According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 44.7 million adults in the U.S. currently live with mental illness, 19.2 million of whom are receiving treatment in the form of counseling and prescription medication. Still, in casual conversation, the mentally ill are often derided. Phrases like “what are you, off your meds?” and “stop acting crazy” serve as reminders that mentally ill people are considered lesser beings.
Psychiatric medication remains a heavily stigmatized area of treatment. Legitimate concerns about side effects, potential for addiction, and pharmaceutical industry abuses can be easily conflated with the deeply ingrained view of medication as a crutch.
People living with mental illness are not any one thing. We are in crisis, in recovery, doing better and not so good, taking it day by day. But all of us live with the stigma against mental illness and its treatment. And though medication is neither for everyone nor, for most, a one and done cure, there are far too few spaces for people who rely on medication to be open about their experiences.
The following article includes personal reflections on mental health, medication, and stigma in the lives of four writers living with mental illness. They speak of rejection, resilience, self-examination and, above all, survival, together offering a small reassurance to those who can relate. Here’s to making efforts to get better a little less lonely.
From The Outline.