We Want Better Drugs!

Whenever the subject of mental health medication comes up, either on the Internet of in face-to-face discussions, it seems to me there are basically two camps: those for and those against. I don't think that's good enough.

Those against medication fall into three groups:

  1. Those that are against ANY pharmaceutical medications because they are the work of the devil. I am no great fan of pharmaceutical companies myself but that doesn't stop me remembering that without antibiotics I would have died at six months old and a couple of times since. Let's not throw out the baby with the bath water.
  2. Those that have a dogmatic attitude towards psychiatric medications because they believe we SHOULD all do without them. I would remind such people that dogmatic views are at the root of so many conficts in this world that I am extremely wary of them, and so should they be....
  3. Those that have had a bad personal EXPERIENCE with these drugs. I understand only too well where these poor folks are coming from and yet I am very careful never to draw too many generalities from my own specific experience. Only other people can agree/resonate with what I am saying. I cannot impose my experience on anybody else.

I wish to God I was one of those lucky souls who can manage their condition without drugs. I cannot. I have tried a few times to get off my meds but the result was not good - not good at all. Having said that, meds are not a panacea and I have found they serve me best when I:

  • Take full responsibility for myself, my emotions, my thoughts and my behaviour
  • Ensure I have a good balanced diet
  • Do my best to be as physically active as I can
  • Regularly exercise my brain
  • Focus on being loving, kind and generous.
  • Keep my internal compass firmly set towards humour and laughter.

Naturally, I often fall short on all counts but my regular attempts mean that I succeed more than if I never tried.

Generally (and yes, this is a generalisation) those in favour of psychiatric medications are poor sods like me who cannot sustain their life without them.  Being without meds is so awful that we feel we would rather die than continue breathing in our own private hell.

And that's the problem: we tend to be too grateful. We think 'yes the meds are awful but without them things are even worse'. Our gratitude soon becomes resignation and is mirrored by our psychiatrists' dismissive apathy: 'It's this road or the high road. You take your meds or don't complain your life is hell. Become non-compliant (the worst sin in psychiatric treatment!) and you're on your own'. Start whingeing about side effects too much and you will lose the support of your psychiatrist quicker than snow melts in the sun.

After years of having taken my prescribed medications religiously I have come to this conclusion: the real question is not should we get rid of all drugs but rather what needs to happen for drugs/treatments to get better?

I think we should start bombarding drug manufacturers with messages telling them they are missing a big trick: the first one to make drugs with little or no side-effects will corner the mental health market and beat all their competitors to massive growth.

Since they don't give a damn about us and are only interested in maximising their shareholders' profits, I think that's a pretty convincing argument to push them to come up with much better drugs, don't you?  :D

we want better drugs

Dear Gabrielle, as usual you have hit the nail on the head. I would love to be drug free, even though I do get side effects, rather bad ones that have hospitalised me I agree with your statement "Generally (and yes, this is a generalisation) those in favour of psychiatric medications are poor sods like me who cannot sustain their life without them. Being without meds is so awful that we feel we would rather die than continue breathing in our own private hell."

I am a danger to myself and those around me if I do not have my meds and when you have kids added into the equastion, putting up with side effects is a lot safer for everyone involved.

I find it really sad that mental health is the one area where meds are below par. Mostly medications are there to treat an illness, disease, condition so that you can continue to live a life the same as people of your age group, gender and cultural identity. This is true for people with asthma, diabetese, low/high blood pressure, skin conditions etc. If any of these people have a reaction to or a side effect to their meds, then a more appropriate med is found. But not with mental health. I don't know how many times i just have to put up with the side effects I have. I was told they are not life threatening, my illness is stable, so I have to put up with it.


I do like this sentence, "Naturally, I often fall short on all counts but my regular attempts mean that I succeed more than if I never tried".  that sentence in its self, summed up as well as helped motivate me to continue trying.

Christine x







Thank you Christine

I understand only too well what you are saying - knowing your story, I am aware of your constant battle. You are one brave lady.

Thank you so much for your encouragement and support: they mean A LOT to me :D

Gabrielle xx xx

We want better drugs

Never a truer word spoken.  It is about time the drug companies made these drugs with less side effects.  It is a constant battle - anti depressants make you gain weight, you get more depressed - it's a vicious circle and a sad one.  The alternative does not bear thinking about.  I know I am sooo much better on Depakote, the weight gain is soul destroying, but I do not want to go back to where I was mentally before the Depakote, so I just have to live with the extra weight gain and hope that the more I improve and get control of my illness, the more control I may get over my mind and get my weight under control.



Thank you Sam

I am glad Depakote is working well for you - aside of course from the weight gain and the potential health risks associated with that.  I love your attitude because I agree that we need to get the illness under some sort of control first before we can address anything else.

I also agree with your description of the 'vicious circle' of clinical depression/medication/emotional depression.  This is not something that is spoken of enough.  To start with, I would like to see EVERY patient who is treated with those drugs to be systematically offered therapy/counselling to help cope WITH THE SIDE EFFECTS OF THE DRUGS, let alone the illness itself!

Much love and encouragement to you.

Gabrielle xx

Our daughter has just phoned

Our daughter has just phoned us from hospital and has agreed, finally, to try Depakote.  She has been on Lithium for many years.

So we are hoping that she finds this drug more acceptable and that she also ACCEPTS she has a 'condition' as she put it brought on this time by her son leaving home.  Other 3 times of being sectioned were voluntary??? with other excuses added.

Thank you Gabrielle and still looking forward to book arrival. xx 

Good news Primrose

Things may not be perfect (are they ever) but it seems your daughter is heading in the right direction. At the moment she still needs 'a reason' for her illness but with time and support, I feel confident she will gradually get to understand her condition better with all the benefits that entails.

Thank you so much for keeping me informed.

I send you all bucketfuls of love and encouragement  :D

Gabrielle xx

Just thought I would pop in

Just thought I would pop in to say that I hope you are all doing OK and have managed to enjoy some of the good weather.  To be out in the fesh air I am sure is as important to you as our daughter.

The update is that she is still in hospital but has deffinately 'returned' back to us and the phone calls are far more reasonable.  She has been allowed time out and has managed to do two nights staying in her flat on her own.

I can understand it is going to be tough for her, financially, as well as living alone.  What I would like to ask out of interest she is sure that coming off Lithium has meant her wheat intolerance has gone.  She is very pleased about that and said that it will be cheaper to manage her food bill.

Now on this other drug she was telling me that for over three weeks now she has this sick feeling in her tummy.  She can feel like she wants to eat but that then turns into feeling sick again.   Have any of you experienced this? 

She also wondered if she was now becoming more aware of the hospital 'un-pleasant smells' and the windows can only be open slightly.  She said this has been happening more as she has been able to go out for several hours and coming back in the smell seems to make her feel sick. 

Anyway it is good to have her back with us and I know there is a long way to go. 

Finally, the family found your book Gabrielle very easy to read.  I am tempted at some stage to offer it to our daughter, although, she has to our knowledge never gone into the depths of depression.

My best wishes to you all. x


P.S. Not sure what I did wrong for my message to appear here rather than as the last posting date wise.



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