The blog has shifted gears. My writings were sometimes exercises of introspection – reflecting my state of mind during my struggle with depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder. Other times, I would write about what I thought was wrong with the medical system as it stands today; not seeing the person as a whole or just silencing and over drugging the mentally ill till they slowly lose themselves in an array of side effects and endless adjustments of dosages. I also wrote about misdiagnosis and malpractice, and how our lives could change just by being given one very wrong label or another.
In my last few posts I started sharing with you the lessons taken home. There is no pretentiousness or ‘I know better’ in my words. I try to repeat this one way or another because it is so important!
So here goes…
Today I want to talk to you about a pivotal moment in my recovery.
You know getting better is not linear. If anyone tells you so, then they either don’t know what they are talking about, or they are simply really very optimistic, or just they were super lucky and are the 0.01%.
Recovery has so many elements. Naive, I used to think about it like a finish line. It was actually more of a destination, and to get there you have to take a bumpy ride.
To recover, I of course needed be on the right medication. I was supposed to find stability. Yes little by little I didn’t have anymore mood swings. A small relapse here, a little adjustment there…
I relate to this as trivial compared to what I went through. I didn’t feel depressed or have this huge void eating me up; true. Yet, I felt surprisingly guilty. Probably not surprisingly.
I was not able to feel relief. Why aren’t you happy now? Good question! I was faced with two major problems.
One: the aftermath of what ‘I have done’ to my family witnessing all this suffering. Two: the immense fear of this ordeal happening again. Three: I know I said two but I also had memory issues, self-confidence issues, brain fog, and 20 plus kilograms to lose to fit in my old socks because of all the meds I was taking before finding the right treatment, tapper off a few others, and of course I had to reintegrate into society.
After spending time feeling stagnant in these negative thoughts, I talked to my psychiatrist who suggested that these signs are very well similar to those of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). In brief: the experience of illness is so intense that in itself it becomes traumatic and creates guilt, fear and flashbacks. Are you familiar?
He suggested I undergo a few sessions of EMDR – Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing therapy. It is non invasive, simple and fast method of psychotherapy. I was skeptical at first but I tried and It worked really well on my trauma. Highly recommend it if you find a qualified therapist.
Relief was not immediate. But at the time I decided that I needed to open a new chapter in my life if I am to recover. Again this does not happen over night. It is a process. You plant the seed.
How can I ask those around me to forget what happened if I am constantly thinking about it? How can I be ‘normal’ if I am living every moment waiting for another attack? How can I expect to be ‘forgiven’ if I cannot forgive myself?
Forgiveness was the magic word. And trust me it is everything but cliché.
I had no choice. I internalized this and repeated it to myself for the millionth time. Mental illness could happen to anyone at anytime. Mental illness is not a choice. Mental illness teaches you how to be human and humane. This experience showed us all how we are connected and how we love one another and how blessed I am to have my family and loved ones. They also used to tell me the same, but you know guilt…
Before all this, I had to forgive myself for the pain I went through. I decided that I will allow myself the suffering that passed and say it is ok. I don’t judge you. You were hurting and you are fine now. Again, you water the seed.
I gave myself a pat on the back and a big hug for the long road travelled and I said it is ok. I looked at all the things I have learned. How strong I have become. How loved and cared for I was and how things could have turned much much worse.
I looked at my family hoping day in day out that what dwells inside my soul will reflect into my behavior. Little by little, things began to change, and a new normal appeared.
The seed grows into a plant.
My dear reader I decided to be kind to myself because I had suffered enough and I invite you to do the same even if you are not in recovery, or even if you are not mentally ill. We have all suffered one way or another. We deserve to live guilt-free.
Allow yourself the gains you have achieved though little they may seem; for today is a good day and we only hope we replenish the well a little more tomorrow.