The comments of a psychiatrically atypical physician, including thoughts on spirituality, medication, therapy, health, disability, success, loss, biology, memory, and everything else that affects well-being:
"I regret ever starting medication. But now that I’m on them, if I reduce the dose too quickly I get depressed.
Yes, I can tolerate depression, and even see some majesty in understanding how deeply sad and messed up the world is. But after weeks and months of that, suicide starts looking like a really, really nice option. I would have ended my life long ago if not for my wife. Since I don’t want to wreck her world, I choose to increase the dose to give myself at least a little will to live.
I don’t care whether you call it ‘disordered’ or ‘gifted’, it makes it hard to live. So hard that I’m surprised I’ve made it this far. Is it genetic? Probably; my mother killed herself. Is it environmental: Yes; I was horribly abused as a child. Do I care? Not really; all I know is I get very little joy out of life much of the time, and especially if I reduce the medications too quickly. That lack of joy is what led me to take drugs back when I started in 1995. They worked at first, then quit working. Now, like Alice in Wonderland, I need them just to keep from falling deeper, but I don’t get anywhere solid.
Cognitive techniques, acceptance training, meditation, etc all do much more than drugs. And when I practice them diligently I do OK. But my point is that in my case whether it’s a gift or not it wrecks my life. There may be some nobility to that, but I don’t want to be a martyr and accept all the suffering of mankind at the expense of any enjoyment in life.
I don’t hear voices. I had one long episode of florid psychosis, where I had powerful spiritual experiences, some visual hallucinations, and a chorus of angels singing in the background. Very beautiful. Went to the psych ward and had it hammered down to mere ‘delusions’ with haldol. I regret that. I don’t think it was illness, and it truly was a grace. I’d gladly live in that state forever, regardless the consequences to my life.
But if I had voices telling me to kill myself and others, especially if I was trying to practice medicine, I’d probably get tired of it. Maybe those voices are demonstrating the truth: yes, the world is a painful place and what people are doing to it and to each other is brutal and ugly. Maybe suicide and homicide are the natural responses to this place. But for my part I would not want to live with that message being shouted at me day in and day out."