It is interesting how when it comes to making the right choices in life, it is all too easy to play games that keep us "stuck" in unhealthy patterns. For example: I got an A on my test, I deserve to take a break from studying; or I lost three pounds this week, I deserve ice cream for a treat. The lie that we buy into is, 'I have worked tremendously hard to get to a place of freedom, taking ten steps backward by “rewarding myself” is the best way to keep moving forward.' I would maintain the opposite is true – if we want to find true freedom, it takes concerted effort each day to choose what is best for us rather than just what makes us “feel good.”
For me, this all too real struggle occurs when I contemplate whether to continue to take medication for my medical condition – bipolar. Medication for a person who struggles with an emotional disorder is an important ally in the fight to stay as productive, safe, and stable as possible. I have been on medication since I was diagnosed with bipolar back in 2004. The choice to stay on it has caused an internal struggle which is ever ongoing. The battle between what “seems” right and what, in fact, is right is one where making the correct choice is imperative.
When I was diagnosed in 2004, refusing to take medication was not a viable option. I had been diagnosed after a psychotic episode. That fact, in addition to the stress of going so many years without that tool, made the choice clear. However, buying into this crucial tool, was a bit of a struggle. I accepted that I needed it, but I did not always like it. Dealing with side effects and the constant tweaking of dosages and meds that were effective tended to be an exhausting game – one that I engaged in despite my frustrations. In addition, sitting across from some providers who tended to view me as a broken “thing” to be fixed was demoralizing.
Fast forward to two years ago when the symptoms of my medical condition changed. Since depression was no longer the predominant of my moods, my provider and I agreed it was right to taper off some of the medications that caused unfortunate side effects. I worked with my provider to reduce and get off ones that caused a noticeable trembling in my jaw. It was the right choice. However, I was completely unprepared for the turn my health was going to take.
In November of 2021, I began to experience difficulties with falling asleep and waking up extremely early. I write about that struggle in Rooted. When I met with my provider, she prescribed a medication that helped my brain “calm down.” In addition, I utilized other tools; therapy, faith, and The Tapping Solution to manage the health of my brain. Then, an entirely different type of health struggle- the dysfunction of my gallbladder, forced the issue of recognizing that anxiety was wreaking havoc on my state of being. All the other tools I utilized were not adequate. A low point was during an ER visit for pain management when the struggle with anxiety became intolerable.
Later that week, I reached out to my provider who kindly reminded me that no one likes to be on medication for a chronic health condition. That truth helped me to stand firm in the understanding that mental health is health. Since that initial visit to address it, my provider and I have worked in tandem to tweak medication that has assisted in “quieting” the constant chatter of anxiety manifesting in my brain.
My take-away is this. A chronic emotional disorder is no different than any other health disorder. The stability you experience when you utilize the correct tool of medication is decidedly beneficial. I commit to taking medication daily and choose to see that freedom flows from that responsible choice. What is more, that decision significantly benefits my loved ones. Commit to viewing an emotional disorder as a health condition of your physical being and not a weakness of character and you will find a clear path forward just as I have. ‘Til next time.