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Have been thinking about this for a while and thought I'd start a separate conversation about it rather than divert the Fluffy yurt too much away from daily support. (That's the whatever happened to the village thread, everyone welcome).
I will self medicate at times, with caffeine, alcohol, over the counter sedative antihistamines. In the distant past with other things but not now I'm a grown up professional. I suspect most people do and don't even consider it that. It stands out to me because I do not drink hot drinks or caffeinated drinks at all, so I use caffeine tablets if I feel I need to clear the brain fog or physical energy to tackle the day and I'm then acutely aware of the effect it's having on me. I will have a drink in the evening when I feel I need to relax or calm down or worried my mind is racing too much to rest (talking about a glass of wine or a G&T rather than a bottle of spirit, not enough to cause a hangover). Or if I'm aware I'm not sleeping well or running into hypomania I will use over the counter sedative antihistamines so I can fall asleep in attempt to maintain a normal sleep cycle.
To me this all feels like healthy and sensible self-management strategies. But how can I know that, how to gauge if it's all appropriate and under control? The phrase 'self medicating' sounds so dangerous. I didn't even really realise that's that what it is until it came up in discussion with the psychiatric nurse I met at the assessment service. I think it means using psychoactive substances for immediate effect, rather than general supplements/nutrition for overall effects.
Do other people self medicate like this to greater or lesser degrees - do you think you have it under control? I'm aware that the majority of Western adults probably have a cafffeine addiction but I think that's different as then it's just your regular state. Is it something that's a helpful self-management strategy and how do you feel it impacts on your mental health?
I've self medicated since my teens on a huge range of legal and otherwise substances, all while appearing normal and professional to those around me. I think for me there's a very fine line between helpful and unhelpful self medication, I've always said that I've never relied on anything which could be seen as an addiction but that I'm addicted to being numb to life, the means of achieving this is irrelevant to me. I have no addictions to any substance but have an impossible urge to find something "to take the edge off" be that alcohol, prescription drugs, sh, etc etc. To be absolutely honest none of the above could be seen as helpful in the long term or a helpful self management strategy - the other side of this is that I'm still here.....
Before and during my major breakdown I was self medicating with alcohol. It is my go to drug of choice. Throughout most of my life I have got drunk as an outlet and frequently used to get drunk for the pleasure of being drunk. I am now using prescription only drugs via the medical system.
Given what you have written it is no wonder you self medicate. I fully understand where you are coming from and why you do it. As a good friend said to me, It makes life bearable. Why wouldn't you? (he died from a nrain tumour last year).
Why wouldn't I? If it was actually detrimental to me or perhaps more importantly those around me. There are lots of things that can help you feel better short term but long term are not helpful strategies at all. That's what I'm trying to think about, where the line would be. I don't think I have a problem, but if I did how would I recognise it.
whattodo the addicted to being numb to life thing makes some sense. And in the long term you're right is not helpful - because the way to move on from distressing emotions or thoughts is not to try to forget about them but to expose yourself to them and then manage the responses they evoke. Which is a horribly hard thing to do for lots of us
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