When Your Girlfriend Wants You on Meds
(Column: Sex and Relationships)
Who decides what “being ill” means?
Michelle Bruenn & Jenny Chan
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Question: “I'm dating a social worker and she is constantly telling me to take psychiatric medication when I don't want to. What should I do?”
Michelle: This is a very complex question because the situation is a bit ill-defined; therefore you’ll have to pardon the ‘choose-your-story’ feel of this response. Well, first I have to ask if you’ve been diagnosed with any form of mental illness. Assuming you have been the question is how it’s being treated. Is your girlfriend disagreeing with the recommendations of your caregiver or are you resisting your caregiver’s advice or are you not receiving treatment? If your girlfriend, in her professional opinion, feels that your caregiver isn’t providing the treatment that you need you need to evaluate the care you’re receiving and decide whether or not her feelings are grounded. It can be very hard for a social worker or other mental health professional to evaluate the treatment of someone who they’re close to; you may really be receiving proper treatment and she’s just too close to see the big picture. It’s also possible that the treatment you’re receiving is inadequate and that you need medication. You should discuss her feelings with your caregiver to get a better idea of how he or she understands your needs. If your caregiver and your girlfriend are in agreement in the necessity for medication and you’re resisting their advice you need to seriously consider why you’re resisting and what the effects could be. The majority of mental health consumers use some form of medication and it’s generally the best option. Many mental illnesses, if left untreated, are degenerative and absolutely will destroy your life over time. I completely understand the instinct to refuse medication but you need to carefully evaluate your situation and get the opinion of at least one more mental health professional before deciding to opt out. If you have been diagnosed but are not receiving any form of treatment I would recommend you set up an appointment with a psychiatrist or therapist right away and work with them to find the best treatment options for you.
On the other hand, if you have not been diagnosed with any form of mental illness the situation is quite different. You need to ask yourself if your girlfriend is overreacting to some of your behaviors based on her profession or if she is demonstrating a real insight into your mental health. What behaviors does she point to as unusual? Why does she feel that medication is the answer? Discuss this with her and if her concerns seem valid set up an appointment with a therapist or psychiatrist and see if they agree. Her opinion alone is not sufficient to make a diagnosis because she’s too close to you to see the situation clearly but her opinion could be enough to make you investigate further. If you decide her feelings are baseless you need to ask her not to bring the matter up again; make sure she understands that you’ve taken her opinion into consideration, evaluated your behavior and made the decision not to pursue treatment. It is important for the sake of the relationship that she understands that her opinions matter no matter what your final decision is. Good luck!
Jenny:
You should talk it over with her and explain how you feel regarding the medication. She may just have your best interest in mind. I would recommend you speak to another professional to see if the medication is necessary. Find out if treatment is needed. Many consumers take medication, but other people may not need the medication at all.

Your social worker girlfriend may not be a doctor/psychiatrist but the concerns are real. The concern also may be if you don’t take the medicine that you would get worse and end up in the hospital. Keep in mind that she just wants to help you.
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