Please, Stop Telling Us What Medications We Should or Should Not Take!

June 13, 2013 Natalie Jeanne Champagne

The title of this blog implies that I will be focusing on people in our lives who--for the most part--do not live with a mental illness. These people like to give us advice on what medications we need to take or tell us we don't need to take medication at all. It's confusing and, frankly, a real piss off.

But what I really want to talk about is those who live with a mental illness, and spend a great deal of time telling us what medications we should not take. They list off side-effects they experienced, provide us with horrid examples, and even go as far as to tell us that to take a certain medication will likely cause severe complications and even death.

I call complete bollocks on this one--it makes me angry--and I want to explain why.

Your Experience is Your Own But Don't Jeopardize Our Recovery!

I feel I might get some nasty replies here but, to be honest, I welcome them. Recovering from mental illness is bloody well hard. It is probably the hardest thing we will ever do.

Let me give you an example: Person A had an awful experience with a specific psychiatric medication and proceeds to tell Person B about this, but also tells them not to take the medication. Person A may feel he or she is doing something admirable, but telling someone not to take a prescribed medication is dangerous. Don't do it.

Person A is not a psychiatrist and Person B needs to listen to theirs. He or she does not need to be bombarded with fear mongering "literature" and, on the extreme side, even videos and testimonials from those claiming to have taken the medication and suffered for it.

Let's break this down: Person A is likely trying to be helpful. Yay! They don't want Person B to suffer as they did, but Person B is vulnerable and open to suggestion because they are not yet stable. They might then refuse to take this medication. This medication might be the one that works for them. This medication might be the one that spurs recovery. If Person B is frightened to take it they won't ever know. They might not recover. Ever.

It's dangerous to describe negative experiences to those working to recover.

Share Your Experience But Remember You are an Expert on Your Illness Not Ours

I talk about being an "expert" on our illness fairly often. This means that we need to educate ourselves on ourselves, focus on self-care, and our own recovery.

You can share your experience, but do so in a positive way. If you have had a negative experience with a specific medication and want to share your feelings on it or have been asked, say something like, "That one didn't work for me, but hopefully it will for you. We're all different." And then talk about the damn weather or reality TV. Whatever. Sometimes, not focusing on the pain of mental illness is helpful. Be a friend, an ally in recovery, not an enemy. We need to stick together.

Do not jeopardize a person's recovery. They have a psychiatrist they need to work with just like you do. I was inspired to write on this topic because I often read--usually on Twitter or Facebook--posts by people telling other people not take a certain medication. I want to ask these people: What if this medication is the one that saves a person's life? Find something else to do with your time--focus on your own recovery.

In summary: Clearly, I am focusing on a very, very, small group of people. We all know how hard recovering from a mental illness is, and we tend to support each other in a kind and gracious way. But for those few who--consciously or not--spew out constant negativity and fear on medications that can save a person's life, well, Just Stop. Now.

APA Reference
Jeanne, N. (2013, June 13). Please, Stop Telling Us What Medications We Should or Should Not Take!, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 21 from

Author: Natalie Jeanne Champagne

May, 5 2024 at 7:40 pm

I have a friend that tells me to come off meds, if I did I would get migraines etc, I'm good because I am on them

Laura Gehrke
February, 1 2014 at 1:30 pm

Totally agree, took me years to get the right combo of meds, its not for me to sabotage your recovery, remission is a blessing, may we all get there soon.

Gary Chapin
July, 16 2013 at 2:21 am

Thank you! Robert Whitaker's book Anatomy of an Epidemic is a must read for anyone Take a look at Robert Whitaker's book Anatomy of an Epidemic. In Anatomy of an Epidemic, Whitaker reports on the long-term outcomes literature for schizophrenia, anxiety, depression, and bipolar illness, and also the literature that details outcomes for children treated with psychiatric medications. Whitaker questions the efficacy of psychiatric medications as he reviews the scientific literature for the past 50 years and pieces together a documented account of how psychiatric drugs affect long-term outcomes. Whitaker poses the question: could our drug-based paradigm of care be fueling a mental health epidemic. A startling read!

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Natalie Jeanne Champagne
July, 16 2013 at 5:21 am

Hi, Gary,
Thanks for the great book idea!

Joanne White
June, 22 2013 at 1:44 am

My son has had bipolar disorder for 25 years. I get advice all the time on which anti-psychotics he should or snould not take. I believe that HE is his own expert. He knows what works and what doesn't, how he feels, etc. What I want to know is...where do you find a low-fee psychiatrist who will spend a sufficient amount of time with a client to ferret out the correct medication without a "try this and see" approach. Too many shrinks seem too busy. They ask a couple of quick questions and hand out pills in less than five minutes. Then they're off to the next appointment. I walk away wondering if they know anything at all about my son.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Natalie Jeanne Champagne
June, 22 2013 at 4:55 am

I live in Canada--a lot of our healthcare is free in terms of psychiatry. Things like therapy usually are not. There are ways around this, though I am quite certain you have explored them. Sadly, mental health medications are usually trial and error. It took me a long time and I still tweak when I falter. It isn't easy; not for a parent and not for your son. It sounds like he has a wonderful support in you. I wish I had more answers.
Thank you for the great comment,

