Posts Tagged ‘recovery’

Once over the line, we can’t go back.  We “have” depression.  We can recover from episodes, we can modify our lifestyles to prevent or moderate future episodes, but we “have” depression.”Undoing Depression; What Therapy Doesn’t Teach You and Medication Can’t Give You,” by Richard O’Connor, Ph.D. 

Mayo Clinic

“Bipolar disorder is a long-term condition that requires lifelong treatment, even during periods when you feel better. Treatments and drugs” by Mayo Clinic staff. 

After several web pages that define what bipolar is, that it “requires lifelong treatment,” the Mayo Clinic staff writers go on to say that “Recovery from bipolar disorder can take time,” if you “stay focused on your goals.”  How exactly does one recover from a lifelong illness?  They seem to be contradicting themselves here. 

The most disconcerting thing about their website is their attempt to address the issue of alternative medicine: Under the title, Alternative Medicine, the Mayo Clinic staff writes:

Some people with bipolar disorder turn to complementary…treatments to help manage symptoms, improve mood and reduce stress. These treatments may include prayer or spiritual healing, meditation, and vitamin and herbal supplements.”  

That is all they have to say on the matter.  They are almost dismissive in their insinuation that there might be alternative therapies to drugs.  While others may not have been “cured” of their disorder, there are certainly numerous enough cases out there of people who have tried yoga, acupuncture, SAMe and other holistic products and exercises, either separately or in conjunction with each other, and found some degree of success. 

I believe it is this blatant disregard for all things non-pharmaceutical, from clinics, from therapists, from traditional media, that keeps us both trapped and stigmatized. 

I would venture a guess that more money is spent by Coca-Cola and Banana Republic trying to figure out what motivates us psychologically to spend money on their sugar water and chinos, than is spent by all of the corporations and all of the labs combined searching for ways in which we can shift our thinking and alter our lifestyles so that the effects of mania and depression are, if not eliminated, significantly diminished.  

Our brightest minds should not be sentencing us to a life of pharmaceuticals (antidepressants mixed with antipsychotics, alternated with anti-seizure pills and mood stabilizers.)  For too many of us, pills don’t work.  And we only find this out through trial and error (each trial taking anywhere from one to three months) all the while suffering from the terrible side effects of each, and in some cases (my own included) suicidal thoughts. 

Read the blogs.  Do a search for bipolar/depression/suicide/mental health.  For every person typing away with glee that the latest in a series of medications has finally begun to give them some relief, there are ten or twenty others who can’t get out of bed, who are cutting themselves, who are quitting school, ending marriages, contemplating suicide.  For too long psychiatrists, psychopharmacologists, and pharmaceutical companies have held out false hope, and we bought it. 

What else have you got????

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Against DepressionEven when depressives perceive accurately, they lack the motivation to heed their own judgment and alter their behavior.” “Against Depression” by Peter D. Kramer 

Behavior is hard to change.  Even for the sanest among us, losing weight, quitting smoking, committing to a diet and exercise plan, any alteration from our status quo takes courage and commitment.  For those of us who suffer from some form of mental illness, the barriers to change can be profound.  I have come to the conclusion, after decades of talk therapy and drug cocktails, that prescription medication is not for me, that it is never going to cure me.  And in most cases, the mere fact of having to rely on medication makes me feel “ill,” keeps the fact that I am handicapped at the forefront of my mind. 

I am embarking on a new path, at least for me, that does not include psychotherapists, anti-depressants, anti-psychotics or anti-seizure medications.  I am anti the antis.  I grew up in a family where illness was currency.  It was used to instill guilt and to manipulate others.  In that way, I learned that, while there is no denying the “real” effects of a disease, there can be a psychosomatic aspect to illness.  It begins, after a period of time, to define us.  We begin to get used to it in our lives, to accept it, and eventually accommodate it.  We do not have the disease, we ARE the disease.  And that makes any kind of change or recovery that much more difficult. 

The only way out, as I see it, is to have a paradigm shift as to how I think about disease.  In that light, starting a blog about mental illness seems like an unlikely way to disassociate one’s self from the disorder.  Time will tell. 

My hope is that, through this new venture, in writing about it, in sharing my thoughts with others, and in engaging in a dialogue with others, that I will learn to think in new ways.  That, in coming together as a community of like-minded individuals trying to discover new ways of coping with an old illness, a sense of purpose will replace what was once a sense of despair and hopelessness. 

I will do my best to keep my personal life out of this, to not bore you with my mood on any particular day or my frustration with any particular aspect of my life that is not relevant to the task at hand.  I am not here to vent.  I am here to share and to discover.  And I hope in turn that you will share with me your thoughts and your experiences as we travel on a new path to wellness.

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