I went to my psychiatrist this week. He asked me how I have been doing and I said "awful." He looked me straight in the eye and said "When are you going to start taking your illness seriously?"
Well, I thought I had been taking it seriously. I see my doctor regularly, try to keep the correct diet, exercise, and sleep schedule. I keep trying to take care of my bipolar without medicine, and that is why he asked me when I will take my illness seriously. There are people who can take care of their mental illness through exercise and nutrition, apparently I am just not one of them. When I can do all of the lifestyle adjustments perfectly, I remain pretty stable, but not if life gets too stressful, or I forget an element of the program for a few days, or I am out late for a meeting and don't get to bed on time. Basically, he was asking when I would accept the fact that my illness is too severe to be able to control without medication.
My doctor knows I need to be on medication, and also knows it needs to be my decision. However, I don't want to take it. There are not many I can take because I am so sensitive to medication. I can't take anything for the ADD because all of those pills made the bipolar worse. When I take very low doses of the few things that do help, my creativity lessens greatly, which makes my job harder, as writing is quite essential to preaching.
I do take my illness seriously, but I don't know that I am ready to accept I can't do this on my own. Part of it is because I am scared of medications and the side effects I encounter on them. The other part is the societal belief that people with mental illness can choose to get better. Much of society believes if we just worked harder, stopped being so sensitive, and tried harder, we would be fine. While intellectually, I know that is not true, emotionally, I feel like a weak failure because I can't take care of this myself. I try to combat this negative thinking, but it is still in the back of my mind that if I were a better, stronger, smarter person, I would not be sick.
I think I can take my illness seriously, but this will take some getting used to because this is the first time I have felt despair that I may not ever get better. On medication, I have never been stable, just about 20% better. Off medication, there were only a few times I have been 70% percent better, but only for a month or two, then I am a wreck. I feel like now, with the understanding that my illness is bad and I have to take medication, that I have to decide either to be a emotionless and uncreative medicated blob, or a raving lunatic. I am not sure I like either of those choices, but all we can do is deal with what we have.
So, we are changing my medication for what feels like the thousandth time, and I am afraid of it. I am afraid of the side effects and afraid of loosing the parts of myself that I do like, such as my creativity. I guess I just have to decide that I am serious about managing this even though I might loose something in the process.