Over the past few months, I have been living without medication. There are a vast amount of reasons for this, which I went over in a previous article called The Trouble with Medication.
So far, I am very happy with the outcome of this decision as the benefits outweigh the disadvantages by far in my opinion. When taking medication, all I have experienced is the negative side effects of that medication without seeing any improvement in my disorder. Since stopping medication, I have a clearer mind and seemingly better cognitive function, although that is still hindered by the illness itself, it’s no longer as intense as when I was using medication. I feel both better in myself physically and mentally; and of course, with no medication, there is no side effects. Therefore it makes sense to me to cease all consumption of medication, and manage my illness in other ways.
I tend to manage my illness through mindfulness and physical activities like yoga, going for walks amongst nature, art and other things. Meditation and mindfulness have been a great tool in learning to manage my illness without medication as it provides me with the insight I need to recognize unhealthy thought patterns and when I am going into an episode. Therefore being able to prevent such things from happening. I find keeping myself occupied is also extremely helpful, as it stops the mind from wandering down all crazy paths, and keeps unnecessary thoughts away.
However, as expected with mental illness, this is not always the case; and that is what brings me to the disadvantages. Without medication my psychosis and mood disorder are still apparent, although they are controlled at the moment, it is very possible for me to have a ‘relapse’ at any point. I use inverted commas because I do not believe I relapse as such, rather I have never been stable but the illness becomes less severe at times.
Although my current psychiatrist respects this decision, she believes that I need another severe episode to occur then I’ll be convinced to take medication for life. I strongly disagree with this. I’d prefer to ride the wave and experience all of life, than become the hollow shell I once was due to medication.
Managing mental illness without medication is a huge learning curve, but it is possible and can be done successfully. Which is what I intend to keep doing, however it is important to be aware that many different people use many different methods in order to manage their mental illness, and that each methods effectiveness can vary from person to person. Therefore if you have found a way to successfully manage your mental illness with or without medication, that is what I recommend you keep doing.