The topic of psychiatric medications is controversial in Christian circles today. I honestly do not understand why it is so controversial. If someone were to take medication for diabetes no one will bat an eyelash.
In this blog, I will be discussing how psychiatric medications has benefitted me. And why it is not a good idea for people with mental illness to go off of their medication.
I do admit that psychiatric medications can have harmful side effects, but so can any other medication. I believe that the positive effects of psychiatric medications far outweigh the harmful effects. Also if someone’s medication is causing harmful side effects then the answer is to talk to their psychiatrist about a med adjustment. But they should not just give up on medications altogether because that is even more dangerous.
I will be talking about my own personal experiences that I have gone through when I have been off of my medication and I hope that anyone reading this will see the importance of remaining on their medication. I seriously wish that Christians would be more supportive of psychiatric medication because they have helped so many people and continue to help many more people.
My History Without Medications
When I was younger I spent many years without any medication because I did not believe I needed them. I understood that I had a mental illness but I thought that I could self-medicate with cigarettes instead. However, I quickly realized that was not beneficial for me. In my teenage years, I would experience intense depression to the point where I would start cutting myself and I would attempt suicide many times.
When I was not depressed, I would experience extreme manic episodes where I would stay up all night for three or four nights in a row because I would be extremely energetic. At the age of 19, I had a delusional manic episode where I honestly believed I was the Antichrist and I would tell people to worship me.
I have also had other periods of manic episodes too. When I am not on my medication, I tend to have frequent hallucinations and delusions.
My Life On Medications
I am currently taking a medication called Seroquel XR to help treat my Schizoaffective Disorder once a day. The dosage is 400 mg. I am not experiencing any side effects whatsoever and I am more focused my symptoms have lessened too. I still occasionally hear voices but I do not see any hallucinations. A common misconception people have about medication is that it should cure people of mental illness but that is not the purpose of medication. There is no cure for mental illness but with psychiatric medication our symptoms will be easier to manage and we will be able to live a functional life. There should not be any side effects if the medication is working properly and the medication works the best when they are taken every day at the same time.
Dangers Of Not Taking Medication
People who encourage those with mental illness to not seek treatment are putting us in danger because mental illness is degenerative. This means that the longer one goes without treatment the worse the illness gets because the brain is deteriorating. When we go off of our medication, our illnesses can and often do cause us to behave in ways that can get us in serious trouble.
I know that in my experience I can end up either dead or in prison if I do not take my medication. It is the same for other people too. Even with something like depression is harmful for someone to go off their antidepressants because they could end up committing suicide.
This is serious business and should not be taken lightly. Like I already said, no one will judge someone for taking medication for diabetes but for some reason they will judge you for taking medication for mental illness, which is pretty hypocritical in my opinion.
This is a common line from people who are against psychiatric medication, but it has no basis in reality. Sure, maybe 50-100 years ago people were being misdiagnosed and then overly medicated but these days that is not the case. The mental health field has made a lot of progress and we have a much better understanding of mental illness than we did 50 years ago.
So, chances are if a psychiatrist diagnoses you with something you most likely need medication. There is absolutely no shame in taking psychiatric medication and we should never allow anyone to shame us for our disabilities.
What Can The Church Do To Help?
Well, for one, we need to discard our harmful beliefs about mental illness. We live in the 21st Century now so we need to be more educated. There is a high likelihood that over half of the people in your church have some kind of mental illness so be mindful of how you are viewing them. We are called to love the weak and those who are suffering with disabilities.
Mental illness IS a disability because it does impair one’s daily living. I believe those who profess to be Christians should take the time to hear our stories and to spend time with us too. You do not need to be afraid of us because we are not dangerous, contrary to popular opinion.
It is sad how the Body of Christ is really good at helping homeless people, drug addicts, prostitutes, and sex addicts, but they ignore the mentally ill. This needs to be changed because we need people to care for us too. All we want is for people to share the love of Christ with us.
I hope that this has helped you better understand mental illness and I pray that God is glorified in this article. Please let me know what you all think in the comments below. May the grace of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ richly bless you all!
-David Lee Chu Sarchet
Christian Mental Health Advocate
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