UPP Weekly Mental Digest
Spotlighting Mental Health Awareness
Mental Illness & Substance Abuse
by Shari Wilson, Psy. M.
July 1, 2022
Hey Everyone! Welcome back to our weekly discussion where we “Talk About It” all! Have you ever heard of someone who has had some physical ailment, like a scrape or a minor cut, you know something superficial? Normally one would tend to the scrape and then there’s nothing more after that, other than maybe changing a band aid. Now imagine that this small scrape or cut went untreated, and due to the individual thinking that it would heal on its own without any care, the scrape/cut became infected. Yea, now they have a bigger problem on their hands. That small cut is now needing some serious treatment. So, what do they do? Although one would think “it’s time to make a doctor’s appointment,” for whatever reason, they decide to try to fix it themselves. Now, for the most part, the idea of fixing themselves would hypothetically work, IF they knew what to do to clear up the infection and stop further damage. Unfortunately, instead of fixing the scrape/cut, it is now so sensitive to the touch that they could barely function and has caused so many additional issues due to the beginning scrape/cut. At this point, professional help can’t be avoided. This would be a prime example of what could happen to someone who has an untreated mental illness and instead of seeking help, they try to fix it on their own which can lead to self-medicating a.k.a. drug abuse.
This relationship between mental illness and self-medicating walks a very thin line. You have examples where someone could be suffering from a form of bipolar disorder and just never got the chance to seek out help. For several reasons including financial issues, shame, or simply not knowing that they are suffering from a possible disorder. These instances can lead to a sense of vulnerability leading to trying new things to help them cope with what they don't understand is happening to them. There may be those who have gone through some form of PTSD and are not at a point in their life where they are ready to “deal” with what happened to them. That doesn't mean that the trauma vanishes, it is still there and can lead to developing other disorders as a coping mechanism for what happened.
Normally with traumatic experiences, people want to numb the pain, because facing the trauma upfront brings to the surface some emotions that do not feel good when one is processing them. Lastly, you may have those who have sought out help, but as I mentioned before, finding the right medicine for each individual may not seem as easy as one may think. You may have a doctor that might prescribe too high of a dosage for the disorder that was diagnosed. This is where it gets a little tricky, especially if the patient begins to show signs to the doctor that they are becoming dependent on the medication. The doctor may then deny refilling the prescription, but the patient’s body has already created a dependency on something that was supposed to make them better.
So what do they do now?
They may seek out finding their medication “elsewhere”. This form of self-medicating is what leads to the change in a person that unfortunately so many have seen with loved ones. They become fixated on the medicine, but the underlining issue is still there and still weighing them now.
Now, the self-medicating treatment that leads to some very questionable behavior is still fueled by the untreated disorder along with this heavy dependency of whatever they can find to substitute for what they were being prescribed by their doctor.
Don't get it twisted, "THIS IS NOT A “DONT SEEK HELP BECAUSE IT WON’T HELP” message, actually it is the complete opposite. If you notice something that you feel is impacting you or negatively hindering you, seek help. That is what we are here for, BUT make sure that the root of whatever you are suffering with is identified, that is the job of the therapist to help you see what is going on and provide a way of either working with it or working to a point so that it does not control you like before.
Please DO NOT just take medication without explanation from a doctor!
Not all medication is bad, and some mental disorders can be treated with medication that’ll give very positive responses. You want to be able to feel like you are making progress with your treatment.
The ultimate goal for a therapist and their patient is to show a better way of life and to provide a sense of positivity that can be carried with the patient even after treatment has ended.
Remember a healthy life starts with your way of thinking and if your mental state is healthy, life tends to be a lot clearer and easier to understand.
See you next week!
About the writer:
Shari Wilson has a true heart to listen to anyone who shares their experiences, traumas, or just life in general. She studied at Purdue Global University, acquiring her Bachelor’s degree in Applied Behavioral Analysis and Addictions Psychology in 2016. On the path to furthering her studies, she received her Master of Psychology in 2018 from Purdue Global University. Since then she has been enamored with the ability to use her education to help others through difficult times.
She is a Consulting Psychologist for UnCharted Path Productions, working on the upcoming psychological thriller series titled, “Hidden District”. She is a mom of 3, a wife, and an amazing friend to those around her.