Ah treatment. This meant that I was “Bipolar in recovery” and supposed to be getting better. I would have to get better. I would have to listen to my psychiatrist and take my pills every night/morning. I would get better by adhering to treatment and as such, I would prove to everyone that I could be a responsible adult. Already I had failed so much already but if I proved to everyone I was fine, I would be fine.
I was starting school after being institutionalized. I was making my first friend – my RA in my dorm – whom I had a massive crush on. I would prove to him I was fine by telling him what was going on in school and making friends with everyone. I was fine… until I accidentally cut myself in the shower. It was a relief. I felt like I had something to control. I wanted to do it again. I needed something to hold onto.
We talked later in the day about everything: Politics, Religion, Philosophy and our futures. I would be independent and convince him that I was attractive. I would smile – I smiled for an hour in front of the mirror everyday. Yet he rejected me. I was an emotional wreck. I left messages at his door. I pushed him further and further away. Now I knew the truth that I was Bipolar because if I wasn’t, he would stay. It was obvious my treatment wasn’t working because I was crying every few hours and hating being at school.
Moreover, I couldn’t focus in school. I would get intense anxiety attacks where I wouldn’t leave my apartment. When I did leave and was sitting through class, I would try to stay attentive but would find myself drifting off. Honestly, I wondered if they had gotten the diagnosis wrong and that I just had ADHD instead. I tried to go to the disability resource center about this, because of a recommendation from my psychiatrist, but they wouldn’t classify Bipolar Disorder as a learning issue that needs special help. My grades dropped drastically from a 3.6 to a 2.34 and I ended up getting my first F in a class. I would end up having manic mood swings every few hours – which is alternating between crying and extreme agitated mania. Mania is like excitement, stress and worry all rolled into one.
Basically, I wasn’t getting better. I tried new medications a lot of the time. My psychiatrist had thought Depakote was the problem but looking back, I knew it was the Zoloft that was causing my mania. I became dependent on it. I knew people liked me better on it and I wanted the approval of other people simultaneously. I ended up getting into my first relationship. That lasted for a few months, until we had an argument and I ended up overdosing on Zoloft. I got my ticket to the mental hospital for the third time.
Fall came. By then, they had switched me on Ambilify. Ambilify has been known to increase risky behavior in people where risk is supposed to be mediated. Ambilify Impulse. It was that risky behavior that encouraged me to breakup with my ex-boyfriend. I didn’t really want to break up with him, but I figured I could “teach him a lesson” so to speak. I had begun to suffer the affects of Ambilify. My first affair began that night. By the end of the fall, I had slept with 7 guys. I had been slut-shamed by my ex-boyfriend, and desperately hated myself for what I had done. I would do anything to have him back, so I accepted my psychiatrist’s interpretation that it was my Bipolar Disorder that had caused the problem. He did decide to get me off Ambilify by the time winter had come to Lithium and another mood stabilizer, but both ended up causing Hypothyroidism. My psychiatrist refused to give these medical records to me and when we finally got them, refused to admit Lithium overwhelmed my Thyroid. He wanted me to stay on it and if I didn’t, I would have to stop seeing him. So I stopped seeing him and got off both drugs.
Looking back, treatment compliance for Bipolar Disorder was helpful in the beginning. Being told that my mania and depression was the cause of social discord between me and other people caused me to focus on managing moods and getting in touch with my emotions. Ultimately, the diagnosis became self-defeating because it made me accept abusive relationships and ultimately rape as my own fault. I think when it comes to diagnosis, we can tell ourselves that we are “oppositionally defiant” and need to accept our diagnosis but ultimately when the treatment proves to significantly impair one’s mental health and physical health – it’s proper to leave it. To get outside the medical model and not see oneself as damned to a life-long biological illness.
I would like to entertain the reader to the movie “A Dangerous Game.” It is the story of Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud’s short lived friendship. Sigmund Freud was very methodical in his treatment of mental illness and cold hearted. Carl Jung had unethical relationships with his patients. It was Jung’s interest in the esoterical that made Sigmund Freud eventually cut contact with him. Jung later went on to study more of the mystical and esoteric, believing that one can teach another to tap into one’s potential. He was a creator in the MBTI assesment and now individuals are able to tap into this system.
Perhaps then it is necessary to start observing the potential in illness. To reach new heights in mentality. The benefits of Autism. The benefits in Bipolar Disorder. Instead of thinking about it’s negative effects, turning the patient away from recovery with their own strengths and instead to attempt living a life that is not their own – not defined and “doomed” by their illness.
Sigmund Freud thought this ideas endangering his own system and his patients. For if people fearlessly pursued their dreams, would their be a point to law? A system of government? An order of peace? Perhaps people would end up destroying the world in the process.
“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”
I am well aware that the argument Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud had will haunt Psychology. It’s a threat to it’s existence even though Carl Jung’s ideas were not widely adopted by everyone who came to study him hereafter. Perhaps though it gives hope to anyone who has been diagnosed and is questioning it’s validity.
If you have read this far, I suppose I will tell you the truth.
You ever wondered why certain medications can treat Anxiety and Depression at the same time? This is no coincidence. There is a lot of confusion in the community. We can recognize that there is illness or distress plaguing the individual but not all of us can determine it biological. When you really study it in depth, you find that there is no scientific basis for any illness. No observed phenomena of a chemical imbalance of the brain. And if anyone told you that they could biologically test you for mental illness, you will find that it’s a bogus test. There’s no way to do so.
However, if you are depressed or suicidal, get a doctor. Try medication.
Perhaps the medication will effect your health later on. There is no study of this by any pharmaceutical company (*SHOCKER!*) but many patients observe complications with their health as their medication dose increases.
There is also no science to getting people off their medicine. Most MD’s assume it is impossible but is it really? Perhaps with proper therapy and an appropriate time frame (3 months, not three weeks) the patient may able to get off medication. (Sometimes it takes 3 years.) However, most MD’s do not recommend trying at all. They say that the patient will have to stay on medication their life when in some cases, they don’t need to. They don’t have to. Is psychiatry then properly rehabilitating people at all? Or are they just after money? Hey, just for fun, go see what kind of car your MD drives. You know where he got that car? Your money.
Perhaps some people do have illness but still have to get off medication. This will be your choice. I stopped seeing my psychiatrist because he failed to help when I was failing at school due to being distracted by my medication when focusing on material. I chose my illness for now because I need to support myself. I am not getting married soon. No husband wants a dependant wife (though I will have to be eventually based on the nature of the illness) and my mom does not want me to live with her forever.
I chose my illness because for now, I have to take the reigns of my life. I have to readjust myself to my long manic cycles because it is what I am used to. It is how I am best able to learn and succeed, regardless of the issues between family and friends (which I am now aware of.)
The whole point I am trying to make is that you can only decide for you what is best for you. Life is a learning process and sometimes with illness, it is scary. I am not recommending getting off medication but if you are feeling brave, take the leap. It’s time.