A flaw in chemistry, not character

Whilst I don’t believe that Facebook or social media in general are appropriate places to post regarding personal issues, I feel that there are certain situations where not only is it appropriate, but necessary. This week has been incredibly tough for me for one very simple reason: the pharmacy’s inability to supply me with my regular medication.

For those struggling with their mental health, medication can be a key issue for a variety of reasons, non-compliance being one of these. I myself, have struggled for the past 5 years with complying to my medication, going through 17+ different meds when I suddenly decide to stop taking one. When you, as the patient, fail to take your medication as prescribed it is heavily frowned upon and the importance of regularity on our mental and physical well being stressed from professionals in all directions. Yet here I am, fully complying with all of my medications for the first time since beginning recovery for my mental illnesses and it is the pharmacy which is my greatest obstacle.

Ever since starting on this new medication regime in the middle of last term, I have experienced difficulty in collecting my prescription nearly every week for a variety of reasons from mess ups in the electronic prescription service to misplacement. This week, the pharmacy forgot to order my medication altogether. Six days later and I am finally able to collect them (only a day before my next prescription is due to be collected) but what the pharmacist or other professionals do not see is the effect just six days without medication can have. Those six days have left me missing lectures, experiencing numerous panic attacks a day, feeling mostly unable to get out of bed with fleeting suicidal thoughts and at a level of anxiety so high that collecting my prescription now that it is actually ready feels impossible.

The first response you get from a pharmacist when you complain about the effects of missing a few days of your treatment is “it won’t hurt you, it won’t make a difference, it’s just psychological”, and that grates on me more than I can even put into words. If this was the case, professionals would NOT be stressing the importance of compliance. Like any other medication, antidepressants, anxiolytics, mood stabilisers, anti-psychotics and the like affect you both physically and mentally and just a few days of disruption to your treatment can bring a whole host of effects. These may be emotional withdrawal symptoms such as crying spells, anxiety or suicidal thoughts, but they may also be physical symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, headaches and fatigue to name a few. But regardless of how these symptoms show themselves, they are REAL symptoms which no human being deserves to experience if they can be resolved by something as simple as a pharmacy doing their job by providing essential medication on time.

What hits me the most is that this situation just would not occur with patients suffering from physical illnesses – when was the last time a pharmacist “forgot” to order a diabetic patient’s insulin for six days? Or an epileptic patient their anti-epilepsy drugs? When would a cancer patient arrive for their chemotherapy to be told they have to wait six days but it’s okay, it won’t make them any worse, it’s just psychological? In any of these situations, it would be deemed entirely unacceptable and unethical.

And that, is the bare truth of this post. It is the 21st century, we are most aware of mental illnesses than we ever have been before and yet STILL, they are not treated as fairly as physical illnesses. Those suffering should not be made to feel any less important or as if they are being taken any less seriously.

I know that this has turned into an essay as per usual but if speaking out about my own personal experiences helps people to realise the seriousness of this issue then so be it.

18th February, 2016.


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