Up and Down (Part 2)

It was difficult to accept the diagnosis of Bipolar from the psychiatrist because of the way I had been raised. We come from a very fundamentalist religious background that pretty much “demonizes” every sort of illness and ESPECIALLY mental illness. I am not pointing fingers at anyone; I’m simply explaining why it was so difficult to accept. What made it worse was the way people would preach a doctrine of physical and spiritual perfection that made those of us who were still struggling in any way do the most hypocritical thing possible: hide our ailments and pretend that everything was okay. Admitting any sort of sickness or disease or disorder or habit after having professed salvation was the same as saying that Christ had died in vain or that despite Christ’s great sacrifice you are lacking in the faith required to receive the benefits. Either way, you’re a loser.

I can’t tell you how many prayer lines I stood in, each time believing that THIS was the night that I would be set free FOREVER. But as the months rolled on, each black pit of depression was blacker than the previous one. I lived in secret misery for years, still proclaiming Jesus as the healing miracle worker who has no respect of persons. I simply attributed my own lack of change to my inability to continually exhibit the faith that was sufficient to move Him. It was like being at the grocery store with .50 cents and the cashier telling you that you need $50. No matter how much you believe in her grace and mercy, and no matter how much you beg and plead, and no matter how much you seek to flatter her with praises you’re not leaving that store until you pay up. That’s the way I saw my own faith deficiency. And with each passing year, I felt more hopeless.

I took the meds. First, Lamictal at the lowest possible dosage. Three months later the psych increase the dosage. Later he added another med and then later increased that dosage as well. At the end of a year, I was on 3 different meds including stuff like Welbutrin and Abilify, all at the highest dosages. Eventually I was not myself in ANY way. I was in a distracted, agitated, sleepy CLOUD which did block out the crazy-impulse voices, but unfortunately also blocked out my own voice. I don’t remember being able to think ANY thoughts or feel any feelings except aggravation and lethargy. I remember wondering what was the point if one way or the other I was still going to feel like a miserable wretch.

Knowing that I had been advised not to ever come off all those meds without doctor approval or supervision, I still did it. My psychiatrist had told me that I would be on medication for the rest of my life, period and that we would just keep switching up and changing things until we found what “worked.” After a year, we had not found that magic combination. So I prayed that God would help me and sustain me when I threw the remaining meds in the trash. I committed to trying to live in a way that would not welcome anymore drama into my life and in return I just wanted Him to help me not to kill myself.

Seven years later, I am still alive. I try to live in a balanced way. I am thankful to have loving, supporting friendships as well as a loving husband. I work a full-time job and am working on a Master’s Degree. Until recently, I had been committed to eating well and getting lots of physical activity; things that I know have an impact on one’s ability to cope with life. Above all, I have embraced a spiritual path of meditation and have been blessed by the teachings of my guru, Paramahansa Yogananda. I give glory to God for having stabilized and sustained me thus far.

THAT’s why I was so upset about the recent Psych Eval in which he said he would not recommend me as a candidate for weight loss surgery unless I got back on medication. It’s like a slap in the face and a total disregard for my growth over these seven years.

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9 thoughts on “Up and Down (Part 2)

  1. Can you go to a different psychiatrist? Seems silly…. But not all doctors are “Elvis Doctors” pushing meds. It may cost a little more in the long run… But maybe if you found a doctor that was on a more holistic level… I don’t know, just me thinking out loud.

    • Thanks “Darling” (hehehehehe). I was wishing the I had one of those holistic ones, but as it turns out, this guy is the one all the bariatric patients are referred to by Wake Forest Baptist Health. Turns out this is his area of expertise and he boasts of having worked with over 2300 weight loss patients over time. Oh, lucky us! Again, it has been 7 years since I saw ANY doctor; but if I were to continue any sort of therapy or psychiatric treatment I guess I would definitely look for someone who can see the larger picture of wellness and wholeness. Thank you soooo much for your comments and support.

  2. When I got baptized some time ago and came out about how God helped me cope with my diagnosis of bipolar disorder I was kind of ignored thereafter by the church. I was angry for so long before I realized that God isn’t the problem. It’s the people who misinterpret and use the Word as whatever is convenient to them. In this church, apparently, mental illness was equal to demonic possession so perhaps they believed I was “housing” the adversary. Who knows.

    I have since learned to love the God I have experienced and known. For He has never failed me.

    I hope you can find a different psychiatrist because this one doesn’t sound like someone I would trust my health too. Thinking of you. Positive thoughts your way!

    • Zoe, you have clearly and succinctly iterated the angst that millions of people suffer when it comes to mental illness + The Church. And believe me, when I write it that way, I am talking about the “machinery” of the organization and not about the spiritual body of Christ. I am so happy for you and so happy that my relationship with God through Christ has deepened and widened over these years in spite of everything. Thank you so much for your insightful comments and I know what you mean about the guy who did the psych eval. He’s a pompous sort of prig, but I didn’t choose him. He’s the one who everyone is referred to by the bariatric program at Wake Forest Baptist Health. Anyways, hopefully, if I submit to getting back on meds, once the notes of my follow-up visit are sent to him by The Mood Center, I think I don’t ever have to see him again. Thanks for your positive thoughts!!!

  3. Good for you for doing what is best for you! There was a time I thought I had been healed, but it crept back in. I’ve been on meds ever since. But mine is more your run of the mill depression and anxiety, not bi-polar. My mom is bi-polar and we are both on the same one medication. But that’s neither here nor there.

    At my bariatric center they have one psychiatrist that everyone uses. But we have the option of seeing someone else. My regular counselor (a Christian counselor) was just that and they required a higher license than what she had. But still, we had the option of seeing someone else. I essentially passed my eval only because I see a counselor on a regular basis.

    All that to say don’t give up. Find someone else to clear you. They are out there. I think they primarily want to make sure that your illness will not make you self sabotage your weightloss. I’m sure for the one that did not approve you there are several more that will. If your symptoms have been managed for that long with no medication, I don’t see why anyone wouldn’t clear you. The one that works for the bariatric place probably just wanted to pick you up as a new patient to line his pockets.

    • Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts and comments!! Since Saturday, I have been trying to remind myself of exactly what you expressed: they just don’t want me to sabotage my own weight loss efforts. And I bet you are right about someone else clearing me, too. But I have begun to wonder if this guy (despite his assholeness) might be right. If things are going to get a lot worse emotionally after the surgery, maybe I should just take the meds…. oh I’m so confused.

      • Since I haven’t been through the surgery yet, I can’t answer that question. I imagine there are feelings of loss and grief associated to not being able to eat the way we are used to. But I’ve also read from several people on here that seeing food or advertisements on TV no longer spark an interest for them. It’s probably individual to each person. I’d at least get a second opinion. Maybe see someone regularly now until a while after the surgery, that way if you do end up in the pit you will already have someone available to help you out.

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