Archive for March, 2015

Medication and me: It’s been quite a rocky road for us ever since first giving meds a chance around age 14. It would be best summarized as an all or nothing relationship. I would come to the meds feeling hopeless and helpless, aka despair. Then with an open my mind and heart I’d take the medicine then sit back and wait for it to help and make me feel better. I just wanted to feel better. Who doesn’t? When that betterment didn’t come I’d give up on medication and issue a decree that I need to just suck it up and handle it myself. After all nearly no one believed I was ill. They’re statements like this- You’re too smart to be sick. I would agree with them at that point and it gave me temporary victories; temporary because I would always crash and burn at some point. This would lead me to feel helpless for most all my life. It was definitely a no-win situation. After feeling helpless and doomed to not win no matter what I tried for so long a time, I began to get swallowed up by despair. That engulfing feeling would turn to belief and take me down the path to where suicide not only became desired but wholly felt necessary. But I had so much to learn.

 

One lesson was to learn that if you don’t know the rules of the game it’s nearly impossible to win that game. Even worse than not knowing the game and the rules is thinking you do when you just don’t. I was twisted in both ways- not knowing all the rules but thinking I had learned them. In this case I had learned that life would be better with me gone and totally unaware that genuine help was out there. I was so wrong on both accounts.

Shortly after turning 39 I looked back on my life thoroughly following the most recent of huge messes I had made that hurt others and myself. I saw clearly I had to do things differently. I saw that if I was going to get better, and I needed desperately to change, I would need determination. Not just determination but use my brain much more effectively too. Because determination on its own can be harmful. For example, pouring yourself into breaking through an unbreakable

My education started by checking myself into Clarion Psychiatric Center. It was summer 2011. They did a good job of helping me, but it became clear to my staff and me that I needed more than they could give. They are a short term hospital and I needed long term help. They arranged for me to go to Warren State Hospital, where I could literally stay until I was better. Clarion brought back a desire to live and nearly 2 years at Warren showed me how to live. They showed me that I needed far more than just medication to get better. The following quote they had on a poster there echoes that:

“It’s my recovery!

Medication can open a door, but it takes a strong and

courageous person to step over the threshold into recovery.

That person is me.”

When I first read that, I could not grasp all of it. I was still held down by many twisted distortions in my head and heart. But after reading it several more times it struck me to the core. What changed? Simply put, me. And that change had allowed me to see the truth in that poster where before I could not. My time at Warren made me a new man. They combined medication, individual and group therapy, 24/7 nursing care, a chapel for spiritual needs, a library, and even therapeutic recreation, all over a long term. All of that plus my best efforts changed me. I didn’t just recover, I was uncovered and discovered too.

You mean all the Warren State Hospital provided wasn’t enough? You had to put in your best effort too? Yes, indeed. That was my experience. A Bible verse, Colossians 3:23, that I’ve known and loved for quite some time, says- Whatever you do, do it with all your heart… And now I can clearly see that to do really anything truly well one has to put their heart and genuine effort into it. But for those of us like me with mental illness we need more than just our best efforts. More than just adding medication to our best effort. More than adding therapy. We need to combine these all together to enable ourselves to be the best we can be. After all, it’s OUR recovery. So let’s open a door with medication and keep it open. Then be strong and courageous and step over the threshold into our recovery. From there let’s take the bull by the horns and live the life that’s best for us. It’s so worth it!!!

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Try (updated and expanded)

Posted: March 4, 2015 in Uncategorized

Try

Let me start with a quote- “Do or do not, there is no try.”  Was this a famous saying of some great philosopher? Nope. Not even close. The quote is from Yoda. Yes, the Star Wars character. Taking life advice from a fictional character is not always the best way to go. That said, can you believe I was in a group therapy setting where the moderator taught this as a principle of life to be followed? Well it was. And for me it triggered despair. You see I have illnesses that can make me prone to all or nothing thinking. That if you aren’t guaranteed success, why bother. Hearing this moderator say ‘…there is no try.’ made me even more prone to not even try at things. Despair is a harsh combination of feeling and/ or being helpless and hopeless. And I believe that only doing or not doing with no such thing as try is a despair maker. It certainly was for me.

I want us to know that not everyone believes that there is no try. In fact, trying can be a very good thing. Webster defines try like this- 1) to make an effort to do something, to attempt to accomplish or complete something. 2) to do or use something in order to see if it works or will be successful. 3) to do or use something in order to find out if you like it. To try using these definitions is to be smart. For instance, free trials of products can save us from paying for and continuing with things that are harmful or useless.

A song I love contains this lyric- “If I limp then I will run with a limp, I’ll win some and lose some but I’ll make my attempt.” Often to try is an act of courage. I like to think of it as concede and proceed. Concede you don’t know everything then proceed trying until you can truly see if it’s a good idea or bad one. By not trying many locked doors will stay locked. I dare us to at least knock on those locked doors and see what happens.

I want to add that I believe there is one form of try that can be unhelpful and even harmful. It is when we know we have the capability to succeed at something but you’re content to not put your best effort in. To be happy with mediocre. This form of “try” is no try at all. Instead it is relinquishing the good you’re capable of.

In closing, this writing wouldn’t exist if I was not willing to try. This came together as I worked on it. Started with that Yoda quote in my head. And now, I have benefitted by completing this. I hope it may encourage a reader or two along the way.

I leave you with lyrics from another song I love that I think reinforces the sentiment of this essay-

It’s not about success

Life is not a test

You don’t pass or fail you just do your best

To see the view from wings of courage

To push on through when we’re discouraged

It’s all about the try all about the ride

Learning how you were meant to touch the sky

Failures are fliers who touch down

Only they know what it’s like to leave the ground

Try

Posted: March 3, 2015 in Uncategorized

Let me start with a quote- “Do or do not, there is no try.” Was this a famous saying of some great philosopher? Nope. Not even close. The quote is from Yoda. Yes, the Star Wars character. Taking life advice from a fictional character is not always the best way to go. That said, can you believe I was in a group therapy setting where the moderator taught this as a principle of life to be followed? Well it was. And for me it triggered despair. You see I have illness that can make me prone to all or nothing thinking. That if you aren’t guaranteed success, why bother. Hearing this moderator made me even more prone to not even try at things. Despair is a harsh combination of feeling/being helpless and hopeless. And I believe that only doing or not doing with no such thing as try is a despair maker.

I want us to know that not everyone believes that there is no try. In fact, trying can be a very good thing. Webster defines try like this- 1) to make an effort to do something, to attempt to accomplish or complete something. 2) to do or use something in order to see if it works or will be successful. 3) to do or use something in order to find out if you like it. To try using these definitions is to be smart. For instance, free trials of products can save us from paying for and continuing with things that are harmful or useless.

A song I love contains this lyric- “If I limp then I will run with a limp, I’ll win some and lose some but I’ll make my attempt.” Often to try is an act of courage. An act of conceding you don’t know everything and proceeding until you can truly see if it’s a good idea or bad one. By not trying many locked doors will stay locked. I dare us to at least knock on those locked doors and see what happens.

Lastly, I believe there is one form of try that can be unhelpful and even harmful. It is when we know we have the capability to succeed at something but you’re content to not put your best effort in. To be happy with mediocre. This form of “try” is no try at all.

In closing, this writing wouldn’t exist if I was not willing to try. This came together as I worked on it. Started with that Yoda quote in my head. And now, I have benefitted by completing this. I hope it may encourage a reader or two along the way.