Mental illness can take on many forms and unfortunately many labels to go with it. It is My opinion as becoming physically and/or mentally dependent on prescriptive drugs-that were intended to HELP in the symptoms of the mental illness, can actually lead the individual with a DSM label, and now in an state of detoxing. The person becomes the same as the common definition of a “drug addict”, who might be constantly craving illegal substances in order to cope with life’s obstacles and also physically dependent. Make sense?
A person might walk into their doctor and say, wow, seems like I haven’t been able to sleep in forever and my thoughts are kinda racey lately. So the doctor prescribes a Benzo like Xanax or Valium for example to help slow those thoughts down, and create a relaxing night’s sleep. Intended for a few days or 1-2 weeks, a person might go back and say, “I feel so much better lately.” Work is good, stress is lower, and I finally can sleep. Those are the correct answers to get you a refill real quick. Time goes by, life is still good, but you kinda are waking up sometimes in the middle of the night and wondering why. Call the Doc and that’s ok, let’s try Ambien to take care of the sleep, it’s not a Benzo, so you’re safe using it with the other drug. Can there be drug interactions? Nonsense. Hey sleep now is great, but uh- why are my windows open and all my faucets on? Oh well, sometimes that darn Ambien can cause memory loss and sleep walking, but that’s ok, let’s just add an anti-psychotic with it at night. It’s NOT what you’re thinking ok, this is intended for sleep….not like you’re crazy or anything. It’s safe and non-addicting. So you comply, I mean, this is your doctor right? They would never steer you in the wrong direction concerning your health. Wow that worked, I can barely wake up, but boy what a good night’s sleep! This is the perfect combo. Yay this is gonna be the answer. So time goes by, you start to gain weight, your dreams become quite intense, you have emotional outbursts, you’re waking up in the middle of the night, you walk the earth like a zombie, and you find yourself panicky again during the day. Hmmm, what’s going on here. Wait a second here….. you went in 2 years ago for sleep issues and a bit of anxiety. What’s going on?
Welcome to the world of addiction. Sure doesn’t fit the good ole homeless person under the bridge drinking from a bag with a pipe now does it? But I have news- a drug is a drug is a drug, and when you become physically addicted to it, you ARE the same. The question is- if the doctor cut you off cold turkey, would you be okay with that? Or would you start making calls to other doctors or friends to find those drugs? Would you go through the pain of withdrawals and even seizures or worse? I think we all know the answer to that.
So here lies the new form of mental illness, because when you go back to the doctor addressing these issues you are having, you just now fit the criteria for depression, acute anxiety, erratic behavior, and the good ole over diagnosed bi-polar disorder. Bam, there’s your label. So let’s address this patient, and definitely add a mood stabilizer to even you out and help with that new chemical imbalance that was just created. Time goes by, you’re on 7 different medications, and all because you couldn’t sleep for a while? This can’t be real, am I really bi-polar? I do find myself snapping at people lately, I’m disconnected from my friend and family, I don’t have a libido anymore, my weight increased, my hair is getting thin, I can’t sleep well, I find myself racing with more thoughts than ever, and then I just can’t get out of bed sometimes. High and low, high and low. I guess the doctors are right, I must be bi-polar. Never occurred to me, nor was I informed that the symptoms I’m experiencing can be side effects from the drugs, and not actual symptoms of a mental disorder. Now I’m alone, all the doctors stopped trying, I am in the state detox facility because my insurance won’t cover a private one, my family and friends couldn’t understand, I lost my job, I lost my life, and I lost my mind. To be continued…….
by Jodi Phillips