For those of you who are new to my blog, I frequently write about different wellness activities I enjoy. After years of heartache, in which I spent all the time I wasn't depressed researching depression and bipolar disorder, I finally realized that dwelling on illness was making me feel sicker rather than better.
While my motive in doing research was a sound one--since no one else was helping me I had to heal myself--the outcome was a poor one. So many of the authors of books on these topics seemed to blame the depressed (DEPS) and bipolar (BIPS) folks for our situation. And since a lot of psychiatrists and mental health professionals don't believe we can get better, we don't.
These days I find that many authors of new books on bipolar disorder are presenting an equally untruthful point of view. It's usually a four-part story. 1. I was acting out, didn't know why, and was ruining my life. 2. I was diagnosed as bipolar. 3. My psychiatrist prescribed a few different medications. 4. The medication worked, I'm well again, and thriving.
In my experience, their stories are unrealistic and simplistically naive. I believe it's as much a disservice to pretend that achieving wellness is easy as it is to suggest that it's impossible.
What I have learned--over a period of 41 years--is that depressions don't happen in a vacuum. There is usually a reason, the least of which may be the way I deal with stress. And that even when medication works (and it doesn't for many people, myself included), it should still be considered part of a larger wellness program.
While I recently lamented offline that during my most recent depressive episode, none of my wellness activities worked; that was only partly true. The real problem was that I lost hope. I stopped believing in their effectiveness...and mine...and was overwhelmed by fear, grief, anger, and loss.
When I realized I seemed to have lost my sense of humor entirely, and that the best word I could find to describe myself was "embittered," I knew it was time to return to therapy, and to actively pursue my wellness activities because they represent hope.
(to be continued)