September 23, 2017 — Thoughts about one Movie Stereotype: Psychiatric Medicine

A recurring theme I’m seeing in some of these thriller/suspense movies involves the use of psychiatric drugs. In movies, writers portray missing a dose as being catastrophic. And taking a dose “fixes” what’s wrong with you, like taking a Tylenol.

I’ve been on psychiatric meds (mood stabilizers and anti-psychotics) for a few years now. Doctors explained these things to me:

  1. It takes roughly a month for psychiatric medications to build up to therapeutic levels. Therefore, taking one dose isn’t going to help, since these medications don’t work the same as pain killers.
  2. Keep a record of how you feel/what you experience. Your medicine may need adjustment, or you may need a different script.
  3. Missing one dose after reaching therapeutic levels won’t hurt you, but make sure not to double up. Doubling up on a future dose can be harmful.
  4. Never assume a mentally ill person “needs more drugs”. That determination can only be made by a licensed and trained doctor.
  5. Self-awareness is unusual for a person with psychotic features. Most mentally ill people who experience things that others don’t will typically behave like what they experience is just as real as a door or a chair. But in my case, the “weird things” that I’ve experienced fall under “hallucination,” because I use my logic training to figure out that it’s “not real” because it lacks a real source.
  6. Psychiatric medication only treats symptoms of a mental illness. They do not fix it permanently. Most people taking these medications don’t know that; they think that they’re “cured” when they feel better, so they stop taking the medicine.

I do hope this blog post is utilized by future screenplay writers. The perpetuation of stereotyped ignorance with regards to psychiatric medication doesn’t help society understand what it’s like for the mentally ill undergoing treatment.

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