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The number of times I’ve attempted to kill myself or is probably equal to the amount of times people have told me that I’d not have this problem if I took my medication.
If I went to therapy, if I took better care of myself, everything would magically be fixed. The only advice that my family offered when they were still speaking to me was for me is to “pray the mental illness” away, like my bipolar disorder is some sort of sin that could be helped by finding Jesus. I somehow think he doesn’t want to be found, however. Not by me.
But, my mother, from as far back as I can remember, wrote me off as being rebellious, and I am a product of a time not so long ago where I was just written off as being a “bad kid,” with my first introductions to therapy being in fourth grade, recommended by a guidance counselor or teacher.
Not because I wanted therapy. I didn’t ask and, of course, I didn’t have a choice in the matter and was forced to go. It was all to keep me from being expelled from school. I was always in danger of being kicked out if something wasn’t done. Therapy became like some sort of punishment and I rebelled against it.
I continued to rebel against it well into adulthood, when, in 2003, I got a proper diagnosis of bipolar disorder. My first job out of college, I was in danger of losing it. I had taken many days off from work, usually due to the effects of self-medication, or just not being able to get out of bed and properly function, or I’d be in a manic phase and not in any state to go anywhere after being up for a few days straight.
I became familiar with “reasonable accommodation” and the idea of going into therapy, going on many, many, combinations of various medications until something kicked in just a little bit, or being terminated. Being a paying member of the union helped as well, as I had someone to fight for me, even though I didn’t want to fight for myself.
It was not a matter of saving my life to me or anyone else, but more a matter of saving my job. I was indifferent about either, not caring if either one was a done deal.
I was talked into all of this by my mother, not even out of concern that I’d finally do myself in but out of concern that I’d lose my job, not have a paycheck, and probably have to move back home, and the last thing she wanted to do was take care of me again. She had understandably had enough.
I would have rather spent my days drinking, taking pills, carving my arms and watching TV Land, anything. I didn’t like being forced to do this. I hated the way the pills made me feel. The general feeling was usually zombie-like and halfway dead. I lost my job anyway and, thankfully, didn’t have to move back home.
I’ve had many jobs since then. I’ve lost the majority of them because I don’t do the things that I’ve been always told that I should do. I’ve lost countless friends, been homeless, things I’ve been told I could have avoided had I just taken my meds, stayed in therapy.
I have tried. I’ve had more than a few hospital stays where they monitor me for a week, or whenever my insurance decided that they had enough. Then suddenly, I’m back on my own. I’ve always stuck with it because if I didn’t, some roommate would threaten to throw me out or some friend would threaten to stop talking to me, I’d meet some guy who either didn’t get it or I didn’t want to attempt to explain things to, or I’d once again be in danger of losing a job.
I don’t take any medication by choice. I don’t go to therapy anymore. I’m not in a position to do either if I really wanted to, and I just don’t want to “fix” what’s wrong with me, really.
People never want you to seek help because they feel as if it will be beneficial for you, for your own health. Taking your Prozac makes you more tolerable to them. You’re more easy to deal with.
Taking your Trazodone or Lithium makes them not worry about getting a phone call or text in the middle of the night from you saying that you want to die, that you’ve cut your arms up, that you’re on your way to the ER yet again. They don’t want to feel threatened or scared.
It all feels selfish, but then I’m usually told that my suicide attempts and my drunken stupors are selfish as well. I always think that by killing myself, I’d be doing people a favor by not bothering them anymore, and there would be nothing to be afraid of.
If you want to get help, if you want to be “saved,” if you want to become someone who is more likely to get invited out on the weekends to go on bar crawls, if you want to get it together enough to keep your job, keep your friends, keep your sanity, it’s not wrong to want to do that on your own terms.
And there may be a day when I’m tired of not being able to pay my rent because I’ve gotten fired yet again from my job, and being estranged from my family and having my friends tell me that they will not talk to me unless I’m “normal.” But getting “well,” for me, is just not an option right now.