Health / Medicine

Oh, you don’t take pills? How nice for you.

As is the custom of my people, I begin with a vignette.

A person I know is taking antibiotics for a hilarious, as in schadenfreude, reason I won’t get into. It appears he is allergic to it. So now in addition to hilarious reason, he’s covered in an itchy rash all over.  The following conversation transpired:

“Want some benadryl?”
“Sure, is it in a cream?”
“No, I don’t have any cream, just pills.”
“Oh, no thanks. If it was like topical, I’d take it, but I don’t like taking pills. I don’t want to be a person who starts mixing pills.”


Oh no, you did not just say that to me. Guess what I do every goddamn day? I take pills. I mix them up. THEN I EAT THEM.

I am disabled. This person is well-aware of that. I may have met him after my physical disability was under control (and rendered invisible) but he’s known my extremely recent endeavor to get an adult diagnosis for a common cognitive disability I’ve had since childhood (my OTC alternative treatment – caffeine – was no longer a viable option).

It’s not because I love taking pills or mixing pills or what the fuck ever. It’s because without them, I’m in constant pain. So I’m thrilled that this person can get through life without ever needing to mix pills – even if he’s perfectly willing to mix the medications WITHIN the pills in what would have been a much riskier proposition (it’s much harder to control the dose with a cream, especially one spread over a large area to treat a rash caused by a systemic reaction) – but you know what, dude?  Your parade is in the fucking mail. Your cookie is downstairs at reception. You win the “don’t need an infinite series of recurring dates with a medical system that never goes dutch” prize.


Really, take a moment to bask.

It’s not just this dude. I get this shit ALL THE TIME. Whether people know of my disability or not does not seem to matter.  They’ll still thoughtlessly announce their reluctance/avoidance of taking “pills” as if there’s something deeply nefarious about a particular method of administration, and there’s some moral victory in avoiding “pills.”  Also Big Pharma OOGA BOOGA.


I’ve had it up to here with the thoughtless ableism of comments like this.  If you say you don’t take pills, as if taking pills is an inherently negative thing to be avoided, you are perpetuating a stigma against me.  You are telling me that I am weaker than you, inferior in some way.  I’ve lost friendships in the past when people discover I “take pharmaceuticals every day.” I was fired from a job recently when they found I take medication, on the grounds that they knew better than I did what side effects it gives me.  This shit is harmful.

A lot of people have invisible disabilities. A lot of people take (or would, if they had adequate income/insurance coverage) pills. They might even MIX pills.  The only thing you can reasonably tell about a person just from knowing they take pills is that they take orally what your body produces naturally.  You can’t know if a person is “addicted” to their pills, or “really needs them,” or whatever. If you say, “But now you can’t function without them!” then you will sound like an idiot who doesn’t understand the linear nature of time.

This morning’s angry anti-ableist rant brought to you by the healing power of drugs, which both let me type without much pain and focus long enough to articulate my anger.

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Yessenia is a graduate student studying to be a speech therapist with an emphasis on traumatic brain injuries. She spends far too much time correcting the wrong people on the internet, lifting heavy things and training her cats. She's a proud internet atheist and trolls only for the greater good.


  1. February 28, 2013 at 4:52 pm —

    Thank you for the ant-ableist rant on a topic that I never would have given a thought. I say that I avoid pain medication if I can, but that’s a personal preference toward acknowledging exercise-triggered pain as a necessary warning, and I’ll definitely think about my choice of language the next time it comes up.

  2. February 28, 2013 at 6:16 pm —

    Preach! I can only wonder what these people think about the fact that I have to give myself an injection every week 😛

  3. March 1, 2013 at 1:40 am —


  4. March 1, 2013 at 7:10 pm —

    Yes x 10. That is all.

  5. March 5, 2013 at 8:18 pm —


  6. March 7, 2013 at 3:12 pm —

    I really wish I had gotten over my aversion to pills when I was younger. It took me a long time to take my depression seriously enough to start taking meds for it.

  7. April 29, 2013 at 12:18 pm —

    […] Of course you recall my roommate’s comment that he “doesn’t want to be the kind of person who mixes medications.” […]

  8. […] even well-intentioned, make up a huge portion of the ongoing stigma problem faced by drug users (or even people using prescription drugs as directed) and people living with […]

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