“Have you taken your medicine today?” my sister asks me politely.
I fume, wanting to punch her face, but refrain from doing it and ignore her instead.
As someone who has to consume medication on a daily basis, it seems to make sense for someone to remind me whether I have taken my pills. However, that is not what I hear.
What I hear is this:
“Why are you so crazy/depressed/anxious/manic? Is it because you have not taken your medication?”
“You are so forgetful and don’t know the consequences of not taking your medicine, so I should remind you so that you don’t become crazy/depressed/anxious/manic again.”
Argh. I HATE IT.
So friends, you might be asking an innocent question, but to the person having to cope with a mental illness, it is anything but. It is a loaded question.
“But I care for my friend/family member, what should I do then?” I hear you asking.
I’m glad you did.
Well, be creative then.
“Have you taken your pink sweets tonight dear?”
“How do your happy pills taste tonight?”
These are but two examples I can think off at the top of my head. Now this might not work for everyone, you might antagonize someone with it, but I wouldn’t be affected, in fact, I would welcome your effort in trying to avoid the use of the string of words that go, “Have you taken your medication?”
Anything else is much better in comparison.
Do note that patients who have to deal with a mental disease can be very sensitive to words. Too sensitive in fact. Please do not dismiss the feelings generated by your innocent question if you want to maintain a civil relationship.
Ask for feedback, or learn from them if it has been given. Work together with your friend/family member to find and figure out what is the best way to remind them to take their medication. Ask them what they would prefer them to say.
And never, never, never ask them if they have taken their medication just after they behave a certain way stereotypical of a person who has anxiety issues/depression/bipolar/schizophrenia/paranoia. Because we are acutely aware and sensitive to that.
And this is the end of my rant.