It’s been a long while I reviewed a book on my blog, but I have been reading many without being bitten by the ‘review me’ bug lol. Ashley’s book has gotten the ‘review me’ bug biting my fingers again. The book is simply one I had to read and make as many as notes as possible, the total being 65 highlighted notes. It is on the basis of these that I review this very important book mental health users and carers would do well to read.
The goal of the book is very clear as follows: The goal of this book is to demystify psychiatric medications and give people living with mental illness, as well as those who support us, the knowledge to make the best possible decisions when it comes to medication.
With the above in mind, I read the book as the project manager I am. I recall with some loathing truth be told, when I spent nearly 2 years taking medications including psychiatric ones, without ever trying to acquire any knowledge which could help me make the best possible decisions for myself. Had I known will always be the last in class because we hardly even think of them when starting a lesson.
Well, with psychiatric medications, you seriously don’t want take your health or those you care for, for granted. Mental illness (I live with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), is for real and yet, you are not an invalid who can’t decide for themselves unless totally sedated or so psychotic enough to care any more. Ashley’s book is focused on the most common types of psychiatric medications: antidepressants, mood stabilizers, anti psychotics, anti anxiety medications, and stimulants, and yet she is adamant in asserting that: “The notion that medications produce some artificial form of wellness is simply absurd. What I gather from reading the book all through therefore is that, she did all the research including using her own self as a case study, to give her readers and the mental illness community at large, a good base of knowledgeable material to get and keep the conversation going. Recovery from a mental illness is possible if the right combination of medications and holistic treatment protocol are found. Trust me I know it may be hard, it is even daunting reading about the different side effects of the several of the medications.
I learned so much, and I honestly marvel at the depth of the research into technical and not cool products such as medications. I learned for example that it is better to take a cocktail of medications at reduced dosage, than only one at a high dose whose side effects may be devastating. I was also thrilled to learn about the relationship between inflammation and depression, and so much in the book kept getting me highlight wow. I could now understand some about the side effects I experienced, as well as those my brother who lived with bipolar disorder did.
The book is not boring to read especially because she uses words we can easily understand, and above all her own story as a case study. I appreciate her authenticity and vulnerability, and support her overall aim of fighting stigma surrounding mental illness and psychiatric medications. I follow her blog Mental Health at Home, and will recommend both her book and blog to everyone.
Thank you so much Ashley my heroine for writing such a long over due book. In my country, there is still such a pervasive culture of the doctor knows best, and the patient is just supposed to take them medication. Now, some patients and carers can start asking real questions while requesting for medication adjustments and re-adjustments.
About the Author
Ashley is a former pharmacist and currently works as a mental health nurse. I admire that she writes from a professional perspective and from a personal stance, as she lives with mental illness.
I really recommend this reference guide to anyone who takes psychotropic medication, has a loved one who does, or who works in the mental health field (counselors, social workers, healthcare providers, etc. – I am a psychotherapist and could refer clients to this book now of course hahahah)