More on recovery

Today in the Washington Post by someone who has been there. It’s extremely encouraging to see work like this in a paper such as the Post.

9 thoughts on “More on recovery

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  1. This was a great article. I’m glad that the Washington Post chose to publish it.

    My life was a bit like the authors. I was doing well in college until I was hauled away to a locked ward. I believed I was the son of God come back to fix the world. Of course doing the 60’s there was a lot to fix, just as there is now–so I was under a lot of stress. Eventually, I finished my degree and picked up a masters. In the following decades, I got off of all my meds for bipolar and had a fairly successful life.

    Some meds may have helped for a time, but they seemed to stop working and leave me hanging. Very few, of the various professional mental health people helped me much. I felt very ashamed and a loser for suffering from mental illness.

    As with Charles, my recovery came from finding a place in society, finding a purpose. The spark for me was found in self help groups where I met mentally ill people successfully dealing with the world. I believed that if they could do it–so could I. I still battle mood swings, but I win the battles. I’ve been taught how to get out of bed and do what I have to do each day, no matter how I feel. I can function if I’m high or low.

    This site is great because us former mental patients see that we are alone and that we can still contribute to society, even though we are marked with the brand of mental illness.
    Jim S

  2. Great article–and I too am glad to see that a paper like the post is covering this stuff!

    I thought it was interesting what he said about us being the authors of our own recovery–including our meds and our dosages, etc. Of course a lot of us are already doing that and have discovered a lot about meds by the process of getting off of them.

    Doctors shouldn’t start out with a “standard dose”! They should start out with the lowest possible dose and only raise it if they have to.

    What I’ve learned (in the process of getting off meds) is that I take the amount of medication that makes it so I can basically function in my job and relationship–but not so much that I’m comfortable. I feel it’s better (for me) to feel that edge, than to be “comfortable”. For instance, I take 5mgs of lexapro…I would probably be more comfortable at 7 mgs…and I feel like a zombie who wants to sleep all the time at 10 mgs. At 5mgs, I still have a low grade depression that ebbs and flows, but I can live with it.

    I have discovered something interesting by staying at this slightly uncomfortably low dose. Recently, I switched to prozac so that I could continue to taper off drugs without the withdrawal feeling so harsh. I used to take it years ago, but “pooped out”. After hearing some show about how different the generics can be from the name brand, I realized that it pooped out when it went generic. So I told my doctor I wanted name brand only, and low and behold it worked again. Back when I took it years ago, I took the standard dose–20 mgs. When I would try a lower dose back then, it wouldn’t work as well. Well this time, I tried 10 mgs just to see if I could get away with it, and it worked great! In fact, I feel a little too well on 10 mgs, so I’m going to see how low I can go. My theory is that by staying on that slightly uncomfortable edge for years with the lexapro, that my brain made some adjustments and there was some healing. I don’t know how else to explain that 10 years ago, 10 mgs of prozac would not have been nearly enough, and now it feels like a little too much…

    Anyway, I’m sorry if this seems off topic. I guess I feel it’s on topic as far as the article discussing us being the author of our own recoveries…including figuring out our meds and dosages and the doctor just playing a role in helping us do that (Like he said, the Home Depot analogy “You can do it, we can help”).

    Also, I was just so excited about this discovery that I wanted to share it. I think my brain is recovering. And much of it, like he says, is not due to meds–I would say it’s mostly due to meditation and to lifestyle change–creating a work life I can live with, one that works with who I am, rather than against it. One that feels it doesn’t assault my spirit. I also have in the past 5 years been in a very supportive relationship with a man who understands me and loves me, and we both have similar spiritual values of acceptance and kindness mattering above all else.

  3. While recovery is part of many people’s lives, I feel it has become my only focus. I’m weary.

    Ah….I am in the same predicament, struggling to find purpose too. I think I’m on the path, but it’s a strange and scary one. One I don’t even know how to share here or if I should—

    but it involves finding myself and that right now means living alone. My husband is a blessing…understanding and supporting me through it even while it pains us both. But sometimes I feel like there is a divine hand in all this….sometimes…

  4. This really resonates with me:

    Medication was helpful — as was cognitive behavioral therapy, particularly early on — but what ultimately made the difference, what really made me want to get well, was finding a sense of purpose in my new life, a life that had been reconfigured by illness.

    I feel as if my life has been radically thrown off course since the day I was first (mis)diagnosed Bipolar. No, let’s go back a few years — from the first day I was given benzos for panic attacks.

    Even while getting off my multi-ingredient bipolar cocktail, my focus has been 100% on recovery.

    While recovery is part of many people’s lives, I feel it has become my only focus. I’m weary.

    I’m ready to branch out. I am ready to take the best (and worst) of my experiences and start to live a value-driven life — panicky or not!

    Great article, Gianna. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Excellent article. I especially love this part:”When you interview patients about how they got better, they hardly ever cite Prozac or Zyprexa or lithium. For that matter, they rarely cite a particular doctor or therapist or treatment program. Rather, they talk about a person who was kind to them when they were really down; they talk about the child they wanted to be a good parent to; they talk about God and spirituality; they talk about something that brought them pleasure even when they were cloaked in pain. Many of these reasons to live — the reasons to seek treatment in the first place — are highly personal and idiosyncratic, as was mine.”

  6. I like this article. It is so true. I got better once I decided that I would only take the drugs when I felt symptoms coming on. I also learned not to tell others about my diagnosis. This just caused people to look at you in a different say and say things like, “You shouldn’t be ashamed of your illness.” What? Why would I be ashamed?

    I did would with the developmentally disable, but unlike the author, I did not find much joy or purpose in it. I really didn’t like it. Once I quit doing that work, and got into work I really loved, I rapidly improved. Which just proves his point, that you have to have hope to have purpose in something you care about.

    I am now drug free.

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