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A Personal Perspective on How Antipsychotics Can Help and Hurt

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Editor's Note

Please see a doctor before starting or stopping a medication.

It’s a Sunday, a Wednesday, or even a Friday, and I am sleeping in yet again, for the millionth time. I had to increase the dosage of my antipsychotic medication in order to reduce the symptoms I’ve had over the course of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Antipsychotics are so helpful for many people who choose to take them. I am one person who sees the help I can get from them. Although getting the right one, at just the right dosage, can truly take years to find.

For me, it took almost two decades. Not trying to discourage anybody in their journey, as that was just me personally. At the worst of my sickness, I was dealing with catatonia for months. I see the help they give, but I also see the negative symptoms of schizophrenia, and the side effects, that come from the medicine. I’m not one to judge. Not with all I have been through.

I can’t help but judge myself though. I will tell myself sometimes that I am lazy and not being productive, due to spending so much time sleeping. That of which is a byproduct of being judged within my family. I can’t tell you how many times, going through my illness, I was told I need to just get up and be productive. How I need to just “do something,” and my motivation will all somehow fall in line. At the time I believed it, but over time it would also make me very angry.

Now with that said, I was in the middle of the worst of my schizophrenia. I also was in between multiple medication changes, either the actual medication, the dosage or how much I was supposed to take a day. All of which had to fall in just the right place for me to be able to start becoming stable to live my life how I wanted.

Now when I hear someone say that, especially to me, I cringe. It’s a disgusting phrase towards someone who is in the middle of recovery. Especially when they are in the middle of the horrid (for some people) medication changes that can have them “flip-flopping” mentally or even physically. Especially when they know themselves, the amount of pressure that is on them to become functioning citizens of society. In the western world, so much of everything is about individualistic ambitions, motivations and adherence. We are all to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and conquer what we want, by ourselves. Anything involving help is stereotypically seen as weak. Help is not weak though.

I struggle the most with sleeping issues on antipsychotics, but they’re so many more symptoms that other people deal with. I also deal with weight gain, brain fog and growing tolerance to the medication over time. Minor side effects I deal with would be issues with my GI tract, amongst others. I personally also have tried just about every medicine out there for psychosis. When there is a new one, I might go on it if the current one is no longer helping.

Antipsychotics, while helpful, seem to induce a sort of negative symptomatology within me. I can’t say from statistics, because I have not been keeping up with that the past few years.

I wanted this to be a more personal perspective. We all see statistics in articles, and from those who are experts on a specific disorder: but what about the people living and taking these medicines? Are we not the expert on us?

I love to see articles with a more human perspective. I am not a numbers person for so many reasons. While I respect the numbers, I want to show how the difference between how individuals react to different symptoms and medicine is vast.

Getty image by nadia_bormotova

Originally published: August 14, 2020
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