What is wellness? Stability? These are questions that I have oft asked myself over the last month or so. How will I know when I have achieved the coveted status, the pinnacle place of mental health wellness? I ponder the importance of this contemplation. Does it matter or hold significance in whether I perseverate over whether I am “well” and “fit,” or rather is it more important to just “be,” to live in the moment with mindfulness and awareness?
Since the beginning, I have been highly treatment-resistent. I have had twelve hospitalizations, been on over twenty different drugs, and have endured thirty-eight electroconvulsive therapy treatments. In the last few months, I have explored alternative routes of treatment as a supplement to my psychiatric care. A naturopath has honed and fine-tuned a special concoction of supplements and extracts that have positively affected my mental wellness, resulting in some symptom reduction. In fact, a significant reduction. Natural approaches coupled with the psychiatric approach have proven highly effective. I am still weighed down with depression, anxiety, obsessions, and agitation, but utilizing my arsenal of coping skills and treatments has created a life and existence for me that has been elusive for many years. So am I well?
My psychiatrist recently placed me in partial remission, which was the impetus for my perseveration surrounding what it means to be well. Initially, this instilled in me a belief that I am now healed and should act and conduct myself as such. Symptoms I may feel should be diminished, and I should embrace a life in which I no longer have sickness. This led solely to frustration, as I knew that my true predicament was incongruent with these notions. Then I started to think. Is this black and white, or is there a spectrum? Room for the vague and the unsure? For relativity? I see this as a complex phenomenon. In a linear direction, there is the spectrum of mental instability to mental wellness. A person may land anywhere on that spectrum at any given time, but this categorization is superficial and not the only factor in involved. In comes the concept of relativity. Someone may fall closer on the spectrum to the societal understanding of instability, but yet have exceptional coping skills and support, thus creating a situation in which they could cope and exist more adeptly than someone in the same position – thus possibly more well than first perceived. Contrarily, a person may fall closer to mental wellness on the spectrum, yet be unable to effectively cope.
I feel as though I am slowly navigating my way from the instability end of the spectrum to the place of mental wellness. I am beginning to understand the ambiguities and relativity in the process, and labels such as partial remission are not all-indicative of a certain state or place in someone’s existence. In fact, it is just a label used solely for documentation in medical records. When considering the spectrum and the concept of relativity, I can see that while I may not be entirely well, I am walking in the right direction, and my obsessions over the worth of words and labels are insignificant. What truly matters is to live mindfully and unconstrained by one’s own psyche. To be controlled by the spectrum is to hang in limbo, not knowing where one truly falls and whether that knowledge is important at all.
I am sitting in my new apartment writing this piece. I am scared. I am afraid. Obsessions and anxiety are creeping from the darkness and grasping their sticky tendrils around the threads of my mind, attempting to draw me from my place of progress. While I could succumb to their power and view my place on the spectrum as the be-all and end-all, I can instead draw to mind the concept of relativity and recognize that while I may have some setbacks, I am fighting with well-honed coping skills and implementing my naturopathic and psychiatric interventions, compounding the linear nature of the spectrum and allowing a more dimensional look at my wellness and stability.