Stopping Your Medication Doesn’t Make You “Free” or “Clean”

Here is an excerpt from a new series in The New York Times Opinionator section titled “Going Off:

Two years ago, meds delivered me from depression. Now I’d like to find a cleaner escape, one as effective as meds, as compelling to me as self-deprivation. Or I’d like to learn to live without trying to escape. Or maybe I’d like to refocus my lens, to stop seeing my brain, my body, as a prison.

I hesitate to link to these articles, written by Diana Spechler, because they’re so egregious in suggesting that going off psychotropic medications is a journey we should all consider if we want to be “free” or “clean.”

We’re all on our own journeys—of that I am certain. I don’t judge Spechler’s decision to stop taking medication. What I do judge is the conceit of the column: that to go off of medication is a form of strength. For many of us, going off medication means jeopardizing our lives.

That The New York Times has published these essays in 2015 boggles the mind.

Please, if you are taking medication, do not let the stigma attached to psychotropic medications as illustrated by this column make you consider stopping treatment, especially if you have bipolar disorder.

To stay on medication, to continue with treatment, to accept that you can’t necessarily will yourself out of a depression or calm yourself down from mania: that is strength. That is freedom. That is, I promise you, no less clean or authentic a life as anyone else’s.

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4 thoughts on “Stopping Your Medication Doesn’t Make You “Free” or “Clean”

  1. I think both the extreme pro and anti psychiatry groups can get way out of line. Every human being is different and when either side takes a militant or superior stance it’s only doing more damage to the mental health community and causing more separation between us all when we should be supporting each other. I myself am living med free for over a year now with great success. I feel it’s the best choice I have ever made and I personally do feel more free because of it. HOWEVER, that doesn’t make someone who decides to take medication and has success with it bad or any less strong than I am. This is just the path that I have chosen and it works for me. I say to each their own so long as the path one follows brings them good health and success and doesn’t harm themselves or others. If that means medication for someone and they have the ability to persevere through the ups and downs of bipolat and the side effects of medication then I say hell yeah that is strength! And if someone figures out a way to live successfully without psych meds then hell yeah that is strength too!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you so much for offering your perspective—my post does come down on an extreme in this conversation and I don’t feel that this is a healthy divide. I think you are so right that we do ourselves a disservice to be divided on this front. I suppose what frustrates me is that society more generally doesn’t view taking medication for mental illness a form of strength. But you are right that we all have different paths.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I have a troll who has been hectoring me on a chat channel I run. He knows my position about meds and has been bragging that he has found a way to be med free. Grandiosity comes to mind as a description for what he is promulgating. Obsession, too, in that he has chosen me as a target who he can’t let go.

    Liked by 1 person

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