The Mighty Logo

When a Nurse Judgmentally Said I Was on 'Too Much' Medication

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

One day I went to urgent care for an intractable migraine that just wouldn’t let up. Sometimes it can be tricky to treat them because I can’t have NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) due to gastric sleeve and taking Lithium. I was going over the meds I take and the nurse said, “Wow, you are on too much medication.”

Immediately my body went hot, I started to sweat and tears came to my eyes. I waited until he left the room and then I cried. It was bad enough I had a severe migraine, I didn’t need to hear that. There was so much judgment there. And I went to one of the best psychiatric hospitals in the country, so I was confident I was taking the right amount of meds. When the doctor came in later I was still crying, but managed to pull it together to tell him that it was inappropriate for that nurse to say something about how many meds I was on. That I felt attacked because I am on a number of psychiatric drugs.

In between tears and hiccups, I continued. I told him that judgment just adds to the stigma of depression and keeps people from seeking treatment because of it. The doctor assured me that’s not what he meant. That the nurse was not being judgmental, blah blah blah. But the damage had been done. How is there no judgment when a man says, “Wow, you’re on too much medication.” What was the point in that comment? How is that helpful? I wanted to leave, but I needed pain relief badly. As soon as the meds they gave me for the migraine started to work, I told them I was better (which I sort of was) and left. I was embarrassed that I cried and made a big deal out of things. And the doctor, of course, told that man I was upset. He did apologize, but I just didn’t feel better about it.

Looking back, I can’t believe I was embarrassed because the truth is I need those meds to fight depression. They help me function, be productive and help me be a better wife, mom and friend. Those medications (along with ECT and therapy) changed and saved my life. So screw that guy. I’m proud that I sought help for my depression and that I take meds. And because I’m proud, I’m going to list my meds with no fear or shame.

  • One for hypothyroidism
  • Antipsychotic
  • Mood stabilizer
  • Antidepressant
  • Preventative med for migraines
  • One to help with sleep
  • Anti-anxiety
  • Abortive migraine med

I hope everyone reading this never faces that kind of judgment and shame. There is absolutely no shame in seeking help to fight such a debilitating illness. One that steals your joy, makes you so fatigued you can’t get out of bed and one that causes so much mental anguish that sometimes you feel you’d rather die. Not a damn thing wrong with that.

All I can do now is live my life proudly. And I’m going to because my meds help me to do so. 

Getty image via photoguns

Originally published: March 30, 2021
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home