More about Jane
Jane started medication for depression and anxiety in 1994. She has since had medication to manage arthritis and Hashimoto’s disease added to her regimen and a number of changes have been made to her medicines, because they were ineffective or had intolerable side effects. Jane still experiences side effects (weight gain; thirst and dehydration; tiredness; constipation; dry mouth; hand tremor), but she has learned to accommodate these as her medicines are working so well.
When Jane first began treatment for depression and anxiety, she went away with her husband for a week so that she could establish the new medicine regimen in a quiet, relaxed environment. She found this extremely helpful. Similarly, Jane was also admitted to hospital as an inpatient when she started her current medicines for depression and anxiety, as life was very difficult and she was very unwell. This was helpful, although she was confused by disagreements between her doctor and hospital staff about her medicines and did not feel as if she was in control until this was resolved. The transition back into usual life was helped by having well-established household routines, a friend who came to stay for a week or two and her husband and children who were supportive and reminded her to take her medicines. Jane acknowledges the strong support of her family, friends and community in helping her to manage her mental health and she now feels she is able to support others who are going through a similar experience.
The ‘practical side’ of taking medicines—getting prescriptions filled, organising them and taking medicines at the right times—has been the most difficult part for Jane. She has had to be careful of the timing of her regimen, as some medicines need to fit in with sleep and others need to be taken at the same time every day. This became easier as she became accustomed to the medicines and started using a dosette box. She has also adopted a range of management strategies, such as keeping a water bottle close by and maintaining an orderly approach to filling the dosette box to avoid making mistakes. Cost was also a concern for Jane when she was starting these medicines. However, her husband considers them to be an investment with lifelong benefits and encouraged her to think the same way. Members in their community helped pay for Jane’s medicines and she has also been financially assisted through the Mental Health Care Plan, both of which have been extremely helpful.
Jane receives excellent care from her health practitioners, but she has to be proactive in asking questions of health professionals and telling them about her medicines. She has discovered a number of things only by searching the internet, which is problematic as some practices differ between Australia and other countries. Jane has also encountered negative attitudes about her medicines from healthcare professionals at a pharmacy, a medical centre and a gym, which were very upsetting and offensive. She complained to the manager of the pharmacy and found her response to be very helpful. Jane has experienced stigma in the wider community as well and became careful who she spoke to about her conditions and took her medicines in private. She has since found ways to respond to people’s comments and questions and has found that, in some situations, being honest and upfront is the best approach.
Jane has had to adjust her thinking about having to take medicines for the rest of her life. This was difficult in the beginning, but she now understands it is what she needs to be well and in control, rather than her body and her feelings controlling her. Jane feels that it is only now that her medicine regimen is established and working well that she is really starting to live life.