I recently had coffee with a lovely young college graduate, a writer who has been dealing with intense anxiety, anxiety that has latched onto her faith and forced her into a position of crisis. We talked about medication and therapy, about how there is nothing to be ashamed of, about how even scripture can be twisted and used against us.
Then she said, “The way my mind goes so quickly? That’s why I think I can write. I’m scared that if I start taking medication, I’ll lose that.”
That’s a fear I could definitely relate to!
I told her, “I think just as quickly now as I did before treatment– only now, it’s productive. Before, my brain was spinning its wheels. I was thinking in circles, thinking all the time but never really getting anywhere. Now I can think productively. I can focus on things that are important.
“I still think deeply– in fact, more deeply in some areas, since I’m no longer terrified of thoughts.”
So, did treatment change me?
Yes, but for the better.
I’m glad you had such encouraging words to share.
My own experience battling bipolar with medication is that there have definitely been periods of near zero creativity (since I was taking heavy doses of anti-psychotics as well as other mood stabilizers). Now that I’m two decades into the journey, and successfully manage my moods on lower dosages, my creative productivity is greatly enhanced.
Psychotropics may well be a necessary evil for some of us until a better treatment is found, but I do encourage every one starting down that path to find a good psychiatrist who carefully seeks out the least aggressive medication options.
Good point, Tony! I was referring more to ERP therapy than to medication when I mentioned treatment!
Oh, in that case (to quote Roseanne Rosannadanna from SNL in the 1970s and Kurt Cobain of Nirvana in the 1990s) — “Nevermind.”
I love this, Jackie! I am so much more myself after having taken medication. I’m less reserved in general–sometimes I wish I had more inhibitions, but I wouldn’t trade it for how great I feel.
You will not believe how many of my patients ask me that exact question! It’s such a hard question to answer, because of course they will change but they will still be the same person. I’ve started asking people what they would be prepared to give up in order to let go of some of their anxiety, and then we agree that if it approaches that we’ll stop and review. So far no one has come even close! Quite a few people choose not to take the risk though, and never find out if they could have had a bit of both.
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