I will start this with a huge thank you for all of the wonderful support I have received following last night's airing of the Age of Anxiety.
I have been directly asked a couple of questions so in attempt to keep this somewhat to the point I will answer those first;
Q: What was your overall take on the Documentary?
A: As I said yesterday, any opportunity to continue the discussions surrounding Mental Health/Illness are necessary ones. When I was approached about this Documentary I was asked to give an honest depiction of what living with Anxiety and Depression has been like for me and so I tried to allow myself to be open to that. After seeing the finished product I would answer this question in two parts;
First, I too (as did many of you that have spoken with me regarding The Age of Anxiety) saw the overall theme to be medication related. In honesty, I am not prepared to suggest everybody who suffers from Anxiety needs medication, nor am I able to say that they are not needed. For me, medication has been a very useful and necessary support. When I was initially diagnosed, I was not in a place where I could cope with the feelings and reactions I was having as a result of my Anxiety and Depression. For me, medication provided a therapeutic relief from the extremity of what I was dealing with. I often describe it (for myself) as the cast on a broken leg. I needed the support in order to learn how to re train myself into a stronger and more stable place, and from that place I was able to learn how to cope. Medication is certainly not a "cure" for me. It is one means of therapy in addition to Physical Fitness, good Nutrition, Psychotherapy, proper rest and Naturopathic s. It is the combination of all of these therapies and resources that have allowed me success in learning the skills I now posses that enable me to effectively live with Anxiety and Depression.
Second, a very important educational awareness was offered throughout this documentary. A question I often hear is when does Anxiety constitute a disorder. This point was present throughout debate in The Age of Anxiety. I don't pretend to be a doctor but my answer has always been this; of course we all have anxiety. It is indeed a natural response to situations and one we need in order to survive. However, when the emotions and responses to Anxiety (or Depression) begin to interfere with a person's ability to function, then in my opinion it is very necessary to actively make note of this and start to determine the underlying reasons and issues that are presenting themselves and seek assistance.
Q: Why did it seem like the Documentary was against medication for Anxiety?
A: I understand medication for many is a touchy subject. It is very easy to get defensive about implications that it's not necessary or overused especially if that person is using it. I personally can attest to this, until very recently I was certainly not thrilled at people knowing that I am on medication for Anxiety and Depression. That being said, I can't say that I don't understand the point being made in the Documentary. Many people are being medicated when it MAY not be necessary. Unfortunately, people go to GP's in search of help, and whether it's time restraints, lack of resources, lack of experience, the only solution many Doctors have available to offer seems to be in the form of medication. (And again, I do believe there are certainly instances where it is necessary.) My issue with medication, as it pertained to myself, was that it did indeed provide assistance in getting me to a "better place" but it took far more work to realize how much more I needed to do in order to actually be better. Unfortunately, in my opinion, if people don't choose to make the changes or recognize the additional steps necessary to cope with Mental Illness, they may not experience the same level of recovery. The medication is absolutely a support but it's also necessary to discover why that support is needed and work towards bettering that. For me, I never would have gotten here without the help of medication, but I certainly would not have come this far with only medication.
I am grateful this discussion took place on the Age of Anxiety as I feel it brought to light a much more important issue. Perhaps there is over medication taking place, perhaps not; and maybe there is over diagnosis, maybe not; but with certainty, there is a lack of education, resources and therapies to help people identify and deal with these issues and there in lies a massive problem. If going to a GP isn't enough, and taking a pill isn't enough then what are the alternatives? How do we further educate people to understand Mental Illness? How do we make this conversation safe for everybody to have, without discrimination or fear?
I heard it said last night that the "stigma" is no longer present. Perhaps this was the point I disagreed with the most. The stigma still very much exists or a discussion about the legitimacy of Anxiety Disorders would never be present. This very doubt or uncertainty is often enough to perpetuate silence and that needs to change! Mental Illness is as real as Cancer; as Heart Disease. Yes, there are still many improvements to be made in treatment and diagnosis and I am so grateful to be a part of any conversation that brings this to light.
Please feel free to visit my facebook page www.facebook.com/kendrafisher.mf or twitter @Kendra_Fisher30 if you have any other questions or to join the discussion on...lots more to come!