Taking antipsychotic drugs: a user’s first-hand account

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This image is a blurred photo of blue and white pills illustrating how someone might feel taking antipsychotic drugs. d

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Taking antipsychotic drugs: a user’s first-hand account

Dean Talamantez, a disabled veteran, describes what it feels like taking antipsychotic drugs based on his own experiences.

I’ve been on most modern mental health medications. Here is what I’ve learned so far: every medicine does a specific thing, but none treat your disorder. For instance, antidepressants will make you feel less sad, but they will overall make you feel less. You will learn the meaning of an empty smile. The pursuit of happiness will dull to the grazing of empty calories. And if you have not psychologically treated the underlying cause of your depression, you will remain brokenhearted, but now, unable to feel pain. It’s own parallel hell.

It is hard to imagine your pain as an ally, but I pose to you: without it, you will feel naked and ill-at-ease. It makes logical sense when put plainly. Doesn’t it?

Another example is that taking antipsychotic drugs will help you stop hallucinating, but they will also steal your dreams. Bipolar people know this well. Like when discussing school shootings. The conversation around medication and personality disorders with psychotic symptoms is nuanced with deadly implications if misunderstood—rendering it very difficult to discuss in earnest without assuming some liability. Well, I’m nobody with no money and nothing but good intent; so, here we go:

I believe the public should better appreciate the position in which we (the psychotic) find ourselves in. We are crushed nearly 24hours every day by a sadistic fuck we call our own mind. But, on very rare occasions, that same tormentor hands us a milkshake and a blowtorch and yells, “Go For it!” It is extremely dangerous to glorify the manic state because it is when we (the temporarily psychotic) do all of our external damage. But I believe you must understand what taking antipsychotic drugs asks us to give up; it is the milkshake without any promise that our torture will ever cease.

Perhaps I am overgeneralizing about this broad family of drugs. But these conclusions are based on my personal experience of taking antipsychotic drugs.

A more specific example of a single drug is that Adderall will make you more focused and confident in what you are doing. Still, you will not be capable of discerning if what you are doing is right. Take my failure as a precautionary tale. When a doctor noted my inability to hold a straight thought unless written, I was prescribed first Ritalin, then Adderall—and marched off to college; where, for what would have been half a semester, I took one blue pill every day before class.

One month later, while signing my withdrawal paperwork, my hands shook with a cocaine bender’s ferocity. I was irritable, uncorrectable, with dangerous confidence that bordered on manic. It took a peer to confront me. And I instantly discontinued use. The wave of depression—the guilt I felt following this incredible loss of opportunity was like falling from the stars, to realize you’ve been a clump rock all along—C’est la Vie. Luckily, failure never has to be an end.

And then, you have the ‘Pam,’ family, drugs like Lorazepam, and Clonazepam: their commonality being that they are benzodiazepines meant to stop panic attacks, and they work. They will terminate your panic attack. The problem is that they work too well. Some people start to supplement their medicinal alcohol intake with these downers. Your breathing shallows. The two work in tandem to depress your nervous system leading many to gently drift away in their sleep as their nervous system flicks off the lights.

The takeaway is that no medication individually cures a single mental disorder, and there is always a tradeoff. Medications should be wielded with the precision of a scalpel by a licensed psychiatrist working on a comprehensive treatment plan in coordination with a psychologist. This plan SHOULD include therapy.

On treatment: If you have a genuine psychological disorder due to a chemical imbalance in your brain, you do not need a therapist; you need a psychologist. In physical medicine, you wouldn’t visit your general practitioner to do neurological surgery, would you? It’s the same here. Therapists treat general people problems; Psychologists treat neurological disorders.

This article may have been a little unsettling; if so, I’m glad. Speaking about other people’s mental states is taboo for a good reason. The last sacred space is the sanctity of one’s own mind. But the clockwork turning in each human mind acts similarly, unless unwell. And by educating ourselves on these schematics, by being aware, perhaps we can prevent some of the most devastating losses mental illness inflicts on our society.

Article by
Dean Talamantez

Dean Talamantez, a disabled veteran, is a Bay Area transplant from Texas, pursuing a Master's in Fine Arts from California Institute of Integral Studies.


We are crushed nearly 24hours every day by a sadistic fuck we call our own mind. But, on very rare occasions, that same tormentor hands us a milkshake and a blowtorch and yells, "Go For it!"