The Catch-22 of Recovery

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ABILIFY…I BELIEVE THAT’S HOW IT’S SPELLED. Although I’m not the best speller in the world, especially when it comes to anti-psychotics. Anyhow, this is the new medication I started last Thursday as a result of telling Dr. W, my psychiatrist, that I still didn’t feel like being around people and that I was spending most of my time at home alone. Abilify, he said, would “augment” the Zoloft that I take for the depression that has been the prominent symptom of my Bipolar II Disorder. At times, the trial and error of the medication process feels like being in a house of mirrors without an exit. Yes, that is melodramatic. I’m bipolar. That’s how it goes.

Anyway, the new medication, Abilify (correct spelling, I looked it up) seems to be having a positive effect. I’ve had some enjoyment being around people. I’ve been returning phone calls, emails, and text messages. I’m thinking more optimistically about the future. And I can entertain the thought of going back to work without hyperventilating. Yes, things seem to be getting better. But here’s the rub…I’m afraid of getting better.

At first, this seemed to be a really crazy thought. I mean, why on earth would I feel a sense of impending doom at the prospect of getting back my mental health? So I searched my heart (and Google) to find some solace. Here’s what I found:

“I mean, okay. Let’s say we’re all going to get better. Let’s just pretend we will. Fine. Where are we going to go after we get better? What are we going to do with all of our newfound healthy behaviors? Back out into the world that screwed us up and screwed us over. This does not sound promising.” ~Benjamin Alire Saenz

And then I understood. I was afraid that if I got heathy I would go back to the life that led to my breakdown. I was afraid I’d decide to go back to my old job and the old stress that landed me in a psychiatric hospital. The breakdown was terrible and I can’t be sure that my “healthy self” won’t re-choose the same destructive path. A path that would again lead to hypomania, insomnia, anxiety, and eventually to the oxymoronic depression consisting simultaneously of great pain and total numbness. The healthy self, you see, simply can’t remember or grasp the terror of depression and breakdown. The healthy self and the sick self are like strangers in Babylon. If they could only communicate with one another, they would learn so much. They might well forge a viable plan of recovery.

So I sit in a catch-22. On one hand, I’m glad the new medication is working. I really do feel better. On the other hand, I’m afraid that if it works, I’ll go back to my old job, my old nail-biting way of living, and eventually have another breakdown. As yet, I have no solution to this quandary. I guess that’s the nature of a genuine catch-22.

But I’m optimistic that if I keep taking one step at a time, more will be revealed.

“They’re not going to send a crazy man out to be killed, are they?”

“Who else will go?”

~Joseph Heller, Catch-22

Ha! Not me.

Not me.

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