This is a difficult topic for me as I have mixed feelings about psychotropic medication. I am a huge proponent of natural health and holistic healing, and I like to take a more integrative approach to health. While I tend to lean more towards the Eastern or Holistic model, I do recognize the need for Western Medicine. Modern medicine is great for emergency care, or acute care, but in terms of long-term health, it really knows little about it. It does little to address the cause of illness, but mainly treats the symptoms. The fact is, the absence of symptoms is not the best criteria for health. True health is feeling vibrant and alive, passionate and fulfilled.
So how does this relate to mental illness, specifically schizoaffective disorder? Western medicine would say that the cause is unclear, being partly genetic, biochemical, and environmental. It would also say that schizoaffective has no cure. I find it hard to believe that my illness has no known cause or cure, but the more important question to me is, how do I approach recovery and healing? A person’s model of health will affect one’s choices in recovery. For example, for a long time (and still to this day) I resisted being on medication. But I cannot deny that an integrative approach to healing has proven the most successful for me.
While I strongly dislike being on medication, I am grateful for them. My girlfriend says she wants to kiss my meds, for all the good they have done for me. It is true that over the past ten years, while I am on the right meds, my life begins to slowly improve. The two times that I went off of my medication I had major relapses that landed me in the hospital and required months or years of recovery. So I recognize that the medications are keeping my symptoms at bay, but are they helping me to live to my full potential?
In my case, I feel dulled down from the medication, physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. I feel like I am being limited in some way. But at the same time, mental illness can be limiting. When I was in the thick of it, some people told me that I would have to lower my expectations for myself. That’s not easy to accept. I don’t really have an answer to these questions, but I do know in my heart that I want to be the best that I can be in my life. I want to be fulfilled. I don’t want to feel like I am half-alive or half-awake every day of my life. I want to be able to pursue my passions. While I have accepted that there is a place for medication in my recovery process, I am not convinced that I have to be on them for the rest of my life. I believe that healing is possible.