I have a family member, Jennifer (name changed to protect privacy), who has schizophrenia. She takes meds in order to minimize her symptoms. When she is on her meds, she is warm, kind-hearted and a lot of fun. When she is not, she is paranoid, delusional and hypersensitive. She gets upset at small occurrences, and interprets others’ statements to mean that everyone is against her. I’m grateful that the meds help Jennifer. However, she has difficulty taking them because in her mind, she is not herself when she is on meds. This could be her own, skewed version of reality, but deep inside me, I have this knowing feeling that Jennifer feels uncomfortable with taking meds because it’s not natural for the human body to ingest drugs.
I am certainly not an expert on mental illness, and I understand the benefit of these drugs for someone struggling with the diseases of the brain. What I can’t reconcile is that maybe there really is another alternative to drugs, but taking meds is so common for mental illness treatment, that other forms of therapy haven’t been brought to the surface.
This is not only the case for mental illness, but also physical illness. I met a woman who had survived breast cancer, and was taking drugs to counteract her symptoms. She complained that one of the side effects was loss of memory. Her life is saved, but she can’t remember where her car keys are. I understand the seriousness of something like cancer. I have witnessed the destruction it can bring. It is a complicated disease and pills are saving lives. However, I have also met people who have beat their cancer by natural means. If they can do it, why can’t everyone? I believe it’s because there is too much emphasis on drugs to cure everything.
Have we become a society that looks to drugs for every ailment? If you’re bored, tired, in pain, or confused, there’s a pill for that. I know what you might be thinking. “How can she write like this when she probably takes pills herself?” Good question. The truth is, in 2013 I took three pills the entire year. I remember what they were for – headache, cold and allergies. It’s not that I don’t get sick, but when I do, I prefer to heal by natural means. I also do a lot of preventive maintenance on my body. I eat right, exercise and rest. Even if I can’t get eight hours of sleep a night, I meditate so that I sleep more soundly. If we do preventive maintenance on our car, aren’t our bodies more valuable?
Sometimes preventive maintenance doesn’t work. In March of 2013, I was sick for a month. I had a very bad cold, consisting of cough and fatigue. I healed it by drinking tea with honey and lemon, taking cough drops and vitamin C powder. My friend gave me two pills, and I never took them. It took me a little longer to get well, but I eventually felt better. I also felt like my body healed naturally, and in its own time. I also believe that because I practice good habits, I was still able to go to work when I was sick and feel stronger than ever when I recovered.
Our bodies are not extensions of us. They are us. Whatever we put in our body affects our entire system of mind, body, and spirit. This includes prescription pills. We must be careful with what we allow in the temple that is our body, and treat it with the care it so deserves.