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Is My Psychiatric Medication an Emotional Crutch?

December 2, 2018 Morgan Meredith

Is my medication an emotional crutch? It can be, but having an emotional crutch isn’t necessarily bad. Learn more at HealthyPlace.

Recently, I began to wonder if my medication is an emotional crutch. An emotional crutch is something that one relies on during a period of difficulty. But is using medication as an emotional crutch really that bad? 

Realizing My Medication Is, Indeed, an Emotional Crutch

I took a trip and ended up frantically busy while packing. I remembered most important items, such as toiletries, underwear, bags full of donations, and my daily mental health medications and vitamins. However, I forgot my emergency pills: anti-anxiety medication that I take when abnormally agitated. 

When my doctor’s office refused to send enough as a stopgap, my anxiety instantly spiked and I began to panic. Through this experience, I realized that simply having my medication in my possession (especially during potentially extra-stressful times, such as family events and travel) provided a sense of calm. Knowing I have enough with me makes a difference; I feel like I am protected from my own potential outburst. It occurred to me that this medication was an emotional crutch for me.

Is Having an Emotional Crutch Bad?

While that realization immediately upset me, some time brought clarity. After all, the purpose of the medication itself is to relieve anxiety. If simply having the medication with me allays those symptoms, the medication has been effective -- without my even ingesting it. 

Upon further reflection, I realized that the negative connotations of "emotional crutch" don’t suit me or the situation. Why do people use physical crutches? Physical crutches exist to help people function as normally as possible when they’re wounded or disabled. Some people, unfortunately, require physical crutches their entire lives.

At one point, I used physical crutches after being injured in a motorcycle accident. People didn’t deride me, but rather accepted that if I walked on my injured leg, it wouldn’t heal and would cause me pain. People understood that I was using the available and doctor-recommended methods to assist my own healing.

Why, then, do emotional crutches appear as negative? Through this experience with my medication, I realized that an emotional crutch is used for a similar purpose: supporting me when I’m not able to completely support myself emotionally, reduce unnecessary pain, and aid in my healing. 

Physical and Emotional Crutches Are Sometimes Necessary

To be clear, I don’t want my medication to be an emotional crutch. I don’t want to take medication every single day, either ("Is It Possible to Recover From Chronic Mental Illness?"). On the same note, I didn’t want to use physical crutches after my accident or attend physical therapy, where I endured painful exercises and stretching. However, that’s simply what I needed to do at the time for my overall health. 

This emergency medication operates in the same way: if I need an emotional crutch to stay healthy, whether I ingest it or not to achieve that result, I’ll keep it with me.

APA Reference
Meredith, M. (2018, December 2). Is My Psychiatric Medication an Emotional Crutch?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, June 26 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/livingablissfullife/2018/12/is-my-psychiatric-medication-an-emotional-crutch



Author: Morgan Meredith

Find Morgan on  TwitterFacebookMediumLinkedIn, Google+, and her personal blog.

Lizanne Corbit
says:
December, 3 2018 at 3:27 pm
This is such an important read! Everyone has a different relationship with medication and it can absolutely play a positive role. I think it's so helpful to think of our connection with medication as a relationship. It's helpful to take a step back and question, is this truly benefitting me? Or do I feel like this is a negative connection? Questioning and taking stock helps you to feel empowered by your medication, instead of controlled by it.
December, 3 2018 at 3:43 pm
Thanks, Lizanne. I love the way you've described it as a relationship. Like any relationship, the one with medication can be controlling and draining - or supportive and healthy. Great thought! I'll tuck that idea away for a potential future post. :)

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