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We Need to Stop Judging People for Taking Medication in Public

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Once I was out one night celebrating. No biggie.

I realized the time and knew it was time to take my meds – gabapentin for nerve pain and sumatriptan to prevent a migraine as I often get auras beforehand and try to prevent them. Again, no big deal.

But it was.


It felt embarrassing. I could feel people looking at me. Glaring. Judging. People who didn’t know me or know my journey. I felt so embarrassed that I even dropped a pill and had to get out of my chair to chase it down. If I didn’t have enough eyes on me before, I had double now. This overwhelming feeling of guilt took over as everyone saw. But why?

I think there is a stigma that surrounds those who take medication, no matter the medication, the illness, the reason. Assumptions of a dependency come, but not assumptions that I depend on it for legitimate reasons.

Without medication, I get sharp pains near and around my breast and armpit. It’s as if I’m touching an electric fence for a little too long. Without medication, when I begin to see stars and auras, a migraine is sure to come. Without daily medication or infusions, I would not be trying to manage my Crohn’s disease, no need to be embarrassed.

These infusions sometimes leave bruising and needle marks on my arms, sometimes it takes more than one poke, let alone the time I went to phlebotomy school. Judgment comes from every peering eye. If I choose to wear my face mask to the hospital to protect myself and my weakened immune system, even there I’m met with glances and whispers.

Without medication, I would get cold sores on my mouth; without medication, I’d not be managing my mental health. Without medication, I would still have a mass of dermatology problems and I would still be dealing with each of these issues. I still battle with daily issues but without medication it could be worse.

So why should I feel embarrassed or ashamed? Why should I feel nervous taking my medication in public? Why should I sense watching eyes and feel inferior for having to do so?

When casting judgment on those who take their medication in public, you could be making the wrong assumption. This could be vital for their health. Their saving grace. Their cure. Their livelihood.

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Thinkstock photo via spukkato.

Originally published: September 7, 2017
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