05
Feb
18

Self-Healing

It’s been a little over a year since I visited the nice man in the long white coat who put a name to what was wrong with me and gave me a bottle of pills for it. They helped – a bit – but he wasn’t 100% correct in his diagnosis.

A year later, and a different nice man in a long white coat with a pile of sheets upon a clipboard decided that maybe the first nice man was a little wrong and was giving me a different bottle of pills, and that helped – a lot – but he still wasn’t spot on.

According to them, I suffered from bipolar disorder and depression. Which is true. They had wonderful drugs like Lamictal and Prozac, which make you feel so much better. But they’re not the whole story.

Whether you’re clinically mentally ill (as in, there is a chemical imbalance requiring chemical and medicinal correction) or merely “disturbed” (as in it’s all in your head, your way of thinking), doctors and pills can only take you so far. Some of it you’re going to have to do yourself.

I think the real reason I feel so much better lately isn’t just the pills, or the progress my therapist says I’m making. It’s far simpler than that.

I’m writing again. I’m reading again. I’m watching something on Netflix that isn’t just Bob Ross reruns to help me get to sleep and playing games that aren’t just the mindless clickfest of Diablo III again. In other words, doing all the stuff I should have been doing all along, the things that used to make me happy in some way.

That’s the key – and the trick. Depression can best be combatted by doing things that make you happy, but it makes you not want to do those things. I diminishes or removes any joy you might have had in the activity. It throws a black shroud of helplessness and hopelessness over it until all you can bring yourself to do is sleep and mull over the depression itself, turning itself into your version of Gollum’s precious, the thing around which your life revolves.

Don’t let it.

Depression.jpg

I know, that sounds simplistic and almost as bad as when someone who is happily not afflicted by mental illness of one flavor or another says “Cheer up,” but it’s not meant to be taken that way. It’s meant to mean that you have to take an active role in getting better. You can’t sit placidly and wait for the pills to work or expect a therapist to drag out the one offhand comment from thirty years ago that broke you and rendered you unloving and unlovable. You need to work for it, the same as anyone else who’s ill.

Your effort will be rewarded. You may not enjoy it when you force yourself out of the house to go watch the umpteenth sequel to a movie series you used to love. You may find yourself full of pessimism, thinking of how much a waste of time and resources the excursion was. That’s fine. That’s the illness talking.

What’s important is that you did it. You pushed back against the illness, at least a little, and that’s what you need to do.

Of course, this could be so much self-serving bullshit or things that only worked for me and won’t help anyone else out there. But I like to think otherwise.

So if you feel depressed or otherwise in an altered state, at least give it a try. Find something you used to love and do it. Just for a few minutes, at least. Try it a few times.

You might find things looking up.

All that being said, though… you should really see a doctor. Because sometimes it’s going to need more than just an attitude adjustment. Some folks are just unlucky and don’t produce enough of the right mood chemicals (or produce too much, or in the wrong mix) and need a quick knock of the wrench and tightening of the screws to help get things going straight.

But that’s just my two cents. What about you out there? Are you suffering with mental illness? Do you know someone else who is? What do you think helps in those fights? What makes it worse? Share down below, if you’re of a mind.

KA Spiral no signature

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