It's Time to Stop Demonizing Medication

It's Time to Stop Demonizing Medication

Taking prescription medication has saved my life. Stop demonizing me for my choice.

I began taking antidepressants in February of 2015 and they saved my life.

Freshman year of college was a rough time. I wasn't happy with the friends I was making, I felt lonely, and my great-uncle passed away the week of finals. The grief of it all piled on top of me and I felt a misery I hadn't felt in a long time. I had gained more than the Freshman 15 and felt uncomfortable in my body. I didn't know who I was or what I wanted anymore. January brought terrible habits and I began to punish myself. I felt weak, exhausted, miserable. When I came back to school, I had no idea how to feel about anything. I began to isolate myself and the future I saw ahead for myself was very bleak.

Choosing to go to therapy was the first step in saving my life. I had researched antidepressants in the weeks since I had gone to therapy but there was a part of me that thought I was weak for choosing that route. I read the experiences of people online who said that antidepressants made them feel even worse; out-of-touch with reality, nauseated, and in a deeper hole than when they began. Some even said that the medication had no effect on them at all. I panicked. I felt myself teetering so close to the edge and I needed something to save me.

When I met with my psychiatrist, he said I needed to go on medication right away. I refused only because I was thinking about what other people had said about antidepressants. What was the point in trying something that didn't work?

Both my therapist and psychiatrist spoke to me, calming me down and giving me necessary information. They even called my mother for me and explained everything while I was a sobbing mess in the chair beside them. Days later, I started on medication.

It was hard at first. I felt dizzy and nauseated just as the people online had said. However, I had also been warned for the side effects by my doctor. I was helped through the exhaustion and sickness and a week later, I felt better than I had in months, perhaps years.

With so many young people choosing to take medication, and myself taking medication on-and-off for two years, I have seen the unintelligent criticisms. "This is what is causing the opioid crisis" or "This is the problem with doctors in America; they prescribe medication instead of dealing with the actual problem".

Stop demonizing life-saving medication.

Without my medication, I wouldn't be able to function as a human being. I don't want to think about what would have happened to me if I didn't start taking medication. I'm stable thanks to my psychiatrist's intervention and the advice of my therapist. Of course, the first week of medication is the worst but don't discount how your body adjusts to it. And sometimes it may not work for everything and that's fine. But don't demonize me for taking medication that has saved my life.

My life is not yours. Other people's lives are not your own. You never know why someone is on medication and it is not your place to judge unless there is reason for concern. Medication is not an evil; it can be a necessity for recovery. There may be a day where I will not need medication. Until that day comes, respect my choice for taking it.

Cover Image Credit: CNBC

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When Will This Flu Nightmare Be Over?

The flu has been different than any other years because of this deadly viral strand.

One hundred and fourteen children in the United States have died from what was supposed to be a simple case of the flu. You have probably heard the endless news updates on more than 11,000 people being admitted to the hospital for influenza disease, and some dying because of it. But why has it been so deadly this year? What changed?

The Center for Disease Control and Protection (CDC) only has one chance to choose the correct strand of the flu to vaccinate from. From their website, the main factors going into choosing the strand are as follows: “The influenza viruses in the seasonal flu vaccine are selected each year based on surveillance data indicating which viruses are circulating and forecasts about which viruses are the most likely to circulate during the coming season. The degree of similarity between available vaccine viruses and circulating viruses also is important. Vaccine viruses must be similar to the influenza viruses predicted to circulate most commonly during the upcoming season.”

So, it seems that a great amount of research goes into selection which viruses go into the flu vaccine. However, this does not completely prevent it. The H3N2 strain is what has caused these fatalities, as it is rare and the most deadly strain of the flu. This year, as press officer of the CDC Kristen Nordlund describes, “is one of the first years we’ve really seen that widespread activity is everywhere. Flu is really across the board in every state at the same time.”

A simple case of the flu can turn into pneumonia, sepsis, or a heart attack, and this is how it becomes so fatal. This outbreak has lasted since November and showed a peak in late February, so the CDC believes it should be over soon, but because of the virus strand, it may last longer.

The number of students that have been forced to miss class because of the flu is astronomical compared to years before. This affects grades, stress levels and learning ability.

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Addiction Is A Disease

"The choices around starting and quitting are a decision. The habitual act itself is not."

Addiction: is it a disease or a decision?

This is a debate that I've seen from various social media platforms to news outlets. It's a valid debate especially in states like West Virginia. It's no secret that West Virginia has a horrible opioid and heroin problem. In fact, from 2016-2017 the Mountain State was in the top five states to have the highest deaths by overdose.

I've seen people that I care about dearly struggle with addiction, and I'm very much on the side of it being a disease. The only part of it being a decision that I can side with is that initial dive into the drug world. That person makes the decision to pick up a pill, grab a needle, or snort a line. Maybe they do it because they're friends are doing it, or maybe it's their coping mechanism. Whatever the reason, they decide to take the wrong path once or twice.

But that's where that decision ends.

A less dramatic situation to compare this to is coffee. Let's say you drink coffee every single morning to get you into a good mood and start your day. You love the taste and the caffeine makes you perk up. Well, one morning you wake up after your fifth alarm goes off and you're going to be late for work. You don't get to have that cup of coffee. You're sluggish and cranky, and by 2 o'clock in the afternoon, you would do anything to get your hands on a giant cup of coffee.

Whatever the drug is, it makes them feel good. It gives them a rush that they enjoy. It releases chemicals in their brain and that alters their typical state. All it takes is a google search of 'drug abuse on the brain' to find countless articles and visuals of what exactly that looks like. That one time party decision turns into a lifestyle. That shot of heroin becomes their water. That painkiller becomes just as important as the air they breath. It becomes a part of them. It is their cup of coffee.

The addiction turns them into a completely different person. It's naive to think that after regular use, it's a decision to take 6 shots of vodka by 10 o'clock in the morning. Their body and mind crave it. It's crippling.

As somebody who has witnessed what happens when people you care about are addicted to different substances, it's a rush of different emotions. It's frustration because you know they're better than what they act like. It's anger because they lie, steal, or stumble around high out of their mind. It's sadness because the person in front of you isn't the person that you love and would do anything for. It's a shell of themselves with similar characteristics. There's a lot of helplessness because you want to do something to help them, but it's impossible. You can't change people; only they can change themselves.

Is it possible to recover? Absolutely. Tons of people decide they don't want the life they live and check into rehabilitation facilities. Sometimes it takes more than one try, but they never touch their previous substance of choice again in their life. They move on and they get on the right path again. This time, they make the right decision.

The choices around starting and quitting are a decision. The habitual act itself is not. Oxford Dictionary defines disease as, "A disorder of structure or function in a human, animal, or plant, especially one that produces specific symptoms or that affects a specific location and is not simply a direct result of physical injury." Drugs are not a result of physical injury, and they keep your brain from functioning normally. It's naive to think that taking 6 shot of vodka before 10 o'clock in the morning becomes a choice.

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