Ask Christina Bruni: On Medication

  • I'm going to write SharePosts on topics geared to how a person can live life well in recovery.  My literary agent pointed out that one of my signature strengths was that I'm able to live life well.  I expect shortly to host webinars on the topics.  The first one will talk about medication.


    I have two holistic approaches to treatment.  The first will detail medication strategies.  Next month in my Ask Christina Bruni SharePost I will talk about employment.  My strategy for taking medication is that it's not either/or: either you take medication or you don't.


    Rather, the goal is to be your own self-advocate to communicate with your doctor about the kinds of medications out there and what ones might work best for you given the symptoms you disclose to him or her. 

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    Your recovery hinges on shared decision making and making informed choices.  Your providers need to listen to you and take your needs into account instead of unilaterally foisting on you their version of a treatment plan.


    Getting the courage and confidence to speak up is something I will detail in webinars I host in the future.  I will talk about this briefly in here.  Gone are the days when you had to sit back passively and take what you're given as the Almighty Gospel of treatment without questioning it.


    If you were to ask me, I'd say one of the historical drawbacks to recovery was that no professionals believed people with schizophrenia could recover and have a normal life.  As a result, patients were discouraged from speaking up about their hopes and dreams.  Most of all because no professionals championed their right to recover.


    Fast forward to 2013: You have choices: You can question why a certain treatment is prescribed and educate yourself on alternatives to dialogue with your doctor to settle on a mutually acceptable option.  With the advent of the Internet, doctors can no longer act superior to their patients because a bad review will be posted publicly.


    Langston Hughes was right: a dream deferred explodes.  A dream explodes after it has been simmering in the boiling pot of your mind for too long and it finally pops off the lid and scorches you.


    I was mostly lucky I had better providers in the guise of my first psychiatrist and my first therapist and the current doctor I've seen for over 10 years.  In between: I had to put on my boxing gloves with an unprofessional pdoc that insinuated he wanted me to be his girlfriend.


    My ability to talk out loud about my goals and dreams to my treatment team was met with supportive encouragement and feedback.  I was lucky to have a gifted treatment team that believed a person with schizophrenia could do what I set out to do.


    More than this: I had the courage and confidence to change course when my first career turned out to be a total mismatch that made me miserable.  After bombing out in the gray flannel insurance field, I went back to school to get a degree that enabled me to work in a creative field as a public service librarian. 

  • In the second Ask Christina Bruni I will detail my holistic approach to employment.

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    I'll end here by telling you I've seen too often that people who discontinue their medication have a train wreck of a life.  Even a guy I know who went off his medication resumed taking it at a low dose to feel better and be mentally alert and stay on top of his world.


    The anti-psychiatry crowd reinforces stigma with their "no medication at any time" stance.  It prevents people who need medication from seeking help.  I understand that some people do not need psychiatric meds and that is well and good.  For those of us who do need to pop pills, we should be respected for our choice and not attacked.


    Too often, people are judged as morally wrong for taking medication.  We're seen as freaks who are doing something wrong that upsets some kind of world order that the Mad crowd thinks would exist if no one took medication.


    Respect me.  Respect my choice.  Respect other human beings.


    My target market is individuals who can be helped with the right therapy and right support and right treatment to live life well.  Today it is not only possible it is probable you can live life well when you have a diagnosis of schizophrenia or bipolar or another mental illness.


    It starts with early intervention to create a better long-term outcome.  Immediate treatment is what enabled me to recover.  I've also been in remission over 21 years.  It is a myth that if you're doing stratospherically well you can't possibly have schizophrenia.


    You do well because you execute successful strategies to be able to live life well.  I have talked about some of these strategies in prior SharePosts and will continue to do so in the future.


    I will end this SharePost by strongly urging readers to get loud if you are experiencing side effects from the medication.  In my estimation: the symptoms are hell the side effects are manageable.


    After I was placed on an atypical,  I would fall asleep two or three times a week during the day.  A friend at the time suggested I talk to my pdoc about this.  We switched the high dose to take at night and the tiny dose to take in the morning.


    Voila: I'm wide awake every hour of every day.  Thus I have no side effects.


    It's entirely possible that side effects can be halted, reduced or minimized.  You might like I did be able to stop them completely.


    The number-one thing to do is to talk to your doctor about how to control the side effects.  I'm proof that with a switch in dose time it's possible to have absolutely no side effects.


    In the coming weeks I will talk about evidenced-based treatment options.  As of today, better treatment options exist for individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia and other mental illnesses.  Early intervention coupled with the right treatment for those of us with a diagnosis and family psychoeducation for our loved ones is the route to success.


    Stay tuned for news on possible webinars I will be conducting on the topics of treatment and employment.




Published On: November 03, 2013