Mental Health

My elusive muse.

How do you choose who gets to be well? Who gets to sing, and who has to swell?

Are you a calling card? My fated gift? Or just a long roadblock I could have missed?

I’m feeling unwell this morning (week, month, year, decade).  It dawned on me yesterday, as it usually does after a few weeks of hopeful upward motion, that I am still struggling with the same negativity I was when I was 13. The same demons are still knocking at my door, trying to rattle my bones and steal my air. Instead of my usual route of shameful victimizing, I’m trying to keep a firm, loving eye on this. What does this information tell me? Where does my mind immediately default?

I am inherently broken in some way, and no matter how long and how hard I fight to remain steady, positive, healthy and clean, I will always wind up back at the bottom. This is what history tells me, at least — but here’s the paradox of it all: I’m at the bottom right now. Once I’m at the top again, I’ll feel and think the reverse with the same strong conviction that love is law and persistence is key.

I must admit, there is huge relief in conceding that I’m wounded. That my drinking habits are self-medicating, that mid-night crying spells and bodily dread are not totally common experiences, and that constant intrusive images of my own slit wrists may actually be trying to tell me something. Already, I notice my thoughts creeping into binary patterns: nature vs. nurture, chicken vs. egg, guilty vs. not guilty. Is all this pain and confusion merely a symptom of my own laziness and lack? My own inability to take full responsibility for myself and my life?

Or, could it be something a bit more detached? Some unfortunate combination of genes and trauma that have given birth to a parasite that I simply have to deal with in whatever ways I can? It is refreshing to take the less defeating stance.

And of course, all this comes down to one nagging, generational-specific question: Do I medicate?

As I was thinking about it yesterday, I felt certain it would be worthwhile to try again. I always do when in the throws of the dark.

It isn’t that easy, though. It isn’t as if medication will magically make things easier. There will be side-effects. There always are. I guess my main reservation, however, is that it will feel like cheating. As if somehow, it will confirm that I’m not strong enough to heal on my own, and that is not a productive or rational argument. The bottom line is whether or not I am willing to treat my pain and darkness as a disease to remedied or an intrinsic part of me to be worked with and healed…. and as I wrote that, I realized how binary it was (society has trained me well). Who says taking medication can’t be viewed as a loving way to heal the self? In cognitive therapy, we work to change our neural pathways by way of intentionally creating healthier habits; might medication only help to augment those efforts? A little push in the right direction?

I’ve thought these thoughts before. So many times. So the struggle continues.

One thing is for sure: I have to stay cognizant of my moods. My overall feelings toward life. I have to stay diligent, observe, and genuinely work toward healing, however I choose to do so.