route, or the medication route". Ever one for fast satisfaction as opposed to a long term solution, I chose medication and left, prescription in hand. It tooks weeks of me kicking and yelling and refusing to take my tablets when I should do for me to realise this just wasn't a practical way to go about my life and so after a fair amount of convincing my doctor, I was also referred to therapy. People always seem to want to know which worked better for me - but honestly the truth is both.

I regularly tell people just how much of a contributing factor that fluoxetine was when it came to saving my life. When I was at my lowest, I wasn't anywhere near to the top of the waiting list for CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy), and so it was an increase in my anti-depressant dose that dragged me out of the blackest hole I'd ever known. It let me get out of bed each morning, and it let me stand on my own two feet, it let me feel a little more and live a little more - but it was a plaster. In the same way that if you plaster over something that needs stitches it'll probably stop bleeding but it'll never heal properly without the stitches, that's what it was like with my mind. It stopped me from feeling the worst that I ever had, but it still didn't cure my underlying problems with anxiety.

Similarly, CBT gave me the tools to work through my illness, but it didn't take away that harsh edge of life that had made me struggle so much in the first place. It gave me coping mechanisms, but made me feel no better in the short term (in fact I came out crying countless times) and so the only way that I really made it through that period in my life was with a combination of both. The sticking plaster of medication made me well enough to manage, and CBT gave me the tools to keep going forward, the tools to keep above water when the life ring of Fluoxetine is inevitably eventually taken away from me.

It's been a tough journey - and I respect anyone that can do without therapy or medication, or opt for only one; but the fact is, that wasn't for me, I wouldn't have survived and been sitting here today to write this if I would have opted for just one or the other - and I truly do believe that. There isn't a cure for mental illness - just a number of options that, when you find the best combination for you, can make life a lot more bearable and much easier to deal with.

So here's me saying; don't go in there and rule out one or the other before you've even tried. Medication enough to get you through without therapy? Cool. Therapy enough to get you through without medication? Just as cool. Need both? Then take both. Do whatever you need to do to get through both short and long term.

Sammy xo.

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