Tuesday, January 12, 2016

The Authenticity of Self

If it’s easy, then it’s not real.

Authenticity is a powerful attribute. For the first time, I was not only honest with myself, I was honest with friends. When asked how I was feeling, instead of being dishonest and sugarcoating a hopeful response, as I have done my entire life, I was truthful. I was able to open myself to a degree that felt comfortable and real. I explained how I was feeling better but still not yet at the place I want to be.  Not only was this important for me but this is important for all of my relationships. Most significantly, though, I want to model this for my daughter so she will know what being authentic really means.

One of the most startling realizations that I have had recently in therapy was that I have been waiting for a false self to emerge. Last year as I was feeling better from that episode of depression, I experienced joy, true joy and bliss. This occurred with my husband, our daughter, family and friends. I had never before felt such feelings of happiness. I believed I would continue to feel this level of happiness but as I became ill again, I lost it. I still felt moments of happiness in my relationships but not at the same level. Since I became ill again, I have been patiently waiting for that joy and elation to return, however it hasn’t. It was only during a recent therapy session when I learned it won’t. My therapist explained that those euphoric feelings were real but only because I had never felt them before. Those feelings were not realistic though in the long-term and as the tears fell down my cheeks, she also explained how I actually had been experiencing those “moments” in the past months, which she pointed out with numerous examples of things I had brought up during past sessions. I am still absorbing this information and in some ways, mourning the loss. I know that what I have gained is so much more, but the memories of feeling the joy and pleasure at such a high level are still so fresh in my mind. This is how I can be authentic: own my feelings and accept them while moving forward.

While I know who I am, as a wife and a mother, I am still learning who I am to myself. This is a difficult process and requires more than my weekly therapy session, more than the pills that help promote my stability and more than the ECT (electroconvulsive therapy) that I receive. For the person who believed she was receiving exactly the kinds of treatment needed, I was informed that I actually could benefit from an additional mode of therapy. While it took some months to accept this and understand how I would benefit from it, I have finally agreed with my therapist that DBT (dialectical behavioral therapy) would greatly benefit me as I move forward in my recovery. I will be starting group therapy, which will be another new experience and will work on myself in a way that I never have before.


So, this is me being authentic. It’s been a rough road but I am finally beginning to allow myself to heal, to really heal. Instead of manipulating situations where the end result is me feeling intense psychological pain, it is time to let go of the pain and allow myself some peace. That is my goal at this point in my treatment and while this will be a difficult goal to accomplish, this is what is left:  It is time for me to accept that I deserve peace and all of the blessings I have in my life. How much more authentic can I get?

3 comments:

  1. Loving hugs! I believe in you and your journey. Each moment of realization, you are closer to understanding you and with each moment you share, we're all closer to understanding us and how we can support those around us. :)

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  2. Hi Risa!

    I read your Huffington Post article about ECT with great interest. I had ECT and it saved my life. However, I was diagnosed with a different mood disorder: postpartum bipolar/bipolar, peripartum onset. While ECT helped me during the worst of the bipolar depression lows, it didm't solve the long-term problem of what medications I could take to alleviate my treatment-resistant bipolar depression.

    I found a wonderful psychiatrist who suggested an MAOI. I thought, nah, my Dad took one and it didn't help him.The dietary restrictions weren't on my mind at that point. But I was desperate.

    I was already taking lithium and I tried Parnate, an MAOI.

    Parnate was the first medication out of 30+ I took that lifted my bipolar depression. I researched it, and in the 1970's several small studies found that lithium combined with tranylcypromine (Parnate) were excellent in lifting treatment-resistant bipolar depression!

    My Pepto Bismol-colored pink pills have restored my life to one filled with joy and purpose. I wasn't thrilled about the dietary restrictions, but to be honest, they are no big deal whatsoever! The sacrifice is ***totally*** worth it. It was good to have a motivation to give up alcohol and I haven't had a drop since October, 2013 when I started Parnate.

    MAOI's have a bad reputation, but I thank God for my psychiatrist and my Parnate every day.

    Wishing you the best,
    Dyane Leshin-Harwood

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