By Nancy Virden (c)2020
As a child, I loved the Laura Ingalls autobiographical Little House series. Of the many books devoured since, it is details of the Ingalls story that come to mind easily.
One incident took place when Laura was sixteen. She had been hired by a farming community to teach at their one room school. Due to distance, she had to leave home and share a house with a middle-aged couple.
One night, the wife came after Laura with a knife. I have wondered if she imagined Laura a threat to her marriage. Whatever the reason, clearly she was unstable. She may have had severe depression with psychosis or other mental illness; how could we possibly know?
Laura was whisked home to safety.
Important to note: depression, and even suicidal thoughts or attempts are not inherent signs of homicidal ideation. Neither are they precursors to homicidal acts. Stigma says otherwise; listen instead to facts.
With that said, perhaps the woman might have fared better if she had not been so isolated or if effective medication had been available to provide her brain with a chance to mend. We’ll never know. Thankfully, people today have options.
About half of all people with depression are fully served. Most of this group do not seek help and others are undertreated. For those who find appropriate professional support, 80% go on to live more satisfying lives. Let me confront some myths that might prevent people from seeking medical mental healthcare.
Myth 1. Psychiatric medications do not work. It is true, sometimes they do not. Four reasons for this have nothing to do with the medications themselves. One, a patient does not take the medication as prescribed or is noncompliant and refuses it. Two, a patient refuses recommended co-treatments such as talk therapy. Three, the patient quits too soon. Four, the patient is unable to describe their symptoms clearly, downplays their emotions, or perhaps even lies.
Myth 2. All psychiatrists do is throw pills at you. Psychiatrists are medical doctors. It is their job to prescribe medication based on revealed symptoms as is true for any MD and specialist. They may also recommend hospitalization, therapy, or some higher level of care.
Myth 3. Depression is not a mental illness. All mental illnesses are disorders; not all disorders (such as narcissism) are mental illnesses. With an illness, a person’s ability to function normally is disrupted. Depression is a mood disorder that science has proven responds to medication and talk therapy. Medication is often necessary to save a life.
Myth 4. Medications hurt people. Once again, if not taken as prescribed, then yes they may negatively affect a person. The wrong medication at an early age may also be problematic. Dosages take time to adjust until the effective amount is reached. Rarely do they cause suicidal thoughts.
Stop the myths! Andrew complained about his brother who mocked his bipolar disorder. When Andrew expressed any emotion the brother did not like, he would tell Andrew to take a pill. One day, Andrew responded. “I can take a pill but you’ll still be a jerk!”
Andrew knew what was right. Added pressure to avoid a psychiatrist or even a family doctor when experiencing mental disorder symptoms, sadly prevents many from receiving the help they need.
For the sake of all, including yourself, let us drop the myths and trust a system that has successfully served millions of people in pain.
Today’s Helpful Word
My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
Always the Fight Ministries (ATFM) has been displaying compassion for those fighting mental illness, addiction, or abuse since 2012. Nancy is the founder and voice of ATFM and openly shares her emotional resurrection from despair.
*** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME
NOTE: I am not a doctor or a mental health professional, and speak only from personal experiences and observations. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.
If you are feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here.
If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S. or go to your nearest emergency room. In the EU call 112. (For other international emergency numbers, go here ). Hope and help are yours!