Wednesday, June 18, 2008

'My Truth' About Psychiatry

Who has contemplated their destiny after life, without thoughts or feelings of guilt? Guilt can trigger many questions. Questioning your destiny because you’ve done something bad or “wrong” in the past is normal. “Will I get into heaven and will God forgive me because of my past?” If you can accept that God has already forgiven you, then you can free yourself from guilt. It sounds easy. It’s not. Somehow, the guilt sticks to you like a leech, not letting go until you burn it off. “But the person I hurt still hasn’t forgiven me?"

So what.

God has. Now it’s your turn to forgive yourself. If the person feels that they cannot provide you with any forgiveness, then the guilt crashes upon them instead. Holding resentment in your heart is one of the unhealthiest things you can possibly do. Not only do you suffer emotionally, but your physical health is at stake too. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve experienced “unexplained” anxiety attacks because I still held resentment and anger for the person who offended me. Until the day I finally let that go and gave it up to God, my anxiety attacks have lessened. So if resentment can trigger anxiety attacks, then it can definitely trigger heart attacks. Stress = a quicker way to the other side.

The importance of forgiving yourself purges all chances of self-loathing. The thoughts that go through people’s minds while self-loathing can be devastating. “I’m not good enough”, “I’m a bad person”, “I don’t deserve good things in life”, “I don’t deserve God’s forgiveness”, and “Why should I keep on living”? I’ve replayed these thoughts in my mind over and over while going through hard times in my life. I’m sure you have too. Think about a time when you thought you were a “bad person”. ...Think... Now think back and look in from the outside: were you? Were you that bad? The answer is usually no. People are so hard on themselves. I’m hard on myself. I’m still learning to forgive myself completely, and I tell ya, it’s hard. With persistence, faith, forgiveness and the ability to let go and let God take the reigns has completely transformed my way of thinking.

Back in 2003, I had a loaded gun pointed to my head. I hated myself because I felt hated and I felt that due to the lack of forgiveness and self-loathing I was torturing myself with, I felt as though my life should end. Thoughts kept flooding my mind constantly with negative messages: “People would be better off without me”, “I cause more misery than happiness to the people in my life”, and “I hate myself”. The final seconds before touching the trigger, other thoughts popped into my head: “My nieces and nephews will grow up thinking I was a complete coward”, “This is selfish and inconsiderate to the people I love in my life”, and “The worst thing to endure is losing a child, and I don’t want to do that to my parents”.

During that difficult time, I walked out of my psychiatrist’s office twice letting her know that I was planning to end my life.

She didn’t do anything to stop me.

She didn’t call the mental health emergency center.

She didn’t even call me...

My next appointment, she told me that she knew I was smarter than that. The most intelligent people kill themselves too. Then I thought, maybe I need a smarter therapist. I mean, thank God I came to my senses, but for a psychiatrist to do absolutely nothing is beyond me. I changed doctors of course, yet received the same treatment: oh it’s just generalized anxiety – you’ll be fine. I even walked out of his office a few years back telling him I was planning to end my life and he shrugged it off as though I was just “venting”. Hey, maybe I was just “venting”, but with the medication and alcohol I was consuming, “venting” can turn into something worse. People kept telling me to find a different doctor, but I have to say that I’ve tried them all and not one psychiatrist or therapist would have stopped me if I said these five words: I want to kill myself.

Luckily, I’ve been feeling great this past year and I have had no thoughts of anything dreadful as I did years ago. I’ve stopped their medications and stopped drinking heavily. I truly believe that these medications do more harm than good. (That’s just my opinion.) I’ve tried the medications with and without alcohol, and all of them gave me the same results: thoughts of suicide, depression, hypertension and increased agitation. When it got bad, I had to counteract it with alcohol. Now that I’m self-treating myself, relying on God more, I find that I don’t need chemicals to make me feel better anymore.

No more guilt. No more self-loathing. No more negative thought patterns---just acceptance and the willingness to get better each and every day with the help of God.

“When doubts filled my mind, your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer.” ~Psalm 94:19