psych meds and spirituality

I first discovered the ideas of energy and intentional/positive thinking when I was sixteen or seventeen. It took a couple years for me to truly develop my thoughts on the matter and to connect that idea of spirituality with Islam, the religion I’d grown up with and questioned often. Deeply connecting to Law of Attraction and other spiritual beliefs allowed me to re-connect with Islam and by this summer, I was strong in my faith, praying every day, waking up and practicing gratitude, carrying the mantra “happiness is a choice” and “everything happens for a reason.” I was happy because I wanted to be, and I really believed in a greater purpose.

And then, I fell into another depression, this wasn’t my first of the year, but this one led to my diagnosis. I’ve said my diagnosis saved my life before and I’ll say it again. I’m eternally grateful I was diagnosed even though living in ignorance did have a charm to it.

I had gotten to a point where I’d subconsciously turn any negative situation completely positive in my brain. I felt my perception could move mountains, and then suddenly my diagnosis brought me to a place where I felt I could no longer trust my perception. That is a dangerous place to be. I didn’t trust my thoughts as I carefully tracked my mood changes and wondered how I transitioned between depression and mania as quickly as I did. I was going through medication management (still am) and the way the pills changed my demeanor frightened me, it left me feeling helpless. I grew more and more disgusted with my brain for being so troubled even though I’d always said it was my favorite part of myself. And at some point I’d given up on intentional thinking, LoA, and praying entirely.

It was a toxic thought “why do these things keep happening to me?” Turning myself into a victim instead of taking control of the situation. Where was the greater purpose in my bipolar disorder? Or the years before I’d spent in and out of hospitals? My life suddenly seemed like an array of back-to-back tragedies. I wondered if the times I was ridiculously happy and saw miracles in everyday things were just me going through hypomania or mania. I really couldn’t make myself out between the rapid cycling mood changes. I felt hopeless, left everything to the doctors to fix me, which essentially meant medications.

It’s very difficult for me to see psychiatric medications, something that is a necessity with the kind of bipolar disorder I have, co-exist with my spiritual beliefs. If I can control my brain, and essentially change my life by deciding to be happy (a way I’d pulled myself out of depressions numerous times before), why would I need pills? All the spiritual gurus and such I’d spent years following and reading books from promoted an anti-meds standpoint. I felt like medicine was a temporary crutch and the real treatment was a change in perspective and the will to get better. It was the standpoint I took until very recently.

I’m not sure where my opinion on meds truly lies, if I’m honest. I didn’t fully believe they were needed until last week when I missed three doses for circumstances out of my control and became so manic without realizing it that I overdosed on my medication once I got it. Spending that night in the hospital, I guess it hit me that not taking my meds wasn’t an option. So then, I wonder is there a way for me to take my meds and live a lifestyle recommended by doctors whilst being spiritual and integrating the ‘happiness is a choice’ type philosophies into my life?

Is happiness really my choice if it’s brought on by pills?

Am I leaning onto a crutch instead of trying to heal from within, naturally?

Is it smart for me to go off of meds, or entirely selfish when I know the worst of my episodes my own life in danger and cause my loved ones an unimaginable amount of pain?

I think, despite my actions when having these episodes, most people would agree that many aspects of this disorder are out of my control. That being said, what I can do to control this is take my meds on time, control my sleep, my caffeine intake, and track my moods. These things are entirely up to me. So if I don’t make strides to fix these aspects of my life, I can’t really be surprised when my moods won’t stabilize. So maybe happiness is still my choice, it’s my choice to take the pills and it’s my choice to control my thinking.

So, back to the topic of being spiritual. I didn’t even realize how the medicine was subconsciously making me lose touch with this other, incredibly important part of me. It’s interesting because while I was being treated with medications for my past medical issues, it often brought me closer to God and the universe. So what made this different?

Being the obsessive researcher I am, I took it upon myself to figure out if Psych meds have this affect on others too. Turns out, they do.  Lynne Vanderpot, PhD, has an entire book about the connection between Psychiatric medications and spirituality. Turns out, many people grow closer to their spiritual side on meds, while others drift further away. Both cases affect the perceived efficacy of the medication.

That being said, I realize it is my choice to stay connected to spirituality and the universe. I think seeing these past few months where I was stuck in a negative mindset, attracting further negativity, were a great lesson. Before, I had trained my mind to see the best in any situation, I watched Parks and Rec when I was sad, I adamantly believed in no regrets, and I genuinely radiated positivity. In the past few months, I got sad and replayed my playlist called ‘sad bitch hours’, I kept seeing myself as a victim, and I was just overall very upset all the time. Now, I do think every emotion deserves to be felt, so all my feelings in the first two months of diagnosis were beyond valid.

But now, I think it’s time to begin to move on. Like energy attracts like energy, and I want to bring the very best into my life. I believe everything happens for a reason, and after just a few days of beginning to change my mindset and getting back into these philosophies, I’ve begun to see synchronicities and positive changes. I know everything will be alright. More than that, things will be great.

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