by Christine F. Anderson
Christine shares with KRL mental health/mental illness articles now and then in her column-Forever Different. Christine has started a Facebook support group for those with Bipolar Disorder: www.facebook.com/groups/foreverdifferent.
If you are reading this, you’re either here because you are Bipolar or you love someone who is Bipolar. I’m not going to bore you with the details on what Bipolar Disorder is or the statistics. If you’ve come this far and you’re reading this, you probably already know what it is. All be it, you may not like it. That’s why we’re here…acceptance.
I would say that for more than 20 years, I fought my medication and my diagnosis compliance and not until I was faced with a prison sentence did I really surrender. I’m here to tell you and to beg you not to waste one more day to get help. I’m not here because I’m perfect, I’m here speaking from experience. I am fatally flawed and I want you to learn from my mistakes. I’ve spent years in treatment and talk therapy and I felt like I was talking into thin air. They sat and wrote notes and I didn’t feel any different after I left and it was because I was not revealing myself. I’ve spent a lot of time and a lot of money telling other people what I thought they wanted to hear, rather than what I was feeling because I didn’t accept the fact that I was sick.
So how do you accept the fact that you’re sick? You have to be at a point in your life where you say, “I can’t live with this anymore, my actions are that of an insane person and I want to live in peace with myself.” I can’t tell you when that’s going to be, I can tell you that you will accept your diagnosis and illness, it’ll be just like any other day. You’ll wake up and it won’t be something that you’ll mark on the calendar. It’s not just going to be a day where you say “Aha! Today is the day that I need things to change.” All I know is that it’ll be a day that is so ordinary, and you will realize your life is in shambles and you know you can’t go on existing like this with the way that things are. Then and only then, will you either get help or respond to the treatment that you are getting. Your treatment is paramount to everything else in your life.
If you’re not happy with the treatment you’re getting, I sincerely urge you to find someone who gets you. Once you find the person that gets you, your acceptance will turn to healing. Whatever concoction they have you on, Gideon, Prozac, Lithium, Haldol, It all sucks; this is the simplest way that I can say it. I don’t sugar coat anything. So there you have it. No one wants to take their medication. I even struggle to take the eleven pills that I take daily now. The side effects for each of us are different, obviously, because we are chemically different. None of them are pleasant; we all know what weight gain, lethargy, tremors, dulled senses feel like, and that’s just a few, but what other choice do we have? Commitment to a facility, if that hasn’t happened already. If not once, twenty, thirty times? Prison or suicide? The choices, and the outcomes, they’re not good for us. There is not one good thing that can come from non-compliance. Therefore, we need acceptance.
If we were Diabetic and required insulin, we would take it. If we had Cancer and needed Chemo, or Radiation, we would do it. We would do anything to prolong our life. So taking psychiatric medication is the same principle. It provides us with clarity for our mind, to make better choices, better decisions, and live long, productive, functioning, meaningful, lives. However, these are not magic pills, you will still have tough days, and therapy sometimes will seem like an act of futility, but we must NEVER GIVE UP!
I will leave you with these words from the big book of alcoholics anonymous on acceptance, and it says; “acceptance is the answer to all my problems today, when I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing, or situation, some fact of my life, unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing, or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at the moment. Nothing, absolutely nothing happens in God’s world by mistake, unless I accept life completely on life’s terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate, not so much on what needs to be changed in the world, but what needs to be changed in me and my attitudes.”
Check out KRL’s Mental Health section for more mental health related articles, and watch for more from Christine.