Whenever I mention that I’m taking an anti-psychotic to manage symptoms of mental illness, there’s always that person who has to give me a 10,000 word essay on the dangers of my medications and all the TOTALLY COMPARABLE, 100 per cent natural alternatives I should try.
When you are telling me about “natural” options, I can’t help but remember all the terrifying, very unnatural things that happened to me when I broke off from reality. I remember the physical injuries, the brushes with death, the terror that kept me up at night.
You see, my bipolar disorder has dissociative features — meaning that my grip on what’s real can be very, very tenuous when my disorder goes untreated.
So when you suggest meditation, I have to laugh. You’re presuming that my mind is a safe space to occupy in the first place. When you suggest deep breathing, you seem to forget that panic attacks don’t exactly allow for deep breaths.
To be clear: I’m not here to tell anyone what they should do in their particular circumstances. I am an advocate for choices. I am an advocate for people with mental illness or neurological differences being able to choose whatever regimen of care makes sense for them.
Watch: Mia Freedman on how she deals with her anxiety. (Post continues after video.)
That may involve medication. And it may not. And it’s not my place to judge either which way. There are legitimate reasons to be concerned about psychotropic medications. There are equally legitimate reasons to pursue them in spite of this.
When I found the right medications for me, it felt like someone had dialed down all the noise in my head. It didn’t hurt to be awake. It didn’t hurt to be alive. There was a sense of clarity that I’d never experienced before. I was the exact opposite of a zombie (the side effect I was most fearful of). For the very first time, I was well and I was whole.
But the noise in my head was quickly replaced with the noise of judgment around me. High-and-mighty concern trolls who seemed to think that they understood my disorders, my struggles, and could advise me on how to proceed.
Apparently all I really needed was a gratitude practice, yoga, Pilates, a diet change, a cardio regimen, no caffeine, no sugar… anything but those synthetic chemical pods that were eating away at my brain and guaranteeing me an early death.