I walked into my psychiatrist’s office (let’s call him Dr. E) with my husband and my heart was pounding so hard it felt as if it was going to jump right out of my chest. My anxiety was extremely high, despite the fact that I took a Valium as prescribed and had my husband with me. It was a good thing that I wrote everything down that I wanted to say. I opened my notebook and started reading what I wrote, and he seemed to appreciate what I was saying. He let me ask all of my questions; and he answered every one of them thoroughly.
We decided that I would go back to ECT and I would only do it twice a week to start. That was the treatment that Dr. E thinks is the best approach, and he explained why, so that’s the treatment we decided to go with. I’m so happy that I’m not starting at three times a week. He said that he can give me anti-alzheimer’s medications to help with the memory loss and Toradol to help with the migraines and jaw pain. He’s also helping me work on weight loss.
It was such a successful appointment. I feel like Dr. E really listened to what my husband and I had to say. He approached every one of our concerns and answered everything we asked. Now, I just have to go get a physical from my PCP, get an EKG and blood work..
I’ve learned a lot of different lessons over the years. I thought I might share what I have learned with you one lesson at a time; hopefully you don’t have to learn these things the hard way like I did. One of the more recent lessons I’ve learned is to be open-minded. I have always wanted to do things when they were my ideas. I would listen to other people and allow them to explain why they believe I should try something their way, but then I wouldn’t act upon it. A few of these examples include writing, meditation, and doing research.
My AA sponsor used to tell me all of the time that writing would help me work through some issues. I always told her that writing wasn’t for me, even though I never spent much time trying. This went on for years. Writing was also suggested to me by others, and I continued to ignore the suggestion. Finally, my aunt told me that she thought I would be good at blogging and that I could get something out of it. She suggested that I simply look over the idea and see if it’s right for me. After a few weeks, I finally took her suggestion. I now blog every day, usually multiple times a day, and I find it to be extremely helpful. I generally can write my way through issues that I’m struggling with; by the end of a post, I have come up with a solution for the problem I started writing about. Imagine how much easier my life would have been if I had simply been more open to the idea about a decade ago.
Multiple people have suggested to me that meditation could help me. My mom, aunt, sponsor, and several others would bring up the idea of meditation. For some time, they tried to talk me into doing it, but I was against the idea. I had an experience with meditation when I first got sober, and it wasn’t a good one. I had a hard time sitting still, and I was forced to work on meditating. Personally, I don’t like to do anything I’m forced to do. I’m extremely stubborn and I would prefer choose to do an activity on my own terms than have someone else strongly suggest I try it. It has been twelve years since my negative experience with meditation and I was unwilling to let go of that until just a week ago. I finally decided, based on my aunt’s suggestion, to try guided imagery meditation to hopefully help improve my painful bladder disorder. Maybe I could have saved myself a lot of trouble if I was willing to try meditation years ago.
It has also been suggested that I do research regarding any suggestion from my doctors. Research is something that I like to do, but I generally only do it when it’s about something I’m already interested in. What I should do is research every option so I know the truth about my choices instead of just researching what I think is a good idea. There’s a lot of information available to help make decisions regarding our health. I struggle when it’s time to decide how to move forward with my physical or mental health. The research that I do is a great way to help me make educated decisions.
I have come to realize that my life could have been easier if I had been more open-minded. What I have learned from all of this is to work hard at being open-minded. The willingness to consider new options and ideas is a wonderful quality that a person can have to help make their life easier to manage. I don’t have to keep looking back at my past when I wasn’t open-minded; all I need to do now is look to the future with an open mind.
At this point in my life, I have decided to be open about my bipolar disorder. This doesn’t mean that I walk around telling everyone I meet that I’m bipolar, and I don’t wear a sign saying ‘Bipolar 1’, but I don’t hide my diagnosis. However, I have no problem telling people my diagnosis and explaining to them what it’s like for me. I feel like sometimes I’m educating people who know nothing about mental health. Other times, I end up meeting some people who also deal with mental health themselves or through a loved one.
There will always be people in the world who don’t understand mental health. There are still some people who do not believe in mental health. It’s really hard to talk to someone who believes that. Instead of arguing with them, I’ve found that I’m not going to change their minds, so I just let them believe what they want to believe.
I used to try to hide my diagnosis; I was always afraid what others would think of me. Hiding it took so much work, it was exhausting. At some point, and I’m not sure when, I finally accepted my bipolar disorder diagnosis. Once I accepted it, I no longer felt as if I needed to hide it. Plus, once I became open about my diagnosis, I realized that there are a lot more people out there that deal with mental health issues as well.
So many people are afraid to talk about mental health, but there’s no need to avoid the subject. The only way people can learn about it is by discussing it. Talking about mental health will help get rid of or reduce the stigmas that we deal with on a regular basis. If someone has a problem with my mental health, then that is their problem, not mine.
I’ve never been a person that likes meditation. Over the years, I’ve been told by many people that meditation will help me in many ways, physically, mentally, and emotionally. I was still against it for a few reasons, but the biggest reason is because it’s too difficult for me. My mind is always running a million miles an hour. How am I supposed to actually slow my brain down and think/focus on one thing? Also, I can never sit still for longer than a couple of minutes. Once I’m told to sit still, I start getting all fidgety. When I was in rehab, in 2004, we had to go to yoga class a couple of times a week. At the end of the class, there was a short meditation time that we were required to participate in. I always had such a hard time with it; plus, I never like to do something I’m told I have to do.
Last week, I received a package from my aunt containing a few CDs. Two of them were guided imagery to enhance healing for women with interstitial cystitis (a painful bladder disorder) and the other CD was called healing trauma, a guided imagery for PTSD. My first thought was that I didn’t want to use these CDs, but then I thought I would do some research. I found out that using guided meditation can actually help with the physical pain for interstitial cystitis. Suddenly, I became excited; there was a possibility to reduce my physical pain from the interstitial cystitis. I couldn’t believe that my aunt found these for me. She sent them to me with no pressure to use them. All she wanted was for me to have them in case I decided to try it.
I ended up trying the guided meditation CDs for interstitial cystitis the same day I received them. I decided to use the CDs every day for at least a month. I told my doctor about it and she agreed that it is very likely to be beneficial for my physical pain and for my emotional health. The guided meditation is getting a little easier every time. Even if I can slow my mind for just a few minutes, it would be better than nothing. At some point, I’ll try the CDs for PTSD, but right now, my bigger issue is my bladder disorder.
I have gone from being completely against meditation, to trying it every day for a month. I will let everyone know how effective it is for me. This has taught me to try to remain open to any possibilities in regards to improving my health. I’m grateful that my aunt is always looking out for me.