Taking Care: My Quest for A Sound Mind

What's going on with me, you ask? Well, you didn't, but I'm going to talk about it anyway. I have a long story, much too long for this post, of my struggle with mental illness. I say struggle, because truly, I have fought to keep it under control every single day of my life as long as I can remember.

Most of the time, I didn't know I was struggling. I just did it because I had to function. I wanted to live a normal life, so I worked hard at it. But lately, I have been tired. I am no longer just responsible for myself, I am married with three little kids and I have more weighing on me than ever before. It occurred to me that maybe I should seek out some professional help. So, in January, I made an appointment with a local psychiatrist to get some perspective on my situation. 

My appointment was set for a few months out, since a new patient appointment at a psychiatrist is often a wait. I kept my appointment, although I had several impulses to cancel it. I tried not to think about it. I had a desire to know and also an impulse to sweep it under the rug as usual. My younger brother has struggled with full blown bipolar disorder and schizophrenia for the past seven years. My mother and her partner have been his primary caregivers and it has been a difficult situation for everyone to witness but especially them, since they have been the ones closest to him. So, for me, someone who seemingly has done well and is apparently managing things pretty well by contrast, I felt a little silly going to a psychiatrist. 

I showed up early to my first appointment with my paperwork that I had filled out months before. I sat in the office and looked at the stacks of magazines, the patient medication notices on the walls, the dog bowl in the corner... I wondered who that belonged to. At exactly 9am on the dot, my doctor came in the door, briefcase in one hand, dog leash in the other. He smiled at me and grabbed my chart from the wall and said to come on back. I asked if he needed a minute and he said no, he was good, so I followed him and his little dog into a nondescript office down the hall. 

He took a look at my chart, my carefully filled out paperwork, and he asked me how he could help me. I told him I felt out of control in my mind and I was holding it all together by a thread. I told him I needed some perspective so that I could deal with this mysterious feeling head on (no pun intended haha). I explained that I had taken antidepressants for the past 15 yrs and that they either stopped working or they just didn't quite cover all the bases and my thoughts just ran 200 miles an hour all the time. He asked a few more questions and said Ta Da! And I thought, "Ta Da what?" He closed my chart and he asked me if I had ever been called bipolar before. I said no, I had no formal diagnosis and I had pretty much asked for the antidepressants myself from my primary doctor throughout the years. He went on to explain that there was a chemical imbalance happening that was causing me to have the symptoms I was describing. He then described exactly what I couldn't put my finger on all these years. Why I couldn't keep a job more than a year. Why I had extreme bursts of energy and craved extreme change all the time. Why I had a problem with personal relationships. Why I felt a deep darkness that could produce a guttural moan within me at times. Why the antidepressants weren't working. And he said he was going to give me a different type of medicine. I asked if he thought we should talk about my past experiences... he shrugged and said "eh, chicken or the egg". 

I have been taking the new medicine for several weeks and my family has told me that they can see a noticeable positive change. I feel a noticeable positive change. I don't feel out of control anymore. I don't feel like at any moment I could lose it. I feel like I am living now.

I decided to write this post even though it is all fresh and at the same time because it is all fresh. I have watched my brother struggle with accepting treatment for his condition that could be suppressed with the correct medication. I have struggled silently for years without the correct medication and I have to think that part of the reason I have done that is because of shame. Shame and not knowing that there is anything better. I just hope to shed some light on a subject that is not often openly discussed and encourage someone who is struggling that there is an answer out there.

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  1. I really appreciate you sharing your experience and shining a light.
    I am glad that you kept your appointment and that things seem to be improving. <3

  2. So brave of you to share your story. My heart goes out to you. I'm glad you're feeling better now


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