You get what you need.

I’ve been struggling with meditation lately. I use the Headspace app, which is good, and Andy does a good job leading the exercises. I don’t know what’s driving my restlessness when I’m sitting, but it’s there throughout the entire thing. I feel better after the practice, even with the judging that is going on, and I don’t feel like I’m missing anything per se; I just wish I could focus.

I’m from the generation that had Ritalin thrown down their throats in their adolescence to make teacher’s and parent’s jobs easier if not less effective as a solution. Do I resent it? You bet. Do I complain about it? Only when it comes up. I’m not out here trying to make my parents feel bad for trying to solve what was considered a common, debilitating problem with a solution when presented with one. But it wasn’t the right one, and that’s the case for a whole lot of kids from that time who really just needed more attention and understanding instead of being jacked up on legal speed.

How could they have known?

I don’t know. I don’t think being suspicious of medical professionals as a rule is a good, well, rule. Unless it’s mental health stuff. Then I’m more likely to be skeptical, since it all seems to be based on a lot less proven scientific ground. I was put on, if I remember correctly, five different medications for my ‘mental health needs’ when I got diagnosed with bipolar 2, only to some four years later have carved that down to two with the hopes of being on few – if any – at a hopefully closer-to-soon point in the future. Not to say I didn’t need it at the time, but honestly did I really need five?

It’s not an uncommon approach to just throw a bunch of shit at the wall to see what, if anything, works and just sticking with that. But with the chemical cocktails it’s not really possible to tell which ones are doing it without going through a long, tedious process of gradually weening off each, one-by-one, till you one day are off one of them for a seventy-two hour period and you start feeling that familiar zap that shoots through your spine that signals the withdrawal from the drug and, possibly, the dreaded return of your unprocessed Feels™. Then it’s a question of whether it’s said Feels™ or just the withdrawal that are causing all that upset and whether you want to risk finding out lest something terrible happen.

I’d like it if we lived in a world where the process of mental health (really mental healing) was more – damn, I guess streamlined. Here’s your diagnosis, here’s your recommended regiment of exercises and diet, here’s your team and here’s the pill you’ll be taking and the timetable we are you putting you on it for. I don’t know about your experiences, but for me it was only up until recently that I was talking to mental health professionals that were under the assumption that these pills were lifelong. As in for-fucking-ever, bucko. Which, hey, if you gotta then you gotta, but I’m not going to act like I don’t see something fishy going on when you’re filling your that prescription for Abilify with an Abilify pen in an office paid for by prescribing Abilify to hundreds of people in my same position.

I’ve had three diagnosis in my life, two that have been consistent: depression and anxiety, with the previously referred to manic depression being a newer one. Those seem to be pretty popular ones, which can say a lot of different things. Lately I’ve been wondering if it’s one of two mostly. Either there’s a lot of things causing these ailments going on – which, to be fair, likely – or they’re handing out these labels because that’s what it seems is the case and – if my fifteen minute appointments with the psychiatrists have said anything to me – they’re so inundated with cases that they simply don’t have or won’t put in the time to delve into the problem.

That, too, assumes a lot, but this time on the behalf of the patient, who maybe isn’t looking for a new morning routine of writing affirmations or eating lean proteins and just wants a pill to make the lows a measurable amount less low. And who is anyone to tell them they can’t do that? That that isn’t the best way to deal with their problem?

For me, so far, they’ve served their purpose. Except for when they haven’t. As of now the Aripiprazole and occasional Propanolols are acceptable tools in my mental wellness practice, but I’d be lying if I said I liked having them. I like the greater feeling of control I’ve gained by being on these pills, but it’s really that control that I’ve gotten with my practices that has me the most fulfilled and makes me feel the most confident in my abilities to function in the world. Now, DBT and CBT won’t halt a panic attack onset by a real problem as opposed to the ones that I weave out of nothing in my brain pan, so until I figure out how to do that I’ll be leaning on those chemical crutches. But the end goal in all of this is pill free, unless that’s just not feasible. Which, considering the current state of things, it might be a while before I can think that it is.



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