My question is this: how do I get my hope back, and how do I reject my apparent acceptance of my current state? (Way too many details inside. Huge wall of text. Apologies in advance.)
posted by xyzzy to Health & Fitness (20 answers total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
Several years ago, after an extended period of aggressively attempting to treat bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, depression, disordered eating, low self-esteem, anxiety and obsessive compulsive tendencies, and PTSD using medication, individual and group therapy, and committed self-regulation, everything eventually stopped working and my life went back to hell. In the past, low points like the one I'm in now eventually led to a recommitment to a new approach, and I expected the same thing to happen again because it always did within a year or two. A new therapist, a new drug, a new methodology, something. Hope is what motivated me. I just knew that I could find the treatment recipe that would eventually lead to contentment and/or comfort, if not happiness. My hope is now gone. I think that I have just accepted that I am, and will always be, utterly miserable. I have been in and out of treatment since I was 14 years old, and I am 38 years old now. I am single, have no support network because I don't want to inflict borderline personality disorder on innocent people, and my family stays out of it because they're just tired and sad.
In the past, even during my lowest points, I cared about something. I would knit, paint, recycle, clean my house, play with my parents' dog, get my car washed, go to the grocery store, shower, get my hair cut, go to doctor's appointments, maybe put on some make-up, take my medication. I was miserable and sad and hated myself, but I would still do at least some of the most basic things in an attempt to fake it till I made it. Not all the time, and not perfectly, but there was always something I was functional at. I am now the epitome of dysfunction. I don't shower, wash my clothes, or clean my house. I don't even brush my hair. I haven't been to the grocery store or prepared a meal at home in years. I go to McDonald's or similar once a day, get a single meal, and that's what I eat. I started smoking again after having quit for 10 years. I gave my cat away. I sometimes go weeks or months without taking my thyroid medication (I have no thyroid), and I stopped doing my cancer treatment. I've given up on my psych meds because they stopped working. I quit therapy. I have had a mysterious, extremely painful rash on both of my feet for several years, along with loss of nerve sensation, and didn't pursue it further when my referral couldn't really explain what it was. I can now barely walk because I can't feel most of my feet except for the painful parts. I don't go the dentist or eye doctor. I haven't even bothered to redeem gift cards from my birthday last year, and for my birthday this year I asked people to just donate to charity. I rarely go to my parents' house. I don't buy people presents for important occasions or attend most family functions. I'm an extremely intermittent bill payer. I hate everything about myself and my life, but I just can't be arsed to fix it. I'm numb and overwhelmed.
I think the reason things are different this time has something to do with how well things were going the last time I tried treatment. I was put on a mood stabilizer that wasn't lithium for the first time since I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and it worked amazingly well for about 18 months. It was like fucking magic. I went back to school, got excellent grades, and kept up with my interests and hobbies. I still had no friends, but whatever, I was doing DBT and figured I would make friends eventually. But, slowly, the medications I was taking stopped working and my father wanted to stop paying for one of my anti-depressants because it was extremely expensive, so I had to switch to something less effective. I told everyone on my treatment team that shit was falling apart, but nothing we tried was working. We tried upping dosages, changing medications entirely, adding lithium back on.. Nope. And every time I would go to see my therapist, she would act like she'd just met me. She could never remember what we were working on or doing, and her documentation was so shitty she almost got me kicked off of disability. So, an inexorable downward slide. One day I just decided to skip a day of classes to relax and have a brain vacation, and I never went back. Something in me just snapped. I was just incredibly disappointed in myself, my treatment team, everything. More than I have ever been in my entire life, about anything.
Fast forward a few months to the suicide attempt. It was ridiculous. A cop took me to Psych ER after my cousin called the police. My cousin and mother were with me. At like 3 am a psychiatrist interviewed me and suggested I try ECT. I agreed to consider it and they let me go home. It was something of a wake-up call, though, so I talked ECT over with my family. They told me that under no circumstances would they support ECT. They would not drive me to or from appointments, assist with aftercare, or even speak to me if I elected to take this course of action. I literally tried everyone in my small family. Neither one of my aunts, my cousin, my mother and father, no one would support me in even exploring this, much less actually doing it. After those conversations I tried calling around to find a new psychiatrist and therapist. No dice there, either. The earliest appointment I could get with anyone was at least 4 months out from that day. And that was it. That's when I gave up.
My psychiatrist was worried enough after the suicide attempt that she set me up with a social worker, but the social worker was less than useless. After being on a waiting list for three years, she came to my house a few times, then missed several appointments without explanation, then dropped me after I missed an appointment because I don't check my mailbox. She followed through on nothing we talked about. She told me that she would find me a new therapist, a new psychiatrist that was much closer than my current one, try to get me a prescription for an emotional support animal, take me to doctor appointments.. she did none of those things. As far as I can tell, she never even made a single phone call. Just one more disappointment in an endless string of treatment failures.
I really do want to get that hope back so that I can find the inner strength and motivation to pick up the fucking phone, make some appointments, and actually GO TO THEM. I have literally never been in this position before, where I'm finding it difficult to care about how little I care about myself or my future. And no one else cares, so it's all up to me. When my treatment was working, I envisioned maybe having a dog, a little job that wouldn't be too stressful, my own home, possibly even a boyfriend or a close friend. None of that seems possible now because the best treatment available (epileptic mood stabilizers/lithium + DBT/CBT) doesn't actually WORK for me.
And so, I am seriously asking: How do I get my hope back? Is it even worth it? Honestly, should I just continue to approach this as if I have an incurable, terminal disease? (I am not talking about suicide here; something more akin to just accepting this suffering until I die of natural causes.) Is there some new treatment I don't know about or an old one I haven't yet tried? How do people find the strength to keep fighting with this horrible, broken mental health system?