When to Fight and When to Surrender to Mental Illness
Recently, I realized the importance of both fighting and surrendering to mental illness. I was hospitalized for a horrific bipolar mixed episode I suffered through for several months. I hadn’t been this sick with mental illness since my 4 year-long battle with postpartum depression and have never experienced anything like it. Now that I’m out of the hospital and slowly stabilizing I’m becoming startlingly aware of a paradox in getting through mental illness – healing isn’t possible without both fighting and surrendering.
When to Fight Through Mental Illness
I wouldn’t have survived postpartum without fighting. After I was finally stable, I got a huge tattoo of a phoenix on my arm, back and chest. She’s a reminder of where I have been, but she also gives me the courage to fight again. The fight felt constant, but these were my three toughest fights before hospitalization:
1. Getting out of bed. Since I had severe constant anxiety, I couldn’t sleep without a large amount of medication which left me exhausted most of the day. But with bipolar, if I don’t sleep, I have no chance of sanity.
2. Dragging myself to daily treatment. I went daily for over four weeks to a treatment that has always worked in the past but wasn’t touching the mixed episode (« Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation for Depression« ).
3. Not killing myself. I’ve survived intrusive suicidal thoughts before but never with the energy and impulsivity to go through with it. Frightening suicidal thoughts raced through my head constantly.
When to Surrender to Mental Illness
Surrendering to the fact that I was seriously ill and was a danger to myself finally meant committing myself to a locked-down hospital ward. It meant surrendering to the medical team’s treatment plan. Thankfully, it was a very reputable hospital and they were extremely thorough.
They took away all my sleep meds and prescribed me meds that made me more anxious than I was when I was admitted. I didn’t sleep for days. I tremored violently, I couldn’t eat at all, I had visions of suicide I’d never fathomed. I suffered insanity that felt like it would never end.
But the side effects subsided and now I’m home. My psychiatrist put me back on sleep meds so I could sleep again, but less than before. Surrendering is being honest. I’m not well right now, but I’m getting better. I’m doing the bare minimum as I slowly stabilize and am focusing on coping strategies I’m learning in dialectical behavioral therapy.
I’ve done the impossible before; I can do it again. The mythical phoenix lights her own funeral pyre. She rises from her own ashes, beautiful and purified. She fights and she surrenders over and over and each time she returns stronger.
What is your experience with fighting and surrendering to mental illness? Share your thoughts in the comments.
Tags: fight and surrender