I have a story, many stories in fact, as we all do. One of them I want to tell here today.
In 1999 I was diagnosed with manic depression, a diagnosis which later became Bipolar Disorder. I was started on medication including SSRI anti-depressants, mood stabilisers, anti-psychotics and benzodiazepines.
In 2019, I was told my liver function was so poor that I needed to cease all daily medications. This is after being told for 2 decades that I’d require medications for life, to treat my ‘chemical imbalance’.
Understandably, I went into panic. I didn’t know HOW I was going to live, how I was going to function as a parent and a breadwinner. It is not an understatement to say I was petrified. I couldn’t sleep. I started drinking again, after not having had a drink for 14 months. I’d been so pleased with my life without alcohol, but without sleep, and with as much fear as I was feeling, I honestly didn’t know what to do.
I knew drinking wasn’t a solution for me. Alcohol isn’t something you should be consuming when your liver function is compromised. I stopped drinking again, forgoing NYE drinks in 2019 and I haven’t had a drink again.
But I was faced with a real dilemma. How does someone with a supposed lifelong mood disorder and insomnia survive without medication? Is it possible?
Well, it turns out it’s very possible! I’m doing it today. But finding that out flew in the face of everything I’d been told for 20+ years.
So how do I do it?
Today I consider myself a body, a mind and a spirit. This might sound very obvious to some people but it wasn’t a conception I’d had of myself previously.
I’d always known I had a body, although I hadn’t always taken care of it. I had always known I had a mind, this was what I’d allowed to define me. But I had neglected my spirit for a very long time and for me, this was the key.
For my body I eat whole plant foods, I exercise 5 days a week, and I do not smoke or drink anymore. This is pretty basic stuff but I had never consistently done it before and for me, it is critical. I cannot eat fast food, sit around and have cocktails. I feel like death.
For my mind I’m involved in a lot of different projects and constantly learning new things and teaching others.
For my spirit, I have to do the most. Activities like yoga and Tai Chi were immediately attractive to me, as they involve movement. However I am also getting involved in meditation and spiritual readings. Starting to play piano again and write songs after 30 years, is something I am doing for my spirit.
When I was a girl, writing songs was all I imagined myself doing as an adult. But by age 14 I had started to tell myself I wasn’t good enough and I didn’t allow myself to play anymore. That crushed my spirit and at the time, believing I really wasn’t as good as I ‘should’ be, I felt I deserved that punishment.
Self-defeating beliefs, a lack of self-acceptance and self-forgiveness played a huge role in my own instability. Today I accept that the past could not have been any different, but I can change the present. I can allow myself space to be my authentic self and not worry about judgement.
In a few short years, I’ll be gone. All I have between the present moment and my final moment is an opportunity to be me. Today I’m grateful for that opportunity.
So the answer to how to live without medication is complex, but also very simple. Like most truths, both exist at the same time. But the strongest flavour in the mix is a spiritual awakening. As a complete person, I do not create the chaos inside myself that doctors saw and diagnosed as a mental health disorder. Without the fear ruling me, I can just be. And that’s a gift.
The link below is to a song I wrote last week that I’m calling “Time”. The 14 year old inside of me, who waited 30 years to be allowed to do this, is really happy with it.