I’m feeling better.
I’ve always been pretty cynical when it comes to recovering from my mental illness. The way I see it, there really isn’t such as thing as “recovery.” My bipolar disorder will live with me my entire life unless the scientific community finds a cure. To actually remove myself of this disease is nearly impossible, and so my opinion has always been that I am stuck at the bottom.
It’s easy to feel that way when you’re struggling. When you’re down, a lot of times you don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. Your depression is like blinders shutting out the rest of the world, even the last shred of hope that lingers in your brain. I completely empathize with people that live in isolation and sadness for long periods of time, because when mental illness hits you it completely alters your perception of reality and the world around you.
Medicine doesn’t work until it does. For the longest time, I tried numerous medications waiting for something to work. You head to the doctor’s appointment and say with a sigh of disappointment, “this isn’t working for me.” It’s like a cat and mouse game. You keep chasing that one combination of pills that will make you stable. The worst part is that a lot of times things start off well enough that you think everything is back to normal.
After not being able to afford medication for almost a year, I was finally able to try a new combination of pills around January. It was difficult to work out the insurance and pharmacy-related issues, but ultimately I was able to take my meds regularly. And things really felt great the first few weeks. I felt like I was on top of the world. I’m not sure if it’s the medication that makes you feel that way or if it’s just your brain convincing itself you’re okay.
Eventually you reach a point that makes or breaks your medication regiment. It’s when you hit that low point for the first time. You may be riding the high of feeling better, but that darkness strikes like lightning with the thunder only warning you after the fact. For me, this is when I realized my medications weren’t working. When faced with the harshness of my condition, I floundered. I started getting paranoia and felt my mood swings amplify to levels I had never seen before.
It’s really disheartening when medicine doesn’t work. We are all so conditioned to take something like Tylenol or an antibiotic and just wait for the symptoms to go away. That doesn’t happen here. Sometimes you take these medications for weeks or even months and then suddenly you find yourself back to square one. It sucks.
When my medications didn’t work, I ultimately had to return to the psychiatrist and explain what happened. This time, he prescribed another pill on top of what I was already taking, as well as something to take in situations where I was experiencing more anxiety than usual. Again, I felt great at first. Yet no matter how great you feel, there’s this fear at the back of your mind that this combination will fail just like all the rest.
So far, I’ve been doing well. I’ve had some bad moments, but lately I have been able to think through them and keep myself from breaking down. In this way, the medicine passed the test. I have yet to sink back into my illness. I still have this feeling that this brief moment of bliss will not last, but I can’t live my life waiting for something to go wrong. I have to appreciate the fact that I’m feeling better and sitting here writing this piece so you can understand the arduous process so many of us go through to heal.
I guess the point of all this is just to demonstrate that while the process of recovering from a mental illness is difficult, it is definitely possible to return to a relatively normal life given the circumstances. I have been through a lot of struggles that have tested my will to live among other things, but I finally think I have found something that works. And to be honest, I never really thought that was possible. You get so used to thinking you are doomed to this life of despair and that the universe is against you that you don’t believe there’s any other solution.
I don’t know if this is going to last. To be honest, I still believe in my heart that I will eventually have to try something new. Recovering is hard. It’s really hard. I hope that anyone trying to heal from a mental illness can read this and understand that life doesn’t have to define who you are. The illness you have been given for whatever reason does not have to keep holding you for ransom.
Try whatever you have to do to find something that works. You may just find that the reality you feel stuck in may not be the reality you truly deserve. And if you find something that does work, enjoy it. Don’t let the fear of relapse interrupt what’s happening now. We live in the present and as long as you are feeling okay, celebrate that feeling. You have a life to live and I believe you can reach your full potential.