Twenty years ago, my younger sibling committed suicide. He was twenty years old and no one could have predicted that once a happy-go-lucky young man would gradually deteriorate over a short period of time.
My brother didn’t reach out for help and he suffered in silence while the entire family kept hoping he'd revert back to his old self.
It was only after my brother’s death, that I learned I was genetically predisposed to manic or bipolar depression. When my father mentioned that other family members had suffered from this disease, I wondered why it took another death in the family to mention cousins who'd died or were heavily medicated.
My brother’s passing prompted me to seek answers. I went to the public library and retrieved books on suicide and mental illness. Instead of finding answers, I only felt overwhelmed by all of the terminology.
Coincidently I had an appointment with a doctor who helped clarify my confusion and because I was devastated by my brothers death, I remained stuck in stage four in the grieving process—depression.
My pain was so unbearable I even contemplated my own death. When the doctor offered antidepressants, I declined, not because of any stigma, but I envisioned myself in a vegetated state for the rest of my life. I was not going to be labeled with this disease and was determined to get to the root of my problems.
After a year of talk therapy, I abandoned my own treatment. However, nine years later I found myself back in the doctor’s office. I was going through a divorce and severely depressed.
The doctor diagnosed me with bipolar tendencies and still, I stubbornly refused the antidepressants. Sadly, I had a difficult time coping with my life changes. I self-medicated by stuffing my emotions with binge eating, alcohol, and co-dependent relationships.
I was a walking contradiction and really thought I'd resolved my past. So I was unhappy and isolated myself to the point I contemplated suicide. I couldn’t deny that I needed HELP and I finally succumbed to the antidepressants.
But three days into my treatment, I began experiencing side effects: nausea, dizziness, insomnia, and dullness.
The doctor recommended that I increase my dosage and even verbalized my worst fear: I might be someone who will always be dependent on the antidepressants. I threw away $80 in medication and went on a mission to find an alternative treatment for my bipolar depression.
Once again, I returned to the public library and pored over books on holistic medicine. I adopted the Chinese philosophy that the mind-body-spirit is connected. I also met with a naturopath who helped me devise a plan to become whole. Here is some of what I've done to heal: