Monday, June 18, 2012

Medication and your authentic self

My friend Kaitlyn recently published this post from a guest blogger on her site.  It has to do with medication and whether or not it makes you your "true" self, another version of yourself, or someone else completely.  This is a question that I know a lot of people wrestle with.  After all, everyone wrestles with their identity to some degree, and when you are taking medications that fundamentally change your brain chemistry, identity issues are bound to pop up.  In the blogger's article, she tries to determine whether she *is* the woman she becomes when suffering from her ADHD , or if she *is* the woman she manifests when on medication.
Personally, I do not believe that I am the nasty, ill-tempered, dark human being I become when I go off my medication.  Depression is a disorder: not a personality trait.  Science has determined that depression is due to a chemical imbalance; so I think it would be inappropriate to say that my true self is the manifestation of that imbalance.  I wouldn't say that a person with epilepsy is most truly him/herself  when having a seizure.  I wouldn't say my father is most truly himself when have a schizophrenic episode.  I wouldn't even say that a person is most truly him/herself when they are really tired.  I guess I like to think that a person is his or her true self is his or her optimal self: who they are under the best conditions, not the worst.That is not to say that I do not believe that I am a complete and total nutcase.  I definitely understand that that cranky, misanthrope I become when I am depressed is me, it is just not most authentically me.
Additionally, I think that if your medication makes you feel anything other than the most authentic version of yourself, then you need to change medication.  There are a ton of medications out there, and if you feel stifled, or wired, or just inauthentic, there is probably a medication that can get you to a better place.  Medication should help you manage your day to day affairs, and help you accomplish the goals that your disorder is stopping you from achieving.  If anything else is happening, there is something wrong.

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