Save this for a rainy day
For new readers, hello and thank you for joining.
To put you up to speed, I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder back in 2017. I documented my long and raw journey of fighting this illness here in Happilydepressed.blog. Despite repeated hospitalisations and endless cocktails of psychotropics, I was getting worse. Luckily, in 2019, my husband stumbled across a new approach to treating bipolar, a mix of rTMS sessions (repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation), and life long high-dose Levothyroxine. If figures, bipolar patients suffer from a lack of Thyroid hormone due to a gene mutation that is compensated by high-dose thyroxine. Slowly but surely, and thanks to this treatment, I was able to regain my life back. For more information on this treatment approach and to better understand the link between thyroid and mood disorders, you can refer to this research article published in 2021 by my treating psychiatrist Dr Andy Zamar.
Last week, I tried reducing for the second time this year my dose of levothyroxine (from 700 to 650). My idea was that I might be able to function as well, now that I have been stable for a long time.
It started fine, I was ok. All of a sudden, hell broke loose without any warnings. I was bed-ridden, crying, not eating, and suffering tremendously. My negative thoughts were spiralling. Nothing seemed right. I even doubted my previous stability and all what I had achieved fighting bipolar for 5 long years.
I was aggressive, repulsive, talking in monologues and saying hurtful things. Three days in, I agreed to shower and listened to my dear husband, who was trying to convince me to increase my dose to the initial 700.
Soon enough, the dark cloud began to disappear and I found myself regaining the confidence I had lost.
I made a list of what I learned and what I should remember if I ever have another relapse. I try to give meaning to my suffering, and perhaps if I do, I will manage to avoid it in the future. So here you go, you might want to save this for a rainy day:
- NEVER UNDERESTIMATE BIOLOGY: As much as bipolar disorder is defined as a psychiatric disorder, it is really a genetic illness with psychiatric symptoms. There is so much one can do in face of a biological deficit. Ask yourself, am I fighting the right battle?
- HEALING IS RARELY LINEAR: Growth, development and healing are not linear phenomena. You do need sometimes to regress to move forward. I am not telling you anything new. Look at the big picture, not just at an arbitrary snapshot.
- REMEMBER YOUR PAST TO APPRECIATE YOUR PRESENT: Never forget where you are coming from. Be humble and grateful. Have you been worse? If your answer is yes, then try to get up.
- MENTAL WELL-BEING IS NOT A FAD DIET: Fast results fade fast. With perseverance you will reach your goals. When has it been any different? So hang in there and get back on track.
- LOVE YOURSELF WHEN YOU ARE LOW AND PLEASE DON’T CRINGE: Be kind to yourself. Being harsh, unrealistic, and idealistic won’t help you one bit now and you know it. Don’t make it harder than it already is.
- REMISSION IS NOT A RACE: Why compare to others? When was this a reason to move forward? Did it ever make you a better person? No? So, give yourself a pat on the back and praise what you know how to do best. There must be something you do well. Now, go do it.
- BE GRATEFUL (DON’T GRINGE): Count your blessings, and recount them. You should count them again, especially if you are feeling low. Imagine if the little (or plenty) you had disappeared? Believe me, it can always get worse. So be grateful and get up.
- BE HOPEFUL: As long as we are alive, as long as there is a place for hope. If you have been to the other side (no need for me to be more explicit to avoid any triggers), then you know that today is better than many other days you have managed to live. No one is telling you this, you know it in your bones. So get up.
- NOW GO COMPARE YOURSELF TO THOSE SUFFERING FOR “REAL”: If you think you suffering has reached its peak, and that you are in intolerable pain, get up and go see some real suffering. Visit a hospital, hospice, an orphanage, special needs school, or just walk in the streets of the less privileged parts of your town. Get up and go help others.
- YOU ARE A SURVIVOR: Ultimately, you are a hero. My hero. Waking up for some of us is already a huge achievement. So for my sake, get up. You have done it so many times before. I love you too much to see you not doing what you do best: When you fall, you get up again.