The reason I am such a strong advocate of chemical modification of the brain of the supplemental/doctor pills/therapy/meditation variety is because when I asked my parents for therapy in 4th grade and to maybe try medication in 9th grade I was refused both times until I fell so deeply into a drug habit that things looked pretty much hopeless for me. Of course, I completely forgot about possibly having some kind of imbalance to treat during that time. Then, when I finally had a full on psychotic break due to powerful stimulants, I got sober. And for the first year, my parents ingrained belief “do not ever try meds or listen to a therapist” went unchecked and mostly unexamined by me.
I even dismissed my buddhist teachers strong suggestion to begin taking GABA, SAMe, and valerian root. I began developing very severe anxiety on the order of full on “I need to go to the hospital” panic attacks 3 times daily and hypochondriacal delusions, coupled with self harming level depression, and of course hypomania and mixed episodes that I was unaware of that caused me to drive 160mph many, many times among other behaviors including racking up a $4000 credit card bill. My doctor attempted to prescribe to me a highly anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) antidepressant. I did not take it for somehow the idea persisted that medication was evil. It is one of my key regrets that I did not try that. My condition worsened over another 9 months and I developed permanent central nervous sensitization to pain resulting in constant back pain, and fractured the scaphoid bone in my wrist and allowed it to go untreated. My wrist will never function properly again. The constant stress caused my attention span to “plumbert” (plummet), in the words of one brain damaged forum goer I once spoke to.
I eventually decided that the 2 options I had were to get better or to die. I went to the doctor and he gave me a prescription for an SSRI. Due to my pre-existing science knowledge I was able to to spot that I was instantly moving into hypomania due to rapid speech and huge pupils. I went back and was put on something else. The SSRI had already unbalanced me and I was acting in a very problematic way but by the third dose I felt dark storm clouds lifting off of my mind. I was still unstable and cycling, and I went out to the forest with my knife attempting to find and fight a mountain lion one day. I continued to stabilize and these behaviors dissipated over time.
Because I went untreated for 21 years, my bipolar worsened significantly due to something called the kindling theory. Since I had gotten to the point of ultradian rapid cycling, I still cycle even on a mood stabilizer and an antipsychotic, all together. And I fall into the category of “treatment resistant bipolar depression in rapid cycling”, something that is very hard to untangle. Even though when I got medicated I instantly stopped smoking pot all day and had a much easier time quitting cigarettes, I still have residual. I lost the job I got when I began to improve because of my untreated broken wrist and now I just don’t know what to do with myself. It’s not that I’m in a bad place mentally, I’ve gotten there with it. I’m actually a very happy and for the most part stable person. It’s just strong inertia, almost like I just don’t know what to do with a stable mind and my habits have not caught up.
I am now a strong advocate for treatment of mental illness and it is my passion. You can get better. But you shouldn’t let it get really bad. It sticks to you like a groove worn in your brain.