Take it or Leave it

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I have come to learn from reading a lot of testimonies and stories from bipolar folk that acceptance is something some of us truly struggle with. Although this is not something I personally struggled with, at least in terms of my acceptance of my bipolar diagnosis, it is important to discuss nonetheless.

I suppose I was slowly coming to terms with my mental illness each time I was diagnosed. A lot had happened in my personal life before I even went in to see a doctor, so when at 14 I initially was seen for clinical depression and was there diagnosed with that mental illness, it did not come as a surprise nor a shock. I was extremely distraught and miserable all the time before I even thought of alerting my mother who faced her own schizophrenia that had yet to be diagnosed along with her alcoholism. So when I was finally put on Zoloft for the first time, it came to no shock to anyone.

As far as my bipolar diagnosis, I did not know I was bipolar. All I knew was that crying several times throughout the day wasn’t normal. I just thought my depression had worsened because I had stopped taking my antidepressants years prior because I had a religious awakening. It wasn’t until my therapist suggested it that I knew that bipolar was the reason behind the tears and irrational behavior, not just depression. When I described the way I felt and handled things on a day to day basis, it was clear to both doctors that I went and saw that bipolar disorder was the correct diagnosis for me.

In recent months, I have been experiencing paranoia in the sense that I feel like others are out to get me. Until I could rationalize this train of thought, try to track it, or make some sense of it all, I didn’t tell anyone. It wasn’t until last week’s therapy session that admitted my paranoia to my counselor which she then dismissed as life is gone awry with COVID-19 and having my ex-supervisor plot against me to get me fired due to my bipolar and then plotting to take away my unemployment would cause anyone to feel paranoid. She didn’t think I was turning schizophrenic like my mother, but I have yet to address this matter with my doctor that prescribes mental health medication, who is also well aware of my family’s history.

But what if they thought I may have been misdiagnosed yet again and actually had schizophrenia? How would I take it? Would I accept my new diagnosis? The answer to that is no, I wouldn’t take it well at all. I feel as though I would bitch and moan about having to learn a whole different lifestyle of living, a whole new identity. Bipolar has been everything I have known since I was 18 years old, I don’t want to start fresh with something new; new meds, more doctors’ visits, different kinds of therapy. Different, maybe even more stigma. If I have it, does it change the fact that I would then be schizophrenic? Well…no.

Acceptance is all about taking in new information, whether you like it or not and saying, “Yes this may be happening, I may not like it, I may hate it, but I’m going to move on with my life and prosper in spite of it.” With that being said, we can look at situations like COVID-19 with this attitude and with that attitude, we can move on with our lives as productively as possible.

In terms of mental illness, whatever you may be struggling with whether it be your diagnosis, taking your meds (something I struggle with on the daily), dealing with friends or co-workers who cannot accept you as you are or discriminate you because your mental health status, know that you are NOT alone! Know that you don’t have to like or you can even hate the circumstances that you have been put in. But it doesn’t change what you are here in life to face. Although it is easier said than done, the sooner you face the fact that this situation is upon you and is not going to change anytime soon without therapy, medication, or coping mechanisms, your issues with acceptance will persist. Your issues in general will persist and only appear to get worse even.

Tips/Tricks to Get to Acceptance

  1. Find solutions within the problem itself. If you have a problem accepting why you have to take your medication like I do, my best advice is to make a list of all your medication and reasons why you take it. Not just the medicinal properties like it being an anti-psychotic and the milligrams, but how that individual pill makes you feel and how it affects you. If you have trouble physically taking the pills like I do, if possible, try taking one every few hours throughout the day, rather than taking them all at morning or night. I think one at a time is more stomach-able than taking 5-10 pills all at once or even all with one gulp of water.
  2. Mind over Matter. I often find that it isn’t the situation itself that is difficult, but it is my stubborn mind that doesn’t allow for anything to get done. That being said, you must figure out your hang ups in regard to your issue. If you have a problem with seeking therapy for your mental health issue, you then must figure out why you are uncomfortable with therapy. Did you have a bad experience? Maybe seek a new therapist. Is it the cost? There are different options and most therapists are open to payment plans, especially if you are paying out of pocket. There are online options as well. Do you find it more comfortable to speak to someone in person or over the phone or through text message, even if it is a complete stranger? If the latter is true for you, then maybe online therapy is a better choice for you. You can text, call, or video chat with a real therapist 24/7 and chances are they offer various insurance options and low monthly payments. Point is: there are solutions to your issues, no matter how big or small, you just gotta dig for them.
  3. Take it or Leave it. You have the power in any situation, I think that’s the most pivotal piece of advice I can impart on you. YOU have the power and autonomy over your own life and NO ONE can take that away from you. Ultimately you get to decide your own treatment plan when it comes to your bipolar disorder or for any mental illness for that matter. If you don’t want to partake in all of your treatment options whether that be taking medication, going to a counselor, or even making coping mechanisms for yourself, you don’t have to. And that’s okay. As long as you feel as though you can effectively deal and make sense of your mental illness, you have the right to accept or refuse help or treatment. As long as you can say “This is me, take it or leave it”, I think you’re golden. Accept it and move on with your life.

Acceptance can be hard for anyone to master, especially those who have situations out of their control. But by following these steps or even practicing self-acceptance first and foremost, it makes it easier to accept whatever may come your way.

Til Next Time,

Dani

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