Yeah, I can hear some of you (Jan I'm looking at you...) getting ready to get mad at me again. Because the title should have been a dead giveaway as to what's on my mind right now.
We had yet ANOTHER client caught red handed forging scripts for benzodiazepines, using multiple pharmacies, and generally making a criminal out of herself. It's ridiculous - the level of benzo abuse, prescription drug abuse that we're seeing on a day to day basis is staggering, and it's only getting worse.
Did you know that one of the top 2 causes of accidental death in young adults is prescription drug overdose, (which is classified as unintentional poisoning) ? Not sports injury, not motor vehicle accidents, it's pills they get from their doctors. Pain pills and anti-anxiety medicine.
Why is this? Why are people in their late teens up into their 50's having so much anxiety that they have to take powerfully addictive, sedating medication on a daily basis to deal with it? Is life that much more difficult to deal with than it was say 20 years ago? Are we really under THAT much stress?
I don't think so. I think that by and large we've become a culture of people who throw up their hands at most challenges and want somebody to "fix it for me".
Tell me what to do, where to go, what to eat, think for me, give me a pill so I don't have to feel. Give me another pill so when that pill wears off I don't feel it, and another one so when I'm sleepy from the first pill I can wake up. Oh, and don't forget one to help me fall asleep when the pill I took to wake up makes me to jittery to fall asleep. It's ridiculous - we've become a culture of people who are completely lacking in any kind of coping skills.
I've written here before about depression and anxiety.. I've been through 3 major depressive episodes over the past 12 years, and I was on medication for all 3 episodes, because I needed it to help relieve the symptoms enough for me to be able to work through what triggered the depression in the first place. The last episode of depression also came with a whopping does of anxiety (PTSD from having my home robbed while my eldest son was here). I'm not ashamed to say that I had panic attacks and insomnia, and that they were so severe that I needed medication to be able to work and to sleep. I took the medicine, I saw a counselor, and I worked through what I needed to so that I could cope with the experience, resolve the anxiety, and STOP having to take the xanax!
What I DIDN'T do was turn a medication that was intended to help me work through an emotional mess into a lifestyle, or into a crutch to help me avoid feeling anything at all. I didn't expect someone else to solve all of my problems for me. I knew that I had some long, hard emotional work to do, I committed to it and I did it. I stumbled and fell a few times, I got into a very brief but HORRIBLY destructive relationship, but I kept getting up, and kept dealing with the emotional work at hand. I HAD to, doing this was the only way to heal myself, and to be healthy and whole for my kids.
I get so frustrated with my clients sometimes - I want to tell them "You're not ANY different than me, if I can get through what life has thrown at me so can you". I'm not talking about the clients who are seriously ill, not the clients with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, I'm talking about the people who have the capacity to work through their emotional issues but choose not to. The ones who refuse to go to group therapy or counseling, who come in and say "Can't you just give me a pill?"
I truly believe that for most of us, happiness, and mental wellness is a choice. It's an active process that you consciously choose to commit to on a daily basis. Being emotionally healthy and whole is not something that comes in a pill bottle. The pills are tools to help relieve symptoms, but just like any other kind of tool, they aren't going to help you create your wellness if you don't use them properly. Expecting a little bundle of chemicals and food coloring to resolve all of your issues for you is just plain lazy.
Anything worth having is worth working for, and isn't a happy, healthy emotional state worth having?