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If the Pill Fits

If the solution seems too good to be true, that may be because it is


By Camille Bugayong


Photo of shelves of Asian medicine
Photo By: Oscar Fang

The couch of the psychiatrist’s office was so large that I thought it would swallow me whole.


However, after receiving multiple mental health diagnoses I had suspected for a couple of years, I decided sinking into the oversized cushions was my best option.


Seeing a psychiatrist certainly seemed better than the other two options I was given: therapy and medication. I had been down this road before. Several months prior, I started antidepressants, hoping to ease my anxiety, but with an undiagnosed mental health condition, this treatment backfired and left me worse than I started.


It seems too good to be true: a pill promising to solve all my problems, make me happier, or stop panic attacks. However, after extensive research, I discovered that a quick-fix pill wasn’t the solution. Simply searching up the name of a medication on TikTok or Reddit uncovers countless people’s experiences with different forms of psychiatric medication. People describe worsening symptoms, drowsiness, and feelings of emptiness - the list goes on. Still, there were a few success stories of people finding the “medication cocktail” that works for them. The few success stories reinstalled my hope.


When I started two new medications, I told myself that it would work this time. Analyzing my symptoms and WebMD’s promises, I felt I had found the correct combination for me. So, imagine my disappointment when the medication once again left my brain more hurt than it was before. It’s frustrating to know there most likely is a medication out there that would be a perfect match, but trial and error is the only path to finding it.


One of my previous teachers told me about their decades-long mental health journey, which led them to try countless types of medication, varying in effectiveness but never being the perfect fit. The realization that people spend their lives switching in and out of medications and their corresponding symptoms was scary and shattered the idealization I had formed around medication.


For a long time, I had a naivety surrounding psychiatric medication. I believed a pill could right all the wrongs in my life. And while medication can help, it won’t be a magical fix to all of life’s problems.


Eventually, I found medication that made one part of life less challenging, but it certainly did not erase every stain on my life. It takes consistent work and effort to feel better. Therapy and making different life choices are necessary for those struggling with mental health. I wish the solution could be as simple as swallowing an orange pill every morning and evening, but the brain is wired in complex manners that require more work.


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