So many times people ask me if I shouldn't 'have a rest' from my medication. These are often the same people who suggest people with depression should just remember how good they have it compared with people in Syria/current the international hotspot, or suggest that we harden up (We are the toughest people you will ever meet. We do battle with our own minds). The short answer is 'no' but it's slightly more complicated than that.

Imagine I was an asthmatic (I'm not).  Would anyone suggest I needed a rest from my preventer medication? Even if I wasn't getting symptoms or having asthma attacks no one would question the decision to be on medication, made in conjunction with the relevant health professionals. In fact, if I felt all better and started talking about stopping my preventer medication someone would remind me that without it I sometimes get really sick.

Have you ever thought an asthmatic should just toughen up and keep breathing? Have you thought they should just appreciate the oxygen they can get and stop worrying about what they can't have? Have you avoided talking about difficult subjects because you didn't want them upset, thinking it might trigger an attack? If an asthmatic needs to take some time off work or study while they get their symptoms under control how do you view it? What about if they decide they need to use a variety of approaches (medical and lifestyle) to deal with their illness? I have several friends who won't come to BBQs or bonfires on the cooler months because they say they can't breathe. I don't judge them negatively for that.

My illness isn't that different. I use meds, lifestyle and talk therapy to deal with it. When I have a major depressive episode I try to catch it as early as possible and put some things in place to help me manage while things are difficult. I try to remember, when I feel good, that my meds are preventative because when things are good it's easy to forget how bad things can get (what's that saying about forgetting pain?).

All that being said, there are many different ways to manage mental illness, and more and more research is being done on gut-brain interactions, and I am not going to criticize anyone who chooses to deal with their illness in other ways - as long as it is working for them and their loved ones!

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