21 'Harmless' Comments People Make About Psychiatric Medication
Editor’s note: Please see a doctor before starting or stopping a medication.
It can be incredibly difficult to make the decision to take psychiatric medication, but that decision can, for some people, make all the difference in their mental health recovery. Unfortunately, these medications often get a “bad rap” and can make those who rely on psychiatric medication feel weak, shameful or “broken” — when that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Although we’d like to think we’re making progress to get rid of the stigma surrounding psychiatric medication, sometimes well-intended comments or “advice” can actually just be hurtful when talking about psychiatric medication.
To shed some light on what these kind of comments are, we asked our Mighty mental health community to share some “harmless” things others have told them about taking psychiatric medication. Because what we say makes a difference, and whether or not medication is the right choice for someone, or they’re still in the process of figuring that out, we shouldn’t make unwarranted comments about other peoples’ mental health treatment plan.
Here is what our community had to say:
1. “Did you take your pills today?
“If I show any emotion other than happy or content, the first thing I get asked is, ‘Did you take your pills today?’ — as if I am not allowed to feel human emotions regularly.” — Jessica V.
“‘Have you taken your medication today?’ The question I am constantly asked if I show any kind of emotion other than happy. As someone with borderline personality disorder (BPD), this usually sends me over the edge completely.” — Beth-Anne E.
2. “I don’t trust Big Pharma.”
“Any time someone brings up Big Pharma as a serious concern and how they would never take psychiatric drugs because it’s all supposed ‘garbage.’ Yeah, my antidepressants help me stay stable in ways that not being on them has never been able to.” — Jessica L.
3. “Are you like a ‘psychopath’ or something?”
“I take antipsychotics to help keep my anxiety attacks under control. When people, especially friends, hear that I take antipsychotics they’re very quick to judge and usually I’ll hear comments like, ‘What the f*ck!’ or ‘So you must be a psychopath then?’ It makes me feel so uncomfortable and if I could turn back time to stop mental [illness] ever happening to me, I would in a heartbeat.” — Beth S.
4. “Just take your pills and you’ll be fine.”
“‘Oh, just take [your pills] and you’ll be fine.’ Just because I’m feeling nervous about something doesn’t mean it’s anxiety. I’m allowed to feel nervous and I know the difference between that and anxiety. Also, meds are not a cure-all. They help, but they don’t make it go away.” — Ashely F.
5. “You must be anxious from stress.”
“I went to the ER a few days after a car accident, and I was slurring and numb. After the doctor realized I was on anxiety meds, he kept asking, ‘Are you just anxious from stress?’ I ended up having an undiagnosed concussion.” — Kara W.
6. “It’s sad to see someone so young taking psychiatric medication.”
“‘You’re 19 right? Your psychiatric medication list is so long. It’s sad to see someone as young as you on this many medications.’ A nurse told me this. I think she thought it was a harmless comment, but it felt like she was judging me which made me feel bad about myself.” — Maddie H.
7. “Just read your Bible and pray more.”
“Telling me I need to read my Bible and pray to Jesus more. Yes, I’m Christian and do believe in God, but I just can’t go off of my anxiety meds, it doesn’t work that way.” — Nina B.
8. “You shouldn’t take medication while you’re pregnant.”
“When pregnant, my ex told me my meds would hurt the baby and I was just ‘faking it’ anyways. This was the same man who ridiculed me for quitting smoking and drinking alcohol and caffeine when I got pregnant.” — Alexis M.
9.”If you just tried harder to be happy maybe you wouldn’t need those pills.”
“‘If you just tried a little harder to be happy and let things go more, maybe you wouldn’t need so many pills.’ Or I got asked 5,000 times a day if I was OK and how I was doing because ‘I just want to make sure you aren’t getting worse.’ I never ever said what I was on and [I] never talked about what they actually were or the doses I was on. In fact, I rarely discussed my medication with anyone because every single person looked at me different after.” — Emily L.
10. “You shouldn’t rely on pills to make you happy.”
“‘I don’t agree with taking antidepressants, you should be able to make yourself feel better instead of relying on pills to feel happy.’ My medication doesn’t actually make me feel happy, it makes me feel less depressed and nothing else I’ve done seems to work as much as my medication has. People take medication to help with things like pain, infections, etc., yet apparently it’s an issue for me to take medication to help with my moods.” — Courtney B.
11. “You’re not going to be on meds for the rest of your life, are you?”
“‘You won’t have to take meds for the rest of your life, will you?’ I feel like people see my meds as a ‘cure’ to my illness, not as a treatment to help me cope with the symptoms of it. I feel ashamed that I’m not able to ‘get better and get off those pills.’” — Stephanie E.
12. “You don’t need pills, you just need to change your situation.”
“‘Oh, I just hate the idea of relying on a pill to make me feel good. I’d rather change my situation.’ Comments like this are so dangerous because when your brain doesn’t function well, you might need to ‘rely on a pill.’” — Kristin M.
13. “Are those your ‘happy pills?’”
“Calling them childish names like ‘happy pills’ or ‘chill pills.’ It infantilizes what I have to go through, like it isn’t actually a vitally important part of my life.” — Cheyenne L.
14. “These will make you feel ‘normal.’”
“‘It will make you feel normal.’ Hearing that made me feel like I was a ‘freak,’ and the fact that I needed medication to feel ‘normal’ made me even more of a freak.” — Shanya K.
15. “But you look so happy!”
“‘But you don’t need them, you look so happy!’ First of all, I look happy because I want you to think I’m happy. Secondly, I take medication to feel happier, which is why I may look happy to you now; I wouldn’t look as happy without them.” — Nienke P.
16. “You’re ‘drugged.’”
“I’ll be emotional or cranky and one person always says, ‘You took too many pills, you’re drugged.’ I am not drugged! I even check with people close to me and they tell me I’m not drugged.” — Kelly K.
17. “You still need those pills?”
“I hear, ‘You still need those pills?!’ especially from one person in particular. I’ve also heard, ‘Have you been taking your meds?’ if it’s been a rough day/week.” — Emily H.
18. “You must really have a problem.”
“As I was frantically looking for my anxiety meds during a panic attack: ‘Wow, if you need it this much, then there must really be a problem.’” — Rachael T.
19. “Sex is the only medication you need.”
“My ex wanted me to choose between him and my medication because according to him, we couldn’t have a proper sex life with me being on medication and sex is the only antidepressant you need. It got to the point when I was taking my medication behind his back. I had to learn to dry-swallow pills so I could take them while he was asleep. I hid them under my pillow. I never should have been in that relationship, but I learned from it and that gives it a purpose.” — Stephanie I.
20. “I thought you were ‘all-natural?’”
“‘So you pop pills again? I thought you went organic.’ As if you can’t respect and show love to your body when you take care of your mind.” — Mijenou T.
21. “Can you really know who you are under all the medication?”
“‘You’ve been on medicine for so many years, how do you know who you are underneath the mask it puts on you?’ That hurt a lot because honestly, I didn’t think it put a mask on me, I think it just makes me a better version of myself, but it made me think, like, who am I without medication? It made me feel like medication defines who I am and I don’t want that.” — Megan D.
Getty image via 4421010037