Robinn G
June, 21 2013 at 3:52 pm

Brava!! I NEVER tell people what to take. I don't even share my experience unless they ask and then just say what works for me may or may not work for them but that I am not a professional. I recommend Googling the name of the medication and learn all you can about it - be proactive and involved in your care! I look things up in Medscape all the time; it can be intimidating unless you have a pharmaceutical background but it really helps me. It has a place where you can list all of your medications and it will tell you if any of them interact with the others you're taking. I look all of this up and my doctor and I discuss this as educated people. He listens to me and I guide my own medication dosages with him having the final say-so.
So get educated and don't listen to people trying to tell you what medication(s) to take! Everyone's experience is different!!
Thanks for addressing this and encouraging people to think for themselves. This is a big problem and people need to quit doing this!

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Natalie Jeanne Champagne
June, 22 2013 at 4:57 am

Robinn G
Thank you! As the days past and this issue seems to become more controversial I am starting to feel quite passionate about it and appreciate the support!

June, 21 2013 at 7:15 am

Applause. As the assistant of a psychiatrist for 15 years I have said this hundreds of times a year. Again, applause.

Mark Braun, MS,RPh
June, 21 2013 at 5:07 am

Authors Note: I had to edit this comment as it contained specific drug names and associated companies.
Hi My Good Friend Natalie,
I am sorry that I have to disagree with you on this one. . . I myself have advised patients to examine the literature .....I don't give advice. I let people educate themselves. The truth is out there, to coin a phrase.
Still your friend,
Mark Braun, MS,RPh

June, 18 2013 at 3:32 am

Thanks for sharing your post.
I was detected to have mental illness problem. My symptoms are like these. Delusion [believing television, others are talking about me], I feel anxious in certain situations [i would think lots of negative things, cannot stop thinking].
After I was instruct to have pills. It took a week before the side effect take place. My eyes become smaller, I response slower in verbal communication, response slower in actions, I am scare of flashing faces before me. My face tightened, and cannot give an appropriate facial expression.
So taking pills or not is the rights of patient. However, the patient should talk with the doctor about the side effects. It is acting in both way.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Natalie Jeanne Champagne
June, 18 2013 at 4:34 am

Hi, Stanley,
I really like this statement, "So Taking pills or not is the rights of patient. However, the patient should talk with the doctor. . ." I agree!
Thanks for reading and for the comment.

June, 17 2013 at 11:17 am

I totally agree! "I had a horrible time with medication X." Or "don't take medication Y because you will gain 60 lbs". Everyone reacts differently to different medications. My sister had a friend that reacted poorly to a common medication. When my doctor put me on the same medication she proceeded to tell my mother how I was going to do A.B.C.. because her friend did. And that mom should 'make' me get off the med. (I was in my 30's for heaven's sake.) But they started a campaign throughout the family to get me off 'those horrible medications'. I learned two things from this... 1. Don't tell anyone anything. 2. My family are morons.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Natalie Jeanne Champagne
June, 18 2013 at 4:37 am

Hi, "Notsure"
First, I like your alias name!:)
Yes, we all react so differently with medications. What works for one of us may not for anther. I really relate---and am certain many more can---with those in our family not understanding the need to take medication.
"My family are morons." I can also relate at times!
Thanks for the great comment and for making me laugh whilst on my first cup of coffee,

Judy Bush
June, 17 2013 at 10:58 am

Great post! Everyone responds differently to medications and psychotherapy. Knowing oneself is probably the hardest especially if you diagnosed at a later age. It's harder to accept because you haven't been this way your whole life and what worked for you before doesn't work now. I have MDD and it's chronic. I advise to fill your toolbox with as much as possible and see what works and doesn't. When something stops working take a look at that toolbox again.

June, 16 2013 at 10:44 am

I agree that people should not be telling other people to NOT take their medications.... however, I think it is important that people be proactive with their own health care and not just blindly accept advice from anyone without doing their own research and experimentation. Too often we just do what we are told by somebody else who may mean well but who may not have the best information at hand.... this may include psychiatrists and other medical people who operate from a limited perspective not necessarily by intention but by training and actual time constraints that limit their continuing education. There are many options out there to help people feel better. Some things including medications work for some people and not for others. Look for what has the potential for the greatest benefit with the least potential for harm or toxicity including adequate sleep, nutrition and exercise as basics.
Thanks for allowing my point of view to be heard.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Natalie Jeanne Champagne
June, 18 2013 at 4:37 am

Hi, Debra:
Great comment thank you for providing us with an excellent point of view.
Thank you for reading,

Mary Pettigrew
June, 13 2013 at 12:55 pm

Natalie ~ WOW! Great post! I agree w/you on this issue & have dealt with it myself in the past - I still do even when it pertains to mental issues caused by my MS or other illness. It's RIDICULOUS! Like you, I have also written & STRESSED to ppl that we're ALL different. Our chemistry is different from each other - meds, therapy, diet, etc. affect us all uniquely. People create ignorant opinions without being educated or even empathetic on these matters. I'm right by your side on this, Natalie! Thank you.

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