Disclaimer: This is a personal, anecdotal story from a fellow witch and is not to be substituted for medical advice. If you have questions about mental health medications or a prescription, ask your doctor.
There are some absolutes in nature and in life. Spellwork can be influenced and improved, but experienced witches will tell you it is definitely not an exact science. The same is absolutely true when you are taking mental health medications. You will probably hear this same thing about meds’ experimental nature if you speak with a therapist, a psychiatrist, or a mental health advocate.
I draw from my experience as a witch, as well as a “consumer” (someone who takes/has taken mental health medications), a peer advocate, a mental health technician, and an appointed guardian advocate in the court system. We can evaluate symptoms, give someone a proposed “diagnosis,” and recommend medications that are shown in research studies to have some type of positive impact on that diagnosis or symptoms. However, each time we start a new medication or combine prescriptions, we are engaging in an experiment. There is no foolproof way to heal or “cure” the symptoms that are known as depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder.
My Personal Experience With Mental Health Meds
Medications can work wonders for those who experience acute symptoms or whose symptoms are affecting their quality of life. For example, as a mental health technician at a long-term care facility for male patients with mood disorders and schizophrenia, I witnessed first-hand how a combination of prescriptions for psychosis and other symptoms of schizophrenia made it easier for patients to think, process their emotions, and curb feelings of aggression. It even allowed some patients to work part-time or volunteer.
In my personal case, mental health medications like anti-depressants, mood stabilizers, and anti-anxiety medications were only masking the effects of trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). I was never given a chance to process what I had witnessed or experienced in childhood when I was a child or a teen. At least, not to the extend that was needed. In my opinion, I developed symptoms of depression and anxiety as a result of a lack of coping skills and as a response to abuse, neglect, and traumatic situations.
While anti-depressants and other medications gave me a big “reward hit” in the beginning and felt like they worked for some time, they always began to feel like they were wearing off. They would seemingly lose their effectiveness and again I would feel depressed or off-balance. My psychiatrist would increase the dosage of my prescriptions, only to enhance the side effects that I was feeling. I experienced physical distress as a result of taking some of the meds: Stomachaches, headaches, and even some weight gain. When the medications felt like they stopped working, I would panic, because my safeguard would be gone again.
Coping With My Emotions
After over a decade of experimentation with mental health prescriptions, dozens of medication combinations, and the same symptoms constantly resurfacing, I chose to head in a new direction. With my psychiatrist’s advice in hand, I left his office and started to “wean off” of my medication. Many prescriptions cannot be stopped immediately or patients could potentially experience unwanted mental, emotional, or physical effects of withdrawal. Once the process of getting off the meds was complete, I began to search for alternative ways to cope with my emotions and heal what I had been going through for so long.
Part of my inspiration for taking a new path was that I wanted to have a child. I was concerned about what the meds would do to my baby if they had such a negative impact on my body. What I found overtime was that the journey was challenging, but it was worth it to me. I was learning other ways to cope with my trauma and my past, including journaling, therapy, and deep breathing. Physical activity, nutrition, and vitamins were also very important to me. I had to find other strategies for relaxing, calming down, and even sleeping. I learned more about natural and helpful tools like medicinal cannabis, meditation, and trauma-focused healing.
It has been seven years since I decided to end my journey with mental health medications and prescriptions. I have had my share of challenges and I can safely say that there are many days where I feel like a heaping wreck. However, everyone does. Everyone has bad days and everyone feels like they can’t take anymore. It is in learning more about ourselves and going through our own challenges that we find out what we can accept and what we have to change.
Again, I do realize that some people benefit from mental health medications and will prefer to take them for the rest of their lives. I believe that these meds are absolutely essential for some peoples’ survival and I will never discount their use. What I do what to communicate is that some medications, like some spellwork, are for certain situations. In others, they may have to be adjusted, removed, or they may no longer apply.
Trusting Our Own Power
Allowing ourselves to see our mental health journey as a lifelong experiment can help us to make peace with whatever decision we make. I always trusted my power as a witch, but there were times when I had trouble deciding what was right for my health. In some cases, negative influences or toxic learned behaviors can cause us to doubt our own intuition.
I am glad that I trusted myself enough to take the chance to go down a different path, though I told myself it would be okay if I went back to meds. I haven’t needed to do so, but I always appreciated what they did for me in my teenager years and early adulthood. In some cases, I think they helped keep me alive, especially when I did not have an advocate for myself. When no one was there for me, mental health meds kept me stable, and for that, I am grateful.
How to Benefit From the Experiment
When things look bleak or symptoms are too challenging to handle on your own, it is possible that your psychiatrist or doctor prescribes you with meds for the short-term or long-term. Know that while these prescriptions are designed to help, you should be on the lookout for side effects and changes in your mood or behavior. Follow your doctor’s instructions and do not be afraid to give them feedback if something does not seem right. Keep all of your appointments and take notes while you are adjusting to new medications so you know what to tell your psychiatrist when you visit them.
If you aren’t finding relief, remember that like spellwork, your intentions may not materialize. You may not get what you want or what you were expecting. Perhaps that is for the greater good. Your doctor could always adjust your medications like you would adjust portions of your spell. You can also get a second opinion, just like you may research a different type of spell if you are not having success. Remember: Talk to your doctor before you make any changes in your meds.
If you feel you cannot cope with your emotions or are feeling suicidal, please dial 911 or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK. A minor adjustment or addition of medication may be all that you need to get on track.
With a little patience and perseverance, you can find a doctor that agrees with your mental health philosophy. In my case, I discovered I needed to work more on handling my feelings and emotions while healing my childhood trauma. Every witch is unique, and so is their healthcare journey. Asking questions and making changes when needed will help you to ensure that each experiment is worthwhile.
**Blessed Be – Amber Grimes (Founder, Mental Health for Witches)**
Do you take medication? Why or why not? How has medication been a part of your mental health journey as a witch? Do you see it to be like spellwork? Write us back in the comments, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Instagram @mentalhealthforwitches. We are also at @mhforwitches on Twitter.
Other witchy articles for you: