One of the things that was emphasised strongly on the course, is that someone should never be admitted to hospital under compulsion because they ‘refused to take medication’. That just isn’t a reason to apply for an admission.
It seemed to be almost natural to comment on that in the assessment papers but, as our tutor pointed out, not wanting to take medication which may have horrific side-effects, does not, in itself prove anything if you have no idea what the background to that refusal is and why the medication might be refused.
Our tutor felt it was a part of the move towards the medicalisation of the social work profession (if that’s a real word!) that we were accepting what the psychiatrists were feeding us – namely by refusing medication that would make you ‘better’ you must be crazy.
That thought, combined with one of the more powerful and useful lectures, by a man with a diagnosis of schizophrenia who spoke in the most powerful terms possible, of the pain that the side effects of medication had given him and his fear of being medicated, made me consider how I have approached medication in the past and the emphasis on it.
There is no doubt that medication is important. It is more than important – it is vital. But there’s usually more than one way to skin a cat, so to speak. It is only one of a range of therapies that can be useful and valuable and productive.
I hope that it is not a lesson I forget in a hurry as sometimes, we can be caught up in doing what we think is the right thing to do and stop listening to what the difficulties actually are because we are superimposing what we imagine them to be.