After pressure from doctors for years, I agreed to try an alternative treatment. The depression was overwhelming me and traditional medicine wasn’t working. It hasn’t “fixed” everything but it has made things better. It made me remember some important truths about treatment for mental illness.
Trust your doctor. My psychiatrist is awesome. He is not warm and fuzzy; he is absolutely brilliant. He takes thinking outside the box to new levels. I can trust his experience and his knowledge. I also know he trusts me. He recognizes my intelligence to make logical decisions about my own treatment and that I know when something is working or not.
Know your body. You are responsible for your own health and it’s hard to make informed decisions if you don’t know what you’re talking about. Know your body so you can recognize when something is off. Know your mind so you know if a treatment is working or not.
Keep an open mind. Finding the right treatment can be a challenge so it’s important to be willing to try new things to see if anything helps. I don’t do everything my doctor suggests but I know without a doubt he has my best interests at heart and sometimes his “crazy” ideas work. When I give up hope he finds some way to keep trying. If I didn’t try some of his suggestions, I wouldn’t be here living the life I am. I can get complacent so I need to keep an open mind and try new treatments.
Doctors have important knowledge but they don’t know everything. I trust my doctor but, ultimately, it’s my mind that’s not working, my body that experiences the side effects and my future that’s at stake. I’m the one that needs to make the decisions about my health because I’m the one who will face the consequences.
Be assertive. I’ve been lucky to have doctors that recognize my intelligence and trust my judgment but that doesn’t mean I don’t have to stand up for myself sometimes. It means speaking up about what’s working or not working.
Mental illness is an illness not a weakness. Doing what I have to do to perform at my best is common sense. It doesn’t make me weak to seek treatment; it makes me smart.
Don’t give up on the dance. Taking medication every day, multiple times a day, for the rest of my life depresses me. Knowing that over the years, meds will change, doses will change and side effects will build up depresses me. But what depresses me more is the thought of giving up. When I think of the years I spent in bed, unable to function, trapped, I realize that I’ll take the inconvenience of medication and I’ll even deal with the severe side effects because I have a life, now. I’ll try the different treatments and keep going to the doctor appointments because it’s so much better than the alternative.
These are things I’ve found to be true in my own treatment. You are responsible for finding your own treatment path. It’s challenging but you can do it.