Oh boy, this last month was a doozy. My circumstances seem to be in no way different from before, but the panic of never escaping a cycle I can now more clearly see has rocked me and almost made me give up. In a way, I have all the skills necessary to achieve my dreams, all the people around me to help, and the net is growing larger. But there is something sinister inside me, something that makes it hard to see clearly and make good choices.

In the interest of radical honesty, here goes.

VictorI’m not sure how many people read this, but I have to imagine at least some of you don’t know me personally, so it makes this weird. If you don’t know me, though, please stick around and read the rest, I’ll get over it. Okay, so about ten years ago I was diagnosed as bipolar. This came after trying a prescription anti-depressant that had some terrible consequences on my psyche. So, naturally, I’ve been very skeptical about pharmaceutical solutions to my problems, and have tired, for the most part, to will my way into a healthy, happy life.

But I haven’t done so well. Maybe remarkably well considering my diagnosis, but all things being equal, it’s frustrating to see the life you want through a haze and to keep letting it slip from your hands (sometimes willingly throwing it away) and not understanding why. So I’ve decided to talk to my doctor (again) and to set an appointment for a psychiatrist (again).

I understand a healthy skepticism towards drugs as solutions to mental problems. It’s likely true that we live in a culture that prescribes drugs for everything, sometimes to our detriment. But when I talk to my friends about my situation, I have received unanimous disappointment from them. Now, I live on the west coast. We’re a very advanced culture. That is to say, all my friends know I’m experimenting with a polyamorous lifestyle because I have a strong feeling it may be right for me. And no one objects. Everyone asks questions, more out of curiosity, and maybe to decide whether it’s a good choice for them. Cool. And, if you didn’t know it already, I’m bisexual. Everyone knows that now. Aside from some asshole gay guys who think I’m still “half in the closet” no one bats an eye over this news. We’re all very accepting and I think that’s awesome. Even trying recreational drugs and experimenting with their anti-depressant effects is celebrated.

However, when I try to explain what it’s like to be bipolar, people offer solutions from their perspective. Why shouldn’t I be able to read a self-help book and fix my faulty thought patterns, after all? Some of my friends have battled depression, and one day they were able to pull themselves out of bed, and life is good now. Sweet. But certain disorders are different. They can’t be fixed by mere grit and determination. And for people suffering from these disorders, they shouldn’t be made to feel ashamed, like failures, for seeking professional help. It may well be that pharmaceuticals are a blunt tool to a very delicate problem. But I’ve seen the alternatives time and again, and quite frankly, I have to say psychiatrists provide a net gain for society. Let’s face it, none of us are experts on brain disorders. Even my ex only recently realized how badly my disorder had been affecting me all this time, and she lived with me. That’s because I was trying so hard to cope, so I looked okay, if maybe overtired. I was overtired because of the mental strain to keep it together.

Maybe once in a while, pills are the best answer, at the time. I don’t know either.

I have strong bias against them too. I feel like I’m giving up. I feel like a failure. I just want to make something out of life and not knock it down like a sand castle after all the hard work is done.

I’ll let you know how this process goes for me as soon as it starts up. Maybe it won’t be right for me, but I also wouldn’t dream of presuming I know what’s better for someone else because of my anecdotal experience.

Victor: It’s frustrating to see the life you want through a haze and to keep letting it slip from your hands.
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  • Miyoko

    Thank you Victor for sharing your experience. Courageous.
    I understand how frustrating this disorder must be in many ways, physical as well as social.
    No you are not a failure, it’s not your fault and you deserve to live a good life, like any other human being.
    I wish you to find a way or that a way finds you. Please let us know.
    Miyoko