Letting Go

I weaned off all psych drugs in 2012 after reading Robert Whitaker’s Anatomy of an Epidemic, which told the statistical downside of treating mental illness with medication. Ever since, I’ve been a LOUD advocate for finding other ways of managing or, for those who need those drugs, additional ways of coping and self-care.

Like a lot of people on a crusade, I was entrenched, rigid in my thinking, self-righteous in my correct view of the world. We’ve seen how that usually ends up.

About a year after I moved to Oklahoma in 2018, the depressive side of my bipolar disorder moved in and never left. She would take a day-trip once in a while, but as time went on, she became more and more the clueless, stinky houseguest.

I know the drill when Depression comes to visit—remember that she lies constantly, get busy finding an artful distraction, get regular reality checks with a therapist, and try not to eat everything in sight. Over time, I stopped being able to do any of those activities. I knew I was in real trouble, and I had no other options left.

I had to try medication.

Two weeks ago, I went to my psychiatrist (whom I fired last winter) and told him I would take whatever he recommended. He was shocked into kindness after fighting with me over this for three years. He spent extra time explaining his choice and our plan of action. I cried through the whole appointment.

As any student of human nature will attest, changing a person’s opinion or point of view is nigh unto impossible. Facts don’t make a difference. Persuasive arguments blow past without leaving a mark. Even one’s experience of events serves only to reinforce what is already believed (selective perception). Faith, Belief, Opinion operate out of deep need, not reality. And there are so many different realities anyway.

I cried in my psychiatrists office because I was letting go of a deeply held belief. Who was I if I did this thing I said I’d never do? I felt betrayed and ashamed. I felt like a fake and a liar. I also felt cautiously hopeful and curious.

What other ideas, opinions, “facts,” could I let go of if I let go of this? What do I believe that might be holding me back?

This attitude of quiet curiosity is an old practice, but I’ve not been able to practice much of anything in years. I’m more amazed and grateful for this way of holding my experience than I am for the relief I’m receiving from my medication. And I suspect that the two go hand in hand.

Ain’t that just the way of things. More Adventure Ahead.

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