My Problem with Medications

When were you diagnosed with a psychiatric illness?

Were you an adult?

How about a teenager?

Before you were a teenager?!

Were you put on medications?

Yep, that’s me. I was either 12 or 13 when I was first diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder and was told to start taking antidepressants daily. There was only one small period of a couple of months at age 18 where I was medication free. Those months were filled with alcohol, drugs, and partying. Needless to say, I don’t remember shit from those months. Beside that small time frame, I have been on a steady supply of medications.

What freaks me out most of all is that I actually don’t know who I really am apart from my mood-regulating medications.

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I have spent more time on my medications than off of them. It’s been over 12 years. My body has adapted and I’m not completely sure it can adapt back to a medication-free environment.

There is an exceptional feeling of betrayal in knowing that many things could’ve been attempted before recommending life-changing medication. Armed with the knowledge of basic psychology, it is my opinion that no child or adolescent should be prescribed medications unless all of the options for improvement have been exhausted. I can tell you that I don’t feel like all of my options were explored once I was diagnosed.

A diagnosis does not require a prescribed medication. A diagnosis is “the process of determining by examination the nature and circumstances of a diseased condition,” or “a determining or analysis of the cause or nature of a problem or situation.” I feel like this is misinterpreted to “you need medication.”

Now, here’s what I currently know.

The brain of an adolescent is still not fully developed. Yeah, you read that right.

Furthermore, the part of the brain to develop last is the Frontal Lobe, also known as the executive or, what I like to refer to as, the big man up top. The Frontal Lobe is responsible for planning for the future, thinking rationally, solving complex problems, adapting to new things, emotional impulses, among many other things.

So, when is the brain fully developed? At age TWENTY-FIVE.

Now, I want to list what the symptoms (at least for me) and frontal lobe development have in common.

  • Inability to think rationally
  • Inability to reason appropriately
  • Making wrong judgements
  • Inability to read and interpret emotional cues
  • Lacks empathy
  • Inability to project and understand future consequences
  • Inappropriate emotional responses
  • Reading facial expressions incorrectly

Okay, so, we’ve already narrowed down the regions of the brain that are responsible for depression: the amygdala, the hippocampus, and the dorsomedial thalamus.

Can my first therapist really be convinced that I was in the midst of a full-fledged major depressive episode? Probably not.

Could I have been “acting out” due to my inability to properly interpret and process emotions? Probably.

Could I have been unconsciously reacting to my parent’s divorce, their new relationships, constantly moving, changing schools, and having a hard time making friends? Probably.

I’m not implying that I don’t have problems or that I don’t have a psychiatric illness; I do. My point is that I don’t believe it’s possible to have an accurate diagnosis of a mental illness at age 12.

So, why don’t I just get off of my medications?

Simply put…I’m terrified. I’ve gone through withdrawals of my medications before. To describe the feeling: I feel like a monster, completely aware of what is happening around me, but unable to control my reactions. I sit in the shadows and watch. I can understand what I’m doing, but I don’t have the ability to interfere.

xoxo
AllyNikk/Allison

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